'I wanted to win for my best friend' - Jonas Vingegaard takes Vuelta a España stage 16 win for Nathan Van Hooydonck

Tour de France winner takes his second stage win in four days to move up to second overall

Jonas Vingegaard at the Vuelta a España
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jonas Vingegaard charged up the final climb on stage 16 of the Vuelta a España to claim a solo win at Bejes, taking over a minute on his teammate and race leader Sepp Kuss in the process. 

He used the win to pay tribute to his other teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck, who was hospitalised after a car crash earlier on Tuesday.

The Jumbo-Visma rider surged off the front with 3.9km of the day to go in an attack that no one else could follow to take the win, to take his team's fourth stage of the race. 

Kuss remains in the race lead by 29 seconds over Vingegaard, who has now leapfrogged the other Jumbo-Visma rider on the podium, Primož Roglič, into second place.

The victory came the same day as Van Hooydonck was reportedly in a critical condition having been involved in a car crash on Tuesday morning in Belgium, but the riders revealed that he had woken from his induced coma post-stage.

"I’m just happy to win today," Vingegaard said. "We had some terrible news this morning, and I wanted to win for my best friend today. Luckily now, there is good news about his condition. That’s a big relief for me, for the team, and I hope he will recover soon."

The team's tactics on the slopes of the final climb were intriguing, as rather than any semblance of defending Kuss' lead, Vingegaard attacked soon after the ramps became steep, and flew away to victory.

Once the Dane gained a few metres, it looked like he would never be brought back, and so it proved.

Asked about his team's plans for the rest of the race, the Dane said: "Now I just want to enjoy this moment and not think about that."

Tuesday’s stage was incredibly short and punchy , designed for all kinds of different riders. As a result, there was lots of interest in getting in the day’s break. The first one to go up the road had 10 riders in it, and looked like it might stick.

The ten were: Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Andreas Kron (Lotto-Dstny), Romain Bardet and Max Poole (dsm-firmenich), Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan), Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ), Louis Vervaeke (Soudal-QuickStep), Paul Lapeira (AG2R Citroën), Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost), and Matteo Sobrero (Jayco-AlUla).

However, Ineos Grenadiers, not present in the front group, would not let the break settle, seemingly constantly chasing for about 10km from 90km onwards, but the gap was stubborn, hovering around 20 seconds. They were joined in their efforts by Arkéa Samsic, while dsm aimed to disrupt it.

With 78.7km to go, the gap was finally bridged with Jan Tratnik (Jumbo-Visma) surprisingly being the first across. Then it was ready for everything to kick off once again, with a new break refusing to form, or unable to

An emotional Jonas Vingegaard crosses the finish line at the Vuelta a España

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The rain started to hammer down as the riders had 72km to go, increasing the chaos on the road. The attacks kept flying over the next ten kilometres, with the race refusing to quieten down. 

As the stage past the halfway mark, a break finally started to establish itself, with six riders up the road. Jumbo-Visma set themselves on the front of the peloton, restoring order. Ineos Grenadiers missed the break once again, after putting so much energy into bringing the first one back.

The six men up the road were: Mattia Cattaneo (Soudal Quick-Step), Groves, Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R Citroën), Poole, and Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). They quickly built a lead of about a minute up on the chasers, and with 30km to go this gap had enlarged to 90 seconds.

It was all together at 10km to go, as things revved up for a general classification battle on the punchy finish.

At the bottom of the climb, Jumbo-Visma took control, before its rider Jonas Vingegaard made the first meaningful attack with 3.7km to go of climbing, pacing away off the climb, chased by Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates).

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) also attacked just before the flamme rouge, to limit his losses to Vingegaard, his teammate, as both gained time on their other teammate, Kuss, the race leader. The American, the latter, also lost a couple of seconds to some other GC rivals in the finale, but retained the red jersey.

Kuss has 29 seconds on Vingegaard, 1-33 on Roglič, and 2-33 on his nearest non-Jumbo challenger, Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates). 

Wednesday's stage heads to the Altu de L'Angliru, a mythically tough climb which will surely prove decisive in the race.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.