Vuelta a España not settled just yet: GC gaps shrink as Primož Roglič battles back on La Pandera

Remco Evenepoel’s deputy at the Vuelta a España relaxed in Saturday’s explosive final on stage 14.

Within 4km of the summit of La Pandera, the GC gap changed significantly as Evenepoel lost time to nearly all of its top competitors.

Primož Roglič accelerated violently on the steep, rocky peak, stumbling red jersey Evenepoel and seeing him lose the wheel when he felt weak for the first time in fourteen days of competition.

“It was definitely not my best day, I didn’t have the best legs and when Roglic left, I couldn’t accelerate,” Enepoel said later.

The Belgian bounced back after an initial one-kilometer crisis to keep the gap to a minute over a frenzied Roglic.

Evenepoel still holds a 1:49 advantage over the chasing GC pack after the punishing Pandera summit. But the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl ace’s first signs of fatigue may give those behind him some hope ahead of Sunday’s alpine showdown in the Sierra Nevada.

Roglič was the big winner of the day after stage winner Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers).

His third place gave him 48 seconds on the GC, his first big move against a young opponent. If Jumbo-Visma wants to secure a fourth consecutive historic Vuelta title with its Slovenian star, it now has seven stages to take Evenepoel out of the red.

Enric Mas started on day three when he jumped on Roglic’s wheel when the three-time Tour de Virta champion attacked.

Maas later suffered on the stony summit of Pendra and finished 28 seconds at Roglic, just 20 seconds ahead of Enepoel, a fraction of his three-minute gap to the red jersey.

Tour de France top 3 after stage 14:

  1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): Race Front Runner
  2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): +1:49
  3. Enrique Maas (Movistar): +2:43

Evenepoel controlled the loss and inadvertently sent United Arab Emirates co-leader Juan Ayuso to the penalty line after the Spanish sensation suffered a mechanical failure and Roglič opened his key attack.

Ayuso was the only driver who did not make any GC gains as Mas, Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Kasakhstan), João Almeida (Team UAE) and Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos-Grenadiers) were all close to the end of the race. Back to Madrid in seconds.

Evenepoel remains firmly in control of this Vuelta a España before completing its second major summit on Sunday. But suddenly, Roglič might see an opportunity to pry the pinky from Remco’s hold on the red.

“I’m still 1 minute 49 seconds ahead on the GC, so nothing to really panic about. I’ll try to recover and survive tomorrow,” he hopes.

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