Rui Costa sprinted from a breakaway to victory in the 15th stage of the Vuelta, while Sepp Kuss retained the overall lead of the three-week race on Sunday.
Costa was part of a group of three riders at the front and managed to hold off Lennard Kämna and Santiago Buitrago to the line in the 158.5-kilometer hilly ride from Pamplona to Lekunberri.
Costa and Buitrago earlier broke away from a larger group of 15 riders but were reeled in by the streaking Kamna who took the lead only to crash and give back the lead to the chasing pair. The German, who won the ninth stage, recovered to launch a sprint to the line but could not hold off Costa.
“I believed in myself from the first moment,” said Costa, 36, celebrating his fourth Grand Tour stage win and his first for a decade. “A victory in the Vuelta is very, very important for me and for the team, I am so happy.”
Kuss will wear the leading rider’s red jersey for a seventh straight day when the Vuelta resumes after a rest day on Monday. The American rider finished in the main peloton to retain his lead of 1 minute, 37 seconds over Jumbo-Visma teammate Primoz Roglic.
Kuss is the first American to lead a Grand Tour since Chris Horner won the 2013 Vuelta. He arrived at the race as a support rider in the mountains but he now must be considered a real contender to stand atop the podium in Madrid come Sept. 17.
⬅️ Un sprint entre 3 con victoria para Rui Costa que supo elegir el momento adecuado. Revive el ÚLTIMO KM.
— La Vuelta (@lavuelta) September 10, 2023