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Sunday, September 10, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Vuelta a España stage fourteen reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the Vuelta report from GC leader Sepp Kuss' Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has finished the fourteenth stage of the Vuelta a España without any problems. In another challenging stage in the Pyrenees, the leaders of the yellow and black squad crossed the line in the group of favourites. The top ten in the general classification remained unchanged. Remco Evenepoel won the stage.

The second stage in the Pyrenees took the peloton from Sauveterre-de-Béarn to Larra-Belagua. After Friday's monster stage, the riders again faced four categorised climbs. After a fast opening hour, a large breakaway opened up a gap in the peloton, controlled by Team Jumbo-Visma of race leader Kuss. Eventually, Evenepoel proved to be the strongest at the front. In the background, the group of favourites remained calm. The fast pace of Attila Valter made sure the leaders of Team Jumbo-Visma remained safe.

Sepp Kuss heads to the start of stage 14. Sirotti photo

"We weren't worried about the escape today”, Kuss said. "It's good to see Remco riding well again together after a bad day. I'm happy for him. It was important for us to stay together as a team. We knew that the second climb of the day would be challenging. There were a few attacks, but we always controlled the situation.“

"The profile of this stage lent itself to an attack. On a few occasions, UAE Team Emirates tried to pressure us, but Primoz and Jonas were always able to respond. Robert Gesink and Attila did a great job keeping us in a good position on the climbs. The team rode impressively once again.”

Kuss took his seventh red jersey on the podium. "It's been a long time since I've ridden around in the leader's jersey. The jersey motivates me a lot. It gives me sharpness and confidence. It has already been a beautiful and unforgettable week for me, no matter what happens next. There are still some tough stages ahead. We feel good, and we are ready”, the 28-year-old American concluded

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Here's the Vuelta stage 14 report from second-place Romain Bardet's Team dsm-firmenich:

With the goal of getting it into the break to play for the stage win, Team dsm-firmenich rode well with three riders in the early move. Romain Bardet went clear alongside Evenepoel, before the duo battled it out for the win with Bardet taking second at Larra-Belagua.

A fierce start to the day saw a big fight for the break with Alberto Dainese and Bardet getting in the original group, while Chris Hamilton then made it across in a counter move on the opening climb. A strong pace had to then be set on that first climb as the peloton upped the pace behind and reduced the gap to three minutes only with 90 kilometres remaining. Over the top Bardet followed Evenepoel who attacked and the duo flew down the descent, continuing to work well over the next climb and the following valley.

Behind the peloton eased off and coming to the final ascent, it was clear that the duo would duke it out for the stage win. Riding to his limits and with no regrets, Bardet tried as hard as he could but as Evenepoel turned the screw at three kilometres to go he had to let go of the wheel. Riding it in to the line, the Frenchman was able to take a very respectable and strong second place on the day after a two-up 90 kilometre time trial between them both.

Romain Bardet and Remco Evenepoel on their escape. Sirotti photo

“It was a really full-gas day,” expressed Bardet. “The team did really well to get me into the break and then supported me all day. Remco made an attack over the first climb and I just followed. We wanted to work together and try to really enjoy the day in the front. I had a few hard days so it was nice to have good legs today and fight with him. I’m not disappointed at all, I did what I could and have no regrets. Remco was just stronger today. He did a lot of the work during the stage and then I just couldn’t follow on the final climb. Today gives confidence for the chances next week.”

Team dsm-firmenich coach Phil West continued: “It was a nice race and a good result on the stage with Romain for us. We wanted to show some good teamwork today to make sure that we were in the break with numbers. With the flat start we had to be really smart with how we did that and use the likes of Sean and Alberto in a good way. In the end we had Romain and Alberto in at the start and then Chris was able to bridge on the climb. It became a much more select group on the climb. We had to pay real attention for the moves, with Romain and Remco going clear over the top and on the descent. Behind we could play the card that Hamo could follow and that helped Romain’s advantage to go out. In the end it turned out to be an epic stage. It’s a good team result once again and we’re looking forward to the next days.”

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And here's the Vuelta report from stage winner Remco Evenepoel's team Soudal Quick-Step:

Remco Evenepoel powered to his second victory at this year’s race, coming out on top on the last day in the Pyrenees following a massive display of strength, guts and character. It was the Belgian Champion’s 49th pro victory, and it came at the end of a 156.5km stage that took the riders over four classified climbs – Col Hourcére, Puerto de Larrau, Puerto de Laza and Larra-Belagua – just 24 hours after the tough day he endured on the road to the Tourmalet.

