Juan Ayuso, champion of the Tour of the Basque Country 2024

This Saturday, Spaniard Juan Ayuso won the title of the Vuelta al País Vasco 2024. Carlos Rodríguez won the sixth stage, while Esteban Chaves was one of the highlights.

Spaniard Juan Ayuso (UAE Emirates) revolutionized the last stage of the Itzulia, the queen stage with start and finish in Eibar, and was proclaimed champion of the 63rd edition after a shared exhibition with Andalusian Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos), winner of the stage and second overall.

It was the first victory in a World Cup race for Juan Ayuso, born in Barcelona 21 years ago, but based in Jávea (Alicante), after setting the race on fire in the last two passes with successive attacks, achieving the final goal 16 kilometers from the finish line on the ascent to Urkaregi, where he opened the way together with Rodríguez.

A lethal union for the rest of the rivals. Both put asphalt in the middle, achieved a good handful of seconds and understood each other as great friends. The stage for Rodríguez, who raised his arms for the second time in the Itzulia, happy with the partial victory and second place overall.

Ayuso did not dispute the victory, passing Rodriguez on the red carpet. They both reached the finish line with a time of 3h.37.14, at an average of 39.2 km/hour. The chasers surrendered to the exhibition of the Spanish pair. Marc Soler completed the festival with third place, ahead of the beaten Mattias Skjelmose, unable to follow Ayuso at the key moment of the breakaway.

Ayuso climbed to the top of the podium, tasting his seventh professional victory, his third of the season. It was his World Tour debut in a prestigious race, despite the circumstances that eliminated the big favorites. Crashes marked this year’s edition.

Great second place for Rodriguez, 23 years old, with 5 victories in his palmares, the second in the Itzulia, since in 2022 he left his stamp in Mallabia. And third place, with a bittersweet taste for Skjelmose, only 1 second behind the rider from Almuñecar.


It was the queen stage, of just 138 kilometers, short and explosive, with 7 passes, without respite, and 3,400 meters of elevation gain. Everything was still to be decided with 20 riders in the general classification within 1 minute. From the start, it couldn’t be more exciting.

“The race is going to explode,” announced Juan Ayuso, one of the clear candidates for the champion’s txapela. From the start, a 22-man breakaway was formed, the best being the Colombian Brandon Rivera at 1.21 minutes. The large expedition overcame with an advantage of around 3 minutes the climbs of Elkorrieta (3rd), Azurki (1st) and Gorla (2nd).

On Krabelin (1st, 6 kms at 9.5) the breakaway was reduced to 7 men, with Kuus, Kruijswijk, Chaves, Mollema, Igor Arrieta. In the chase Soler attacked opening the way for UAE’s strategy. The Catalan managed to link up with the head of the race, along with Arrieta. Two of Ayuso’s men in the lead.

The move alerted leader Skjelmose’s Lidl, the team that took the responsibility of keeping the breakaway at around 1 minute with 35 km to go, passing through Eibar, with the Izua and Urkaregi climbs to climb.


The climb to Izua (1st, 4.1 km at 9) unleashed hostilities, both in the breakaway and in the general classification. British rider Oscar Onley (DSM) attacked in front, and from behind Ayuso launched his attempt after the attempts of Skjelmose and Carlos Rodríguez.

The rider from Jávea grabbed the baton, broke away from the leader, caught Soler and Chaves and assumed that he should be the one to take the lead until the finish line. It was not going to be easy to consolidate the intention, as Skjelmose and Rodriguez joined him on the descent.


Only one pass remained, the Urkaregi (3rd, 5 km à 4.6). Once again, Ayuso was on the attack, burning the bridges for the dream of the champion’s “txapela”. The rider from Alicante attacked hard, Rodríguez stuck to the wheel. The present and future of Spanish cycling in command. Pure potential at the helm of the Itzulia.

At the top of the pass the Ayuso-Rodriguez partnership crowned with 32 seconds over Skjelmose, who was already saying goodbye to the Itzulia. With 12 kilometers to go the Spaniards joined forces to not lose the spoils. Logically, the stage for the Andalusian and the overall for the Spaniard.

It was all said and done. Ayuso and Rodriguez went down the pass together, pressed together in Eibar and spoke little, but clear. “The stage for me, the overall for you”. And so went the triumphant ride to the finish, where Ayuso’s baptism in the World Tour was concretized.

Not since 2019 had a Spaniard won in a World Tour event. The last one was Enrica Mas in the Tour of Guangxi. Ayuso succeeds Danish Jonas Vingegaard, winner in 2023.

Source: Agencia EFE