Magnus Cort took his third victory of the 2021 Vuelta a España after the breakaway made it to the line on stage 19.
The pace was rapid throughout the day with the break battling it out with a fast travelling peloton, but the escapees were just more organised and had the power to hold off the peloton by 18 seconds.
Lawson Craddock, Cort's EF Education-Nippo team-mate, did a huge turn on the front of the seven-man break into the last 2km for Cort.
As they approached the final few hundred metres, it was Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) who opened up his sprint first, but there was little he could do to prevent Cort from coming round him to take the win, as Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) nabbed second place ahead of him.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) holds onto red after another day where his team had to do little riding on the front throughout the day.
How it happened
Stage 19 of the Vuelta a España started in the town of Tapia with the finish coming 191.2km of hilly terrain later in Monforte de Lemos.
A break of 18 riders eventually got away from the peloton after the tough climbs at the start of the day. This pace saw the green jersey of Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) lose touch with the bunch.
Some riders in the break looked like they were perfect for this stage, with Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo), Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Rob Stannard (BikeExchange), and Andreas Kron (Lotto-Soudal) in there, among others, but they only held around 1-30 on the Team DSM-led peloton with 60km to go.
Eleven riders then got away with 45km to go after a flurry of attacks as Team BikeExchange took over from Team DSM in the chase back in the peloton, bringing the break's advantage down to 25 seconds.
Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) unfortunately got caught in a crash which saw the South African, who started the day in 10th overall, abandon the race.
Back in the break, Simmons attacked with Oliveira with 32km to go with the acceleration pulling the gap out to 40 seconds. Behind, Lawson Craddock and Kron tried to bridge with just Damien Touzé (Ag2r Citroën Team), Cort, Bagioli, and Roux being the last men standing in the chase.
The six chasers made it back to Simmons and Oliveira with 25km to go but the gap to the peloton had dipped to a tad under 30 seconds. Fortunately for the break the terrain was in their favour for the next 5km with just 20km to the line, as they hit a descent. In the peloton though, BikeExchange were finally re-joined by DSM in the chase with 16km to go.
As they went into the final 5km the break had got the gap back up to 33 seconds with every rider involved working cohesively with each other. Craddock came up with 2.5km to go and powered the pace along for his team-mate Cort as the peloton pulled up their chase.
Craddock led it all the way to the final few hundred metres for the others to sprint out for victory. Simmons kicked first with Cort jumping onto his wheel immediately with the Danish rider flying around to win by a bike length. Rui Oliveira was able to nab second place just ahead of Simmons on the line.
The peloton finished 18 seconds back with Primož Roglič safely ensconced, and another day closer to a third overall Vuelta title.
The penultimate day of the Vuelta, stage 20, comes on Saturday with an exceptionally tough day of small mountains on the second longest stage of the race. Riders face 202.2km of racing from Sanxenco to Mos. Castro de Herville with a category two summit finish.
Vuelta a Espana 2021, stage 19: Tapia to Monforte de Limos (191.2km)
1. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo, in 4-24-54
2. Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
3. Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo
4. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
5. Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto-Soudal, all at same time
7. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education-Nippo, at 5s
8. Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM, at 18s
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
10. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix, all at same time
General classification after stage 19
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma, in 77-49-37
2. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 2-30
3. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Movistar Team, at 2-53
4. Jack Haig (Aus) Team Bahrain Victorious, at 4-36
5. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 4-43
6. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 5-44
7. Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 6-02
8. Gino Mäder (Sui) Team Bahrain-Victorious, at 7-48
9. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 8-31
10. David De La Cruz (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 9-24
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