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Vuelta a España stage 15 report: Cunning Costa snatches victory in three-up sprint

Lennard Kämna took second after crashing on the descent, with Santiago Buitrago taking third on a day for the breakaway.

Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) wins stage 15 of the 2023 Vuelta a España. Photo: © Cor Vos

Kit Nicholson
by Kit Nicholson 10.09.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Stage 15 was another day for the breakaway as the Vuelta a España galloped towards its second and last rest day. With two hilly laps local to the finish in Lekunberri and Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) in the day’s move for the second time this weekend, the Belgian’s breakaway companions were motivated to attack on the final second-category ascent. Among the three strongest was Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), the wily veteran calculating when to make his moves and when to hold back, making no friends but managing his efforts just enough to have the beating of Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) – who crashed while leading down the descent – and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) in the sprint for the line.

How it happened:

An unhappy partnership.

Brief results:

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Quote of the day

Sepp Kuss is still comfortable in red atop a Jumbo-Visma stacked podium, and he delivered an ominous statement ahead of the Vuelta’s final week, albeit in his usual cheery tone.

“It’s been a very intense second week, but it’s mostly been in terrain that I like, so that’s not been as hard as the first one. I came into the second week with better feelings, and I’m feeling better than in the first week, so I’m getting better.”

Sepp Kuss after stage 15

What’s next?

First things first, rest day. But after a well-needed and much-deserved day off the bike, the Vuelta continues its journey to Madrid via a curious, mostly coastal route from Liencres Playa, only tilting up in any significant fashion after the bonus sprint, then finishing up a second-category climb to Bejes. The whole climb is 4.9 kilometres in length, average 8.6%, but it’s being described as two ramps, the first 1.6 km at 10.7%, the second 2.7 km at 9.2%. It’s a relatively short day out at 120 km, and with opportunities running out, this is somewhere Juan Ayuso may seek to take time and the bonus seconds won with the stage, which will draw out one or more Jumbo-Visma leaders, perhaps Primož Roglič who likes an explosive effort. We’ll throw in Remco Evenepoel for good measure.

Is this an Evenepoel in difficulty or an Evenepoel knowing he’s close to the top of the climb with a descent to come?

Social media highlights

The red jersey had a very important member of support crew at the start this morning.

Chapeau, Rui Costa.

In an era of youth, the veteran (at 36 *gulp*) did it.

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