Rui Costa sprints to victory from breakaway trio on stage 15 of Vuelta a España

Former world champion takes 31st career win in Lekunberri

Rui Costa wins stage 15 of Vuelta a España
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) sprinted to victory from a three-man group of escapees on stage 15 of the Vuelta a España on Sunday afternoon. 

The former world champion kicked past Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) to the line in Lekunberri, the trio being the remnants of the day's 15-man breakaway. 

The win marked the 36-year-old’s first at WorldTour level in five and a half years, his last coming at the Abu Dhabi Tour in 2017. 

"I'm so happy," Costa said afterwards. "A victory in the Vuelta a España for me is very, very important.

"I did a lot of preparation to be in good shape for the Tour [de France], but it turned out to be a bit sad for us. I wasn't supposed to do the Vuelta, but after finishing the Tour and San Sebastián, my legs were good and I told the team to let me go to the Vuelta a España to try and win a stage." 

On Sunday, Costa broke out of a mammoth-sized front group with Buitrago inside the final 15km of the 158.5km stage. The duo were then tagged by Kämna on the final climb, who passed them before crashing on the ensuing descent. 

The German, who won stage nine last weekend, then remounted, caught up and launched his sprint to the line first. Having waited patiently, Costa pipped him in the closing metres. 

"After so much fighting, it's not easy," the stage winner said. "It takes a lot of dedication, effort and work to get here that people don't see. This is really satisfying for me." 

Race leader Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) crossed the line in 19th place with the main peloton and will take an advantage of one minute and 37 seconds into Monday's second rest day. 

Billed as a day for the breakaway, it took around 80 kilometres before a front group formed on the road out of Pamplona. The stage offered a hilly but unchallenging parcours, with a category-three climb followed by a pair of category twos.

A 15-man group formed after the hectic start, with polka dot jersey wearer Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) present once again up the road. The breakaway's advantage swung out to over three and a half minutes over the penultimate climb, with little chase behind. 

Back in the peloton, Geraint Thomas dropped behind the bunch, having hit the tarmac in a crash. He ploughed on to finish 145th with a torn jersey and streaks of energy gel down his backside, the wrappers having burst in his jersey pocket. 

As the stage entered its finale, the breakaway began to whittle down. Buitrago, Kämna and Costa went off in pursuit of victory, with the honours ultimately falling to the latter. Evenepoel crossed the line fourth, two seconds behind. 

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom joined Cycling Weekly as a news and features writer in the summer of 2022, having previously contributed as a freelancer. He is the host of The TT Podcast, which covers both the men's and women's pelotons and has featured a number of prominent British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.