Primoz Roglic made a slice of sporting history in Madrid on Sunday when the Jumbo-Visma rider became the first Slovenian to win one of cycling's three grand tours.
Having arrived on the Costa Blanca a little over three weeks ago as overall favourite, the fact that the 29-year-old won the 74th edition of the Vuelta a España will have surprised few. However, the manner in which Roglic and his compatriot Tadej Pogacar – riding for rival squad UAE Team Emirates – dominated the winners' podium in the Spanish capital following Fabio Jakobsen's routine stage win may have.
It was the dazzling performances of first-year professional Pogacar that stood out most though, perhaps none moreso than Saturday's explosive attack on the Puerto de Peña Negra, the penultimate climb of the final day in the mountains. Isolated and without any team-mates the odds were stacked against Pogacar who two days previously had lost his leading young rider's white jersey to Miguel Ángel López of Astana.
Attack after attacked flowed from López who was looking to break into the top three on general classification, but the Colombian was unable to break the resolve of a select group featuring Roglic, Pogacar, Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana who had started the day third overall. Having watched the moves and waited in the wheels, the 20-year-old timed his decisive attack to perfection. What followed was incredible.
Still 40 kilometres from the finish and around 5km from the summit of the Puerto de Peña Negra, Pogacar simply rode his rivals off his wheel, leaving them looking stationary. By the time Pogacar had lifted his arms in celebration having won a third stage on his grand tour debut the young Slovenian had put 1min 32sec into his nearest rival. Pogacar had leapfrogged Quintana into third on general classification and had wrested the white jersey off the shoulders of López. It was a performance to send shockwaves through the world of cycling.
Until Saturday only two riders in the history of cycling had won three stages at a single grand tour before turning 21. After claiming his third win – all summit finishes – Pogacar joined René Vietto (Tour de France, 1934) and Giuseppe Saronni (Giro d'Italia, 1978) in that select group. Pogacar also became the first 20-year-old since Gianbattista Barronchelli at the Giro in 1974 to claim a podium place after cementing third behind Valverde in Madrid on Sunday.
However, it was Roglic who got to stand on the top step of the podium following the largely processional stage into Madrid that was won by Dutch sprinter Jakobsen of the Deceuninck-Quick Step squad.
"I am a little tired but it is just a great feeling that we won a nice race in cycling. I'm really happy that we finished it off," a typically understated Roglic said afterwards. "I still have a lot of things to do, and I am already thinking about other things, not just enjoying this moment."
Having recently signed a new deal that will keep Roglic with his Dutch team until 2023, Jumbo-Visma will now be hoping to challenge the hegemony of Ineos – formerly Team Sky – at the Tour de France.
After almost going out of business in 2012 following the withdrawal of title sponsors Rabobank, Jumbo-Visma has in recent years regrouped and refocused while building a squad able to target the big three-week races and in 2019 managed to put a rider on the final podium in all three grand tours. The addition of Tom Dumoulin to the squad will not only come as a huge boost to Jumbo-Visma, but also give Ineos, a little like Roglic, plenty to think about going into next year.
But at least Movistar got to win the team classification. Again . . .
. . . the Spanish squad has won the team classification in all three grand tours this year, I understand that has only ever happened once before.
And another Slovenian won another jersey . . .
. . . while Ag2r-La Mondiale's Bouchard crowned king of the mountains
Roglic also wins the points classification . . .
Roglic seals general classification . . .
. . . to become the first Slovenian to win a grand tour.
Jakobsen wins the stage!
And all the hard work from Deceuninck-Quick Step pays off in Madrid as the Belgian squad claims its fifth stage win at the Vuelta thanks to Fabio Jakobsen who lunged for the line ahead of Sam Bennett. Two stage wins from Jakobsen, a pair from Philippe Gilbert and a lone victory for Rémi Cavagna means that the team who normally dominates the early-season classics has in fact won 25 per cent of the stages available to individual riders. It is worth mentioning, too, that young British rider Jame Knox also managed to finish 11th on general classification missing out on the top 10 by just 35sec. What. A. Team.
