Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma has won the Vuelta a Espana for the second year in a row, with victory in the final stage of the race in Madrid going to Bora-Hansgrohe’s Pascal Ackermann, who pipped Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Sam Bennett to the line in the sprint.
Unlike the drama of the Giro d’Italia a fortnight ago with Tao Geoghegan Hart’s closing day victory in Milan, today’s 18th and final stage of the Spanish Grand Tour was the traditionally more processional affair ahead of the sprinters battling it out in Madrid.
Less than two months ago, as the Tour de France peloton rolled into the Paris, Roglic had to cede the limelight to Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates, who had sensationally overhauled his fellow Slovenian on the penultimate day’s time trial to win the yellow jersey.
Today, however, Roglic capped a season in which he also won his first Monument at Liege-Bastogne-Liege by riding into the Spanish capital as the winner-in-waiting, as he had done 12 months ago, this time with a margin of 24 seconds over Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers, with EF Pro Cycling’s Hugh Carthy completing the overall podium, a further 41 seconds back.
There was no change in the overall standings today, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde securing the 20th Grand Tour top 10 finish of his career once the break denied Astana’s Aleksandr Vlasov the opportunity of vying for the intermediate bonus seconds that would have enabled him to overhaul the Spanish veteran.
The racing instead followed its usual final day script, with the pace ratcheted up on the five laps of the city-centre circuit at the end of the 139.6km stage from the Hipodromo de La Zarzuela, ahead of Ackermann taking victory by millimetres from Bennett.
After confirming the retention of his title, Roglic said: “Me and my teammates fought for it every day. We considered each stage as a one-day race. I am very proud of the performance that we all achieved.
“During the past three weeks I still felt in good shape. I am happy that I can end my season in this way.”
Looking ahead to next season and beyond, he said: “There are still a few goals I want to achieve in my career. That is an enormous motivation for me for the coming years.”
Comparing this year’s victory with the one last year, he said: “The 2019 win was of course special, because I won my first grand tour then”, the Slovenian continued.
“Nevertheless, I also rate this victory very highly, because it is part of the great season that I have had. We should be happy that, given the situation in the world, we were able to ride the Vuelta this year. For that I would like to thank the organisation of the Vuelta and all those involved. It was very well organised here.”
Roglic wasn’t the only rider to be presented with a Vuelta overall champion's trophy today – so too, ahead of the stage, was Chris Froome, last year awarded victory in the 2011 edition of the race following the disqualification of Juan Jose Cobo, to whom Froome had finished runner-up.
Thank you to @lavuelta for giving me the opportunity to celebrate my 2011 win today. I first learnt about it while in ICU in June last year not knowing if I’d ever be able to compete again. pic.twitter.com/3Bamcg3q41
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) November 8, 2020
“It’s a really special victory,” the Ineos Grenadiers rider said. “I have really special memories obviously looking back to this period, but also the way I was told about this victory, when I woke up the day after my big accident last year.
“I was in ICU still when I was told: ‘Congratulations, you’ve won La Vuelta.’ That was a really strange feeling. It was such a special race to me. It’s where I first discovered myself as a Grand Tour rider and a GC contender. It gave me confidence to then go on to the Tour de France, to keep targeting Grand Tours. I certainly hope next season I’ll be here in a different capacity.”
Besides marking the end of the perhaps the most bizarre season in the sport's history, it also marks Froome's final race for the team he joined as Team Sky when it launched ahead of the 2010 season, with the 35 year old, who finished the Vuelta in 98th place overall, headed to Israel Start Up Nation for 2021.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.