BILBAO, Spain (AP) — Remco Evenepoel took the leader’s red jersey on a wet and cold day at the Spanish Vuelta on Thursday, while Jay Vine overcame a flat tire to win the sixth stage and defending champion Primoz Roglic moved closer to the top.
Evenepoel was second to Vine after a tough final climb, enough to put him 21 seconds ahead of previous overall leader Rudy Molard and 28 seconds in front of Enric Mas, who was third in a foggy finish on Thursday.
“I’m proud to be leader. It’s a big dream come true,” said Evenepoel, who rides for team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. “This is the reason why I’ve been working so hard for so long. What I showed today is maybe one of the best things I did on a bike. In an uphill finish to put such a strong performance thanks to the team is a dream come true.”
Evenepoel is the first Belgian leader of the Vuelta since Dylan Teuns took the red jersey after the sixth stage of the race in 2019.
Roglic, the Jumbo-Visma rider going for a fourth straight Vuelta title, was more than four minutes off the lead entering the sixth stage. He moved to within about a minute of Evenepoel with a strong run on Thursday.
Vine, the Australian from team Alpecin-Deceuninck, had a flat tire less than five kilometers (three miles) into the stage but recovered and made it back to the front to win his first Grand Tour stage.
“It’s almost unreal,” Vine said. “It’s a dream come true. I was able to manage my effort and pace the climb pretty handily. (In the last kilometer) I thought about my wife who’s basically done everything for me in the last three or four years to get me to this point.”
Jan Hirt had to withdraw because of a positive test for the coronavirus.
The seventh stage will feature a mid-mountain route of nearly 200 kilometers (125 miles) on Friday.
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