ALTO DE VELEFIQUE – Damiano Caruso won the ninth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday, Primoz Roglic finishing second to keep the lead in the general classification.
Caruso was in the lead for the final 70 kilometers (43 miles) of the 188 kilometer (116 mile) journey from Puerto Lumbreras to a summit finish atop the Alto de Velefique, out of category.
Caruso had just finished second overall in the Giro d’Italia, his best result to date in a Grand Tour race.
“It’s amazing for me to achieve this after the Giro,” said Caruso, Italian rider from Bahrain Victorious. “The last climb was so long. I knew it was getting tight. I focused on my own pace. When we did the last few kilometers, I realized I had a chance to win.
Caruso finished more than a minute ahead of Roglic, the two-time defending champion of the Vuelta. Enric Mas finished third, crossing the line just behind Roglic.
Roglic’s solid finish gave him 28 seconds ahead of Mas in the general classification. Miguel Angel Lopez finished third overall, more than a minute behind Roglic.
The riders have their first day off Monday before a mostly flat stage with a single mountain pass towards the end.
“We deserve the day off,” Roglic said. “It was a tough day. Again it was super hot, with some big climbs so I’m looking forward to tomorrow (Monday). It’s the start. Now we have the day off and we have to stay in one. single piece with the whole team and I look forward to the next steps.
The three-week Grand Tour race ends in Santiago de Compostela.
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