La Vuelta victory for Sander Armée


Sander Armée gave Lotto Soudal a third stage victory at La Vuelta! The 31-year-old Belgian was part of a 20-man breakaway that got a considerable advantage from the GC teams. Armée took control on the climbs to reduce the front group and on the last climb he first got rid of Alaphilippe and in the steep final kilometre he also distanced Lutsenko and so he arrived solo at Santo Toribio de Liébana. For Armée, now 21st on GC, it’s the first pro victory in his career. Many riders wanted to join the break today, so it took sixty kilometres and dozens of attacks before a break was established. Lotto Soudal was represented by Sander Armée, who was accompanied by among other Alaphilippe, Trentin, Lutsenko, De Marchi, Visconti and Mohoric. Soon it became clear that Team Sky didn’t feel the need to control the gap because the best placed rider on GC, Sergio Pardilla, was more than 24 minutes behind on GC. Without too much effort the leaders took more than thirteen minutes advantage. In the last 65 kilometres the riders had to cover two climbs of third category and two climbs of second category, with a steep last climb to the finish. On the penultimate climb Gougeard and Armée accelerated a first time, but a bit later Soler, Alaphilippe and Lutsenko returned to the front. With fifteen kilometres to go De Marchi, Visconti and Rojas joined the leaders, but a bit later Armée attacked again, this time with Alaphilippe and Lutsenko. The Belgian, who had already used a lot of energy along the way, raised the pace which made Alaphilippe got distanced. In the exciting end also Lutsenko was losing metre by metre due to the pace set by Armée. The last 500 metres Armée could ride solo towards the finish and that way he claimed a wonderful victory in his eighth season as a pro. Sander Armée: “This is a fantastic moment for me. I have been pro for eight years now and this is my first official victory. I came close a few times, but this feeling is incredible. Most of the time, I work for the team, but this Vuelta I was given a free role. I was already part of the right breakaway two or three times, but could never finish it off. I actually feel pretty fresh in this last week.” “The big fight was to get in the breakaway. When the large group took off, I closed the gap together with Lutsenko. The cooperation with the other leaders didn’t run smoothly; the group was just too big. I actually wanted to force a selection on the second climb, but I waited until the penultimate one. Gougeard turned out to be a good companion and when the other thee joined us, I tried to stay on the wheel in the descent. I knew that with Alaphilippe and Lutsenko I had two very strong riders by my side, who had already won a stage here.” “That I could still distance them, proves that I am in very good form. Alaphilippe had already told that he was tired and in the last kilometres I raised the pace as high as I could, hoping Lutsenko would crack. 500 metres before the finish sports director Marc Wauters told that Lutsenko was getting distanced and from then on I just hoped nothing would go wrong anymore. I have never won a race of this level, but I felt very strong and kept riding.”

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