Cycling-Lopez claims Vuelta stage 18 as Roglic tightens grip on red

  • Cycling
  • Friday, 03 Sep 2021

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Tour de France - Stage 2 - Perros-Guirec to Mur-de-Bretagne Guerledan - France - June 27, 2021 Movistar Team rider Miguel Angel Lopez of Colombia before stage 2 Pool via REUTERS/Christophe Petit Tesson

POLA DE LENA, Spain (Reuters) -Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) surged to victory on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday as race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) all but sealed a second consecutive Vuelta crown.

The Colombian, who started the day third overall, rode away from the pack on the hors-category Altu D'el Gamoniteiru to secure a solo triumph and all but ensure he will also finish on the podium on Sunday in Santiago de Compostela.

Slovenia's Red Jersey holder Roglic finished the stage in second place, 14 seconds behind Lopez and six seconds ahead of Lopez's team mate Enric Mas, who is second in the overall standings and came third in the stage.

"Things don't always go as you want, but we've tried it this Vuelta and the fruits of that are here," Lopez said.

"I was keen to win another stage at this great race. The objective is for both myself and Enric to finish on the podium. It's a shame we've lost so many team mates throughout the race, but we're doing what we can without them."

The brutal 162.6 km stage saw plenty of breakaways and attacks with Australian Michael Storer (DSM) distancing himself from the rest, taking the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey in the process as he hit the final climb first.

The stage was always set to be decided on the slopes of the steep Gamoniteiru, on its Vuelta debut, and so it transpired.

Storer was caught by David De La Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) with seven km to go as the riders rode into the rain and mist.

The Spaniard was then caught by Lopez, who attacked alone from the chasing group to claim a third Vuelta career stage win and a first at this year's race.

Friday's stage 19 is a 191.2km course from Tapia to Monforte de Lemos, which looks suited to a breakaway.

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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