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Tadej Pogačar (UAE Crew Emirates) secured total victory on the Vuelta a Andalucía, his first stage race victory of the 2023 season and the twelfth of his profession.
The Slovenian, who gained three levels of the five-stage race, completed securely within the peloton on the ultimate stage to Alhaurín de la Torre to substantiate his win, 1:23 forward of Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) and 1:28 up on Landa’s teammate Santiago Buitrago.
An uncommon sight within the ultimate kilometre noticed race chief Pogačar engaged on the entrance as his UAE Crew Emirates squad led out Alessandro Covi, in search of to make it 5 wins for the workforce in 5 levels on the race.
The workforce had taken management within the ultimate 3km after Movistar had reeled in breakaway survivor Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Deceuninck) simply inside the ultimate 10km. Nevertheless, regardless of a sterling lead out up the hill it wasn’t to be for Covi.
Omar Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers) was available to spoil the social gathering on the end Alhaurín de la Torre, blasting to the entrance on the uphill run to the ultimate nook.
In prime place to complete off the late transfer, he accelerated down the end straight to place far between himself and Covi to assert the victory. The win is Fraile’s first since taking the Spanish nationwide title in 2021 and the eighth of his profession.
“It was actually nice. We did an ideal job by the week. I am tremendous proud of my form and with the form of the workforce,” Pogačar stated after the stage.
“With the end result, I am possibly somewhat bit stunned, however I knew that my stage is nice. On this race, I felt actually robust, and I hope I can really feel as robust within the subsequent races.
“Simply to proceed the season [as it has been] till now,” he concluded when requested about his season objectives.
Away from the battle for the stage and the general, Pogačar additionally took dwelling the factors jersey, whereas Ineos Grenadiers have been topped prime workforce, and Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Gotzon Martín walked away with a well-earned king of the mountains prize.
The way it unfolded
The ultimate stage of the Vuelta a Andalucía would see the riders tackle one other hilly problem with 4 labeled climbs on the menu, together with the ultimate first-category climb of Puerto del Sol (17.3km at 4.9%) halfway by.
The 184km stage would conclude with one other hilltop end at Alhaurín de la Torre, although much less difficult than earlier finishes with a gentler gradient.
Whereas the battle for the break on stage 4 lasted over half the stage, in distinction it was wrapped up very swiftly on Sunday, with Xabier Isasa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Dries Van Gestel (TotalEnergies), and Vincent Van Hemelen (Flanders-Baloise) getting away nearly as quickly because the stage started.
The trio would swiftly be joined within the transfer by Kevin Colleoni (Jayco-AlUla), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Dececuninck), Erik Fetter (Eolo-Kometa) and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto-Dstny), whereas José Manuel Díaz (Burgos-BH) would fail in an try and bridge alone.
As Movistar and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty took up the tempo making on the head of the peloton, the place they might stay for a lot of the day, the hole to the break went as much as 2:30.
That might be a steady lead for many of the stage, with the peloton eager to provide the break little leeway. The early climbs of the Alto el Cerrajón and Alto del Navazo got here and went with out a lot drama because the break collected the minor KOM factors on the prime and the peloton rolled alongside, nonetheless at across the 2:30 mark.
The massive climb of the Puerto del Sol, too, handed with out a lot incident, and definitely no long-range assaults at over 80km from the road. In truth, there would not be a lot motion till the ultimate labeled climb of the day – and of the race – the third-category Alto de Los Nunez.
There, 40km from the road, it was Dries De Bondt who turned on the facility to explode the breakaway because the peloton closed in to underneath a minute.
One after the other, the breakaway riders have been reabsorbed, till it was simply the Belgian left within the lead, hanging just a few seconds forward of the peloton as he crested the climb.
The 31-year-old would put in a spirited effort on the descent and the flat run in the direction of Alhaurín de la Torre as he sought, in opposition to all odds, so as to add to his six profession victories. Final yr, he triumphed from the breakaway on stage 18 on the Giro d’Italia, however De Bondt was combating a dropping battle as Movistar, UAE Crew Emirates, and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty managed the tempo behind him.
He did, nonetheless, handle to pull out a niche of 20 seconds on the flat, however regardless of a heroic effort to remain away for so long as doable, his day got here to an finish when he was lastly caught 9km from the road.
Movistar continued to cleared the path in the direction of the end till Ineos Grenadiers and Jayco-AlUla joined within the enjoyable at 4km to go. UAE Crew Emirates have been additionally up there, taking management within the ultimate 3km as they sought to finish a clear sweep of stage wins on the race.
Race chief Pogačar was an surprising face on the entrance of the peloton, the Slovenian unselfishly working for his teammates as he put in a giant flip to maintain the tempo excessive because the highway tilted upwards.
After he peeled off, Tim Wellens did the ultimate flip earlier than Alessandro Covi launched for the road. Sadly for him and UAE, nonetheless, Omar Fraile was developing on the right-hand aspect with pace, blasting by to the entrance.
The Basque rider was within the lead across the tight ultimate bend, a key second, and pushed on within the closing metres to cross the road a few bike lengths up on Covi, his win by no means unsure.
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