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Evenepoel safely in Vuelta lead after Roglic withdraws

77th Tour of Spain 2022 - Stage 17

MONASTERIO DE TENTUDÍA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Enric Mas Nicolau of Spain and Movistar Team and Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team Quick-Step - Alpha Vinyl - Red Leader Jersey cross the finish line during the 77th Tour of Spain 2022, Stage 17 a 162,4km stage from Aracena to Monasterio de Tentudía 1095m / #LaVuelta22 / #WorldTour / on September 07, 2022 in Monasterio de Tentudía, Spain. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

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ARACENA, Spain -- Remco Evenepoel safely kept his Spanish Vuelta lead after three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic withdrew ahead of Stage 17 because of injuries.

Rigoberto Uran, the 35-year-old Colombian from team EF Education-EasyPost, prevailed on the final climb to win the stage and complete his treble of Grand Tour victories after previous stage triumphs in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.

“I had been chasing it for many years,” Uran said. “When you already have victories in the Giro and in the Tour, and now in La Vuelta, as a rider for three-week events, it gives me a lot of happiness. Today is a very special day for me.”

He crossed the line two seconds ahead of Quentin Pacher and Jesus Herrada. Marc Soler was 15 seconds back in fourth place.

Roglic didn’t start after not recovering from his injuries sustained in a crash 75 meters (82 yards) from the finish line while going for the victory in Stage 16. The Slovenian from team Jumbo-Visma was seeking an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title.

Evenepoel finished in the group of riders who crossed the line five minutes behind Uran. The Belgian cyclist from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl maintained a lead of more than two minutes over Enric Mas of team Movistar. Juan Ayuso was nearly five minutes back in third place.

“I think the race is as hard to control as it was with Primoz,” Evenepoel said. “But of course, on a finish like this, Primoz is a really explosive guy. I think now there is less danger from attacks like this because Enric is a bit less explosive than Primoz. I think that’s the main difference but that doesn’t make it easier, not at all.”

Roglic was 1 minute, 26 seconds behind Evenepoel before withdrawing.

“I think Enric tried to see how my legs were today but I could respond very well,” Evenepoel said. “The team brought me in a good position to the final climb. The speed was really high. It wasn’t an easy finish at all.”

Riders will face a mountain stage with three major ascents on the way to another unprecedented summit finish at the Alto de Piornal.

The three-week race finishes in Madrid.