Remco Evenepoel racks up his eleventh red jersey.
The first of the six stages scheduled on the third week of the race got underway from Sanlucar de Barrameda, the town where exactly five hundred years ago Juan Sebastian Elcano became the first man to circumnavigate the earth after taking charge of Fernando Magellan’s expedition that had started three years before.
The peloton was less interested in the historical side of the stage and more in the finish in Tomares, a suburb of Sevilla, the city of Diego Velasquez and Juan Belmonte, among others. Those who targeted the victory knew that Tuesday afternoon it would be only about the closing kilometers, which featured two roundabouts and averaged 2.1%, thus favouring also the punchers, not just the sprinters.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl guided again overall leader Remco Evenepoel through the hectic finale, making sure he would arrive home safe and sound, but it wasn’t quite as straightforward as our rider had hoped it would be. The 22-year-old punctured in the last three kilometers and had to wait for the team car, from where he got a new bike and continued to the finish, where he was given the same time as the peloton.
“I knew I had a puncture because I realized I couldn’t ride my bike properly. I had no idea how far from the finish we were, but they told me in the radio that I was inside the last three kilometers, so there was no reason to panic. It’s a pity, because I wanted to go for the stage win, but at the end of the day I can be content with things”, said the first Belgian in the last 45 years to lead the Vuelta a España for eleven consecutive days.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images