Vuelta a Espana 2022 : Meintjes triumphant; Remco redder than ever

It was stage 9 of Vuelta 2022 and with a demonic final climb that had nasty double-digit inclines, it was hoped at VeloVoices Towers that this would finally ignite our imaginations by setting up rivalries all over the road, handlebar to handlebar, to give us a second week of ‘what will happen today’ anticipation. Did it, hell. We did get a popular Wanty breakaway winner in the form of Louis Meintjes, that was good. And although Remco Evenepoel‘s display of grit and power on the final climb was impressive, it didn’t half make our hearts sink to see him stretch out his lead in red even further.

Stage loves

1 A worthy Wanty win This stage win has been a long time coming for Louis Meintjes, who made his Vuelta debut in 2014. Yes. 2014! Since then, he’s had three Top 10 finishes in the Tour de France: he was 8th overall in both 2016 and 2017 and came in 7th in this year’s Tour. But this was (quite unbelievably) not just his first Vuelta win, or his first Grand Tour win, but his first ever World Tour win!

This win was anything but easy. Out of a break of 10 men (which seemed to take forever to stick, such was the busy buzziness of Julian Alaphilippe policing the front of the peloton at the start), it was Alpecin’s Jimmy Janssens and Astana’s Samuele Battistella who struck out on their own with 12km to go. After a vomit-inducing steep descent, they hit the base of the brutal Les Praeres together. Weaving to and fro, trying to negotiate double-digit inclines, the duo looked as though they might have to fight it out for the win, but Meintjes caught them, smashed their stage win dreams to smithereens, then left them in the dust with just a few kilometres to the finish. With the GC field also smashed to smithereens by Remco Evenepoel, Meintjes only need to stay steady on the bike to claim the stage.

2 Most valuable rider For Quickstep, that would have to be the busy, buzzy Julian Alaphilippe. The world champion’s return to full, panachetastic riding is complete with this Vuelta and he has been working his mustache off, accepting or rejecting riders for the break, controlling the peloton, making leg-sapping digs when required. And guiding the Quickstep team down a steep, swervy descent that had me in the foetal position behind my couch, it was so scary to watch. So far, LouLou has been the kingmaker in this race – as he says below, he’s feeling better and better through the stages. Words that must send chills down the spines of all Remco’s rivals.

3  The beautiful Asturias landscape. The lush, verdant countryside was a joy to see all through the stage. At one point, Robbie McEwen told us a story about the bear population in this part of Spain. That’s how scintillating the majority of the stage was today …

Stage sinking feeling …

1 Remco with no real rivals Full disclosure : I’m not a Remco fan. Never have been, but that’s not why this stage has made my heart sink. The power he put in to finish the stage off in such style was incredibly impressive. It was the thought that this might have just been the death blow for any significant challenge for the Vuelta title from any other riders. No one wants a GT decided in the first week. There are still 12 stages left – one being a time trial he’ll probably blitz – and the Belgian rider has never finished a Grand Tour before. In fact, this is only the second one he started, so we shall see. But his rivals will need to take the race to him as soon as possible or he could very well run away with it.

2 Covid still lurks Both Sepp Kuss and Pieter Serry didn’t start the stage today due to fever and Covid. Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel will surely miss their domestiques, but it also makes me wonder just how many more riders are going to go down with it in the next two weeks. That’s not really something you can plan for …



Stage 9 results 

1 Louis Meintjes (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 4:32:39

2 Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan) +1:01

3 Edoardo Zambanini (Bahrain Victorious) +1:14

4 Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep Alpha Vinyl) +1:34

5 Filippo Conca (Lotto Soudal) +1:58

GC top 10

1 Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl ) 34:02:32

2 Enric Mas (Movistar) +1:12

3 Primož Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:53

4 Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:33

5 Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +2:36

6 Simon PHILLIP Yates (Team BikeExchange – Jayco) +3:08

7 João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +4:32

8 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan) +5:03

9 Jai Hindley (BORA – hansgrohe) +5:36

10 Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:39

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep Alpha Vinyl)

Points jersey : Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo)

King of the Mountains jersey : Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck)

Young Rider Jersey : Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep Alpha Vinyl)

Team competition : UAE Team Emirates 

For the full stage review, go to cyclingnews

Go here for the official La Vuelta website


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