photo credits @ La Vuelta
Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) won the summit finish at La Laguna Negra.Vinuesa, after the Spanish rider emerged from a 26-man attack, delivering a final burst of power to surge away and claimed the day’s honors.
“It’s always hard to know when it can be your day but you have to try, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Herrada said after recovering from his huge final effort.
“I’m very happy. My goal was a stage win. I had to wait for the second week to make it happen but we did it. Now we can enjoy the rest of the race and keep fighting.
“I knew it was a good finish for me but it was complicated to even get in the breakaway. But I had good legs so I could be up there. It was hard to attack with the riders in the move and with Thomas there but I knew the finish suited me. I waited for the sprint and won it.”
Meanwhile, Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ) finished three seconds behind him, with Andreas Kron (Lotto Dstny) third at eight seconds
The GC contenders finished 5:55 down on Herrada, with the only attack coming from Remco Evenepoel in sight of the finish line as he tried to test his main rivals. The significant gap allowed Thomas to move up to 7:34 down on Kuss but he is only 18th overall.
The leading places in the overall classification remained unchanged, with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) retaining his 26-second lead on Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates). Evenepoel is third overall at 1:09, with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) fourth at 1:36
Kuss was happy to enjoy a fast but controlled day in the race leader’s red jersey.
“It was not too bad, I think everyone wanted to do a nice pace at the end, so it was a bit strange,” he said. “It took a while for the break to go but there were a lot of big, wide roads. There was an annoying wind all day, so it wasn’t easy but it was all relative.”
Kuss knows he could crack and lose the race lead but wants to keep believing.
“You always have to believe,” he said. “It’s pretty simple: I give my best every day and I’m enjoying every day that I have the red jersey.”
With his decisive attack inside the final kilometer, Herrada reeled in Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Gregoire and Kron to take the third Vuelta stage victory of his career.
Herrada also pocketed the 10 points on the summit of the Cat.1 climb to see him move one point clear of Eduardo Sepulveda (Lotto Dstny) in the king of the mountains standings.
On a day of attrition for the GC favorites, the main peloton was led home by Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma) almost six minutes in arrears. Despite a late, late kick from Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep), Kuss was able to latch onto the defending champion’s wheel to retain the red jersey with the same time gaps on the rest of the top 10.
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