Race report

Thymen Arensman fights to 5th on Alto del Piornal after strong early work from the team

Vuelta a España

After yesterday’s punchy finish, the peloton were back on the climbs today for stage 18 of the Vuelta a España and a mountain-top finale on Alto del Piornal. Once again, it was a fierce start to the day with lots of attacks at the head of the peloton. The team worked really well together, particularly John Degenkolb and Jonas Iversby Hvideberg, to shut down several moves which featured some dangerous riders on GC before eventually a 40 rider move went up the road.

Building up a time gap of almost nine minutes, it originally appeared as if it would be a simple breakaway win but with over 80 kilometres to go Almeida, who sits sixth on GC, launched a counter attack. With Thymen Arensman flanked in the ever reducing peloton by Joris Nieuwenhuis and Marco Brenner – the racing remained fast for the rest of the day. As a result, the gap to the now front group of six stood at only one minute and 40 seconds as they started the final climb.

After being well looked after by the team until that point, Arensman rode strongly on the ascent; following dangerous moves from O’Connor and Hindley, in what became a very tactical affair in the GC group. Eventually heading under the flamme rouge Evenepoel would launch his stage winning attack; going clear with Mas and catching last-surviving breakaway rider Gesink. Behind, Arensman fought hard and dug deep, crossing the line 13 seconds behind Evenepoel for a strong fifth place, a result which sees him hold onto seventh on GC.

“It was a really hard stage here once again,” explained Arensman as he warmed down after the stage. “It was really hectic in the start with a big fight for the break. Today I stayed more quiet and let the guys follow four riders who we didn’t want to go in the break and the guys succeeded. They did an amazing job at that. In the end a break of around 40 guys went with nobody dangerous for me in there, so it’s a big compliment to the guys. The race exploded with several teams really pushing on and trying to put the pressure on. I think I had a good day and I also like a hard race, which today was. It was a good last climb for me. O’Connor and Hindley put a lot of pressure on me but I could always follow their attacks so I’m pleased with that. We’ve got two more hard stages left coming up before we get to Madrid.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston said: “I think it was a really good day from the guys. They did really well in the start to control things and then look after Thymen throughout the day. We brought him into that last climb in a good situation. I think it was a really nice result with fifth on the stage; and it was a good job from everyone.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 EVENEPOEL Remco Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 4:45:17 100
2 MAS Enric Movistar Team 0:02 40
3 GESINK Robert Jumbo-Visma ,, 20
5 ARENSMAN Thymen Team DSM 0:13 4
68 BRENNER Marco Team DSM 24:32 -
110 HVIDEBERG Jonas Iversby Team DSM 32:50 -
111 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM ,, -
125 DEGENKOLB John Team DSM 32:58 -