Richard Carapaz regained the overall leader’s red jersey from Primoz Roglic in the Vuelta a España, opening up a 10-second advantage after Sunday’s stage 12 up the punishing Alto de l’Angliru, as Hugh Carthy pulled off a heroic solo victory.
The Preston-born Carthy pulled clear of Aleksandr Vlasov and Enric Mas in the final kilometre just as the climb began to ease, accelerating towards the finish line to claim his first stage win at a grand tour.
Carthy crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of the Russian and the Spaniard, who came second and third respectively, while Carapaz also finished 16 seconds down in fourth, but missed out on bonus seconds by failing to get on the podium.
The Ecuadorian Carapaz launched a series of attacks on Roglic over the final two kilometres and the Slovenian dug deep at first, before running out of energy as the gap widened – but he managed to limit the damage once the brutal climb lessened towards the summit.
“I’m very happy to wear the red jersey again. It’s a good thing for me, for the team, and for everything we’ve been doing,” said Carapaz, who has been involved in a tense battle with Roglic since the start of the Vuelta.
“I remembered it [the climb] from 2017 but it was incredible. I tried in the end, Mas and Carthy also went for it and I continued with my pace and that gave me a 10-second advantage. That’s great for us, now we head into the time trial with the aim to give our best and defend our lead.”
The riders will take a well-earned second rest day on Monday, with the action resuming on Tuesday with an individual time trial. Roglic will be extra-keen to get a good result after losing this year’s Tour de France in a time trial on the penultimate day.
The Slovenian, who has won three stages on this year’s Vuelta including beating the sprinters to win Friday’s stage 10, tried to look on the bright side after surrendering the lead.
“It was too hard a climb for a sprinter,” he said in jest. “I didn’t have the best day but at the end it’s OK, I’m happy with it. Now we go on with the time trial on Tuesday. It definitely will be a really hard one. I will do my best and we will see after Tuesday.”
The 109-km stage featured five categorised climbs and culminated on the Alto de l’Angliru, widely regarded as the toughest ascent in pro cycling. The route is the shortest non-time-trial stage of the Vuelta but undoubtedly the most punishing, featuring gradients of up to 24% in the final three kilometres.
“It’s a dream come true to win any professional race but to win in a grand tour on a mythical climb, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Carthy said.