What just happened? Roglič crashes, Evenepoel flats at Vuelta

In an instant, chaos erupted at the Spanish Grand Tour.

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What was meant to be a final sleepy day promptly erupted into GC drama.

Within the last 3 km of the Vuelta a España’s stage 16, Primož Roglič attacked on the slight ramp up to the finish, race leader Remco Evenepoel flatted, and Roglič then crashed in sight of the finish line, left sitting on the floor bleeding and wondering what had just happened. In fact, all of us were wondering what just happened. So let’s break it down.

The setup

The day thus far had been quite perfunctory. Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and Luis Ángel Maté (Euskaltel-Euskadi) were left to dangle out front for most of the day, the latter also set to create an entire forest after promising to plant a tree for each breakaway kilometre he rode this Vuelta.

That pair were caught before the final and biggest lump on the profile, a slight weakening of the legs before a kick to the line expected to be contested by the likes of Mads Pedersen, Danny van Poppel and Fred Wright.

That trio was eventually involved, but it was the rider in second-place overall, the man who can never resist a tasty little incline up to a finish, who initiated proceedings.

Primož Roglič, with 2.6km to go, snuck up the left-hand side of the road and unleashed fury on the peloton. UAE Team Emirates chased, looking around trying to figure out what on Earth was going on.

UAE’s Pascal Ackermann was now stuck to Roglič’s wheel, as unlikely a combo as you’re likely to see, with Mads Pedersen leading the charge to make the juncture with Van Poppel and Wright in tow.

The mechanical

As Roglič made the first of his final week bids to eventually try and wrench the red jersey back onto his shoulders, the television camera snapped to Remco Evenepoel slowing, before the 22-year-old came to a standstill. It was a puncture, Evenepoel said after the stage. The Belgian remained calm and after what felt like an eternity was back on his bike, reassured that he’d suffered his misfortune within the safety of the final 3km. The 3 km rule would give him the same time as the group he was in at the time of his mechanical.

The crash

Back to the front and the quintet of Roglič, Pedersen, Ackermann, Van Poppel, and Wright rounded the final few corners before the finish line. Roglič continued to lead, looking to maintain as much of a gap as he could before pulling off and unleashing Pedersen. After Roglič had swung off the front, he came back into the group as the sprint unfurled, but then, in an instant, he was on the deck, bike skidding out from under him, slight contact having sent him flying.

Pedersen took the sprint ahead of Ackermann but all eyes were fixed on Roglič, quickly back to his feet as the remnants of the peloton sprinted past for the minor places.

The Slovenian clambered back onto his bike, glasses hanging off his face, swerving across the road and already looking at his injuries. Behind, Evenepoel rode in calmly, making chit-chat with Luis Ángel Maté as he tapped out the final kilometre.

Roglič was soon sitting on the ground with a groggy thousand-yard stare. Blood poured out of somewhere, the right side of his body having taking the brunt of the impact.

“I think you have enough now,” a member of Jumbo-Visma staff could be heard telling the TV camera after it lingered for longer than it was wanted.

There was initially confusion over the 3 kilometer rule, and whether it applied to the stage. The broadcast even put up a GC with Roglič as the new race leader, before correcting the record and placing Evenepoel back on top. He lost 8 seconds on the day, as Roglič already had a gap at the time of his mechanical.

After crossing the finish line, Remco Evenepoel went to check on his nearest rival as, somewhere, the commissaires began figuring out what to do.

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