The Tour of Spain 2023, the third and last major event of this season, ends with the unexpected but deserved victory of a hard-working member of the peloton such as the American Sepp Kuss, who has been supported on the podium by his teammates Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic, winners of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.
Jumbo-Visma’s monologue in La Vuelta a España 2023 ends in a year in which they have barely left crumbs, in quotes since some are really important races like the Paris Nice that Tadej Pogacar won or the Tour of Switzerland in which Mattias Skjelmose won. The rest of the main stage events, including the three big ones, have gone into the hands of Jumbo-Visma cyclists, especially Primoz Roglic who with Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya and Giro d’Italia culminates a spectacular calendar, the same than his teammate Jonas Vingegaard who has managed to add Itzulia and Critérium du Dauphiné to the Tour de France.
With these precedents, the victory in La Vuelta that ended today seemed decided before going in favor of one of these two cyclists. What was not expected is the departure of mus and the almost jerry-can escape that occurred in the 6th stage on the way to the Javalambre Observatory and in which, although the leadership temporarily fell into the hands of Lenny Martínez, it left us lurking one of the best cyclists in the peloton, Sepp Kuss, one of those super-luxury gregarious people who are always with their leaders until the last moments of the most decisive stages and who, in this 2023 season, accumulated the achievement of having competed in the three big ones. turns.
He reinforced his candidacy for victory and started a problem within Jumbo-Visma when after the stage ending in the Xorret de Catí he not only held on with the favorites without a problem but also positioned himself as the leader of the general classification. Although at the time he couldn’t even imagine it, a garment that he would not stop wearing until Madrid.
In any case, at that time all eyes were focused on what seemed like the man to beat, the current winner of the event Remco Evenepoel who had shown himself to be tremendously solid in the first week, convincingly winning the first mountain stage in Andorran lands. However, Remco was unable to assert his power in the Valladolid time trial, which opened uncertainty in the general classification. On the contrary, Sepp Kuss had a splendid stage that only consolidated his leadership.
We thus reached the Pyrenean stages that should clearly define the race and, at the first opportunity, Remco Evenepoel succumbed in a stage ending in the Tourmalet in which Jumbo-Visma began to pass the roller and, without even knowing it, Internal tensions began with an ambitious Jonas Vingegaard who made a forceful attack that left him within striking distance of the lead in addition to achieving a prestigious stage victory.
Tensions that would reach their climax days later at the arrival at the fearsome Angliru where Sepp Kuss would barely manage to save the red jersey against the offensive of his own teammates.
From there, after the pertinent meeting between the cyclists and the team directors, peace returned to the Dutch formation, ruling that, barring an unexpected collapse, Sepp Kuss was worthy of the red jersey and would be protected as befits the leader.
We can say little about the rest of the candidates to wear the red garment. We saw some battle in the Tourmalet but, from then on, nothing. Neither Juan Ayuso nor Enric Mas have shown offensive capacity. Only Mikel Landa and his Bahrain-Victorious have raised a little more ambition, although with more desire than strength.
Only Remco Evenepoel’s show, who, after losing his chances for the general classification, dedicated himself to searching for stages with tremendous rage, has managed to save the viewer the last week and a half of La Vuelta 2023.
Thus we reached the last day, with a traditional route around the city of Madrid until reaching the usual circuit between Paseo del Prado and Alcalá and Gran Vía streets with the only incentive of knowing if Kaden Groves would manage to certify his triplet of stages or would have to settle for the two achieved during the first week.
Before starting this almost festive day in terms of the competition, we learned from Javier Guillén himself, General Director of Unipublic, that the start of the next edition of La Vuelta would be held in the city of Lisbon, probably with a time trial. individual and with the first stages through Portuguese lands.
Arriving at the final circuit, the pace accelerated and the real competition began, something that, no matter what runner you ask, although it may seem like it is just a day of walking, it is one of the most intense moments of each Vuelta. As is always the case with brave people who tried more for the gallery than with hopes of reaching it.
On this occasion, the starters were the Bora-Hansgrohe cyclists Nico Denz and Lennard Kämna in the company of Rui Costa. When we were all imagining the usual scenario in which they were caught in the last kilometers, the surprise occurred when Remco Evenepoel himself made a hard start, who was closely marked by Kaden Groves as the points classification was still up in the air.
They were joined by 3 INEOS Grenadiers cyclists: Omar Fraile, Kim Heiduk and Filippo Ganna. The first two gave their lives to take Omar, Groves and Remco to the head before exploding, proof of the extremely intense pace.
From there, they maintained a tough fight with the peloton, reaching more than 30 seconds of difference, which was gradually reduced due to fatigue and the very high pace set by the peloton. Even so, they reached the last step across the finish line with a 15-second advantage that made them dream of victory.
However, the typical stop and vigilance a few hundred meters from the finish line made the peloton reach them, at which point Remco took advantage to try to surprise and almost succeeded, taking everyone out of the wheel except for a wonderful Kaden Groves who knew how to react to return. to Evenepoel’s wheel and overtake him in the last few metres, rounding off his green jersey with a fantastic hat trick of stages.
Classification Stage 21
1. Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 2h24’13”
2. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) m.t.
3. Nico Denz (Bora-Hansgrohe) m.t.
4. Hugo Page (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) m.t.
5. Iván García Cortina (Movistar Team) m.t.
6. Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) m.t.
7. Maarijn Van Den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) m.t.
8. Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) m.t.
9. Dries Van Gestel (TotalEnergies) m.t.
10. Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) m.t.
1. Stepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 76h48’21”
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +17”
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +01’08”
4. Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +03’44”
5. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) +04’03”
6. Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +04’14”
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) +08’06”
8. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) +08’13”
9. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +10’08”
10. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) +11’51”