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Cort resumes winning in Vuelta a España after overcoming COVID-19

CIUDADRODRIGO SPAIN NOVEMBER 06 Podium Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark and Team EF Pro Cycling Celebration Trophy during the 75th Tour of Spain 2020 Stage 16 a 162km stage from Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo lavuelta LaVuelta20 La Vuelta on November 06 2020 in Ciudad Rodrigo Spain Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling) won stage 16 of the Vuelta (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The EF Pro Cycling team claimed its third stage win of the 2020 Vuelta a España on Friday, with Danish rider Magnus Cort powering to victory in Ciudad Rodrigo from a much-reduced leading group over race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). 

Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) crossed the line in third but was relegated for irregular sprinting, with Dion Smith (Mitchelton-Scott) rounding out the stage podium.

"I think I timed my sprint pretty well. I came from the last corner in a decent position, not too far away from the front. Then I sat there looking for an opening, and I found that with about 200 metres to go, maybe a little less, and from there I went with everything that I had," Cort said.

It was Cort's second win of the coronavirus-reduced season, having taken his first stage win for the team in the Etoile de Bessèges in February before the racing ground to a halt.

When asked how the intervening nine months have gone, Cort revealed that he had contracted COVID-19 and only resumed training three weeks before the Vuelta.

"I think the last nine months have been difficult for everyone this year, it means a lot coming back and winning. I was coming into good form when we came back after the long break, but then I caught the coronavirus myself and I was out," Cort said in the post-race interview. "So I have only been training for three weeks before coming here to this race, and it's really nice to get the victory here."

The 27-year-old tested positive for the virus on September 13 while racing Tirreno-Adriatico and was forced to go into quarantine rather than finish the race.

On stage 16 of the Vuelta a España on Friday, Cort said he was focussed on protecting teammate Hugh Carthy - winner of the stage on the Angliru - who is third in the general classification, and hadn't even thought about winning the stage until he got over the last climb, the 11.8km-long Puerto el Robledo.

"Starting today I hadn't even thought about winning this stage. I thought it would be a more reduced bunch coming in, and I was helping Hugh out, and suddenly I could see my chance to get over the first-category climb with about 25 to 35 kilometres to go," Cort said, "and although it wasn't that much of a reduced group, I knew there weren't many guys faster than me. There was still [Remi] Cavagna out front, but there were a lot of teams wanting it to come back together."

Cort's teammate Michael Woods, who won stage 7 to Villanueva de Valdegovia, said Cort is "such a classy bike rider" and "it was just a classy win."

"He always gives 100 per cent for all his teammates and has been crucial to my wins this year, even on stage 7 he was there in the break with me, so it's just awesome that he can get a win as well. We've got a big day ahead tomorrow, but Hugh's ready," Woods said.