Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) became the latest rider to complete the set of Grand Tour stage wins, taking victory on stage nine of the Vuelta a España on Sunday.
The German climber, who previously won a stage of the 2020 Tour de France and the 2022 Giro d’Italia, powered clear from an eight-man breakaway to seal the feat at the summit of the Alto Caravaca de la Cruz.
“I’m super happy about it,” the 26-year-old said afterwards. “I worked really hard the last couple of months. It was not always easy after the Giro. [I had] a lot of setbacks, and I’m so happy that I’m back on the podium and that I could take this win.”
Kämna took time out from WorldTour racing in 2021, citing unmanageable career stress. He returned in 2022, and went on to take a top 10 at the Giro earlier this year.
Asked about Sunday’s category-two stage finish, the German said: “In the end, it was really tricky. The climb was always going up and down, up and down, and it was hard to find the moment to drop the others.”
That moment came inside 5km of the summit, when he shook off his breakaway companions and set off solo for the line. “I tried to break them by going totally over my limit for two minutes,” Kämna said, “and then it was just a fight to the end.”
Dismal weather conditions turned the climb’s dirt track into sludgy mud, and the organisers agreed to take the general classification times around 2km from the summit.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) claimed back two seconds on Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step), who moved from sixth to fourth. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) continues to carry the leader’s jersey into Monday’s rest day, with an advantage of 43 seconds.
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Crosswinds tore through the peloton from the gun in Cartegena on stage nine, with Evenepoel joining Jumbo-Visma in the front echelon. The bunch then calmed over the category-one Puerto Casas de la Marina Perdiz, and an eight-man breakaway assembled, with none of the escapees within 22 minutes of the red jersey in the overall standings.
In the group were four Grand Tour stage winners: Kämna, Matteo Sobrero (Jayco-AlUla), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost) and Daniel Navarro (Burgos-BH).
As they descended into the valley, the breakaway pushed its advantage out to almost nine minutes. The GC teams then turned up the pace, and halved the gap by the 70km to go mark.
The eight riders carried five minutes into the lower slopes of the final climb, the Alto Caravaca de la Cruz, whose deceptive 5.5% average gradient ramps up to 20% at parts.
With the summit nearing, Kämna rid himself of company, and the front group splintered into dribs and drabs. Behind, Soudal Quick-Step led the chase with Evenepoel, only for Roglič to shoot out of the bunch to take two valuable seconds at the newly-drawn GC line.
The Slovenian now sits five seconds adrift of Evenepoel, with an individual time trial to come on Tuesday.