Evenepoel wins stage 14. Sirotti photo

“Yesterday was a very difficult day! I couldn’t sleep well after the stage. I had a bad night with many negative thoughts, but when I woke up this morning, I said to myself that I would try my best and give everything. I knew this stage from the recon I did – I knew the climbs and the descents, and was very motivated to do well. Winning it after what happened on the previous day makes me very happy”, said Evenepoel after Saturday’s emotional victory.

Remco was the one who ignited the fireworks early, basically mere seconds after the flag was waved in Sauveterre-de-Béarn. It was the first of multiple attacks launched in the first 30 kilometers by Evenepoel, who kept trying and insisting, despite being brought back twice, before a breakaway finally formed. Ahead of the first ascent of the day, more riders joined the leading group, one of whom was the incredible Mattia Cattaneo, who put himself in the service of the defending champion, working tirelessly on the slopes of Hourcére.

Just before the top, Evenepoel put in a short dig to claim the points, and from a move which initially looked to be a brief one, it turned into being the decisive one. Together with Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich), Soudal Quick-Step’s 23-year-old pressed on and pulled away on the descent, putting more than two minutes into their former companions and almost eight minutes between them and the peloton.

Always in control, extremely confident and boasting a fantastic motivation and desire to show what he is capable of, Evenepoel impressed with the amount of sheer power displayed at the front of the race, his long pulls on the climbs resulting in a decisive gap over the chasers by the time they arrived on Larra-Belagua. There, with four kilometers to go, the stage three winner upped the pace and dropped Bardet, surging clear and arriving alone at the finish, where seconds after celebrating his sixth Grand Tour stage success, he was overcome by emotions and tears as he put behind the disappointment, pain and doubts of Friday’s stage.

“Today we rode full gas from the start. I felt good and was always there, every time there was an attempt to form a group. Mattia helped me a lot on the first climb, he set a big tempo and I want to thank him for his work. When I got clear together with Romain, we worked well and had an agreement that I would pace on the climbs as long as he rode with me on the flat. On the final ascent, I just had something extra and that was enough for the win. This answer and my second stage victory in the race make me very proud.”

“This makes up for the disappointment I endured yesterday. I want to thank everyone who believed in me and supported me: my wife, my family, and my team. Now I lead the mountains classification, and with plenty of stages left at the Vuelta, winning it in Madrid can become a goal”, added a smiling Remco in regards to the sixth different jersey he will wear since the start of the Spanish Grand Tour.

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And here's the Vuelta stage 14 report from fourth-place Jonathan Castroviejo's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Jonathan Castroviejo put in a typically classy ride at the Vuelta a Espana to claim fourth place from the stage 14 breakaway.

The Grenadier was active in the difficult early going to ensure he slipped away as part of the day's escape group. Castroviejo settled into a pack of nine on the Puerto de Larrau, but moved up as the stage wore on.

INEOS Grenadier rider Filippo Ganna descends Vuelta stage 14's first hill. Sirotti photo

With two riders up the road going on to contest the stage win, Castro found himself riding with Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ) and Lennert Van Eetvelt (Lotto-Dstny) in a battle for the top-five. The trio were able to hold off the chasing GC pack, with Castroviejo coming in fourth behind Van Eetvelt.

Up ahead Remco Evenepoel (Soudal - Quick-Step) claimed an impressive solo victory after accelerating clear of Romain Bardet (Team DSM) on the final ascent.

Magnus Sheffield sprinted to eighth place as the Grenadiers took on the penultimate stage of the Tour of Britain. With narrow gaps on the general classification, we saw a day of attacking on the road to Gloucester.

Ben Turner kicked things off, counter-attacking following an early move from Connor Swift. The rangy Brit eventually ended up in a group of five, out front for much of the day.

On the run-in that meant the Grenadiers were able to follow the counter-attacks, with Sheffield and Carlos Rodriguez covering moves on the hilly ramps.

Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was active and Turner dug deep to get on his wheel with 12km to go as he accelerated and bridged to the front. Rodriguez crashed briefly amid a battle for positions on the climb, but was able to quickly remount.

With Turner slipping back, Sheffield made his way into a select chasing group, finishing eighth as the eventual sprint was won by Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X).

The result ensures the race will go down to the wire in Wales on Sunday. Sheffield jumped up to sixth place overall and sits just three seconds back on Van Aert. The result also saw the American move into the white Young Rider jersey.

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