700 metres to go
Zdenek Stybar takes over on the front for Deceuninck-Quick Step.
1.5km to go
Deceuninck-Quick Step has Rémi Cavagna – stage winner in Toledo on Friday – on the front, hammering along at around 70km/h.
3km to go
Astana team-mates Omar Fraile and Luis León Sánchez shunt towards the front, but they are soon overhauled by Deceuninck-Quick Step.
4km to go
The Deceuninck-Quick Step tractor that is Tim Declercq is motoring along, keeping the tempo high in an attempt to deter any late attacks.
5.4km to go | One lap to go
Sunweb are loitering, tucked in alongside Bora-Hansgrohe while Dimension Data, the team of Edvald Boasson Hagen, are also near the business end of the race as are Trek-Segafredo.
7km to go
Gam over for the two-man breakaway of Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio. Over to the sprinters' teams now. The peloton is strung out in a fairly long line as Deceuninck-Quick Step set a fierce pace on the front.
8km to go
Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio are about to be caught.
10km to go
Deceuninck-Quick Step and Bora-Hansgrohe are still riding hard on the front of the peloton. Surely today's stage will be contested by either Fabio Jakobsen or Sam Bennett, won't it?
12km to go
Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio are refusing to give up, the peloton is looming large almost within touching distance of the leading pair.
13km to go
Juan Sebastián Molano has managed to get back on to the back of the main peloton, but at what cost? Will the Colombian lead-out rider have anything left in his legs to help deliver Fernando Gaviria to the line?
24km to go
Owain Doull (Inoes) just got a little tangled up with Oscar Cabedo (Burgos-BH), while elsewhere there has been a crash.
Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio's lead is at 16sec.
16km to go
Juan Sebastián Molano has punctured which is not great news fro Fernando Gaviria as he ordinarily acts as a leadout rider. Ooops.
17km to go | Three laps to go
The course these riders are flying along looks flat, but there are a couple of little rises which after three weeks of racing will feel like mountains for Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio.
18.2km to go
And now it is 10sec.
18.5km to go
That lead is down to 12sec.
20km to go
That gap on the front has been whittled down to a measly 15sec. The peloton is just playing with Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio now.
22.5km to go | Four laps to go
The peloton has this under control as they allow Diego Rubio and Daniel Martínez to hang out in front, 20sec up the road from the hungry looking bunch that is poised for action.
25km to go
Diego Rubio and Daniel Martínez lead by 20sec. Valerio Conti of Italy is the UAE Team Emirates rider up near the front of the peloton.
28km to go
Sunweb now have numbers up near the front of the bunch, could either Nikias Arndt – who won stage eight – or Max Walschield be contesting the stage win in 20 minutes or so? Interestingly, too, UAE Team Emirates has a man up front helping things along so maybe Fernando Gaviria is feeling like he has the legs today?
30km to go
Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio's lead grows out to 20sec, but I don't honestly think anybody believes either the the Colombian or Spaniard can finish this off here today. Not when Deceuninck-Quick Step and Bora-Hansgrohe are looking so determined to get their men to the line.
33km to go | Six laps to go
Jonathan Lastra has caught by the peloton which now trails the stage leaders by 17sec. The big diesel that is Tim Declercq is pulling hard on the front, pulling along his Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mates.
Degenkolb has his say . . .
The German sprinter who is off to Lotto-Soudal next year, has been speaking about his chances today: "I’m really tired but I think everyone who’s done the last three weeks is tired. It’s been some really hard stages. The parcours is really nice, I like the circuit and it’s a nice finish for La Vuelta. I was struggling quite a lot and didn’t really make any result but that’s how it is and today is the last big chance."
36km to go
Jonathan Lastra(Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) is riding in no man''s land between the two stage leaders and the peloton, but the television pictures are not showing the time gaps which is not very helpful. I'd estimate the gap between Diego Rubio and Daniel Martínez and the peloton is roughly 20sec, but surely they will be caught?
