Evenepoel Pushes Over 7 ᵉW/Kg on Rampas Inhumanas | La Vuelta 2023 Stage 8

Xorret de Cat’ – Spain – cycling – Remco Evenepoel (BEL / Team Soudal – Quick Step) – Primoz Roglic (SLO / Team Jumbo-Visma) pictured during Vuelta Espana 2023 – 78th edition – stage 8 – Denia : Xorret de Cat’ Costa Blanca Interior (165km) – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

It was another GC day in La Vuelta, as Jumbo-Visma controlled the breakaway and did not let it fight for a stage win. After Remco Evenepoel paced hard for most of the steep Xorret de Cati, Primož Roglič was able to outsprint him at the end of the hard stage.

Vuelta a Espana 2023 Stage 8 profile

Stage 8 started in the Alicante region, with the first part of the stage familiar to most of the riders as almost every team in the previous winter did at least one or two training camps in the area. Despite many good climbers forming a strong and large breakaway after Vall d’Ebo, it was going to be a GC day as Jumbo-Visma with the help of Groupama-FDJ worked hard before and did not let the gap grow too big.

Xorret de Cati has been used multiple times in La Vuelta and it is one of the steepest climbs in pro racing with a 500 metre section of 17.9%. Drafting still matters on 13%+ gradients but it is evidently not as significant as on 6-8% gradients. After the climb there was a three kilometre fast descent and sprint finish.

When the peloton arrived at the bottom of the climb the breakaway was almost caught. Emmanuel Buchmann before the climb did 3,418 kilojoules for 4:01 h, which is 14.58 kj/kg/h. A very high intensity for a mountain stage, especially in La Vuelta, as Jumbo-Visma were pacing hard on the early slopes with Jan Tratnik and Attila Valter. Jonas Vingegaard was sitting behind Valter, while Sepp Kuss was not used as a domestique as he has a three minute advantage over the big GC favourites and a great chance to take the red jersey from Lenny Martinez who was dropped early from the GC group. After Valter finished and Jumbo-Visma had no domestiques left, Quick-Step paced hard with Louis Vervaeke and Mattia Cattaneo as the last climbing domestique. It was not a good day for the slender Jan Hirt who was dropped early.

Quick-Step were confident in Remco Evenepoel, who accelerated early with 5.1 km to go, reducing the group to a handful of the best climbers. Kuss was feeling strong and later launched past Evenepoel who kept calm and was holding his tempo with Vingegaard and Roglič in his wheel. With them still in the group was Enric Mas, Juan Ayuso, while Joao Almeida, who crashed early on the stage, and Marc Soler were trying their best not to lose contact.

Sepp Kuss getting brought back by Evenepoel

Evenepoel brought back Kuss slowly. When 400 metres were left in the climb Evenepoel upped the tempo and Kuss, Almeida and Soler could not keep up with the acceleration. Jumbo-Visma did not try to launch with Roglič and Vingegaard and let the Belgian champion do his own pace. The tempo was really hard and everyone was on the limit or very close to it.

Xorret de Cat’ – Spain – cycling – Remco Evenepoel (BEL / Team Soudal – Quick Step) – Primoz Roglic (SLO / Team Jumbo-Visma) pictured during Vuelta Espana 2023 – 78th edition – stage 8 – Denia : Xorret de Cat’ Costa Blanca Interior (165km) – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

Evenepoel did Xorret de Cati in 13 minutes, pushing 7.12 ᵉW/Kg into a headwind on the climb. According to our calculations, Mas, Vingegaard and Ayuso saved 0.07 ᵉW/Kg in the draft of Evenepoel whilst Roglič only saved 0.05 ᵉW/Kg, as he was half-wheeling Evenepoel most of the time and did not sit in the perfect draft.

This was the fastest ascent of Xorret de Cati since 2000, when the Banesto climber Eladio Jimenez in the first week did the climb in 12:42 min with 7.22 ᵉW/Kg. Wout Poels in 2016 won a Volta a Valencia stage on Xorret de Cati, but today was six seconds faster with 6.78 ᵉW/Kg, good enough for ninth on the stage.

When Evenepoel is in good shape he is great on steep and short climbs like in the 2022 San Sebastian Klasikoa where he dropped everyone on Erlaitz (3.8 km, 10.74%) - a very similar effort to today. The ᵉW/Kg today was more impressive than the La Vuelta 2022 effort on Les Praeres (3.77 km, 13.29%) and Roglič, Ayuso and Evenepoel probably could have pushed even a little bit more on the climb but it did not finish right at the top and they had to worry about their competitors in their wheel.

Evenepoel did the whole descent and the 3km part after the climb at the front, keeping the pace high and preventing more attacks like on the climb. After the finish the Belgian champion stated that he did not know the GC group were fighting for a stage win, which might be the reason why he did the leadout for Primož Roglič who took his 11th La Vuelta stage victory. Evenepoel finished with another six bonus seconds, while Kuss became the new red jersey as Lenny Martinez lost more than a minute to him alongside Cian Uijtdebroeks who had a bad day. The GC favourites are still very close but the gaps will be bigger after the 25.8 km ITT on Stage 10.

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