Miguel Angel Lopez climbed through the mist and drizzle to win the brutal 18th stage of the Vuelta a Espana on the Alto d’El Gamoniteiro on Thursday.
You can rewatch STAGE 18 of 2021 Vuelta a Espana HERE
On a ferocious, narrow climb where gradients reached 17 per cent, almost all the leading contenders attempted attacks, but only the Colombian, who escaped with 4km to go, succeeded.
Lopez surged past David de la Cruz of UAE Emirates, who had attacked earlier on the climb, with 2.5km to go and rolled on to cross the line alone.
Lopez brought Movistar their first Grand Tour victory of the season and took his second stage in the Vuelta following a win in 2017.
The 162.6km stage included four tough climbs and followed another big mountain stage the day before.
“It has been four years since I won in the Vuelta,” he said. “To do it today in the ‘queen’ stage makes me proud. We put on a good show”.
Movistar had two riders in the top three on the day and both are in the podium places.
“It was a super hard day especially after yesterday’s effort,” said Roglic. “Happy that something was left and I could climb this mountain.”
With three stages to go, Roglic leads Mas by 2min 30sec in the general classification with Lopez a further 23sec back.
Egan Bernal finished fourth to climb to fifth overall. Jack Haig of Bahrain Victorious was fifth to stay fourth overall.
“The final climb was brutal, super-steep and quite cold now at the top,” said Haig. “I wanted a really hard day to see if anyone cracked,” said Haig. “Maybe someone would crack on the final climb but everyone was super strong.”
With two lumpy but less demanding days followed by a final time trial into the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela, Roglic is in reach of his grail of a third straight Vuelta title.
“We are all feeling the effort from the last two days and the weeks before,” he said. “But still some super-hard stages to come.”