Just a few moments after three-time Vuelta winner Primož Roglič started his finish on the final climb, roughly 2.7 kilometers before the finish line, Evenepoel got off his bike and signaled a puncture.
He didn’t have to worry about a big loss, because he was already in the protective three-kilometer zone at that time and he was sure of the same time as the rest of the peloton. This is what the rules guarantee for riders who have fallen or had a flat tire outside the mountain stages. It was uphill to the finish line in Tomares, but it was not a mountain stage.
In the end, Roglič had a horror fall in the sprint and cut only eight seconds off the lead of the Belgian. Due to the consequences of the fall, he subsequently withdrew from the race.
Evenepoel claimed a flat tyre, but some fans, after seeing the footage, doubted that his rear tire was actually flat. And they believed that the leader of the Vuelta did not really want to pedal uphill and preferred to use the comfort of the three-kilometer protection zone.
However, the Belgian vehemently rejected such speculations after the race. “No one can say anything against me. I’m not the guy to cheat with something like that. I felt good, I also wanted to fight for the stage win, but I punctured the tire. I had to change the wheel. After all the bad luck I had in the previous days, I was finally lucky,” he acknowledged the fact that he had to solve the defect only three kilometers before the finish line.