Magnus Cort Nielsen claimed his third stage victory in the Spanish Vuelta on Friday, while Primoz Roglic’s comfortable lead remained intact with two days remaining.
Cort Nielsen, a Danish rider for EF Education, won a massive sprint to win stage 19 in 4 hours, 24 minutes, 54 seconds. He also won the sixth and 12th stages.
“It’s amazing,” Cort Nielsen said. “It’s a dream and I really hope I don’t wake up.”
Eighteen riders escaped early on the 191 kilometer (118 mile) course which started in the Atlantic coastal town of Tapia and ended after three climbs at Monforte de Lemos.
The peloton seemed to have the attackers within striking distance thanks to the work of Bike Exchange, which had closed the gap to less than 30 seconds.
But a group of seven runners including Cort Nielsen collaborated perfectly on the last kilometers to keep their pursuers at bay.
Lawson Craddock set up Cort Nielsen during the last break-in. Quinn Simmons was the first to give it a go, only Cort Nielsen passed him. Rui Oliveira was second, followed by Simmons third.
“It wasn’t until the last five or six kilometers that I started to believe it,” said Cort Nielsen. “It was a very difficult day and we didn’t always work really well together in the squad. It was really difficult to work well together on hilly terrain. In a way, we managed to hang on. I have to thank Craddock, he did an amazing job. I couldn’t have done it without him in the group.
Roglic is set to win his third consecutive Vuelta. He retained his dominant 2:30 advantage over Enric Mas, whose Movistar teammate Miguel Ángel López remained third, 2:53 behind.
On Saturday, the riders face a hilly 202 kilometer (125 mile) journey from Sanxenxo to Mos in northwestern Spain. It will be followed by an individual time trial in Santiago on the last day of the race.
Roglic won the gold medal in the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics and the first time trial in the Vuelta on his first stage.