Valverde seals second place . . .
. . . and with that the dogged old world champion will finish second on general classification at the Vuelta a España
Pogacar wins stage 20 at the Vuelta!
He’s done it, Tadej Pogacar took on the big boys from some distance out and beat them. What a great stage win for Slovenia, what a great Vuelta a España for Slovenia who will get their first ever grand tour winner in Primoz Roglic.
1km to go
Tadej Pogacar is not going to be caught here today. This 20 year-old is going to finish his first ever grand tour with three stage wins, the leader’s jersey in the young rider classification and, possibly, third place on the podium.
2km to go
Miguel Ángel López has been dropped by a four-man group that is being led by Alejandro Valverde. Primoz Roglic is glued to the world champions’ wheel, while Rafal Majka and Hermann Pernsteiner are hanging on for dear life.
3km to go
Alejandro Valverde attacks, but he is marked closely by Primoz Roglic who is just minutes away from becoming the first Slovenian to win a grand tour. Tadej Pogacar still leads by 1min 35sec.
4km to go
Rafal Majka has attacked off the front of the peloton, the Pole takes with him Alejandro Valverde and Primoz Roglic. Nairo Quintana rides in the wheels. Further up the road – 1min 35sec up the road, to be precise – Tadej Pogacar appears poised to win another stage at the Vuelta a España, his third at this year’s race. The lad is 20 and he’s making everybody look pedestrian. Again.
6.5km to go
Miguel Ángel López is back on the front of the peloton, Tadej Pogacar’s lead has dropped to 1min 35sec.
7km to go
Tadej Pogacar remains around 20sec off Alejandro Valverde’s second place on the virtual classification and the young man is losing time, but not too many seconds.
9.4km to go
Here we go, Tadej Pogacar is onto the final classified climb of the day, the 9.4km drag up Plataforma de Gredos. Can the 20-year-old hold his lead of 1min 40sec? I imagine Primoz Roglic will be winning the Vuelta a España in a few minutes, but can his compatriot take the white jersey and break onto the podium with this quite unbelievable ride?
11km to go
Alejandro Valverde was second over the intermediate sprint where the world champion scooped up a two-second time bonus.
12km to go
Tadej Pogacar wins the intermediate sprint which earned him a three-second time bonus. In addition to those valuable seconds, the UAE Team Emirates rider also has a 1min 42sec advantage over Miguel Ángel López and Alejandro Valverde et al.
15km to go
Miguel Ángel López has for the third time today put in an attack, desperate to regain some time on stage leader Tadej Pogacar and with it the lead in the young rider classification.
17km to go
The Slovenian is showing no sign of slowing as he fights against gravity, pushing a big gear in a headwind on an unclassified climb. His advantage continues to grow. This is not normal.
19km to go
Marc Soler is riding hard on the front of the peloton, working for team-mate Alejandro Valverde who will want to keep hold of that second place on general classification. Tadej Pogacar is just under 10km from the start of the final climb of the day and he has, in fact, increased his lead by a handful of seconds: 1min 38sec now.
22km to go
Stage leader Tadej Pogacar is holding his advantage at 1min 34sec, but the 20-year-old – yes, 20! – still has a couple of short climbs to tackle before the final 9.4km drag up Plataforma de Gredos.
25km to go
Tadej Pogacar is showing no sign of slowing, mixing it up between riding the supertuck – à la Matej Mohoric – and on the drops. Thanks to the rain earlier, the road is looking patchy and I’m just praying everybody make it down safely.
31km to go
Alejandro Valverde’s second place on general classification is under threat from stage leader Tadej Pogacar who now trails the world champion in the virtual standings by just 25sec.
34km to go
Game over for Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro who have been caught by the peloton just beneath the summit of the Puerto de Peña Negra where it is blowing a hoolie. Tadej Pogacar is already over the top and is descending through the mist on damp and narrow roads.
Pogacar’s attack reminds me of Bernal’s on the Iseran in the Tour. A young guy with no apparent fear making a solo move from a long way out with the aim of turning the race upside down #LaVuelta19#cojones
— Peter Cossins (@petercossins) September 14, 2019
35km to go
Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro already trail Tadej Pogacar by over a minute. The pair are digging deep though.
36.5km to go
Tadej Pogacar is ploughing on, he is around 2km from the summit of the penultimate climb in today’s stage. As it stands the UAE Team Emirates rider is the new leader in the virtual young rider classification and is within 10sec of the third spot on the overall podium. Gutsy stuff.
