Attackers eyed stage 19 of La Vuelta 22 as one of their last opportunities to shine… But Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) had different plans and he successfully executed them with a powerful sprint in Talavera de la Reina, after 138.3km of racing covered at a high speed over the two ascents of the day. On the day after he secured the green jersey, the Danish star put more emphasis on his dominance in the sprints, claiming his third victory ahead of Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) and Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin Deceuninck). Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) safely went through the stage to retain La Roja ahead of the final big showdown in the mountains.
In between the last two altitude finishes of La Vuelta 22 (on Thursday at Alto de Piornal and on Saturday at Puerto de Navacerrada), the peloton face a tricky route around Talavera de la Reina, with two ascents of the Puerto del Pielago (cat. 2) before a finish on the flat. The 134 finishers from stage 18 start in the early afternoon.
As the riders face one of the last opportunities to battle for a stage win, attackers are inspired and they launch another all out battle from the start. Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) have a gap of 12'' at km 10.
Many more riders want to make the break and the battle keeps going onto the first ascent of the day (summit at km 30.3). Lawson Craddock (BikeExchange) sets off in pursuit while the gap is up to 2’40’’. Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) and Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Mikel Bizkarra and Ibai Azurmendi also attack.
… But Trek-Segafredo control
Mads Pedersen’s Trek-Segafredo react and set a strong pace. On the ascent, the gap drops from a maximum of 4’25’’ to 3’45’’. The chasers are caught in the valley. And the gap is down to under 1 minute when the riders begin the second ascent of the Puerto del Pielago (summit at km 96.1).
Fred Wright’s Bahrain Victorious set the pace with Mikel Landa and Gino Mäder on the climb. Caicedo, McNulty and Okamika are reeled in with 49km to go.
Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) controlled the race all the way to Talavera de la Reina. Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ) tried to emulate Anthony Roux’s success from 2009 in the same place, attacking with 1km to go. But there was no preventing Pedersen from a new triumph.