On the penultimate day of the year’s final ‘Grand Tour’, Wout Poels did something not many bike racers can do: he beat Remco Evenepoel (SOQ)! Relying purely on instinct, Poels launched his sprint before he had planned, (and perhaps earlier than many watching thought was wise), but held off the day’s favourite by just a few centimetres on the line.
The parcours was akin to a Belgian classic, something like Liege-Bastone-Liege (which Poels has also won), with ten category 3 climbs totalling over 4000 meters of elevation gain. The day’s breakaway took a while to form, with Antonio Tiberi and Poels amongst the 19 that got away. Wout attacked on the last climb and created a small gap, with only 4 riders able to follow. They rode away and worked well together to ensure the winner would come from that group of five. Approaching the finish in Guadarrama, the Dutchman took matters into his own hands (or rather his legs!), and attacked 300 metres out, taking the perfect apex on the last corner, and resisting the late charge of Evenepoel to take a second Grand Tour victory of the year (after stage 15 on the Tour de France). The GC group came in all together to keep the General Classification unchanged, with Mikel Landa staying 5th and Santiago Buitrago 10th. Barring catastrophe, the American Sepp Kuss (TJV) will be crowned La Vuelta 2023 champion in Madrid tomorrow.