Carapaz and Evenepoel rise to glory
September 10 th 2022 - 17:50
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) are the two main winners after a gruelling showdown in stage 20 of La Vuelta 22. The Ecuadorian climber attacked early in the stage to chase his third stage victory a few seconds ahead of the GC contenders, after an all out battle over the summits of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The young Belgian star responded to every attack to retain La Roja on the eve of the final stage. His tears after he crossed the line showed the magnitude of this moment for him and for Belgians, 44 years after their last victory in a Grand Tour (Johan De Muynck in the Giro 1978). On Sunday, the riders will parade in Madrid, where the final winners of La Vuelta 22 will be crowned. And Evenepoel is set to become the youngest winner of the race in more than half a century.
The final showdown of La Vuelta 22 takes the riders into the Sierra de Guadarrama with five major ascents adding up to 3,840m of elevation on the way to Puerto de Navacerrada. The 134 finishers from stage 19 start from Moralzarzal to face iconic climbs that notably saw Fabio Aru overthrow Tom Dumoulin in 2015.
An all out battle from the start
The last uphill challenges inspire attackers on the eve of the arrival in Madrid. Clément Champoussin (AG2R Citroën), Ruben Fernandez (Cofidis), Xandro Meurisse, Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Dani Navarro (Burgos-BH), Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Simon Guglielmi (Arkea Samsic) are the first riders to really make the break, after 11km of battles.
Remco Evenepoel’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl are willing to let them go but an all out battle is launched on the cat-1 Puerto de Navacerrada, 25km into the stage. At the summit, Fernandez, Meurisse, Stannard, Navarro and Guglielmi are 40’’ ahead of a chase group led by Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers). The likes of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) are also on the move. A couple of days after his crash, Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) is dropped.
A relentless pace
Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) bridges the gap to the front of the race on the following downhill. Into the valley, the Spaniard keeps pushing with Stannard while the rest of the leaders drop back to a chase group with 24 riders. The peloton let the gap increase to 6’.
Bora-Hansgrohe react as Louis Meintjes threatens Jai Hindley’s position in the top 10. On the following ascent, the cat-2 Puerto de Navafria (summit at km 92.8), Thibaut Pinot sets off in pursuit. Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) and Gregor Muhlberger (Movistar) join him. They reach the front of the race with 68km to go. The chase group trail by 1’10’’ and the peloton by 5’.
The attackers get together on the cat-2 Puerto de Canencia (km 126.8). On the penultimate ascent of La Vuelta 22, the cat-1 Puerto de la Morcuera (km 143.7), three riders get away at the front: Carapaz, Meintjes and Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe). Movistar up the ante and Enric Mas attacks inside the last 4km of ascent but his GC rivals respond.
Carapaz flies, Evenepoel replies
The leading trio faces the final ascent, the cat-1 Puerto de Cotos (km 174.3), with a gap of 45’’ to a 7-man chase group with Valverde. Soler pulls the GC group with a gap of 1’25’’.
Carapaz and Higuita set off 9km away from the summit. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan) is the most aggressive rider from the GC group but Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) defends his podium.
Carapaz attacks just ahead of the summit. He drops Higuita and eventually holds off Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) for a handful of seconds (+8’’). The GC contenders finish together, except for Rodriguez, and Evenepoel all but seals the overall victory.