37.5km to go
Tadej Pogacar – who has already won two stages at this year’s Vuelta a España ON HIS GRAND TOUR DEBUT – now leads the stage. Tao Geoghegan Hart was the first to crack, before the young Slovenian rode Ruben Guerreiro off his wheel with relative ease.
Valverde attacks! | 39km to go
World champion Alejandro Valverde was next to go, but Rafal Majka and a Bora-Hansgrohe team-mate closed him down. Tadej Pogacar, meanwhile, has caught Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro and has ridden into the virtual lead in the young rider classification.
Pogacar attacks! | 39km to go
Tadej Pogacar has attacked off the front of the peloton and nobody has responded. The Slovenian wasted little time in gaining 20sec on the white jersey of Miguel Ángel López
López attacks again! | 40km to go
Miguel Ángel López takes over from Jakob Fuglsang, but once again the Astana team leader here at the Vuelta a España is closed down by Primoz Roglic, Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Tadej Pogacar. Rafal Majka missed the move, but has fought his way back on along with another dozen or so riders.
42km to go
Though explosive, that attack from Miguel Ángel López did little more than shell a few riders from the peloton. All back as one now and Jakob Fuglsang is again on the front. One outcome from the move, though, was a reduction in the size of Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro’s lead at the front of the race. The pair lead by just 55sec.
López attacks! | 42.8km to go
After Jakob Fuglsang had set him up, Miguel Ángel López attacked off the front. The young Colombian, though, was followed by race leader Primoz Roglic who is looking comfortable. Tadej Pogacar managed to follow the wheels as did three or four Movistar riders.
44km to go
Jakob Fuglsang has started riding on the front of the peloton and the Dane is setting a fierce pace, so much so that Sepp Kuss has jest been burned off the back. Primoz Roglic now has just one team-mate – George Bennett – while Tadej Pogacar has been isolated.
45km to go
Tao Geoghegan Hart has attacked off the front of the breakaway, the Ineos rider taking with him Ruben Guerreiro – a former team-mate at Axeon Hagens Berman. The pair will have their work cut out here as the red jersey’s group is just 1min 30 behind. There was a little bit of beef between the pair last week, but today they will have to work together if they are to hold off the pack.
48km to go
Tao Geoghegan Hart and his four riding colleagues hit the lower slopes of the Puerto de Peña Negra – 14.2km in length with an average gradient of 5.9 per cent – with a lead of 2min 20sec on the chasing pack. Astana and Movistar have the big numbers, while the team with the leader’s jersey – Jumbo-Visma – has just two riders alongside Primoz Roglic. Tadej Pogacar is accompanied by just one team-mate.
The group that I am continuing to call the peloton took a battering on the descent and failed to regroup thanks to those crosswinds a short while back. The reduced group consists of around 30 or 40 riders.
52km to go
Not for the first time this week, it is fairly windy out on the flat section and a number of riders are struggling getting back on as they battle against a cyclists’ biggest enemy. The break’s lead is just 2min 30sec.
55km to go
The rain jackets and gilets are coming off as those on the front of the peloton – and I’m looking at you, Astana – prepare for business. Astana are riding hard on the front of the peloton which splintered on the descent off the Puerto de Chía. There is a relatively short flattish section around 5km in length now before the road kicks up on the 14km long Puerto de Peñanegra climb where those wanting to make any time gains today will, surely, have to make their move.
65km to go
Tao Geoghegan Hart et al will not be thanking Astana whose injection in pace on the front of the peloton has seen their advantage slashed by a minute. They still lead by 3min 34sec, but if Astana continue to ride at this pace then they will struggle to hold off the charging pack.
67km to go
Luis León Sánchez, Omar Fraile, Jakob Fuglsang, Ion Izagirre and Gorka Izagirre are all riding on the front of the peloton on behalf of their Astana team leader Miguel Ángel López who today is trying to break into the top three on general classification, while also secure the white jersey as leader in the young rider classification. To do the former he needs to finish 47sec ahead of Nairo Quintana (not including time bonuses), but to seal the white jersey all he needs to do is either beat Tadej Pogacar or finish within 30sec of the UAE Team Emirates rider.
72km to go
The leading quintet of Nicolas Edet, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Ruben Guerreiro, Damien Howson and Sergio Samitier is climbing again, this time up the category three Puerto de Chía. They lead the peloton by 4min 35sec, but Astana has numbers on the front which has led to an increase in pace as Miguel Ángel López’s team start turning the screw.
74km to go
A number of riders are removing their rain jackets as the road rises up towards the category three Puerto de Chía. Not entirely sure why they are stripping off as reports are saying it is still raining on the summit.
