Remco Evenepoel powers to solo breakaway victory on stage 18 of Vuelta a España

Evenepoel seizes third victory of 2023 Vuelta at La Cruz de Linares as Sepp Kuss stays top of general classification

Remco Evenepoel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel powered to a resounding solo win from the breakaway on stage 18 of the Vuelta a España to take his third stage victory of the race on the final summit finish at La Cruz de Linares.

The Belgian - wearing the polka dot jersey as the best climber - dispensed with Great Britain’s Max Poole (DSM) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) on the first of two ascents of the Puerto de la Cruz de Linares climb and soloed to the finish to take his 50th career win.

Nearly ten minutes behind Evenepoel, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) led a select GC group towards the summit of the climb which included his teammate and race leader Sepp Kuss who successfully defended his position at the top of the general classification.

As well as taking the stage honours, Evenepoel also effectively wrapped up victory in the mountains classification.

Originally part of a 14 man break, which included Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), Evenepoel launched a huge attack with nearly 30 kilometres still to race which his rivals for the stage win were unable to answer.

Poole fought valiantly to hold Evenepoel’s wheel on the steep gradients, but the former road World Champion simply had too much power for the young Briton.

Speaking post-race to the media, Evenepoel explained that he attacked from distance due to sensing the perfect opportunity to secure victory in the mountains classification ahead of the race concluding in Madrid on Sunday.

“I felt that I was the strongest of the group and I didn't have to waste any time,” he said. “I just had to go for it, so I found that the legs were super good today, and I had a better day like I had in stage 14, so it's an amazing stage to win.

"I think it was a super good opportunity to take the points for my jersey, I think I took all the points and my third stage win is amazing to end the Vuelta with."

Remco Evenepoel

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“I think after my off day in Formigal and Tourmalet, I just had to turn the page and go for the stages and I think I won three of the most beautiful stages from this Vuelta," he added. "And I take the mountains jersey, so I think it's it has been an amazing Vuelta even though the GC plan didn't work out, but I think we can be very proud.

“It's amazing to finish the stage with such a good feeling and to have such good legs at the end of the Vuelta. "It means that I'm that I keep improving and I just had a bit of a bad week in the second week.

“So yeah, I think we should just be happy and I'm proud.”

Meanwhile in the main GC group, Vingegaard and Primož Roglič paced Kuss up the final climb to bring the American closer to overall victory. The racing was relatively sedate compared to the previous day on the Alto de l’Angliru.

Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) both tried solo moves in an attempt to disrupt Jumbo-Visma’s GC dominance, but they would prove to be ineffective as Vingegaard and Roglič were able to swiftly regain control.

“It’s getting closer,” Kuss said when asked about the potential overall victory that awaits him. “Tomorrow is a bit of an easier stage, but we have to stay focussed. Stage 20 will be a really long and hard stage. We’re out of the big mountains but there’s always some tough ones.”

The Vuelta continues on Friday with stage 19, a flat 177 kilometres between La Bañeza and Iscar. 

Vuelta a España stage 18 results - Pola de Allande to La Cruz de Linares (179 km)

1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step in 04-47-37
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 04-44
3. Andrea Kron (Dan) Lotto Dstny, at 05-10
4. Max Poole (Gbr) dsm-firmenich, at 05-12
5. Paul Ourselin (Fra) TotalEnergies, at 05-17
6. Julien Bernard (Fra) Lidl-Trek, at 06-11
7. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 07-01
8. Juan Ayuso (Esp) UAE Emirates, at 09-29
9. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar,
10. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, both at same time 

General classification after stage 18

1. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, in 65-31-27
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 17s
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-08
4. Juan Ayuso (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 4-00
5. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 4-19
6. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 4-30
7. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 7-37
8. Aleksandr Vlasov, Bora-Hansgrohe, at 8-35
9. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 10-20
10. Santiago Buitrago (Col) Bahrain Victorious, at 12-20 

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