On a Vuelta a Espana stage with the final 2 km neutralized due to mud, Lennard Kämna completed his career Grand Tour stage treble, soloing away from breakmates on the shortened summit finish. Sepp Kuss retained the red jersey and his teammate Primož Roglič took back a few seconds on Remco Evenepoel.
The last stage before the first rest day featured two categorized climbs over 184.5 km. First came Cat. 1 Puerto Casas de la Marina la Perdiz cresting at the 60 km point and then the Cat. 2 summit finish of Alto Caravaca da la Cruz, a medium climb of 8.2 km at 5.4 percent.
Stage 9 of #LaVuelta23 barely started and we already have echelons!
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) September 3, 2023
There were early echelons after the start in Cartagena. Finally, an octet of escapees got free. One of them, Caja Rural’s Jon Barrenetxea, was the first over Puerto Casas de la Marina la Perdiz.
More echelons going into the final 80 km saw Sepp Kuss and the other favorites form their own group in between the breakaway and the rest of the field, but it all came back together by 50 km remaining. The break still retained 3:30 of its gap.
It was raining like heck atop Alto Caravaca da la Cruz, and word came that the deluge was causing a gooey mess up there on the narrow roads and might necessitate moving the finish down the mountain. Barrenetxea, Kämna and the others drove on towards it, increasing their lead. Finally, the Vuelta organization reported that the GC times would be taken just before the 2-km-to-go banner.
A 30-km drag led to Alto Caravaca da la Cruz proper. It was here that the peloton seemingly surrendered to the idea of the octet scrapping for the day’s flowers. Barrenetxea crashed on the approach and this eliminated him from the contest.
DSM’s Australian Chris Hamilton made the first attack in the breakaway as it hit the climb.
Kämna and a few others were able to keep up with Hamilton. Lidl-Trek’s Eritrean Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier was still in the mix. With 5 km to the line, Kämna went solo. Jayco-AlUla’s Matteo Sobrero was the German’s closest pursuer. The two ground up the steepest part of the climb before the times were taken.
Back in the red jersey group, Joao Almeida made the…