ORICA-BikeExchange sealed their third stage victory at this year’s Vuelta a Espana today with 23-year-old Magnus Cort sprinting to a magnificent win on stage 18 in the Dane’s first appearance at a GrandTour.
A windy, yet mainly uneventful, stage saw an early breakaway of five riders develop a maximum lead of seven minutes before the controlled peloton made the catch with ten kilometres left to race.
ORICA-BikeExchange moved determinedly up the field as the battle for position began and it was Cort who exploded out of the bunch to take his first win for the team after jumping to the left and accelerating brilliantly to the line.
“It’s really fantastic, a big dream come true,” said Cort at the finish. “Our main goal at the moment is the general classification and protecting Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates, but every now and again we get the opportunity to give it a try.”
“We saw the same with Jens Keuekeleire on stage 12 and today it was my turn to give it a go and it was really amazing. This is fantastic for me to win a stage in my first GrandTour ever.
“This is a great team to be part of at the moment, three stage wins and two guys in the top five overall, it’s pretty special.”
Chaves and Yates were protected well by their teammates and came through the stage without issue to hold onto third and fifth respectively on the general classification ahead of tomorrow’s individual time trial.
How it happened:
After thirty kilometres of racing on stage 18, five riders had developed a lead of five minutes with the peloton happy to let the escapees push on early in the stage.
Giant-Alpecin and Bora-Argon18 were controlling the tempo in the bunch with one eye clearly on ensuring a sprint finish by bringing the breakaway quintet back to four minutes with 140kilometres to go.
The five leaders managed to push their lead back out past five minutes over the day’s only real climb, the second category Casa de Alto.
A crosswind strung out both the breakaway group and the peloton as the race hit the open agricultural plains around Valencia with the leaders at four minutes 45seconds with 65kilometres to go.
The advantage of the quintet continued to fall steadily over the next 50kilometres with Etixx-Quickstep and Giant-Alpecin the main protagonists on the front of the peloton.
Finally the race came back together with ten kilometres to go as the teams of overall favourites started to jostle for position with the sprinter’s teams at the front.
ORICA-BikeExchange were right where they needed to be as the speed increased through the finale with Cort brilliantly navigating the openings before jumping to the left of Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) and accelerating to the win.
Tomorrow’s stage 19 is an all important 37kilometre individual time trial, following a challenging course down the Valencian coast from Xabia to Calpe.
Vuelta a Espana stage 18 results:
1. Magnus Cort (ORICA-BikeExchange) 04:54:31
2. Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) ST
3. Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) ST
General classification after stage 18:
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 74:30:03
2. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00:03:37
3. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:03:57
5. Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:06:03