Vuelta a España Vuelta a España

 

American rider Sepp Kuss is gearing up to win this year’s Vuelta a España, as Dutchman Wout Poels secured victory in the final stage by defeating Remco Evenepoel.

Poels and Evenepoel were part of an initial breakaway group that was eventually reduced to five riders. The 35-year-old Poels denied Evenepoel, the 2022 Champion, a victory in this year’s fourth stage.

Jumbo-Visma’s protected leader, Kuss, is poised to achieve his first Grand Tour victory, almost a certainty after Sunday’s official final stage. This 29-year-old rising star has made his mark by winning his first Grand Tour in the official final stage on Sunday, almost certainly securing a green jersey.

Jonas Vingegaard Stands Second in the Overall Standings,

With Primoz Roglic in third. Jumbo-Visma is ready to complete the podium, making them the first team to win all three Grand Tours in a single year.

Roglic had won the Giro d’Italia in May before Vingegaard maintained their Tour de France title in July. However, both have followed team orders since the eighth stage, securing the leader’s red jersey since.

Kuss showed determination to win the Vuelta, extending his lead and securing victory in Stage 20, the longest stage of this year’s race, covering 208 kilometers of mountainous terrain. The riders faced ten climbs before the flat finish in Guadarrama.

The initial breakaway group of 31 riders didn’t pose a significant challenge to the general classification contenders, which pleased the Jumbo-Visma riders, as it allowed them to extend the gap.

In the Final climb,

 Poels attempted to distance himself from Evenepoel and the remaining group. Still, he was caught, and in the final sprint, he battled with a Belgian rider to emerge victorious.

Remco Evenepoel had hopes of claiming his fourth Vuelta a España victory this year, but he was limited by the strong performance of Wout Poels, who secured his first stage win in a Spanish Grand Tour at the age of 35. Peliz Sanchez (Burgos-BH) finished third.

Wout Poels’ win came in Stage 20, where he outperformed Evenepoel, Peliz Sanchez (Burgos-BH), Lennert Van Eetvelt (Lotto-Dstny), and Mark Soler (UAE Team Emirates) in a sprint finish, leaving the breakaway behind.

Evenepoel had demonstrated remarkable performance since climbing up the general classification rankings, but ultimately fell short and couldn’t finish on a high note.

The final day of the 2023 edition featured a classic-style Vuelta final, arranged before Sunday’s Madrid parade, covering 208 kilometers. The riders had to face challenging parcours, comparable to Liege-Bastogne-Liege, although slightly shorter. The steep gradients in the climbs, with 4,200 meters of climbing and more, made it even more demanding and attention-grabbing.

In the Last Third of the Race, as soon as the Breakaway Left the Circuit, 

Sudal-Quick-Step set such a brutal pace that it made any attacks seem impossible. Only the gradients in the final climb, Alzuza San Lorenzo de El Escorial, were steep enough to potentially facilitate attacks by riders like Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich), Mark Soler (UAE Team Emirates), or Rui Costa (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty).

Vuelta a España
Vuelta a España

It seemed like the stage was set for Evenepoel’s domination, something we’ve seen several times before. However, as the Belgian lost his last domestique, it was the experienced Wout Poels who swung into action. The Dutchman’s attack, 4.5 kilometers from the finish line, halfway up the punishing Alzuza San Lorenzo de El Escorial, was so ferocious that it rendered any counter-attacks nearly impossible. Only Lennert Van Eetvelt (Lotto-Dstny) managed to follow him. Soler and Peliz Sanchez (Burgos-BH) weren’t far enough behind to be entirely out of contention, but at least initially, it seemed like Evenepoel didn’t have the legs.

However, Somehow, Just as Gradients Made it Easy,

  1.  The 23-year-old youngster was challenged again. He was still a bit away from the summit, but he used his aerodynamic advantage on the descent not only to catch up with the conditions but also to swiftly pass the riders ahead.
  2. Soler managed to keep Evenepoel completely at bay, and the group of five riders created their path towards completion. No one wanted more riders to join them, so the fifth rider harmonized and maintained the appropriate level of cooperation and teamwork in the challenging obstacles they faced. The five-man sprint powered by Evenepoel’s strong kick made him a favorite, but Poels’ experience proved invaluable.
  3. Poels positioned himself at the back of the group in the final part of the climb because Van Aert was allowed to lead through sneaky turns and film rouge. He chose the final corner to start his attack, sprinting out and using the left side to gain enough speed to secure a seven-meter advantage.
  4. “This was a masterclass,” Poels was praised for his victory at the finish line ahead of Evenepoel in Stage 20.
  5. That was enough, and he held it as the road continued to rise. Evenepoel attempted to respond, but when he reached a small bump, he found himself tucking low, taking advantage of his aerodynamics, and returning to the conditions. If the finish line had been a few meters further, Belgium could have caught up with him, but there was no benefit to his effort for the line.

Red jersey holder Sepp Kuss went home to maintain the lead, with Jumbo-Visma teammates Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard. Sunday’s Madrid final is a flat stage, where the race for the top spot is not typically played out, meaning Kuss is virtually certain to be this year’s Vuelta champion.

“I’m feeling very calm,” said the American. In the beginning, the guys were absolutely pulling. Robert [Gesink] and Dylan [Van Baarle] were pulling up to 90 percent. On the stage. It was a long and challenging stage, and they were staying out there all day, that big top for them. They were amazing. Attila [Valter] was there at the last climb, and Primoz did a lot of work for me on the flat. Jonas too.”

Kuss will become the first rider in history to be part of a team that wins two Grand Tours in a single season and then wins one himself in the same season.

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By Areesh

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