Evenepoel clinches polka dot jersey with third stage win as Kuss extends lead in Vuelta a Espana
Posted : 15 September 2023
Belgian cyclist Remco Evenepoel secured the polka dot jersey with his third win in Stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana. The defending champion, whose red-jersey bid faltered earlier in the race, showcased aggressive riding to claim his 50th career win. Fellow rider Damiano Caruso came second, nearly five minutes behind Evenepoel.
The Belgian dominated the mountainous stage, securing maximum points over all five categorized climbs and cementing his position as the polka dot jersey holder. Evenepoel dedicated his victory to his wife, Oumi, and expressed pride in his performance despite his early setbacks in the race.
Meanwhile, American cyclist Sepp Kuss, leading the race in the red jersey, extended his overall lead to 17 seconds with a ninth-second victory in the stage. Kuss praised his teammates and the team's directors for their support amid challenging circumstances. Despite having two leaders alongside him, Kuss acknowledged the complexity of managing a race with three leaders and appreciated the team's unity.
The stage saw a 14-man breakaway group, which included Evenepoel, Caruso, and Max Poole. Evenepoel's dominant performance secured the polka dot jersey, and he subsequently focused on winning the stage. Kuss, now leading by 17 seconds, acknowledged the importance of maintaining his concentration to secure victory. The Vuelta continues with a flat stage for sprinters, followed by a hilly classics-style stage before the final stages in Madrid.
While Kuss moves closer to a potential Grand Tour victory, his red jersey remains uncertain but less susceptible to challenges from within his team, given the public support for him as the American race leader.