Remco Evenepoel, who was second to Vine in the sixth stage on Thursday, kept the leader’s red jersey by crossing the line in fifth place. He was 1 minute, 20 seconds behind Vine but came in along with his main challengers in the overall classification — Enric Mas and three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic.
Overall, Evenepoel was 28 seconds in front of Mas and 61 seconds ahead of Roglic. Rudy Molard started Saturday’s tough mountain stage 21 seconds off the lead in second place, but dropped nearly 10 minutes behind.
“I took time on a lot of guys except for the two most important ones, Primoz and Enric,” said Evenepoel, the Belgian rider from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. “But it was good to see Primoz being really strong today, it’s nice to see him like this. It’s good for the race. I just did my best. My team was superb today, we controlled from the start, and it wasn’t easy.”
Roglic, going for an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title, had his preparations affected by a fall at the Tour de France.
Riders face another difficult mountain stage in Asturias on Sunday.
“I’m really happy with how I felt today,” Evenepoel said. “I hope I can recover really well because tomorrow I will need super fresh legs again.”
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