Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) won a wet, uphill finish into Puebla de Sanabria and then the exuberant celebrations kicked off.
Philipsen was immediately hugged by soigneurs and teammates. There were hand shakes, fist bumps, double hugs, body-shaking embraces, shoulder pats, playful head taps and a kiss or two on the cheek. Then the whole fiesta hit round two with more hugs and assorted happiness.
The Belgian certainly had reason to be thrilled. He’d just won his first grand tour stage victory on a hard, soggy day of headwinds and rain in the Vuelta a Espana.
Philipsen launched his sprint with 150 meters to go, beating Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jannik Steimle (Deceuninck-QuickStep). (They weren’t nearly as joyful as Jasper.)
He let out a howl of joy that nearly rivaled the ear-splitting roar of David Gaudu, when the French rider won stage 11 atop the Alto de la Farrapona. Gaudu was also the recipient of a few hugs and back pats but nothing like the love-fest at UAE Team Emirates.
“It’s amazing. I can’t describe how happy I am with this victory. It means a lot to me. I’ve been waiting all the Vuelta for the right moment and today this moment was unexpected,” said Philipsen.
Winning a grand tour stage will always brighten your day — and there’s an extra bottle or two of wine at the team dinner. “In the end I started believing more and more, but at the beginning of the day I never expected it would be a bunch sprint,” he said. “I like, a little bit uphill finishes.”
Congrats, Jasper. Hugs all around.