Armee Wins Stage 18 at Vuelta a Espana
Sander Armée earlier today took Lotto-Soudal's third stage victory at this year's La Vuelta. The 31-year-old Belgian was part of a 20-man breakaway that managed to build a considerable advantage over the main peloton group featuring the general classification riders.
Armée set a high pace on the climbs to reduce the number of riders in the front group and on the last climb he first got rid of Julian Alaphilippe and in the steep final kilometer he also managed to distance Lutsenko. As a result of his powerful and insisting performance, Armee arrived solo at Santo Toribio de Liébana. For Armée it’s the first professional victory in his career and he is now 21st in the general classification.
Many riders wanted to join the break today, so it took sixty kilometers and dozens of attacks before a break was established. The breakaway group featured Armée, Alaphilippe, Trentin, Lutsenko, De Marchi, Visconti and Mohoric. Soon it became clear that Team Sky didn’t feel the need to control the gap because the best placed rider on GC, Sergio Pardilla, was more than 24 minutes behind on GC. Without too much effort the front group formed a more than thirteen minutes advantage over the main peloton group. In the last 65 kilometers the riders had to challenge two category 3 climbs and two climbs of second category, with a steep last climb to the finish line.
On the penultimate climb Gougeard and Armée accelerated a first time, but a bit later Soler, Alaphilippe and Lutsenko returned to the front. With fifteen kilometers to go De Marchi, Visconti and Rojas joined the front group, but a bit later Armée attacked again, this time with Alaphilippe and Lutsenko. The Belgian, who had already used a lot of energy in the stage, increased the pace, which caused Alaphilippe to get distanced. In the exciting stage final Lutsenko was losing meter by meter due to the pace set by Armée. In the last 500 meters Armée soloed towards the finish line and eventually won the stage.
"This is a fantastic moment for me. I have been pro for eight years now and this is my first official victory. I came close a few times, but this feeling is incredible," Armee said. "Most of the time, I work for the team, but this Vuelta I was given a free role. I was already part of the right breakaway two or three times, but could never finish it off. I actually feel pretty fresh in this last week."
"The big fight was to get in the breakaway. When the large group took off, I closed the gap together with Lutsenko. The cooperation with the other leaders didn’t run smoothly; the group was just too big. I actually wanted to force a selection on the second climb, but instead I waited until the penultimate one. Gougeard turned out to be a good companion and when the other thee joined us, I tried to stay on the wheel in the descent. I knew that with Alaphilippe and Lutsenko I had two very strong riders by my side who had already won a stage here."
Buy bikes, components, accessories and clothing in our bike shop and subscribe to our training tracker service to plan, track and analyze your cycling training. Pro cyclists from Cannondale-Drapac, Orica-Scott and Dimension Data use our training tracker to win professional races: Sign up now.