Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) won stage 19 of the Vuelta a España, after attacking alone in the final five kilometers of racing.
Riding in his 10th consecutive grand tour, Hansen timed his winning move perfectly. As the peloton brought back a late move by Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) that went on the day’s last categorized climb, the Australian counterattacked.
Soon, Lotto-Belisol’s strongman had a gap, and he stretched it just far enough to survive to the line, finishing five seconds ahead of the field.
“It’s a very tough stage. … I wanted to do something for sure,” said Hansen. “[With] the steep climb at the end, a lot of the sprinters were annihilated, and that’s good for me. I thought at the very end I could do something. I went for it, and although I didn’t get too far in front I held on, so surprise, surprise.
“I’ve won a Giro stage, now a Vuelta stage, it’s coming together and I’m very happy.”
The general classification remained unchanged after the day’s 180.5km stage, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in control of the red leader’s jersey.
Trio tackles two category 2 climbs
Laurent Mangel (FDJ.fr), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol), and Wouter Poels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) got away from the field early and held a stead gap of about three minutes for much of the early going.
Over the top of the day’s first categorized climb, the Alto da Grova, their advantage was 2:25.
Just prior to the final 20 kilometers, Mangel left the breakaway, falling back to the field. Ligthart and Poels carried on, while Lutsenko attacked from the peloton.
The early breakaways were brought back on the day’s final categorized climb, Alto Monte Faro.
Meanwhile, Lutsenko fought to build on his 10-second advantage as he summited the category 2 ascent.
Sky’s Dario Cataldo crashed heavily on the descent.
“We saw the rider from Sky fall, so we were lucky to avoid a crash,” said Contador. “It was a nervous finale, and there was no one team taking control of the stage. It was complicated. There was five or six times where I barely was able to miss crashing.”
Samuel Sánchez (BMC), on the other hand, took advantage of the technical downhill to escape from the peloton, chasing Lutsenko alone. The Astana rider had a 19-second advantage with 10 kilometers to go.
Giant-Shimano drove the pace on behalf of their sprinter John Degenkolb. Sánchez was soon caught.
Hansen out-foxes the sprinters
With seven kilometers left, Lutsenko was in sight, but he dangled off the front. The Kazakh was finally caught with five kilometers to go.
Hansen then made a decisive solo counterattack, with 4.8km to go.
With three kilometers left, Hansen’s advantage was seven seconds.
Then, it was a 14-second gap with two kilometers to go.
At the red kite, the Australian’s advantage was 10 seconds, and that was all he needed. Hansen rode to glory, winning stage 19 alone in Cangas do Morrazo.
Behind, Degenkolb sprinted to second place, confirming his points competition lead, and Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) finished third.