Rui Costa on Winning Stage 15: ‘I’m so happy’

By Monica Buck

In an exhilarating display of racing prowess, Rui Costa of the Intermarché-Circus-Wanty team surged to a victory during stage 15 of the Vuelta a España, which unfolded on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The seasoned cyclist and former world champion exhibited an extraordinary performance, outrunning fellow breakaway companions Lennard Kämna of Bora-Hansgrohe and Santiago Buitrago of Bahrain Victorious in a heart-pounding sprint to the finish line. This trio emerged as the survivors of an initially larger group of 15 riders that had spearheaded the day’s breakaway.

This stage win is especially noteworthy for 36-year-old Costa, marking his first triumph at the WorldTour level since his last victory at the Abu Dhabi Tour in 2017. Reflecting on his momentous win, an exhilarated Costa remarked, “I’m so happy. A victory in the Vuelta a España for me is very, very important.”

Costa had undergone extensive preparations, originally aimed at showcasing his prowess in the Tour de France. Despite the initial plans not panning out as expected, his resolve remained unshaken. “I did a lot of preparation to be in good shape for the Tour [de France], but it turned out to be a bit sad for us. I wasn’t supposed to do the Vuelta but after finishing the Tour and San Sebastián, my legs were good and I told the team to let me go to the Vuelta a España to try and win a stage,” Costa recounted, shedding light on his journey leading up to this remarkable victory.

The 158.5 km stage on Sunday saw Costa making a decisive move alongside Buitrago during the last 15 km, breaking away from a notably large front group. Their lead was then challenged by Kämna who surged ahead only to be hindered by a crash during a subsequent descent. Undeterred, Kämna swiftly got back on his bike, catching up and initiating the sprint towards the finish line. Costa, demonstrating a strategic restraint, outpaced Kämna in the final moments, clinching a well-deserved victory.

Speaking on the immense effort it took to secure the win, Costa noted: “After so much fighting, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of dedication, effort and work to get here that people don’t see. This is really satisfying for me.”

Meanwhile, race frontrunner Sepp Kuss from Jumbo-Visma maintained his lead, crossing the finish line in 19th position alongside the main peloton. As the race progresses into Monday’s rest day, Kuss enjoys a comfortable lead with a time advantage of one minute and 37 seconds.

A notable incident during the stage involved Geraint Thomas who unfortunately experienced a crash. Despite this setback, he persisted to finish at 145th place albeit with visible signs of his ordeal, including a torn jersey and remnants of burst energy gel packets staining his attire.

Stage 15 Vuelta a España Results

  1. COSTA Rui (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) – 03:30:56
  2. KÄMNA Lennard (BORA-hansgrohe) – 03:30:56 (+00)
  3. BUITRAGO Santiago (Bahrain Victorious) – 03:30:56 (+00)
  4. EVENEPOEL Remco (Soudal Quick-Step) – 03:30:58 (+02)
  5. KRON Andreas (Lotto Dstny) – 03:30:58 (+02)
  6. RUBIO Einer (Movistar Team) – 03:30:58 (+02)
  7. RODRIGUEZ Cristian (Team Arkéa-Samsic) – 03:30:58 (+02)
  8. HAMILTON Chris (Team DSM-Firmenich) – 03:30:58 (+02)
  9. DENZ Nico (BORA-hansgrohe) – 03:31:32 (+36)
  10. JANSSENS Jimmy (Alpecin-Deceuninck) – 03:32:03 (+01:07)

General classification after stage 15

  1. KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) – 54:38:42
  2. ROGLIC Primoz (Jumbo-Visma) – 54:40:19 (+01:37)
  3. VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma) – 54:40:26 (+01:44)
  4. AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates) – 54:41:19 (+02:37)
  5. MAS Enric (Movistar Team) – 54:41:48 (+03:06)
  6. SOLER Marc (UAE Team Emirates) – 54:41:52 (+03:10)
  7. LANDA Mikel (Bahrain Victorious) – 54:42:54 (+04:12)
  8. VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe) – 54:43:44 (+05:02)
  9. UIJTDEBROEKS Cian (BORA-hansgrohe) – 54:44:12 (+05:30)
  10. ALMEIDA Joao (UAE Team Emirates) – 54:47:21 (+08:39)