Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) clinched a cagey victory from the breakaway on a tense Stage 15 of the Vuelta a España 2023.
It was a wiley ride from the Portuguese former world champion, who used all his experience to outfox breakaway companions Lennard Kämna (BORA-hansgrohe) and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) and sprint to victory.
Costa certainly won himself no friends in the breakaway, refusing to put in a pull and allowing others to do the work to keep them out of reach of the perseguidores to the frustration of his rivals.
However, his tactics were justified by the end result – sprinting to victory just a handful of seconds clear of the chasing pack, having conserved his legs as others worked to keep them ahead.
America’s Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) remains in the red jersey after a day with no major changes in the General Classification.
Evenepoel Attacks but Fades
After his saber-rattling victory on Stage 14, Remco Evenepoel sought to make it back-to-back victories, battling hard in the breakaway and attacking constantly after his GC challenge evaporated in a calamitous Stage 13 performance that saw him lose over 20 minutes.
However, his early efforts on what was a highly combative start to the stage for the entire peloton came back to bite him, as he faded with the race entering the decisive moments.
Lennard Kämna, one of those to drop Evenepoel, looked to be making a decisive charge of his own with around 10 km to go, opening up a small gap to Costa and Buitrago which the German’s time-trialing abilities suggested he might well have been able to maintain to the line.
However, a small misjudgment on the winding hill road cost him dearly as he stumbled down the embankment and into a fence, throwing away his advantage.
The cat-and-mouse games played by Costa and Buitrago allowed him back into the fight, and he almost snatched the stage win as he launched his sprint early, but Costa snuck by on the outside to edge him out by half a wheel.
“A victory in the Vuelta for me is very, very important”
“I’m so happy”, said Costa after the race finish. “A victory in the Vuelta a España for me is very, very important.
“I did a lot of preparation to be in good shape for the Tour [de France], but it turned out to be a bit sad for us.
“I wasn’t supposed to do the Vuelta, but after finishing the Tour and San Sebastián, my legs were good, and I told the team to let me go to the Vuelta a España to try and win a stage.
“After so much fighting, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of dedication, effort, and work that people don’t see.
“This is really satisfying for me.”
Vuelta a España 2023: Stage 15 Results
- COSTA Rui (POR/Intermarché-Circus-Wanty): 3:30:56
- KÄMNA Lennard (GER/BORA-hansgrohe): Same time
- BUITRAGO Santiago (COL/Bahrain Victorious): Same time
- EVENEPOEL Remco (BEL/Soudal-Quick Step): + 0:02
- KRON Andreas (DEN/Lotto Dstny): Same time
- RUBIO Einer Augusto (COL/Movistar): Same time
- RODRÍGUEZ Cristián (SPA/Arkéa Samsic): Same time
- HAMILTON Chris (AUS/dsm-firmenich): Same time
- DENZ Nico (GER/BORA-hansgrohe): + 0:36
- JANSSENS Jimmy (BEL/Alpecin-Deceuninck): + 1:07
Vuelta a España 2023: General Classification Standings after Stage 14
- KUSS Sepp (USA/Jumbo-Visma): 54:38:42
- ROGLIČ Primož (SLO/Jumbo-Visma): + 1:37
- VINGEGAARD Jonas (DEN/Jumbo-Visma): +1:44
- AYUSO Juan (SPA/UAE Team Emirates): + 2:37
- MAS Enric (SPA/Movistar): + 3:06
- SOLER Marc (SPA/UAE Team Emirates): + 3:10
- LANDA Mikel (SPA/Bahrain Victorious): + 4:12
- VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe): + 5:02
- UIJTDEBROEKS Cian (BEL/BORA-hansgrohe): + 5:30
- ALMEIDA João (POR/UAE Team Emirates): + 8:39
Vuelta a España Jerseys after Stage 13
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma)
Kaden Groves (ALPECIN-DECEUNINCK)
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal – QuickStep)
Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates)