The GC gaps shifted significantly in the space of four fierce kilometers on the La Pandera summit finish as Evenepoel lost time on almost all his top rivals.
Primož Roglič uncorked a fierce acceleration on the steep rocky summit that put red jersey Evenepoel on the ropes and saw him lose the wheels in a first glimmer of weakness in fourteen days of racing.
“It wasn’t my best day for sure, I didn’t have the best legs, I couldn’t accelerate when Roglič went,” Evenepoel said afterward.
The Belgian rallied after an initial kilometer of crisis to hold his gap to a rampaging Roglič to within one minute.
Evenepoel still holds a 1:49 advantage over the chasing GC pack after the punishing Pandera summit. But a first sign of fatigue from the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s ace may offer some hope for those behind him ahead of a high-mountain showdown in Sierra Nevada on Sunday.
Behind stage-winner Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers), Roglič was big winner of the day.
His third-place finish gained him 48 seconds on GC in what was his first major move against his young rival. Jumbo-Visma now has seven stages to prize Evenepoel from red if it wants to score a historic fourth-straight Vuelta title with its Slovenian star.
Enric Mas started the day third overall and hopped on Roglič’s wheel when the three-time Vuelta champ attacked.
Mas later suffered on the stoney Pandera summit and finished 28 seconds back on Roglič, just 20 seconds ahead of Evenepoel in what was a small bite out of his three-minute gap to the red jersey.
Vuelta top-3 after stage 14:
- Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): Race leader
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): +1:49
- Enric Mas (Movistar): +2:43
Evenepoel kept a lid on the damage and inadvertently paced UAE Emirates’ co-leader Juan Ayuso to the line after the Spanish sensation suffered a mechanical just as Roglič uncorked his key attack.
Ayuso was the only rider not to make any GC gains as Mas, Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qasaqstan), João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), and Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos-Grenadiers) all scrambled back some seconds as the race closes in on Madrid.
Evenepoel is still in firm control of this Vuelta a España ahead of a second huge summit finish Sunday. But all of a sudden Roglič may see the opportunity to pry a pinky from Remco’s grip on red.
“I’m still 1:49’ ahead in GC, so nothing to really panic about. I’ll try to recover as much as possible and survive tomorrow,” he hoped.