Stage 18: Colmenar Viejo to Becerril de la Sierra, 178.2km
Higuita takes solo win on brutal stage
Grand Tour Debutant, Sergio Higuita (EF Education First) took his first stage with a solo win, while Roglic kept rivals at bay with a show of power.
The 22 year old added another win to Columbia’s 2019 palmares after beating a chasing trio of top-ten riders race, leader Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) and Rafał Majka (BORA – hansgrohe), by a full fifteen seconds.
Video race Summary (Courtesy of La Vuelta)
Sergio Higuita (EF Education First):
“Yesterday, when I didn’t have the legs to be in the echelons and fight for the top10 of the GC, we decided to save energy for today and to relax as much as possible, as if it were a recovery ride. It was great for me, as I was feeling really tired before the stage – I even fell asleep on the bus! This helped me relieve some pressure off me and take the start today with renewed energies. Today’s stage was perfect for me: I could either win from a breakaway or from a sprint. Climbing Cotos I felt extraordinary good legs, and I was able to keep my chasers at bay.
“I went full gas to the finish line, as I was pretty motivated to give my team a stage win after such a difficult La Vuelta. I didn’t have any energy left, but I had my heart set on those dreams I’ve chased for so long. I didn’t assume victory was mine until 5 kilometres to go, as my chasers were quite strong and I was afraid they would catch me. My DS kept spurring me, and insisted I could make it to the finish line. I was very emotional at the finish line because there were so many Colombian fans there. At La Vuelta 19, I’ve learnt not to give up, not even in the worse moments, and to be resilient. Every day is whole different story on which one can triumph.”
The win gilded a series of strong performances by Higuita through 2019 including a second place on GC at 2019 Amgen Tour of California (2.UWT) and fourth on GC at 2019 Tour de Pologne (2.UWT). It also rescued a disastrous Vuelta for EF Education First after losing GC contender Rigoberto Urán to a major crash on Stage 6. The youngster now lies 14th on GC.
Stage 18 Results and GC