Jonas Vingegaard on Winning Stage 16: ‘I wanted to win for my best friend today’

By Monica Buck

On a day marred by tragic news regarding his teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck’s critical condition following a car accident in Belgium, Jonas Vingegaard triumphed in an emotionally charged stage 16 of the Vuelta a España. The Danish cyclist soared to victory with a powerful solo performance, later dedicating his win to his ailing best friend.

The Tour de France winner showcased exceptional skills on the last stretch to Bejes, taking a solo win that carved out over a minute’s lead on race leader and fellow Jumbo-Visma teammate, Sepp Kuss. This stellar performance marks Vingegaard’s second stage victory within four days, propelling him to second place overall, and nudging out another teammate, Primož Roglič, in the process.

“I’m just happy to win today,” commented an emotional Vingegaard at the finish line. He continued, “We had some terrible news this morning, and I wanted to win for my best friend today. Luckily now, there is good news about his condition. That’s a big relief for me, for the team, and I hope he will recover soon.”

The dramatic day unfolded with Vingegaard breaking away at the 3.9km mark, an audacious move that none could match. Instead of defending Kuss’ lead, the team adopted a strategy that saw Vingegaard aggressively attacking the steep ramps, ultimately flying solo to an uncontestable victory.

The day’s stage featured a diverse, punchy route that attracted a bevy of riders aiming for a spot in the day’s break. Initially, a group of ten riders broke away, including notable names like Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich). This break seemed promising but was constantly chased down by the Ineos Grenadiers, who were conspicuously missing from the front group.

As the race unfolded amidst rain and chaos on the roads, a relentless series of attacks kept everyone on their toes. Despite the repeated efforts of the Ineos Grenadiers to reel in the break, a new one finally established itself past the halfway mark, spearheaded by the likes of Mattia Cattaneo (Soudal Quick-Step) and Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost).

With 10km left to the finish line, the stage was set for a general classification battle on the challenging, punchy finish. Jumbo-Visma showcased their control as Vingegaard launched the first substantial attack with only 3.7km left, shaking off pursuers with a pace that seemed unbeatable. This was followed by an attack by Roglič, aiming to minimize his losses to Vingegaard.

Despite the internal competition, Kuss managed to retain the red jersey, holding a 29-second lead over Vingegaard, and further leads on Roglič and the closest non-Jumbo challenger, Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates).

Vingegaard is looking forward to cherishing this moment of victory, saying, “Now I just want to enjoy this moment and not think about that,” when asked about his team’s plans moving forward.

The race is set to continue its thrilling journey with Wednesday’s stage, which will feature the Altu de L’Angliru, a notoriously challenging climb that promises to be a decisive element in this gripping edition of the Vuelta a España.

Stage 16 results

  1. VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma) – 02:38:23
  2. FISHER-BLACK Finn (UAE Team Emirates) – 02:39:06 (+00:43)
  3. POELS Wout (Bahrain Victorious) – 02:39:12 (+00:49)
  4. STORER Michael (Groupama-FDJ) – 02:39:18 (+00:55)
  5. AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates) – 02:39:24 (+01:01)
  6. MAS Enric (Movistar Team) – 02:39:24 (+01:01)
  7. VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe) – 02:39:24 (+01:01)
  8. ROGLIC Primoz (Jumbo-Visma) – 02:39:24 (+01:01)
  9. LANDA Mikel (Bahrain Victorious) – 02:39:28 (+01:05)
  10. KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) – 02:39:28 (+01:05)

GC after stage 16

  1. KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) – 57:18:10
  2. VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma) – 57:18:39 (+00:29)
  3. ROGLIC Primoz (Jumbo-Visma) – 57:19:43 (+01:33)
  4. AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates) – 57:20:43 (+02:33)
  5. MAS Enric (Movistar Team) – 57:21:12 (+03:02)
  6. SOLER Marc (UAE Team Emirates) – 57:21:38 (+03:28)
  7. LANDA Mikel (Bahrain Victorious) – 57:22:22 (+04:12)
  8. VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe) – 57:23:08 (+04:58)
  9. UIJTDEBROEKS Cian (BORA-hansgrohe) – 57:23:48 (+05:38)
  10. ALMEIDA Joao (UAE Team Emirates) – 57:26:53 (+08:43)