40km to go | Seven laps to go
Daniel Martínez and Diego Rubio continue to lead the stage, while back in the pack Rafal Majka is putting in a turn on the front on behalf of Bora-Hansgrohe team-mate Sam Bennett who will e hoping to win a third stage at this year's race here later today. Deceuninck-Quick Step also has numbers near the head of the field, they will be riding for Fabio Jakobsen, their flying young Dutchman, winner of stage four.
42km to go
Gonzalo Serrano was unable to hold the wheels and the 25-year-old who is riding on home roads is heading back towards the bunch while Diego Rubio and Daniel Martínez continue to work together.
45km to go
Madrid-born Gonzalo Serrano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) clipped off the front, but the Spaniard was soon joined by Diego Rubio (Bughos-BH) and Daniel Martínez (EF Education First).
50km to go
The riders wasted little time in attacking. First to go was a rider from Caja-Rural, but the Pro-Continental rider was soon joined by a posse of WorldTour colleagues including Willie Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) and Manuele Boaro (Astana).
52.3km to go
As expected, Jumbo-Visma led the peloton over the line. Eight laps of this finishing circuit to follow before the expected bunch sprint finish, but who will take the honours? Sam Bennett, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Fernando Gaviria or even John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) who has won here twice before (2012 and 2015).
55km to go
The bunch is, er, starting to bunch up as it senses it is reaching the finishing circuit in the centre of Madrid. Jumbo-Visma appears to be taking their place on the front and will lead the maillot rojo onto the circuit before, more than likely, a few bandits attempt to forge a breakaway . . . which will get reeled back in by the sprinters' teams ahead of the final battle in this three-week race around Spain.
60km to go
Sam Bennett, my pick of the day for this stage, looks fairly relaxed as he chats with the young South African rider Nic Dlamini (Dimension Data). He's an interesting young man is Dlamini who I was first made aware of in 2013 when he rode London-Paris with HotChillee. I was riding with a few friends and colleagues and didn't really get to speak with the then promising teenager, but there's a great piece here on theRouleur website that I shall implore you to read once this stage is over.
65km to go
No movement just yet, the peloton is just over 10km away from the finishing circuit. Once there I imagine a few riders will flex their muscles and attempt to get a few moments on the gogglebox.
She said yes . . .
Jesús Ezquerra(Burgos-BH) has just asked his partner if she would like to marry him live on television after pulling an engagement ring out of his rear pocket on his jersey. Luckily for him, she said 'yes'.
— FloBikes (@flobikes) September 15, 2019
Primoz Roglic, Tadej Pogacar, Geoffrey Bouchard and Alejandro Valverde are all having a beer while they ride. The beer of choice – supplied by a race sponsor – I think is alcohol free, so their bike handling skills shouldn't be hampered. Mind, from what I've heard Roglic likes a beer so maybe he could handle a full-strength brew.
70km to go
The riders are still on a big wide road that is definitely designed for cars or lorries. Not exactly the best advert for the region, not making me want to book my flights to the Madrid region anytime soon.
75km to go
He can smile, look . . .
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) September 15, 2019
80km to go
The entire Jumbo-Visma squad – those that remain in the race, at least – are riding alongside each other as the team of the race leader Primoz Roglic pose for the cameras. And why not, they will have posted a man in the top three of each of the grand tours this season, not bad for a squad that almost went out of business a few years ago. Roglic, as you will recall, finished third at the Giro d'Italia in May before his Dutch team-mate Steven Kruijswijk also took third at the Tour de France.
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) September 15, 2019
85km to go
Go home Bouchard, you're drunk.
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— AG2RLM Pro Cycling Team (@AG2RLMCyclisme) September 15, 2019
90km to go
Fernando Gaviria(UAE Team Emirates) was just spotted riding all alone behind the slow-moving bunch. Quite surprised to see the Colombian sprinter there. I say that because I had completely forgot he was at the Vuelta a España. The best result the 25-year-old has managed so far here was third on stage four, but today should end in a sprint so the hugely talented rider will get one last chance to save his Vuelta.
95km to go
As the peloton taps away along what looks like a dual carriageway, Alejandro Valverde continues to be the focus of attention from the television production company who is relaying pictures of the race around the world. It's a bizarre sight watching the final stage of a grand tour riding along a dual carriageway – or perhaps a motorway?
