Magnus Cort Nielsen won a hilly stage 19 of the Vuelta a España on Friday, while Primoz Roglic stayed out of trouble in the overall leader’s red jersey. The Slovenian rider now has just two more stages to negotiate in order to defend his title.
Denmark’s Cort Neilsen was part of a seven-man breakaway that worked together superbly in the last 20km of the 191.2km route in Galicia. The EF Education-Nippo rider then edged the sprint finish, ahead of Portugal’s Rui Oliveira (Team UAE-Emirates) was second with American Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) in third spot.
The surprise was that the breakaway group was not swallowed up in the closing half an hour, although that was largely down to the pace they managed to sustain. As the leaders reached Monforte de Lemos still with a gap of around 30 seconds it became clear they would be fighting it out for the win.
Simmons made the first move but Cort Nielsen swept by to claim his third stage win of this Vuelta. “It was not [until] the last five or six kilometres that I started believing,” he said. “I think everybody had tired legs and it was hard to work together in this hilly terrain but somehow we managed to hang onto it.”
“I have to thank my team mate Lawson Craddock for doing a very amazing job,” Cort Nielsen added. “I could not have this victory without having him with me in the breakaway today. Having three [wins] in the same race – that’s unbelievable.”
Roglic, who seized the red jersey on Wednesday, finished safely in the peloton, 18 seconds behind the stage winner. He is now odds-on to claim overall victory for a third straight year, with Saturday’s mountain stage the last realistic chance for his rivals before Sunday’s closing time trial in Santiago de Compostela.
Jumbo-Visma’s Roglic leads by two minutes 30 seconds from Enric Mas with Miguel Angel Lopez another 23 seconds back. This was the 50th time he has ended a Grand Tour stage in the leader’s jersey and getting it off his back now will be tough. Stage 20 features five categorised climbs on the 202km run from Sanxenxo to Mos.