TALAVERA DE LA REINA, Spain — Remco Evenepoel had no trouble protecting his lead of the Spanish Vuelta in Stage 19 with only one day of competitive racing left.
Evenepoel of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl maintained his two-minute lead over Enric Mas over the course of the short and hilly ride that finished in a long, flat arrival to the finish line.
Mads Pedersen, the 2019 world champion, beat his fellow sprinters to claim the 138.3-kilometer (85.9-mile) ride to and from Talavera de la Reina in central Spain. It was the Dane’s third win of this race for his Trek-Segafredo team.
Mas’ last chance to overtake Evenepoel will be during a mountainous stage before the largely ceremonial arrival to Madrid when tradition mandates that there are no attempts to overtake the leader.
Stage 20 is a 181-kilometer (112-mile) ride from Moralzarzal to Puerto de Navacerrada that includes three category-one climbs and a summit finish.
Evenepoel has been leading the race since Stage 6 in the longest run at the top for a Belgian at a Grand Tour race since Johan De Muynck won the Giro d’Italia in 1978. That was the last victory for Belgium in a three-week event.
Evenepoel’s most dangerous challenger was three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic, who had been closing the gap until he crashed earlier this week and had to withdraw from the race.
Evenepoel closes in on Vuelta title, Pedersen gets 3rd win originally appeared on NBCSports.com