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Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a España: Sierra Nevada summit sees GC chaos as Remco Evenepoel creaks further

Evenepoel suffers but doesn't splinter as Primož Roglič and Enric Mas make gains and time gaps condense.

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The towering Sierra Nevada summit saw GC chaos at the Vuelta a España on Sunday.

Primož Roglič (Jumbo Visma) surged away from red jersey Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) in the final kilometer of stage 15’s relentless mountaintop finish to claw a further 15 seconds back from the Belgian.

The three-time defending champion is now just 1:34 back on the race leader after two consecutive stages of squeezing the pressure on his young rival.

Evenepoel flexed back after losing almost one minute on stage 14. He led Roglič through the majority of the 19km summit Sunday only to see the Slovenian sprint away with a characteristic late kick that scored him fifth-place on the stage and bragging-rights ahead of the final week.

Evenepoel bent but didn’t break altogether after Roglič romped away and finished 10th on the stage as the GC exploded around him, limiting his losses in his lonely final TT to the mountain’s top.

Top-3 after stage 15:

  1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): Red jersey
  2. Primož Roglič (Jumbo Visma): +1:34
  3. Enric Mas (Movistar): +2:01

Enric Mas (Movistar) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qasaqstan) both made gains in the thin air.

López moved early in his high-altitude happy place, and Mas darted across. The two former teammates rode together through the final 10km to finish second and third behind stage-winner Thymen Arensman and pulled back more than 30 seconds on Evenepoel.

Mas remains in third but is just 2:01 back on Evenepoel and within close reach of Roglič.

Spanish fans will be riding a rollercoaster of emotions after seeing Mas make gains.

Rising home star Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) blew out of the back at the base of the hulking 19km summit finish and lost more than two minutes on the GC pack to drop from fourth to fifth.

And who moved up to fourth from fifth?

Rodriguez’s countryman and 19-year-old wunderkind Juan Ayuso, that’s who. The UAE Emirates ace was also distanced at the bottom of the climb but paced his way back to finish seventh on the stage and put him 4:49 on GC.

The Vuelta sees a rest day Monday.

The GC contenders will breathe a sigh of relief after two all-action stages in the sun-scorched south.