San Luis stage winner Sepulveda looking for redemption after Tour de France DQ

24-year-old Argentinean a popular winner atop Cerro El Amago

A daring long-range attack on the Cerro El Amago saw Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo Vital Concept) become the fourth different race leader at the Tour de San Luis. With two riders already up the road, the Argentinean climber set off in chase and not only caught them but put enough of a gap into them to earn the leader’s jersey.

“With six kilometres to go I decided to go and I went. The wind was in my favour, so that helped me to get a good advantage and win the stage. I still had to put in all of my strength in order to get an advantage over [Vincenzo ] Nibali and [Nairo] Quintana,” Sepulveda said after the stage. “I could see the finish line in the distance and I didn’t think that I would take the lead in the general classification as well because I was so far away, but in the end I was able to reach it and now I am the leader.”

Sepulveda is one of Argentina’s best climbing talents at the moment and he was a popular winner among the crowd at the top of Cerro El Amago. The 24-year-old has always gone well at his home race and a strong performance back in 2012 earned him a spot at the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Switzerland before riding as a stagiaire for FDJ. He turned professional the following season when he signed for Bretagne-Séché Environnement.

Now among many professionals who reside in the mountainous principality of Andorra, he made a breakthrough last season when he finished fourth overall in San Luis and claimed his first professional victory at the Classic Sud Ardèche. Many will, however, know him from an incident at the Tour de France last season. He’d gone into the race with plenty of promise but was unceremoniously booted out of the race after hitching a 200-metre ride in an FDJ car following a mechanical problem.

“After what happened at the Tour de France I realise that it was a mistake. Now I think maybe I am looking for a little bit of revenge at the Tour de France,” said Sepulveda.

Following, Sepulveda holds a slim three-second advantage over Dayer Quintana (Movistar). Behind them is a formidable list of Colombian climbers in the general classification, including Rodrigo Contreras (Etixx-QuickStep), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Miguel angel Lopez (Astana), who are all within a minute. Sepulveda should be secure in his leader’s jersey for at least a day, but he will face a stern test on Saturday with the summit finish to Filo Sierra de Comechingones.

“It’s going to be a difficult stage because I am only three seconds ahead of Dayer Quintana, and there are also other Colombians that are climbing very well. I will try to be on the front for most of the time so that if someone tries to attack then I will be able to defend the jersey,” said Sepulveda.

“Dayer is going really well and I think that he will use a very similar tactic to today in the next mountain stage. He will try to attack and breakaway from the bunch.” 

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