Vuelta a Espana 2023: Evenpoel for the third time
Photo: La Vuelta

Remco Evenepoel won the Vuelta a Espana stage again. Damiano Caruso and Max Ball crossed the finish line far behind him.

The 180-kilometre section from Pola de Alande to La Cruz de Linares was the last on this year’s Vuelta, which could certainly be called “the mountain”. Although the competitors still had a mountainous 20 stage ahead of them and a very interesting road ahead, the candidates in the general classification knew very well that if they wanted to change something, they had nothing to wait for.

The “last mountain stage” also meant the last opportunity to obtain significant points in the mountain classification, including: the last three premiums for the first mountain category. There were up to 38 points up for grabs – more than over the course of the other three stages combined (in practice, only over the course of Stage 20). These potential points and one of the last two chances for a stage victory led to, among other things, the departure of the day. Remco Evenepoel, Damiano Caruso and Egan Bernal.

Separate line-up for Stage 18 of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana (Professional Cycling Stats)

Since the Jumbo-Visma bikers were not particularly interested in pursuing the fugitives, they quickly gained a very large advantage, which quickly reached more than 10 minutes. Remco Evenepoel would have been doubly happy in this situation. Not only did the Belgian easily win the first three mountain stages, thus securing victory in the mountain classification (provided he finished the race), but he also had the chance to win the second stage.

to choose

At first, the refugees were stuck together. We had no major pick, and the only skirmisher who was a little behind was Hugo Hofstetter. The situation changed only at Alto de Tenebredo, where Evenepoel began to set a stronger pace. The Belgian’s work meant only Bernal, Caruso, Krohn, Paul and Urcelin remained in the lead until the summit, with Piccolo and Bernard joining them after the descent. Only after this selection did the pace increase and the cooperation started going well.

The escape diminished further on the next climb. A team of eight reached the foot of the first uphill climb to Puerto de la Cruz de Linares, and after just a few kilometres, strong work by Remco Evenpoel reduced the group of competitors fighting for victory to three – Evenpoel, Boll and Caruso.

There can only be one winner

Of the three, Max Paul was certainly the least successful rider, but his presence in this group was no surprise. Despite being 20 years old, the Briton has already shown several times in the past that he is capable of achieving big things. Fourth places in the Tour de Hongrie and Tour de Romandie are just some of his most impressive achievements this year. Now they could join the Vuelta a Espana stage – there was one condition – to survive the pace set by Evenepoel.

The task was not easy, but the Briton fought bravely. When, four kilometers from the finish, the Belgian decided to significantly increase his speed, leaving Caruso behind him – he kept going. Unfortunately, he did it with all his might, and after a dozen seconds or so he also had to give up. There can only be one winner and everything points to the fact that he will be the current world champion in the individual time trial.

In the second part of the climb, his advantage increased rapidly, and he reached the summit by a minute and a half. Although the difference was reduced to one minute in the descent, his victory was not in danger for a single moment. On flat terrain, the Belgian regained what he had previously lost, while on the slopes he was further behind his competitor and crossed the finish line by 4 minutes, ahead of Damiano Caruso, who came in second place.

Fighting in the second row

There were no great feelings behind the Belgian’s back. Yes, we had the attack of Vlasov in the final flat part of the stage, the strong work of Bahrain-Victorious and the attacks of Mikel Landa, but in the end all the top six in the general classification reached the finish line in the main group, 10 minutes ahead of the Belgian.

This time, Vingegaard and Roglic were not trying to leave the race leader behind. Throughout they looked like American midfielders, setting the pace he wanted and chasing down fleeing rivals. In the end, the tired Dane remained six seconds behind, bringing his loss to 14 seconds in the general classification.

Results of the eighteenth stage of the Vuelta a Espana 2023:

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