Vuelta a España stage 17: Rigoberto Urán wins from the break
Colombian completes hat trick of grand tour stages.
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Rigoberto Urán took a long-awaited victory after a finale of relentless attacking within the day’s break, triumphing at the end of stage 17 of the Vuelta a España.
The Colombian EF Education-EasyPost rider reached the summit of the Monasterio de Tentudía climb just ahead of Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ), with Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) two seconds back in third.
The success is his first victory of the season and the fourth grand tour stage win of his career. Together with victories in the Giro in 2013 and 2014 plus one in the 2017 Tour de France, the result sees him complete stage wins in each of the grand tours.
The day’s big move began after approximately 39 kilometers of racing, with 13 riders moving clear. This group included American rider Lawson Craddock, and established a maximum lead of over seven minutes. Craddock put in a strong attack with 15km remaining and was still clear with just over one kilometer to go, with several others then getting up to him.
Herrada put in a big surge but Urán was able to claw his way up to him and then attacked, holding off the hard-chasing Cofidis rider to the line.
“It is always nice to win at the Vuelta, and I have been hunting it for many years,” he said. “I had victories in the Giro and the Tour de France, and so this gives me great joy. I was looking for this win. It has been a long journey, but I am very happy. Thank you to my team and to my family who made it possible as well. They were the first to believe in me, so it makes me very happy.
“I would just like to say hi to my race director and thank you very much to him, because he has encouraged me immensely.”
Behind, Enric Mas (Movistar Team) put in repeated attacks to try to crack race leader Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), but to no avail. João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) was the only one of the GC riders able to gain time, slipping clear and finishing nine seconds clear of Evenepoel and Mas.
Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) gave up a further two seconds, while Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan Team) were four seconds behind Evenepoel and Mas.
Evenepoel preserves his 2:01 lead over Mas, with the latter moving up to second overall after Primož Roglic’s withdrawal. Ayuso is a distant third at 4:51, with Rodríguez, López and Almeida next in line.
Urán’s time gain sees him move up three places to ninth overall, but his win will be more satisfying than his GC improvement.
“Everyone was really quick,” he said. “I had to try to preserve a little bit of energy so that I had it to spend at the end against people like Soler. I had to be very careful. About 300 meters from the finish I thought, ‘this is the opportunity, I have to go now.’”
Urán last took a victory in the 2021 Tour de Suisse. He is in the final year of his current contract with EF Education-EasyPost and needed a win to help secure a good deal for 2023 and beyond.
“What you need to always do is to believe and to fight,” he said. “Sometimes the results are a long time coming, but every day if you wake up with a great attitude and with happiness in your heart [things happen]… You must never lose hope. If you don’t succeed, then you have to try again. Try again, and that is what I do for my family, for my friends and for my team.”
How it played out:
Stage 17 of the Vuelta a España ran from Aracena to Monastère de Tentudia and traced a continually undulating 162.3 kilometer route. While the second cat final climb was the only categorized ascent on the stage, there were plenty of uphills to contend with.
The race was marred by the withdrawal of Primož Roglič, second overall prior to the stage, while Filippo Conca (Lotto Soudal) exited with Covid-19 and Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) with fatigue.
The stage looked set to be one for a breakaway and there was relentless attacking from the gun. The day’s big move finally began after approximately 39 kilometers when Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) and Bob Jungels (AG2R Citroën) jumped clear.
They were soon joined by eight others, namely Clément Champoussin, Jungels’ teammate, Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost), Lawson Craddock (BikeExchange-Jayco), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) and Simon Guglielmi (Arkea-Samsic).
Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Premier Tech) and Elie Gesbert (Arkea Samsic) bridged soon afterwards, increasing the numbers ahead to 13, and together they established a lead of 7:15 with 50km to go.
The break presented no danger to race leader Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), with Urán best placed overall in 12th, 14:56 behind.
Wright won the intermediate sprint in Segura de Leon (km 133.2), beating Urán, Soler and the rest. Craddock was biding his time and launched an attack with 19km remaining. The others got up to him, save for Wright, and Craddock then clipped away again with 15km left.
He had 12 seconds with 12km to go, with Wright returning to the group then and attacking hard in a futile attempt to get clear and bridge across.
Fireworks on the final climb:
Craddock rode strongly on the lower slopes of the Monastère de Tentudia climb and had 18 seconds with 8km to go. He further increased this to 22 seconds over the next three kilometers, improving his chances. Meanwhile the Movistar team of Enric Mas was driving the pace of the peloton, trying to set things up for a big attack by the rider in second place overall.
Champoussin, Urán and Gesbert played their cards on the climb and attacked with just over five kilometers to go. They reduced their deficit to 12 seconds with 3.5km remaining, with Gesbert then cracking.
Urán and Champoussin kept driving onwards but were joined by first Pacher and then Soler and Herrada. Soler attacked heading into the final 2km, but was reeled in. Craddock’s gap had dropped to ten seconds there but a stall saw that increase again slightly. He kept driving, only to be caught by Urán, Herrada and Soler with one kilometer to go.
A slight stall enabled Champoussin to get back up to that trio and he launched, but Herrada whipped past with 850 meters remaining. Urán stubbornly inched closer then sprinted past, digging in to hold off Pacher and Herrada for the win.
Behind Mas attacked repeatedly but was marked by Evenepoel, with João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) the only one of those in the top ten to gain time. He raced in nine seconds clear of Evenepoel and Mas, while Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) gave up a further two seconds but stayed third overall.
Results will be available once stage has completed.