Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Italian takes third on punchy climb.
Cullera made a return as stage finish at the Vuelta for the first time in 41 years, but unlike four decades ago, the peloton went all the way up the climb to the castle, which before Thursday had featured only on one other race, the 2020 edition of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Averaging 9.4% over 1.9km, this short but excruciating ascent splintered a peloton that had been already reduced by the crosswinds which wreaked havoc in the final 40 kilometers of the race.
Having been protected by his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates on the exposed Valencian roads, Andrea Bagioli started the climb in a very good position, which allowed him to be among the first as soon as the road tilted upwards. With one kilometer to go, the 22-year-old Italian was with a small group of favourites, from where he put in a strong effort and an equally strong acceleration to take a remarkable third, behind Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
“I was really confident in my chances at the start of the day and the team worked really hard for me. The climb was a hard one, offering no moment of respite, but I felt good and gave my best, despite arriving there after some full gas 70 kilometers. I am satisfied with this podium, but winning would have been better. It’s our fifth top 3 finish since the start of La Vuelta and we hope to bring more good results in the next days”, said after stage 6 Andrea Bagioli, the first rider to wear the white jersey at this edition.
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