Remco Evenepoel attacks out of the saddle on the La Cruz de Linares climb on stage 18 of the 2023 Vuelta a España. He's wearing the blue polka-dot jersey of best climber, and behind DSM-Firmenich's Max Poole is struggling to hold the wheel as the pair pass a row of fans on the climb.

Vuelta stage 18: Evenepoel wins, Jumbo holds fire

The Belgian wins his third stage of the race as a more traditional tactic from leader Sepp Kuss's team controls the overall.

Max Poole goes deep trying to stay with Remco Evenepoel on the climb.

Joe Lindsey
by Joe Lindsey 14.09.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Remco Evenepoel may not be having the Vuelta a España he envisioned at the start in Barcelona, but the defending champion is salvaging a solid result nonetheless after his GC hopes went up the road in week two. The Soudal Quick-Step leader won his third stage of the race and solidified his lead in the mountains competition after joining in the day’s big breakaway and then going solo with 29 km to go on the first of two laps up the La Cruz de Linares climb.

Behind, the Jumbo-Visma team of race leader Sepp Kuss kept a close eye on affairs on the final climb, foregoing the intra-team attacks that had marked much of the race’s third week. Instead, Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard mostly rode tempo on the climbs and let Kuss close down late moves from rivals. Vingegaard even let a slight gap open at the line, falling nine seconds further back in the general classification, although he remains second overall.



Robert Gesink leads a line of Jumbo-Visma riders on stage 18 of the 2023 Vuelta a España. Dylan van Baarle and Attila Valter follow in their Dutch and Hungarian national champions jerseys, while red jersey Sepp Kuss sits fifth wheel.
Nice and steady, boys.

Quotes of the day

“After my off day in Formigal I think I just had to turn the page and go for stages. I won three of the most beautiful stages and took the mountain jersey, so it’s been an amazing Vuelta even though the GC didn’t work out.”

-Evenepoel on rebounding from his bad day on stage 13.

“I was a bit scared because [Jonas’] pace isn’t always the easiest [to follow] but he rode super today. Today we rode a more defensive tactic, what we agreed on as a team in between us three.”

-Kuss, on Vingegaard’s pacemaking on the two laps of the La Cruz de Linares climb.

Worst of social

Jumbo’s day on the road went more smoothly today, but one of its soigneurs had a rough go at the finish after getting manhandled by Spanish police. It’s at least the second incident where Policia Nacional have been aggressively physical with official, credentialed team staff; a Cofidis soigneur was similarly accosted at the finish on stage 11 while cheering a win from his rider Jesus Herrada.

Up next: stage 19

The 2023 Vuelta takes a break from the mountains for a day with this 177.1 km stage from La Bañeza to Íscar. There are a few rollers, but no categorized climbs and the final 50 km or so are pretty much flat. The intermediate sprint comes late, at the 158 km mark. Expect an early breakaway, with pacemaking and control mostly from the sprinters’ teams. Alpecin-Deceuninck will certainly put riders at the front to try to set up a fourth stage win for green jersey Kaden Groves, who may also want those intermediate sprint points as Evenepoel is getting uncomfortably close to his lead in that competition. UAE Team Emirates hasn’t had as successful a Vuelta as it wanted, but Juan Sebastian Molano could give it a second stage win.

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