Damiano Caruso won stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday after a tremendous solo display in the mountains of Andalusia, while reigning champion Primoz Roglic came second to increase his overall lead.
Caruso spent the final 70km of the 188km stage from Puerto Lumbreras to Alto de Velefique out front alone and although Roglic and Enric Mas were eating into his lead by the end, the 33-year-old clung on to win his second grand tour stage.
Caruso crossed the line 1 minute and 5 seconds ahead of Roglic, who edged Mas to the line by one second to increase his advantage over the Spaniard to 28 seconds in the general classification.
“It’s a lot. I went because I knew Ineos was doing a really hard tempo and I said ‘OK before they catch me I want to do a breakaway, maybe alone’,” Caruso said after the stage. “I didn’t expect the gap would get bigger kilometre by kilometre. It’s still unbelievable what I did. It was an amazing feeling and a repeat of this feeling after the Giro is incredible for me.
“The last climb was so long. I always try to keep my focus on my own tempo. Only in the last few kilometres I realised I can win today.
“I’m sorry for Mikel [Landa losing time], but today was a really hard stage for everyone. I heard something on the radio, but I was just focused on my tempo.”
Mas launched a brave attack within the final four kilometres and only Roglic could stay with him, widening the gap between the duo and the other Vuelta hopefuls.
Miguel Angel Lopez is 1 minute and 21 seconds behind Roglic in third, Jack Haig 1 minute and 42 seconds back in fourth, while Giro champion Egan Bernal is 1 minute and 52 seconds back in fifth.