Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The Dane was set up well by his American teammate and time trial national champion Lawson Craddock, who pulled the front of the race for the better part of the final 5 kilometers.
Behind the sprinters, the GC battle for the podium remained unchanged.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is primed to win his third consecutive Vuelta. With just a hilly stage, and a time trial remaining, the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist in the race against the clock has a lead that looks to be unassailable.
Here’s what the stars said after stage 19:
Rui Oliveira (UAE-Team Emirates): 2nd, at :00
Oliveira — who won stage 13 of the 2015 Vuelta from a break — was in perfect position for the stage 19 win.
He’s had two top-10 placings and two more top-20 finishes at this year’s Vuelta, and has been active in breakaways in several stages.
On stage 19, he was quick to react to Quinn Simmons’ final attack and got on the wheels when he needed to in the final 150m, but the Portuguese rider could not pull around and ahead and was bested at the line by a faster sprinter.
“I didn’t think this breakaway could survive to the end, given everything,” he said. “I almost got dropped on the first climb with the high pace but I hung on, and in the last 50km I started to feel stronger again.”
Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo): 3rd, at :00
Simmons was super-aggressive on stage 19. From the break he several times tried to launch attacks until finally, one stuck. But he was joined by a time-trial expert who was able to lead out a teammate who is a proven sprinter.
Simmons was visibly upset with his third-place finish and rapped his handlebars as he crossed the line. His Trek-Segafredo teammate Gianluca Brambilla was quick to console and congratulate the 20-year-old on making a top-3 in his debut at a grand tour.
“In the moment, it’s super disappointing, but I think to be able to do that on stage 19 of my first grand tour, I think maybe it shows what my capabilities may be in the future – it’s a good step forward.
“Obviously, [Cort] was stronger than me today. It’s disappointing after so much workload, but for my first grand tour to be able to do that on Stage 19, and I am only 20.
“I’ll be back,” commented the American.
Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): 4th, at :00
Bagioli was in a difficult situation for the majority of the stage.
The majority of his team was at the back of the peloton, pacing the green jersey of Fabio Jakobsen, to ensure he would make the time cut.
Bagioli got into the break early, and when it was blown to bits by Simmons and Oliveira, he again made the final selection of seven riders.
Without teammates on the front, he had to freelance on the wheels of EF Education-Nippo and UAE-Team Emirates — but not until after he did a lot of work to keep the break ahead of the chasing group.
“We rode full gas the last 20km because the bunch was closing in rapidly, so when we arrived at the finish the legs were a bit empty and I couldn’t quite do the sprint I wanted and knew I was capable of.
“Nevertheless, considering that we’re racing for three weeks now and how hard and wearing this Vuelta has been, to fight for a podium and get so close to it is really nice,” said Bagioli.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma): 30th, at :18
Roglič is poised to win his third consecutive Vuelta. While he’s a recent history of crashing while wearing a race-leader’s jersey and losing the lead at crucial moments, he’s been very mindful of his position over the past three weeks, and had several times let the overall race lead go, only to take it back when the opportunity was right.
He was joined by his family at the finish line following the stage, who witnessed his donning of the red jersey — a milestone of 50 days in the lead of a grand tour.
“It’s beautiful to have my family here. They are my life,” said the two-time defending Vuelta champion. “This is my 50th grand tour leader’s jersey.”