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Rui Costa claimed his first victory in a Grand Tour race in 10 years during stage 15 of the Vuelta a España.

On Sunday, Rui Costa from Intermarché-Circus-Wanty emerged victorious in stage 15 of the Vuelta a España after a close sprint finish. Unfortunately, Remco Evenepoel, the defending champion, was unable to fully recover from his earlier struggles this week.

Costa, the previous road champion, successfully fended off Lennard Kamna and Santiago Buitrago during the 158.5km route from Pamplona to Lekunberri. Evenepoel finished in fourth place.

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Costa emerged victorious by strategically slowing down the pace, appearing to deceive Buitrago and Kamna before ultimately speeding ahead at the finish line to secure his first Grand Tour victory since 2013.

“I had faith in my abilities. The beginning of the season was successful for me and winning a stage in La Vuelta is a significant achievement for both myself and the team. I am extremely pleased,” stated Costa from Portugal. He had previously won the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February in southern Spain.

Kamna from Germany performed admirably, securing second place despite crashing in the last three kilometers and quickly getting back on his bike to overtake Colombian rider Buitrago.

Costa commented that crashes, such as the one that occurred with Kamna, are common in races. He explained that during a previous downhill, he noticed Kamna’s high speed and chose to slow down to avoid potential danger. Despite the unfortunate incident for Kamna, Costa was able to secure the stage win and expressed his joy about it.

On Saturday, Evenepoel secured a remarkable win during the challenging 14th stage, despite falling behind by 27 minutes during Friday’s climbs. He approached the race aggressively and demonstrated his determination to improve his ranking from the very beginning.

The cyclist from Soudal Quick-Step in Belgium made multiple attacks during the race and successfully formed a breakaway with 80km remaining. However, he lost momentum in the last 15km and fell behind by almost 30 seconds. Despite this setback, he pushed himself to catch up and ultimately finished just two seconds behind the top three riders.

Evenepoel is now just over 16 minutes off American Sepp Kuss, who retained the leader’s red jersey. Kuss’s Jumbo-Visma teammates Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard are second and third in the overall standings.

Monday is a rest day on the Vuelta. Tuesday’s stage 16 is a 120.5km ride from Liencres Playa to Bejes, which is mostly flat but ends with a steep climb.

Source: theguardian.com