Remco Evenepoel seals Vuelta a Espana Victory!
Juan Sebastian Molano sprints to win the final stage in Madrid, beating Pedersen and Ackermann on the line
Remco Evenepoel ended the long wait for Belgian cycling on Sunday when he became the first rider in Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl's illustrious history to win a grand tour at the Vuelta a España.
Evenepoel led the race since stage six when he took the leader's red jersey off the shoulders of Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) and despite crashing during stage 12, the 22-year-old rarely looked troubled. Indeed, following repeated attacks from defending champion Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) in the days following his fall, Evenepoel showed a maturity beyond his years as he kept his cool.
Two stage wins – the individual time trial on stage 10 and Thursday's uphill finish on Alto del Piornal – underlined Evenepoel's status as grand tour champion elect, before the former footballer ended Belgium's long wait for a grand tour champion. Not since Johan De Muynck at the Giro d'Italia in 1978 had a Belgian won a grand tour.
After all but sealing the title on Saturday night – while becoming the youngest rider in 61 years to win La Vuelta – Evenepoel dedicated the win to his parents, fiancée, and team-mates.
“I don’t know what’s going through my head and body at the moment. The only thing I know is that I am happy,” said Evenepoel. “Happy that a dream came true and that I proved what I am capable of. Happy that I am the first to win a grand tour for [Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl general manager] Patrick [Lefevere] and happy I did it in this fantastic team.
“This is the biggest victory, the biggest moment of my career, and it feels incredible. It’s for my parents, my fiancée, my team-mates. It’s the result of many weeks and months of hard work and sacrifices and always believing in yourself.
“I love racing in Spain, I have had success here since my first pro season and to win La Vuelta is a dream. It wasn’t easy, I had some stiff opposition, but I did it and I can’t tell you how much this means for me”
VIDEO: 2022 La Vuelta Stage 21 Highlights
2022 La Vuelta Stage 21 Top 10
1 COL Sebastian Molano UAE Team Emirates 02:26:36
2 DEN Mads Pedersen Trek-Segafredo + 00
3 GER Pascal Ackermann UAE Team Emirates + 00
4 NED Mike Teunissen Jumbo-Visma + 00
5 NED Danny van Poppel BORA-hansgrohe + 00
6 AUS Kaden Groves Team BikeExchange-Jayco + 00
7 GBR Fred Wright Bahrain Victorious + 00
8 BEL Lionel Taminiaux Alpecin-Deceuninck + 00
9 GBR Ben Turner INEOS Grenadiers + 00
10 BEL Cédric Beullens Lotto Soudal + 00
2022 La Vuelta Final General Classification Top 10
01 BEL Remco Evenepoel Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 80:26:59
02 ESP Enric Mas Movistar Team + 02:02
03 ESP Juan Ayuso UAE Team Emirates + 04:57
04 COL Miguel Ángel López Astana Qazaqstan Team + 05:56
05 POR Joao Almeida UAE Team Emirates + 07:24
06 NED Thymen Arensman Team DSM + 07:45
07 ESP Carlos Rodriguez INEOS Grenadiers + 07:57
08 AUS Ben O'Connor AG2R Citroën Team + 10:30
09 COL Rigoberto Uran EF Education-EasyPost + 11:04
10 AUS Jai Hindley BORA-hansgrohe + 12:01