Everyone’s fading but you | a recap of Stages 10-15 of the 2022 Vuelta a Espana

Remco Evenepoel went into the second week of the Vuelta a Espana with a 1m12s lead, then he won the time trial by a mile, then he started fading a bit. Fortunately for him, his most obvious rival seems off the pace too.

The TT

When Primoz Roglic crossed the line in the Stage 10 time trial, he recorded the fastest time of the day. Only a small handful of riders were within even a minute of him with only Evenepoel to come.

Evenepoel beat Roglic’s time by 48s.

The weekend summit finishes

That 2m41s lead persisted all the way into the weekend despite a summit finish on Thursday. Stage 14, on Saturday, was different though. Significantly different. I’d go so far as to consider it “oh hello” different, in fact.

As I said last week, if you were to assign a ‘fadeability’ rating to Evenepoel, you’d probably have it quite high as he’s never finished a three-week race. Those first 10 stages went really well for him, but the very nature of fatigue is that it becomes more and more significant as a race wears on.

On Stage 14, Roglic attacked with over 4km to go and Evenepoel didn’t immediately follow. Even though he visibly looked okay, when the race leader simply watches his closest rival ride away, that very much indicates he is not okay. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before third-placed Enric Mas and others rode away too.

It wasn’t a disaster, but by the line the Belgian’s lead over Roglic had slipped to 1m49s with Mas now also within three minutes of him. It was the implications of the time loss more than the time loss itself that would have weighed heavily though. ‘Plenty of racing to come’ isn’t a very uplifting cliché when you’re the one feeling the effects.

It was a tough 4km for Evenepoel, but Stage 15 finished with the Sierra Nevada climb which entailed a mere 22km of uphill riding. [Over-the-top cartoon character ‘gulp’ sound.]

Somehow this bigger challenge translated into just 15s for Roglic, but then that was in part because Roglic didn’t look the strongest of the overall contenders.

Mas finished 20 seconds ahead of him, as did Miguel Angel Lopez, who is nevertheless five minutes down in sixth place. (Lopez’s ‘Superman’ nickname seems to reposition that character as a willing and worthy but ultimately unremarkable sort of fella. Maybe it’s a gritty reboot.)

Here’s the top nine going into the final week. (Top nine because the name of Stage 15 was so long it took up an extra line and pushed poor Jai Hindley off the page. (He is 11 minutes down though, so fair enough really.)

What’s next?

The summit finishes come on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this week. That’s honestly all you need to know.

I’ll try and get my final 2022 Vuelta recap up as soon as I can after the race has finished. You can sign up for it here, if you haven’t already.