Vuelta a España stage 19: Kuss closes in on red as Dainese delivers in crash-marred sprint

Dainese denies Ganna after Groves caught up in late crash, Kuss moves to within 24 hours of GC victory.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

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Alberto Dainese (DSM-Firmenich) padded his grand tour palmarès with sprint victory Friday in Vuelta a España stage 19.

Race leader Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) coasted through a by-the-numbers sprinter stage across Spain’s exposed Meseta and retains his 17 second lead over teammate Jonas Vingegaard.

Just one stage of contested racing now stands between the Colorado climber and his first grand tour victory.

Daniese denied a long powering acceleration from Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) in Friday’s mostly straightforward sprint stage.

A crash inside the final 1500 meters took top speedster Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) out of contention and opened the door for those until now left trailing in his wake.

Ineos Grenadiers did all it could to launch barn-door pursuiter Ganna to victory through the final kilometers, and the Italian came mighty close.

But his countryman Dainese’s well-timed surge from a few wheels back earned him his third grand tour victory after he already scored at each of the past two Giri d’Italia.

“I’m super happy to finish a hard Vuelta in this way,” Dainese said at the finish. “I really wanted to end this season in a good way and to end my time at DSM in a good way. Obviously this is really special because of that.”

DSM Firmenich was one of the few teams that went into this Vuelta with a dedicated sprinter team.

Dainese rode into Friday’s Vuelta a España stage 19 under the microscope after failing to hit a sprint podium, and he duly hit the mark in one of his final races before he moves to Tudor Pro Cycling in 2024.

“Today I felt a lot of pressure because it’s the last opportunity for a sprint,” he said. “I want to say thank you to the team for doing such a good job.”

Kuss moved one day closer to the final red jersey in a largely straightforward sprint stage.

Friday’s very flat, very straight parcours into Íscar had the peloton on crosswind watch.

The course traced a direct line across Spain’s exposed central Meseta, an area notorious for explosive echelon racing.

Yet Friday, the winds didn’t blow and the stage played per the sprinter script for a weary peloton beat down by a big block of mountain racing.

The break of Mathis Le Berre (Arkéa Samsic), Paul Lapeira (Ag2r-Citroën), Michal Schlegel (Caja Rural) and Clément Davy (Groupama-FDJ) got away within the first 15km easy enough and were left out to dry some 150km.

Alpecin-Deceuninck and UAE Emirates patrolled at the front to maintain a manageable gap for previous stage-winners Groves and Juan Sebastian Molano, and the foursome was pulled back 17km from the line.

Samuele Battistella launched a short-lived solo flyer to give Astana-Qazaqstan some TV time in a sub-par Vuelta for his Kazakh team, but the stage was a dead-cert for a sprint.

Geraint Thomas led the charge for Ineos Grenadiers teammate Ganna through a crucial right hander into Íscar and the Brit team kept muscling at the front into the final 1500 meters.

An overlapping of wheels at the front of the bunch provoked a mass crash on wide highway at 1.4km from the line, and Groves was caught in the carnage.

“In the end I had to stop and jump off my bike so I was unable to sprint today,” the Aussie said at the line.

“I’ll need to watch it back but I was super lucky. I ended up unclipping and almost running off the bike. It was a hard crash for two DSM and my teammate Tobias [Bayer – ed].”

EF Education-EasyPost came up to challenge Ineos in the final before Ganna uncorked a huge 250m sprint made by Ivan García Garcia (Movistar) and Marin van den Berg (EF Education EasyPost).

But Dainese stayed poised and patient.

The Italian made his move from several wheels back inside the final 50m and scooped DSM its first win since Lorenzo Milesi earned red in the opening TTT.

Kuss carries red into complex classics-style stage

Vuelta a España stage 19 sepp kuss photos with fans
Kuss does photo duty before the stage Friday.

Saturday marks the final day of classification racing, and the 10-climb monster promises a potentially complex day of racing.

A relentlessly lumpy 20th stage through the rugged, sinuous roads of the Sierra de Guadarrama will require Kuss to be on red-alert for close to five hours in a potentially explosive day of racing.

Remco Evenepoel will be at the fore of this Liege-Bastogne-Liege style stage.

Meanwhile Jumbo-Visma will have the GC group on a lockdown – will the team maintain harmony and chaperone Kuss into the final red jersey?


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