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Pedersen finally gets stage win, Evenepoel keeps Vuelta lead

A long, slow climb to the finish in Montilla didn't dissuade the sprinters from some daring long-range attacks in a dramatic Stage 13 of the 2022 Vuelta a España.

MONTILLA, Spain - This time there was no finish-line disappointment for Mads Pedersen in the Spanish Vuelta.

The Danish rider finally triumphed in the Vuelta, taking Stage 13 after three consecutive second-place finishes earlier in the Grand Tour race.

Pedersen was pipped at the end of the second, third and fourth stages, but this time the 2019 world champion had enough to hold on to his first Vuelta victory. He made a late attack to beat Bryan Coquard and Pascal Ackermann at the line in Montilla.

“It definitely was the dream scenario,” said Pedersen, from team Trek-Segafredo. “We knew this finale was pretty good.

“The boys did really good today and everyone was focused the whole day. I’m just happy that I can finally get the win and give the boys back for all the work they’ve done so far.”

There were no changes at the top of the general classification as Remco Evenepoel and his challengers stayed safely in the peloton. The Belgian from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl has a gap of 2 minutes, 41 seconds over three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma.

Juan Ayuso, the Spaniard from UAE Team Emirates who was fifth overall, tested positive for the coronavirus before the stage but was allowed to continue racing because he had no symptoms and his viral load was small.

“I was surprised,” the 19-year-old Ayuso said while wearing a mask after the race. “It was determined that the viral load was small and it wasn’t a danger for the rest of the riders, so I could compete without any problems.”

Several riders have had to drop from the race because of positive virus tests, including 2018 winner Simon Yates and Sam Bennett, who beat Pedersen in the second and third stages.

In Stage 14, riders will endure constant climbs at the Sierra de la Pandera in southern Spain.