Primož Roglič avenges devastating Tour de France defeat with second Vuelta a España crown


It was a vastly different finish for Primož Roglič at the Vuelta a España compared to two months ago at the Tour de France.

This time, Roglič was celebrating a Grand Tour victory instead of dwelling on a late collapse that cost him the win.

On Sunday, Roglič clinched his second consecutive Vuelta title with an uneventful final ride into Madrid in Sunday’s largely ceremonial stage, solidifying his status as a top rider.

The 31-year-old Slovenian from team Jumbo-Visma had virtually sealed the victory in Stage 17 the day prior, but it was not without some nervous moments.

With the mental scars of his Tour de France capitulation still raw, Roglič would have feared the worst as his closest challenger, Richard Carapaz, broke away in the final few kilometres of Saturday’s stage in a desperate attempt to claw back the required 45 seconds.

Primož Roglič won four stages at this year’s Vuelta, the most of any rider(AP: Alvaro Barrientos)

However, Roglič rallied and just about held onto the coat-tails of Carapaz, who could only make up 21 seconds and had to settle for second — which made him the first Ecuadorean rider to finish on the podium at the Vuelta.

“We were just enjoying [the ride],” Roglič said.

It was the second Grand Tour win for Roglič, who had been in contention at the Tour de France until the last competitive day, when he dramatically imploded to hand victory to his fellow Slovenian, Tadej Pogačar.

He won four stages at the Vuelta this year, including the first. Last year he had one stage victory.

Roglič had previously taken steps to atone for his Tour defeat with victory at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic, capitalising when world champion Julian Alaphilippe prematurely celebrated victory.

Roglič has become the first rider to win the Vuelta’s overall standings and the points classification two years in a row.

“It’s really beautiful to win the red jersey and the green jersey to finish this year,” he said.

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British rider Hugh Carthy finished a surprise third at the three-week race across Spain, with Dan Martin fourth and Enric Mas fifth.

Pascal Ackermann defeated Sam Bennett in a photo finish at the deciding sprint of the final stage, which lacked the huge crowds of previous editions in the Spanish capital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vuelta finished without major disruptions despite a surge of coronavirus cases in Spain.

Tight health restrictions were in place for the race that was originally scheduled for late August and early September but was postponed because of the pandemic.

This Vuelta had only 18 stages instead of the usual 21. The sixth stage had to be altered to avoid going into French territory, and organizers had already cancelled plans to hold the first three stages in the Netherlands and to have two stages enter neighbouring Portugal.

A facial-recognition phone app replaced the traditional signature of riders at the start of each stage to reduce contact with pens and surfaces, and fans were asked not to gather at finish lines.

Riders, team members and race staff were constantly tested for COVID-19.

AP/ABC



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Hugh Carthy seals Vuelta a Espana podium as Primoz Roglic wins red jersey


Winner Primoz Roglic (centre) was flanked by the other riders on the podium as they rode into Madrid – Hugh Carthy is on the right

Britain’s Hugh Carthy secured a podium finish at the Vuelta a Espana as Primoz Roglic won the red jersey.

Defending champion Roglic, who suffered a dramatic defeat by Tadej Pogacar in the Tour de France, retained his Vuelta title, with Richard Carapaz second.

Carthy’s surprise podium comes a fortnight after Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d’Italia.

Germany’s Pascal Ackermann won the bunch sprint in the largely processional final stage to Madrid.

Bora Hansgrohe’s Ackermann pipped Ireland’s Sam Bennett on the line in Madrid, bringing down the curtain on an eventful road racing season.

Third place for EF Pro Cycling’s Carthy, one minute 15 seconds behind Roglic overall, was by far the best finish of his career at the top level.

Ineos Grenadiers’ Richard Carapaz finished 24 seconds behind Roglic after a last-ditch attack on the final mountainous stage up the Alto de la Covatilla saw him wrestle some time back.

Ireland’s Dan Martin took fourth for Israel Start Up Nation 2mins 43secs down.

In the women’s version of the Vuelta – the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta – Germany’s Lisa Brennhauer of Ceratizit-WNT won the three-day race’s general classification after Valcar’s Elisa Balsamo won the final day’s sprint into Madrid.

Britain’s Alice Barnes of Canyon-Sram finished ninth in the general classification, 52 seconds down.

