The day after his breakaway to the Angliru, Lorenzo Germani went for it again on Thursday in stage 18. In yet another day made for the climbers, the Italian joined the right breakaway together with Lewis Askey. On the other hand, the climbers from Groupama-FDJ didn’t manage to move up front and therefore didn’t compete for the stage victory. Remco Evenepoel took it after a solo ride, while the British and Italian riders were caught before the final climb. On Friday, the Vuelta might be calmer with a flat terrain to Íscar.

The very last summit finish of the Vuelta was on the riders’ program this Thursday, in a really tough stage 18 that included no less than 4,600 meters of elevation gain and the double ascent of the Puerto de La Cruz de Linares (8.3 km at 8 .5%) in the last thirty-five kilometres. The distance to reach the first difficulties was smaller than the day before, but the breakaway also established itself much quicker than usual. After barely fifteen kilometres, a group of fourteen riders got away and immediately got a gap. Lorenzo Germani and Lewis Askey both managed to follow the right move. “The goal this morning was to enter the breakaway, but with Michael or Lenny,” said the Briton. “I didn’t expect the breakaway to go so early. I didn’t really make an effort to get to the front and I found myself in the breakaway. With Lorenzo, we didn’t take turns for 10-20 kilometres because we hoped that the race would restart behind and that one of our climbers would be able to join us.” This did not happen. The leading group went clear and even reached the bottom of the first climb with a six-minute gap, which was too big to produce a counterattack.

“They lacked concentration”, Benoît Vaugrenard

In the lead, Lewis Askey and Lorenzo Germani, both in their second break of the Vuelta, found themselves with Remco Evenepoel, Damiano Caruso, Andreas Kron, Max Poole or even Egan Bernal. Their mission obviously appeared quite hard. The Groupama-FDJ duo was able to survive the first two climbs of the day, but the third, sixty kilometres from the finish, ended their hopes. The best climbers went away, and in the first ascent of Puerto de La Cruz de Linares, Remco Evenepoel went alone. “We had ambitions for this day, especially with our climbers,” Benoît Vaugrenard recalled. “We had two riders in front but not really those able to get a result given that it was a mountain stage. We are a bit disappointed to have missed this break with Michael and Lenny, because we knew it was going to make it to the end. In addition, the break did not particularly go after a hard fight. They lacked concentration today, and it cost us at the end. It’s a shame because we had two domestiques, but no climber.” “It was good to be at the front, but it wasn’t much use because we knew it was going to be difficult for us,” confirmed Lewis.

The Italian and the Briton were eventually caught before the last climb, where the red jersey Sepp Kuss confirmed his leadership. On Friday, the general classification riders should let the spotlight to the sprinters. “It’s flat but potentially windy,” warned Benoît. “It’s well exposed, so a lot can happen, but we still think it’s going to be a sprint finish”.

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