75km to go
83km to go
Not a great deal happening out on the road right now, but I imagine it will all start kicking off pretty soon. And if not soon, then on the penultimate climb of the day they Puerto de Peñanegra which tops out at 1,910 metres above sea level just under 35km from the finish. Incidentally, Jumbo-Visma has all of its riders – George Bennett, Robert Gesink, Lennard Hofstede, Sepp Kuss, Neilson Powless plus race leader Primoz Roglic – on the front of the peloton, trailing the breakaway by 4min 11sc, and are looking comfortable.
88km to go
Lashing it down now. Primoz Roglic has his yellow rain jacket on now which is covering up his leader’s red jersey, but he also has a red helmet perched on his bonce so he cannot drift around the pack unnoticed. Not that he would want to do that and risk becoming the first Slovenian to win a grand tour in Madrid a little over 24 hours from now.
93.5km to go
Cofidis Solutions Crédits rider Nicolas Edet drops back to his team car for a chat with his sporting director – and possibly a sticky botttle.
The quintet’s gap on the peloton is holding at around 3min 35sec. Two little uncategorised rollers to follow before a triumvairate of climbs that may dictate the final standings in this year’s Vuelta a España. Following a lively start to today’s stage, peace appears to have broken out back in the bunch where Jumbo-Visma are controlling things.
97km to go
As the leading quintet’s advantage grows out to 3min 18sec, rain drops are again falling on the course. The rain may not appear too heavy, but once again the riders are climbing and are around 1,500 metres above sea level where the air starts to thin out and with each additional metre they climb the temperature will continue to drop.
107.5km to go
Tao Geoghegan Hart bridges over to the stage leaders, swelling that group to five just over two minutes up the road from the peloton. While Geoghegan Hart waits for his team car to make its way though, the Ineos rider takes a bidon from the neutral service vehicle that is shadowing the breakaway.
110km to go
Tao Geoghegan Hart has put over a minute into the peloton which continues to be controlled by Jumbo-Visma, the team of race leader Primoz Roglic, with the Ineos rider now trailing the break by 30sec.
116km to go
With everybody safely over the top of the Alto de Navatalgordo, Tao Geoghegan Hart lets rip. The Hackney-born rider is no threat to the general classification, but is desperate to challenge for a stage win. After having already finished second and third, could this be the day he takes the step up to the podium with a maiden grand tour stage win?
119km to go
James Knox, the 23 year-old Briton who started the day in ninth place on general classification, has managed to get back on. The Deceuninck-Quick Step is suffering following yesterday’s crash which resulted in him going to hospital for scans. Knox was just shepherded back by team-mates Eros Capecchi, Zdenek Stybar and Philippe Gilbert.
What makes @PhilippeGilbert the CHAMPION he is?
For me this gesture to James Knox is what makes him the true champion he is. Winning races is something you can do with talent, but with helping others it is something that shows who you really are. Beautiful gesture! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/SV1fDPwc2H
— Bas Tietema (@BasTietema) September 14, 2019
120km to go
The leading quartet of Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Ruben Guerreiro (Katusha-Alpecin), Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) and Sergio Samitier (Euskadi-Murias) has increased its advantage to 1min 7sec.
Meanwhile, James Knox (Deceuninck-Quick Step) has been dropped.
123km to go
As the leading group tackles the third climb of the day, the category two Alto de Navatalgordo, Steve Morabito is dropped. Incidentally, the Swiss will retire from professional cycling at the end of the season and so this may be the last time we see him. Back in the bunch and Jumbo-Visma are riding on the front, setting a high enough pace to deter any attacks and thus protecting the leader’s red jersey that Primoz Roglic is wearing for a 10th successive day today.
126km to go
Sergio Samitier has reacquainted himself with seven breakaway riders – Lawson Craddock, Nicolas Edet, Ruben Guerreiro, Sergio Henao, Damien Howson, Steve Morabito and Mark Padun – who now lead the peloton by just 4sec, while Francisco Ventoso (CCC) is giving chase on this descent, but has his work cut out if he is to catch the break.
132.8km to go
Lawson Craddock has managed to latch onto the back of the breakaway. Meanwhile, back in the peloton Movistar put in a little attack just as Jumbo-Visma appeared to be taking a breather. Think it could be one of those types of stage where none of the main protagonists will be allowed a moment of relaxation. Concentration levels key to survival. That, good legs and good old-fashioned luck.
