Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic is set to win the Vuelta a Espana for the second year in succession, and bury his Tour de France heartbreak, after finishing the final competitive stage on top of the overall standings on Saturday.
Roglic came under intense pressure from Ineos Grenadiers leader Richard Carapaz on the final climb with the Ecuadorian set for the runner-up position, 24 seconds adrift after the 17th stage was won by Frenchman David Gaudu.
“I wasn’t always in control,” a smiling Roglic said after a stage with hills galore, cobbles, narrow village lanes and misty clouds on the summits.
“I had just enough left,” he said. “I’m super happy, and it’s a really nice way to finish the season.”
Team Jumbo-Visma all-rounder Roglic took the Vuelta overall lead on stage one and was in a struggle with Carapaz for the leader’s red jersey all the way, with the Ecuadorian taking the lead for five stages.
Carapaz beat Roglic to last year’s Giro d’Italia title before joining Ineos.
“I really wanted to win this Vuelta, but I’m satisfied with the second place because we produced our best performance,” Carapaz said.
Roglic still needed to complete yesterday’s 139km parade to Madrid where this year’s race was almost certain to end in a mass sprint.
The victory comes after Roglic’s late meltdown at the Tour de France, where he lost the lead on the penultimate day with his compatriot Tadej Pogacar winning the race.
In the closing kilometers of Saturday’s stage, there was a feeling that Roglic was in danger of suffering a similar fate.
With 3km to go, Carapaz attacked, peeling away from Roglic and Hugh Carthy and wheeling away up the steep slopes of the final climb that ended at 1965m altitude on a cold misty mountaintop finish.
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