Carthy comes of age

Carthy’s podium in this three-week race is a surprising and welcome result which elevates the Preston-born rider’s status in the peloton – and it comes after a year which saw many of Britain’s top riders struggle.

Before this race Carthy, 26, had a best result of first overall on a lower-ranking stage race in Spain four years ago, and a stage win in last year’s Tour of Switzerland.

Carthy’s star turn came on stage 12 when he won on the infamous Alto de Angliru climb – roaring with pride as he powered over the line.

His achievement is all the more valuable given he did it as part of a team which has fewer riders able to hang on in the mountain stages, and with a team budget far lower than that of Roglic and Carapaz’s big-spending squads.

Finally Roglic delivers

Jumbo-Visma’s Roglic defended the title from last season, when he won his first three-week Grand Tour.

The Slovenian has come back strongly after conceding victory in this year’s Tour de France to countryman Pogacar on the penultimate time trial of September’s Tour de France – losing two minutes, after being the overwhelming favourite, in one of the sport’s most dramatic finishes.

Roglic used a similar team line-up from the Tour to dominate much of the peloton’s pace during the race – including ‘super domestiques’ Tom Dumoulin and Sepp Kuss.

There will be some frustration that the Dutch team did not manage to sweep all before them in 2020.

However, Roglic’s win in Spain, and in the ‘monument’ one day race Liege-Bastogne-Liege, as well as Wout van Aert’s list of stage wins and his victory at Milan-San Remo – another monument – means Jumbo-Visma have still had a hugely successful season.

Roglic said: “It’s beautiful to finish like this. It is impossible to compare [to last year’s Vuelta title] but I’m super, super happy I could win and finish like this.

“I don’t know if I’m the best Grand Tour rider but, for sure the best on this Vuelta. There are some races I haven’t won yet, but today we celebrate.”

What happened to Ineos and Froome?

Ineos Grenadiers will take some pride with second position courtesy of Carapaz, who had better form than Chris Froome, whose seven Grand Tour wins include two Vueltas.

Having won seven of the previous eight Tours de France, Ineos had been struggling to come to terms with a difficult season after defending champion Egan Bernal was forced out of this year’s edition.

They then saw lead rider Geraint Thomas fracture his pelvis when he crashed early in the Giro d’Italia, but their fortunes turned as Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart won his first Grand Tour.

Early in the Vuelta Froome, who is continuing his recovery from a horrific crash in 2019 and could not train during March’s lockdown, lost several minutes, and there was the unusual sight of watching one of the sport’s legends carrying drinks bottles for his team-mates as a domestique.

But the seven-time Grand Tour champion improved as the race wore on and was said to be much happier with his condition as he prepares for next season with new team Israel Start-Up Nation.



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Primoz Roglic poised to retain Vuelta a Espana crown despite penultimate stage fright


The Slovenian saw the Tour de France yellow jersey slip away in dramatic fashion late in the race earlier this summer and it was a case of déjà vu when he was dropped on the final climb of Saturday’s 178.2km stage by second-placed Richard Carapaz, but the 31-year-old clung on.  

Going into Sunday’s 18th and final flat stage to Madrid, Roglic, who had a 45-second advantage before the start in Sequeros, leads Ecuador’s Carapaz by 24 seconds and Briton Hugh Carthy by 47 seconds.

Gaudu, who claimed his second stage win, broke into the top 10 in the general classification.

Roglic seemed in total control when Carthy was the first to attack with about four km to go but a brutal acceleration by Carapaz three km from the line left the Jumbo Visma rider stuck to the tar.

As the light faded on the Alto de la Covatilla so did Roglic’s hopes with his virtual overall lead being cut to 18 seconds.

But Caparaz plateaued and Roglic dug deeper in the last km to edge closer to putting his Tour de France heartbreak behind him.

Almost three minutes before that the 24-year-old Gaudu had crossed the line for a solo win that gave him eighth place in the general classification on his first grand tour as a team leader with Groupama-FDJ.

Additional reporting by Reuters.  



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Sam Bennett stripped of Vuelta a Espana stage nine win after bumping rival in bunch sprint finish


Irish sprinter Sam Bennett was stripped of his victory on the 157km ninth stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday after hitting a rival with his shoulder in the final sprint.

German Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was given the stage win instead for his third Grand Tour victory, and first in the Vuelta. Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal) moved up to second place and Max Kanter (Sunweb) took the final podium spot.

“I didn’t expect to win because Sam was ahead but when I saw the video, it wasn’t a fair action from him,” Ackermann said. “After all the crashes of the last weeks, we have to take care of the other guys. If there is no hole, we have to stop. I feel sorry for Sam but I totally understand we have to ride in a more fair way.”

Race officials said Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was found guilty of an “irregular sprint” after hitting Emils Liepins (Trek-Segafredo), who was trying to get in on Bennett’s lead-out train, with his shoulder entering the final metres of the stage. Bennett was relegated to last place.



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Sam Bennett stripped of Vuelta a Espana stage nine win after bumping rival in bunch sprint finish


Irish sprinter Sam Bennett was stripped of his victory on the 157km ninth stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday after hitting a rival with his shoulder in the final sprint.

German Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was given the stage win instead for his third Grand Tour victory, and first in the Vuelta. Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal) moved up to second place and Max Kanter (Sunweb) took the final podium spot.

“I didn’t expect to win because Sam was ahead but when I saw the video, it wasn’t a fair action from him,” Ackermann said. “After all the crashes of the last weeks, we have to take care of the other guys. If there is no hole, we have to stop. I feel sorry for Sam but I totally understand we have to ride in a more fair way.”

Race officials said Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was found guilty of an “irregular sprint” after hitting Emils Liepins (Trek-Segafredo), who was trying to get in on Bennett’s lead-out train, with his shoulder entering the final metres of the stage. Bennett was relegated to last place.



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Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome struggles as Primoz Roglic wins first stage


Primoz Roglic finished a second for Jumbo Visma ahead of his rivals in a stunning sprint finish

Two-time winner Chris Froome struggled as Slovenia’s defending champion Primoz Roglic took the opening stage of Vuelta a Espana.

Briton Froome, 35, in his final Vuelta for Ineos Grenadiers, was dropped on the penultimate climb and is more than 11 minutes behind the leader.

Roglic pipped a small pack including Ineos’ Richard Carapaz and Irish rider Dan Martin of Israel Start-Up Nation.

EF Pro’s British rider Hugh Carthy finished seventh.

The 26-year-old from Preston, who crashed out in stage six of the event last year, is only 14 seconds behind Roglic.

Froome, winner of seven Grand Tours, found it difficult to stay with the pace of the peloton and fell away from the pack during the climb up Elgeta.

The 35-year-old said he was unsure about his condition coming into the race, as he continues to get back to peak race fitness following his horrific crash that ruled him out of both the 2019 Tour de France and Vuelta.

The Vuelta set off almost two months late from Irun because of coronavirius, with just a few spectators in attendance for a 173km route that featured four big climbs.

Stage one result

1. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) 4hrs 22mins 34secs

2. Richard Carapaz (Ecuador/Ineos Grenadiers +1sec

3. Daniel Martin (Ire/Israel Start-Up Nation) Same time

4. Esteban Chaves (Colombia/Mitchelton-Scott

5. Felix Grosschartner (Aut/Bora-Hansgrove)

6. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar)

7. Hugh Carthy (GB/EF Pro Cycling) +4secs

8. Sepp Kuss (USA/Jumbo-Visma) +10secs

9. George Bennett (NZ/Jumbo-Visma) +40secs

10. Andrea Bagioli (Ita/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +51secs

Others:

72. Chris Froome (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +11mins 12secs

General classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) 4hrs 22mins 24secs

2. Richard Carapaz (Ecuador/Ineos Grenadiers +5secs

3. Daniel Martin (Ire/Israel Start-Up Nation) +7secs

4. Esteban Chaves (Colombia/Mitchelton-Scott +11secs

5. Felix Grosschartner (Aut/Bora-Hansgrove) Same time

6. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar)

7. Hugh Carthy (GB/EF Pro Cycling) +14secs

8. Sepp Kuss (USA/Jumbo-Visma) +20secs

9. George Bennett (NZ/Jumbo-Visma) +50secs

10. Andrea Bagioli (Ita/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +1min 1secs

Others:

72. Chris Froome (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +11mins 22secs



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