147km to go
Mitch Docker has been dropped from the leading group, while the Aussie riders’ team-mate Lawson Craddock is chasing the stage leaders as they inch their way toward the summit of the category two Puerto de Serranillos, the second of six categorised climbs on today’s stage.
150km to go
There has been no let up in the pace as the peloton edges up the side of the category two Puerto de Serranillos. The breakaway’s advantage has been whittled down to below a minute now. The rain is looking a little heavier now which will not help them on the descents. George Bennett just jolled off the front of the bunch, the Jumbo-Visam rider taking with him Tao Geoghegan Hart. I’m not 100 per cent sure why the Kiwi did that, perhaps just a show of strength – letting his rivals know he has recovered form yesterday’s crash?
155km to go
Ángel Madrazo was unable to catch the break and so missed out on the maximum points – or any points, they went to: Sergio Samitier (10pts), Sergio Henao (6pts) Damien Howson (4pts), Steve Morabito (2pts), Mark Padun (1pt) – which means Geoffrey Bouchard will, providing he finishes in Madrid on Sunday, win the mountains classification in his first year as a professional. Not bad for a bloke who until recently worked in a Bourgoin-Jallieu branch of Decathlon.
156km to go
Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), who is second in the mountains classification, has now attacked off the front of the bunch but he is marked by an Ag2r-La Mondiale rider. Madrazo needs to take maximum points at the top of this climb if he is to stand any chance of regaining the polka dot jersey he wore earlier in the race. I think the popular Spaniard, though, may have left this attack a little too late.
160km to go
Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrian-Merida) is putting in a huge effort to bridge over from the peloton to the stage leaders. However, the Austrian’s work may all be in vain as the main protagonists’ deficit on the leaders is just 1min 14sec now having dropped from around 3min.
162km to go
David de la Cruz (Ineos) is the next rider to roll off the front of the peloton which has seen a significant reduction in size thanks to the high pace being sett on this long climb. Gorka Izagirre wasted little time in closing down the Ineos rider. Seconds later another Astana rider, Dario Cataldo, put in another short-lived attack. Spots of rain are starting to fall.
164km to go
That move from Omar Fraile and Tao Geoghegan Hart has fizzled out, but Astana are looking very lively. First Jakob Fuglsang put in another attack off the front of the group featuring Primoz Roglic, before Ion Izagirre took over on the front. Sepp Kuss, the 25 year-old American, is on marshalling duties for his Jumbo-Visma team-mate and leader Roglic.
166.5km to go
Nic Dlamini and Tosh van der Sande have been shelled by the leading group, while further back Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) has joined forces with Omar Fraile (Astana). While Geoghegan Hart and his team-mates will today be thinking about the stage win, and perhaps some points in the mountains classification, Fraile will more than likely be working heer to position himself in the break so that later in the day the Basque rider can help team-mate Miguel Ángel López who is looking to break onto the podium ahead of Sunday’s final stage into Madrid.
And the race is on!
As widely expected a number of riders wasted little time in making their moves today. A decent-sized group attacked fairly early, eventually settling with nine riders: Nic Dlamini (Dimension Data), Mitch Docker (EF Education First), Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates), Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott), Steve Morabito (Groupama-FDJ), Mikel Iturria (Euskadi-Murias), Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida), Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) and Sergio Samitier (Euskadi-Murias). As it stands with 170km of the stage remaining that group leads the maillot rojo of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) by just under three minutes as they edge up the firts climbof the day, the 18.4km Puerto de Pedro Bernardo.
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 20 of the 74th edition of the Vuelta a España, the 190.4km run from Arenas de San Pedro to Plataforma de Gredos. Very little build-up to today’s stage – as in, no build-up – as racing is already under way with the peloton having rolled through KMO at 11.13am (BST) ahead of what is a very tough day in the saddle with around 4,500 metres of vertical elevation for the riders to tackle.
It goes without saying that this will be the final opportunity for a final shuffling of the pack in the general classification – and, of course, the young rider competition – while Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) will be hoping to seal his polka dot jersey as runaway leader in the mountains classification.
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 19 days of racing.
The Cycling Podcast: re-cap of yesterday’s stage
There was controversy at the Vuelta a España just two days from the end when a crash took out Primoz Roglic, the race leader, and the Movistar team appeared to try to take advantage.
Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe discuss this “beef” and we hear from Deceuninck-Quick Step workhorse Tim Declercq, whose team was triumphant once again.
There’s also an interview with Willie Smit, a South African on the Katusha-Alpecin team with an extraordinary life story – and an uncertain future. And there are the latest audio diaries from James Knox and Nick Schultz.