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Evenepoel holds his ground in Vuelta, Arensman wins stage

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Arguably the single most difficult day of the 2022 Vuelta a España didn't disappoint, as the treacherous climb to a summit finish at Sierra Nevada put the GC lead up for grabs.

SIERRA NEVADA, Spain - Still feeling stiff from his crash and facing the highest summit finish of the Spanish Vuelta, Remco Evenepoel held his ground to take a big step toward winning his first Grand Tour race.

Evenepoel, who was injured after a crash, fended off another challenge by three-time champion Primoz Roglic to keep the leader’s red jersey and a considerable gap to his main challengers.

Roglic made a late attack on the final climb of Stage 15 but could only cut 15 seconds from Evenepoel’s overall lead.

Thymen Arensman won the stage for his first Grand Tour victory, crossing the finish line safely ahead of Enric Mas, Miguel Angel Lopez and Jay Vine.

“It’s hard to believe, it really has to sink in,” said Arensman, a Dutch rider from team DSM. “I can’t believe it on the queen stage of the Vuelta. Everybody was talking about this stage. To be honest, I didn’t feel super good during the stage but apparently the others felt the legs even more.”

Roglic, seeking an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title with Jumbo-Visma, was fifth in the stage, moving within 1 minute, 34 seconds of Evenepoel overall. Mas also made up time entering the final week of the last Grand Tour race of the year.

“It’s actually my first time finishing so high, so I think I did quite well,” said Evenepoel, the Belgian rider from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. “I felt a bit stiff from the crash, but it’s getting better every day. So, I’m really happy that it’s a rest day tomorrow and I actually lost almost nothing. A good day for us. With the crash it was not so easy to handle, but the third week is a bit of another story. The climbs are not super super hard anymore.”

Riders have a rest day before a flat Stage 16 that should allow the overall leaders to comfortably stay at the top.