Colombian Sergio Higuita claimed his first professional victory when he won stage 18 of the Vuelta a España in Beceril de la Sierra today.
Overall leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) finished second, narrowly outsprinting Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), both of whom crossed the line 15 seconds behind Higuita.
“I had good legs today and the stage suited me,” said Higuita, who rides for EF Education First.
“I wanted to win a stage for the team too because we’ve had so much bad luck. I got a gap and wanted to stay away, so I gave it absolutely everything. It was nice to celebrate with the Colombian fans at the finish.”
Earlier in the race Wout Poels (Team Ineos) was the solo leader as he approached the top of the first climb, the Puerto de Navacerrada.
A group of riders comprising Higuita, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale), Tobias Ludvigson (Groupama-FDJ), Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data), teammate Ben King and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) made it across to Poels on the descent.
Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Omar Fraile (Astana), Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias), Jonas Koch (CCC Team), Neilson Powless (Jumbo-Visma) and Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida) caught the leaders just before they reached the start of the second climb, the Puerto de la Morcuera.
With 71km to go, the race returned via the 10.4km Morcuera, which they climbed from the other side.
When the break was 3km from the summit, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) attacked from the peloton and started closing in on the break.
On the Puerto de Cotos climb, Higuita attacked and led the race with 37km to go, while further back the general classification group caught Lopez.
Some 4km from the summit Lopez attacked again, with Roglic, Valverde and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) following him.
Higuita started the descent with 17km left and held on to his lead for the stage victory.
Roglic retained the red jersey, with Valverde second overall, 2:50 behind.
View more results below.
Stage 18 results
1. Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education First 4:33:09
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma +0:00:15
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team +0:00:17
6. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal +0:01:16
7. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
9. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
10. Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias +0:03:47
111. Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Team Dimension Data +0:23:39
128. Jaco Venter (RSA) Team Dimension Data
155. Willie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin +0:27:37
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 71:16:54
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team +0:02:50
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team +0:03:31
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team +0:04:17
5. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates +0:04:49
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe +0:07:46
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb +0:09:46
8. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal +0:11:50
9. James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quick-Step +0:12:44
10. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team +0:21:09
38. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Team Dimension Data +1:43:41
99. Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Team Dimension Data +3:13:40
115. Willie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin +3:35:33
134. Jaco Venter (RSA) Team Dimension Data +3:55:22