Vuelta a Espana 2022 : Stage 20 – Happy Tears for Remco, Three Cheers for Carapaz

Stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana was won by Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers, his third stage win of the race. The Ecuadorian bagged the King of the Mountains jersey on his way to victory. Remco Evenepoel of QuickStep came through the day unscathed to all but seal the overall victory.

How it went down

Today’s stage began with a ding-dong battle to get into the breakaway. When things settled down we had a power group up front including Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Louis Meintjes (Wanty) and Carapaz.

The Ineos rider was going all out over the climbs to pick up the points that would assure him of the King of the Mountains jersey. He made it impossible for anyone to beat him as he crested the penultimate summit.

Heading up the final climb he did the classic “I’m pretending I’m just nipping up the road to get the KOM points, oh look I’m carrying on for the stage win”. Carapaz held on despite a fast-charging Thymen Arensman (DSM) closing in on him. The Dutchman fancied a second stage win and a jump up the GC, he got the latter but just failed on the former.

Carapaz’s third stage win of the race and the KOM jersey is a decent haul for him, but probably not all he wanted from the race. He’s raced with verve since he changed his focus to stages and then KOM points, but I have to wonder how different the race would have been if he’d been able to mount an assault on GC.

Meanwhile behind…

Robbie McEwan said it best in commentary, “the mind is saying ‘yes’, the legs are saying ‘no’”. Race leader Remco Evenepoel was largely untested on this last day that could make a difference. The favourites group today was niggly and low on energy.

It looked like Enric Mas of Movistar tried once, but blink and you missed it. Remco didn’t miss it, though – he had it covered and never once looked in any danger of losing a second on the climbs, never mind the two minutes plus it would take to make a difference. Keen students of the results will note that Mas took two seconds out of Remco in the sprint for the line. That’ll show him!

The nearly victorious QuickStepper often seems slightly robotic, but his tears, his racking sobs after he crossed the line will have won him new respect.

He said afterwards:

I don’t know what’s going through my head and my body right now. It’s amazing. After all the bad comments from last year, I finally delivered and I answered with my pedals. To now win this Vuelta is amazing. For Belgium, for my country, for my teammates, for my fiancé and for my parents. It’s all thanks to them.


While Carapaz was taking the stage win, his teammate Carlos Rodriguez was slipping down from 5th on GC. The Spanish rider was in difficulty all day after a hard crash yesterday. This means Joao Almeida of UAE is up to 5th on GC and DSM’s Thymen Arensman is at 6th, one measly second ahead of Rodriquez, who is now 7th.

Madrid tomorrow

And so Remco heads to Madrid in red. Barring a freak incident (and this Vuelta has had enough freak incidents, thanks), he will be crowned the winner of this grand tour.

Remco Evenepoel doesn’t have the underdog aura of Jonas Vingegaard. The Belgian doesn’t exude the puppy dog enthusiasm of Tadej Pogacar. Nor does he have the humility of a Tom Dumoulin. When it comes to the show-business part of sport, it’s fair to say he doesn’t tick many of my boxes.

I can’t deny when it comes to the sporting part of sport, Remco has delivered. I’ve seen him attack many times at this race. He produced a blistering time trial performance to gain even more time on his rivals. I’ve watched him defend his lead, calmly and doggedly. For me, when it comes to grand tour racing, I want to see the race being won and Remco showed me how he did it.

His achievement comes despite having a depleted team around him. That includes the loss of the World Champion Julian Alaphilippe, who looked certain to be a key protector for the three weeks. His QuickStep team have very limited experience of competing at the pointy end of any grand tour’s GC skirmish. That makes the Belgian’s achievement all the more noteworthy.

So take a bow tomorrow, young Remco. You did your job extremely well. Maybe now, with the pressure off, his personality will shine some more. I recommend crying more often, buying some goats and setting up an Instagram account for them. It’s worked wonders for others!


Stage 20 Top 5

1 Richie Carapaz (Almost EF But Not Yet) 4:41:34

2 Thymen Arensman (Almost Ineos But Not Yet) +08

3 Juan Aysuso (UAE Team Bickering) +13

4 Jai Hindley (Bora-invisibleness) +13

5 Enric Mas (Look I Got 2 Seconds on Remco in the sprint) +13

GC Top 10

1 Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl ) 78:00:12

2 Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:05

3 Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +5:08

4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan) +5:56

5 João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +7:16

6 Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +7:56

7 Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Grenadiers) +7:57

8 Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +10:30

9 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost) +11:04

10 Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) +12:01

All the Jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)

Points jersey : Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)

King of the Mountains jersey : Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)

Young Rider Jersey : Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step 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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