GCN Stat Attack: Cillian Kelly analyses the Jumbo-Visma 1-2-3 at the Vuelta a España

Dutch superteam on course to make history with Sepp Kuss, whilst Remco Evenepoel has racked up an unprecedented amount of jerseys

Clock20:15, Monday 11th September 2023
This week's World of Cycling episode is out now on GCN+


This week's World of Cycling episode is out now on GCN+

The second rest day of the Vuelta a España is upon us and it already feels like we have enjoyed enough action to fill a full Grand Tour… and possibly more. In last week’s, the list of history makers included Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss and Primož Roglič, two men who would continue to dominate the Vuelta’s narrative as the second week of racing came to its conclusion.

It will come as no surprise to you that sitting pretty in first, second and third on GC, Jumbo-Visma’s leadership trifecta also dominates this week’s GCN Stat Attack. The trio assured as such with their performances on stage 13 of the race, in which Jonas Vingegaard won the summit finish atop the Col du Tourmalet and Kuss and Roglič came over the line in second and third, respectively.

Read more: Jonas Vingegaard wins atop the Col du Tourmalet as Jumbo-Visma go 1-2-3

Jumbo-Visma in esteemed company with Col du Tourmalet 1-2-3

Of course, coming across the line with the first three riders is not something that Jumbo-Visma are strangers to, having done this as recently as the 2022 Paris-Nice. On that occasion, Christophe Laporte won the stage and was followed by Roglič and Wout van Aert over the line, as the Dutch superteam ripped the race to shreds on the opening stage.

But to finish 1-2-3 on a mountain stage in a Grand Tour is something else entirely.

The last time that a team managed a 1-2-3 on a mountain stage of a Grand Tour was all the way back in 1980, when Miko-Mercier achieved the feat in the Tour de France.

Funnily enough, the race included both the Col d’Aubisque and the Col du Tourmalet that day as well, but much earlier on in the stage, before Raymond Martin danced away from the entire peloton on the Col de Peyresourde. The Miko-Mercier leader crossed the line in Bagnères-de-Luchon over three minutes before his teammates, Sven-Åke Nilsson and Christian Seznec, who rounded off a fantastic day for the team who would eventually finish third overall and take the KoM jersey through Martin.

Remco Evenepoel racks up an unprecedented number of jerseys

As Jumbo-Visma flourished on stage 13, one man suffering from the opposite was Soudal Quick-Step’s big GC hope, Remco Evenepoel. The Belgian conceded almost half an hour after cracking on the day’s first major test, the Col d’Aubisque. However, the Belgian was soon rejuvenated and on the hunt for new targets, riding to victory on stage 14 and taking the KoM jersey to boot. Remarkably, the blue polka dot jersey is the sixth different jersey that the Belgian has worn thus far in the Vuelta - something that no rider has ever done before in a Grand Tour.

Read more: Remco Evenepoel bounces back to victory atop Puerto de Belagua

Starting the race in his normal trade team kit for the team time trial, Evenepoel was soon back into the Belgian champion’s jersey on stages 2 and 3, before taking the red jersey for stage 4. Evenepoel may have lost the red jersey for good after stage 6, but he wore the world time trial champion’s skinsuit in the stage 10 ITT, riding well enough to move into the white young rider’s jersey, which he would hold until his disastrous stage 13 performance.

He has, of course, since pulled on the KoM jersey and Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) better watch his back, because he has even shown signs of wanting to take the green points jersey. This statistician says, ‘Do it Evenepoel, do it!’

Jumbo-Visma dream of replicating Kas-Kaskol's heroics

Seeking to hold onto the red jersey are Jumbo-Visma, who look to have taken a stranglehold over the Vuelta with their stage 13 performance propelling Vingegaard, Kuss and Roglič not only to 1-2-3 on the stage itself, but also in the GC standings - albeit with Kuss leading, followed by Roglič and Vingegaard.

The latter holds a handsome 53-second advantage over fourth-placed Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) and we now need to appreciate that Jumbo-Visma may hold the top three podium spots come the end of the race in Madrid. Needless to say, this would be a rare feat for any team even outside of a Grand Tour. In fact, it has only been managed twice in any other major stage races in the past 35 years.

Ineos Grenadiers pulled it off at the 2021 Volta a Catalunya through Adam Yates, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, whilst Toshiba did it way back in 1991 at Paris-Nice with Tony Rominger, Laurent Jalabert and Martial Gayant.

But it has only been achieved at a Grand Tour before, most recently at the 1966 Vuelta a España when the Kas team finished 1-2-3 on GC with Francisco Gabica, Eusebio Vélez and Carlos Echeverría. Remarkably, six of the top seven riders on GC were riding for Kas-Kaskol, with only Luis Otaño of Fagor breaking up their party in fourth place.

Such was their dominance that year that Kas even won the KoM jersey through a fourth, different rider, Gregorio San Miguel. Attila Valter, your mission has been set…

Should Kuss, Roglič and Vingegaard hold steady before Madrid, it could be just the second time that the final Grand Tour of the year has been filled with all three of that year’s Grand Tour winners. The only other occasion where this happened was at the 1989 Tour de France, with the podium of Tour winner, Greg LeMond, Giro d’Italia winner, Laurent Fignon, and Vuelta a España winner, Pedro Delgado.

Indeed, this would be the first time that all three Grand Tour winners in a season were from the same team, let alone all three finishing on the podium of the final Grand Tour of the year. Madness I tell you, madness!

Sepp Kuss foregoes fatigue to go in search of yet more history

Kuss in himself is a marvel at this year’s Vuelta. Not only would few have predicted him to lead the race at this point, but even fewer would have even predicted him to ride the Vuelta at the start of the season, least of all Kuss himself. The American is riding his third Grand Tour of the year, deciding to race the Vuelta having already helped his teammates to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. If he simply finishes the race, he will be just the 40th rider in history to have finished all three in a year.

Read more: Sepp Kuss expects 'no gifts' from Roglic and Vingegaard at Vuelta a España

But of those 40, only one of them has actually won a Grand Tour in that same year: Gastone Nencini. The Italian won his home Grand Tour in 1957 and actually finished top 10 in the other two, but let this be a warning to Sepp, Nencini attempted the same feat the following year but crashed out of the Vuelta. Alas, first things first for Kuss, namely keeping the red jersey from here to Madrid!

Up until the rest day, Kuss has led this Grand Tour for eight stages. Should he manage to keep the jersey beyond the Angliru on Wednesday - no easy feat, mind - he will overtake Andy Hamsten as the American rider who has had the longest stint ever leading a Grand Tour. That’s ignoring you, Lance Armstrong… the constant bane on this statistician’s side.

What do you think? Can Jumbo-Visma hold the first three spots in GC all the way until Madrid, or will Roglič and Vingegaard turn on Kuss in pursuit of their own ambitions? Let us know in the comments below!

This week's World of Cycling episode is out now on GCN+, click here to watch!

If you head to our Vuelta a España landing page, you will find everything you need to know about the race, including our race preview, the route, start list and individual stage previews. Check it out for all that and more.

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