Our rider animated the hard stage 17 from the start until the final five kilometers.
Alto de l’Angliru, one of cycling’s most brutal climbs, made its return at the Spanish Grand Tour after three years, and it came with another impressive ride of Remco Evenepoel, who just like on the last two stages of the previous week, attacked from kilometer zero.
The Belgian Champion was extremely active, constantly trying to get in the breakaway in order to cement his position in the mountains classification and have a shot at victory on the mythical Asturian climb. After a fraught opening 40 kilometers and many attacks, the double stage winner made it at the front of the race together with his Soudal Quick-Step teammate Mattia Cattaneo. The Italian was again incredible, producing a solid and constant effort as he helped Remco open a maximum gap of almost three minutes over a peloton that didn’t want to give too much space to the breakaway.
One of the most impressive riders of this Vuelta, Cattaneo paced his teammate on Alto de la Colladiella and in the valley that followed, before calling it a day on the first slopes of Alto del Cordal. From that moment on, the 23-year-old went into time trial mode, cresting the climb with a 1:20 advantage which he carried onto the beast that is the Angliru (12.4km, 9.8%). There, showing an amazing resilience, he remained in the lead until with five kilometers to go, when despite his best efforts, he was reeled in on the gruelling double-digit gradients by the bunch, from where Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) went on to take the win.
Remco Evenepoel concluded some minutes in arrears, with the KOM jersey firmly on his shoulders after the twenty points scored during the stage and with another combativity award to his name, after the ones he got last week: “I realised before the start that the others would try to control things so they could fight for the victory, but I still wanted to try, knowing the first two climbs would be important to win in the battle for the jersey. We did a two-man breakaway and it wasn’t easy, but Mattia was very strong there and he deserves the combativity award as much as I do. The moment I got caught I began saving some energy for Thursday, when we’ll try again to take as many points as possible.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images