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Vuelta 2023: Rui Costa best escapee after bizarre final stage in Lyonbury, Remco Evenpole fourth

Vuelta 2023: Rui Costa best escapee after bizarre final stage in Lyonbury, Remco Evenpole fourth

Sunday, September 10, 2023 at 5:41 pm

The fifteenth stage of the Vuelta a España 2023 was won by Rui Costa. After nearly 160 kilometres, the Portuguese from Intermarche-Cirque-Wante were the best escape from the leading group which again included Remco Evenebol. After the transition to Lekunberri, Costa won the sprint from Lennard Kämna and Santiago Buitrago, although it got really exciting in the last kilometer because of poker – and Kämna falling. The peloton followed just under three minutes later.

The first 50km of the stage were up and down, and then Puerto de Lizarraga (19.3km at 2.6%) was the first climb of the day. The riders then headed to local tracks around Lekunberri including Puerto de Zuarrrate (7.3km 4.8%). This circuit and climb had to be completed twice, with the final summit being eight kilometers from the finish.

Photo: Cor Foss

The seeded teams mingle
Remco Evenepoel gained so much confidence with his win yesterday that he wanted to try again today. He was very active in the opening stage, but he couldn’t escape. Andreas Krohn, Egan Bernal and Filippo Gana were also not given any space. Everyone knew that this was a transitional phase with opportunities for escapees, so the pace was very high in the first hour.

As a result, no leading group has yet broken away at the foot of Puerto de Lizarraga. Once again, Mountain King Evenpool showed his strength and was the instigator of a large leadership group. The UAE did not leave it at that, as the team wanted to use this difficult start to make a difference in the world rankings.

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Marc Soler, among others, jumped wide and was tackled by Jonas Vingegaard and Alexander Vlasov. They joined the lead group, but Jumbo-Visma would not allow this and the flight was restored with some difficulty. Cian Uijtdebroeks, who also had a lot of trouble. He was behind a break in the peloton, had to chase alone and came back when the peloton stopped.

Evenpoel instigated the trip
This allowed a new command group to be formed in the steeper sections of Puerto de Lizarraga. And again it was Evenbühl who shook the tree. He was joined by Santiago Buitrago, Lenard Kamna, Rui Costa and Cristian Rodriguez, and shortly afterwards also Jonathan Caicedo, Chris Hamilton, Kenny Elisund, Rudi Mollard, Nico Deans, Jimmy Janssens, Andreas Krohn, Geoffrey Bouchard and Einer Rubio.

Jumbo-Visma kept the lead in the peloton under three minutes, because Buitrago (13 minutes from red jersey Sepp Kos), Rodriguez (17 minutes) and Evenepoel (19 minutes) were still relatively close together. The lead increased first time out in Zuararati, with the lead group attacking the pendulum battle and Alpecin Desoninck taking over the peloton in the service of sprinter Caden Groves.

About ten leaders, including Evenepoel, Buitrago and Hamilton, crossed the summit more than three minutes before the peloton and thus started the final 30 kilometers. Progress has increased slowly, which means that the winner of the stage must be found at the front. In Puerto de Zuarate, everyone was against Evenpoel, who was tired and no longer able to make a difference.

Competition is getting the better of Evenpool, and Kamna is making a comeback after the fall
Buitrajo and Costa decided to attack early on the climb. They opened a 15-second gap, and with the Colombian leading, that gap with the Evenpoel group rose to 25 seconds. Kamna swam between them and managed to join the two leaders just below the summit. However, Buitrago pushed into eight kilometers with a strong push with a slight lead, but was quickly caught.

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On a somewhat flatter stretch, Kamna tried to use his time-tested qualities. He opened a small gap and took a lot of risks, with all the consequences that entailed. The German fell to the grass, suddenly putting Costa and Poitrago in winning position. They couldn’t agree and almost left Sur place down, so Kamna can get back under the rag.

The Evenpoel group also managed to get close in the final kilometre, but in the front three race it was Costa who took the win by a wide margin ahead of Kamna and Buitrago. Evenpol sprinted not far from fourth. The peloton crossed the finish line in just under three minutes. There was no change in the rankings between the two candidates.