Evenepoel bounces back from Vuelta crash

·3-min read

Remco Evenepoel has stamped his domination on the Vuelta a Espana even after taking a tumble - but Australian sensation Jay Vine ran out of miracles as he sought to win his third mountain-top stage.

Race leader Evenepoel was left with cuts and bruises showing through his torn kit after sliding off on a slippery bend with 51km left of the demanding 192.7km 12th stage on Thursday.

But the young Belgian sensation, who hadn't put a foot wrong on the Spanish Grand Tour until this, remained calm, quickly got back to the peloton and was in complete control as he led home his main adversaries over the final sapping 19km ascent of Penas Blancas in 15th place.

Up ahead in what had started as a 32-man breakaway, though, it looked like another day tailor made for the race's current King of the Mountains, Queenslander Vine, who appeared well set for a hat-trick of stage wins as he was left in a final group of six hunting for victory.

But the Australian whose transformation from e-racing star to Grand Tour winner has captured cycling's imagination this past fortnight, was this time broken on the climb, eventually slipping to seventh one minute, 12 seconds behind stage winner Richard Carapaz.

Olympic champ and former Giro d'Italia winner Carapaz became the first rider from Ecuador ever to win a stage of the Vuelta, as his push for home from less than two kilometres out enabled him to ride away from BORA-hansgrohe's runner-up Wilco Kelderman.

Kelderman shot up the general classification to sixth, 6:28 behind Evenepoel, effectively leaving his team to now surely concentrate its efforts on the Dutchman's challenge rather than that of his Australian teammate Jai Hindley.

At the start of the Vuelta, Hindley had suggested that BORA, who had three potential leaders, would let the road dictate who took the reins.

Well, the road appears to have decided it's not the Giro d'Italia winner Hindley, who is nearly 11 minutes down in 13th place.

The leading Australian is now AG2R Citroen's Ben O'Connor, who's 11th, 8:42 behind.

Evenepoel still looks untouchable as race leader, 2:41 ahead of reigning champion Primoz Roglic, who was unable to lay a glove on him despite the Belgian's earlier mishap.

"It's just my leg but it's fine, I think - my bike is much worse than myself!" said the 22-year-old Evenepoel, whose Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl world champion teammate Julian Alaphilippe was ruled out of the race with a dislocated shoulder the day earlier after a similar crash.

"It was a super slippery corner. The motorbikes were slipping as well and slowing down so that's why I wanted to cut the corner but it was a bit too much.

"But I felt good on the climb. I knew it was a climb to just follow and in the last hundreds of metres I just went all out because I felt I still had something left.

"Now I need to heal the wounds and try to recover tomorrow as it will be a sprint stage."