Anyway, it's currently fairly sunny where the riders are but further up the road in Madrid there is a threat of rain. It rained earlier ahead of the women's race which contributed to a number of crashes. If it does rain again race organisers have announced the timings for the general classification will be taken on the finishing line of the first of eight finishing circuits after 52.3km.
100km to go
Alejandro Valverde has been waving to the television cameras and the 39-year-old world champion is looking pretty pleased with himself. I'm not 100 per cent sure about his plans after today's stage finishes, but today could be his last competitive day in the rainbow bands.
Rolling, rolling, rolling . . .
The peloton has started to turn its collective pedal cranks and the roll-out from Fuenlabrada is under way. Each of the classification jersey wearers Primoz Roglic, Geoffrey Bouchard, Tadej Pogacar are leading the way, while the trio has world champion Alejandro Valverde for company.
— La Vuelta (@lavuelta) September 15, 2019
Nairo Quintana is also up there dressed in the green jersey, although Roglic is the genuine holder of that particular garment but he can't wear two so the Colombian gets the honour despite sitting fifth in the standings behind Roglic, Pogacar, Valverde and Sam Bennett who would clearly prefer to wear his Irish national champions' jersey today. Quintana, tucked in behind the bona fide leaders, is looking a little sheepish.
— La Vuelta (@lavuelta) September 15, 2019
Brennauer claims Madrid Challenge | Hosking sprints to stage two win
Earlier this afternoon the Australian sprinter Chloe Hosking (Alé Cipollini) won stage two of the catchily-titled WNT Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta in front of the Cibeles Square following 98.6km of racing.
Hosking outsprinted the young Italian Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) while Roxane Fournier (Movistar) of France was third.
Lisa Brennauer (WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling) secured the general classification of the two-day race after the German finished 16th the day after winning the 9.3km individual time trial in Boadilla del Monte, a suburb on the western side of the Spanish capital, ahead of Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) and Pernille Mathiesen (Sunweb) who were also second and third respectively in the final general classification. The race was the penultimate event in the 2019 UCI Women’s WorldTour ahead of the Tour of Guangxi in October.
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 21 of the 74th edition of the Vuelta a España, the 106.6km run from Fuenlabrada to Madrid. As you can see from the below profile of this the final stage of the final grand tour of the season, today is not the most testing day the riders will have encountered over the past three weeks.
With no classified climbs featuring in the almost panflat route, all Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) needs to do to secure the mountains classification is complete the stage within the time limit.
A little like the final stage in the Tour de France, the last day at the Vuelta is also traditionally a largely processional affair and so we are not expecting any changes in the various classifications – general, points, mountains and team. Assuming the days goes to plan then Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) will make history by becoming the first Slovenian to win a grand tour as well as the points jersey, while his compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) will take home the white jersey as the best young rider of the race. Movistar, who have three riders – Alejandro Valverde (second), Nairo Quintana (fourth) and Marc Soler (ninth) – in the overall top 10, will win the team classification. Of course they will, that's what Movistar do.
Today's racing is due to get under way at 4.10pm (BST).
Where are we?
Here's a reminder of the route of this year's Vuelta a España . . .
. . . and here are the details of each and every stage at this year's race:
As it stands . . .
Here's what the standings look like in the general, points, mountains, young rider and team classifications after 20 days of racing.
The Cycling Podcast: re-cap of yesterday's stage
The penultimate stage and last in the mountains of the Vuelta a España saw a fierce battle among the main contenders with 20-year-old Tadej Pogacar winning his third stage to move up to third overall.
It means he will finish on the podium in Madrid on Sunday, with his fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic on the top step and Alejandro Valverde in second.
Richard Moore, Daniel Friebe and Orla Chennaoui discuss the stage and also the controversy of the previous day. There are interviews with Philippe Gilbert and Rémi Cavagna of Deceuninck-Quick Step and with Pogacar’s manager at UAE Team Emirates, Joxean Fernández Matxin. And there are the latest instalments of rider diaries from Nick Schultz and James Knox.
The Cycling Podcast is supported by Rapha and Science in Sport