Vingegaard dedicates emotional Vuelta win to friend Nathan Van Hooydonck

Vingegaard dedicates emotional Vuelta win to friend Nathan Van Hooydonck

On a day when Team Jumbo-Visma was torn between joy and grief, Jonas Vingegaard won his second stage of the Vuelta.

Van Hooydonck became unwell in his car in his native Belgium this morning and was involved in a traffic accident. Considering the circumstances, he is doing well.

The final climb of stage 16 of the Vuelta was a tough one, with about five kilometres of climbing at an average gradient of almost nine percent. Vingegaard surged ahead of a depleted peloton on one of the climbs, which had gradients of up to fifteen percent. Nobody seemed to be able to stop the Jumbo-Visma rider from taking his second victory in this Tour of Spain. Vingegaard’s time gain allowed him to overtake his teammate Primoz Roglic in the general classification. Sepp Kuss remained in the lead.

“I would like to dedicate this victory to my best friend”, said an emotional Vingegaard, referring to Van Hooydonck. “We heard the news just before the start this morning. On days like this, it’s not easy to keep the focus on cycling. I knew that I wanted to win for Nathan. I am happy with this win, but my thoughts are with him. I hope Nathan will be back to his old self soon. He always sacrifices himself for others. He and I have spent a lot of time together over the past few years, and I’ve built up a good relationship with him. He is always there for me. I hope that Nathan and his wife will be all right soon.”

Classification leader Kuss, when asked afterwards, discussed today’s stage. “Jonas attacked at the perfect moment. You could see that very few riders were able to stop his attack. Primoz and I then decided to defuse any counter-attacks in the group of favourites. All three of us have the freedom to attack. The main goal is to take the red jersey to Madrid next Sunday. Tomorrow will be much less tactical. The climb to the top of the Angliru is tough, and it will all come down to who is the strongest. Hopefully, my legs will be fine.”

With his 15th victory of the year, the Dane – who, like Kuss and Roglic, had previously won a stage this Vuelta – gave his team their fourth victory in the current edition of the Spanish grand tour. This takes the Dutch squad’s season tally to sixty victories.