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Primož Roglič repeats as Vuelta a España champion

Slovenian exorcises Tour de France demons

Photo by: Sirotti

Fifty-one days ago, Primož Roglič suffered the worst defeat of his career, the yellow jersey ripped from his shoulders on the Tour de France’s penultimate stage by his compatriot Tadej Pogacar. But on Sunday, Roglič redeemed his Grand Tour season by defending his Vuelta a España title. Not only is Roglic the first to repeat as Vuelta winner since Roberto Heras in 2005, he’s also the first Vuelta champion to take four stage victories since Laurent Jalabert in 1995.

Sunday’s stage, the final day of the 2020 WorldTour, was a procession into Madrid before five spirited 5.9-km circuits in the city, the day concluding with Pascal Ackermann winning the sprint, his second stage victory of the race.

Rogla grabbed the lead with a win in the first stage, but Carapaz seized the red jersey atop Aramón Formigal after Stage 6. Four stages later Roglic was back in the lead but only until Angliru on Stage 12. Following the next stage, the time trial, the Slovenian was in red for good. He withstood a devastaing attack from Richard Carapaz on Saturday’s Covatilla summit finish to take his second career Grand Tour, this in a year in which he also claimed his first Monument at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The 2020 Vuelta a España Final GC Top-10

1) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) 69:17:59 Right now, Roglič is the best Grand Tour rider in the world. Repeat Vuelta champion and runner-up in the Tour de France in one condensed season is no mean feat. He hasn’t finished below fourth in his last five Grand Tours. His Jumbo-Visma squad is now as strong or stronger than Ineos. He’s 31, so we can’t expect another decade of this domination, but we can enjoy it while it lasts.

Rogla wins in Suances on Stage 10 to take back red from Carapaz. Photo: Sirotti

2) Richard Carapaz (Ecuador/Ineos Grenadiers) +0:24
Winner of the Giro d’Italia last year while with Movistar, Carapaz is one of this season’s Tour/Vuelta Achievers. Working for Egan Bernal at the Tour until the Colombian dropped out meant that the Ecuadorian didn’t get higher than 13th in September, but he’ll be pleased with runner-up in Spain, especially the way he took back half his deficit on Covatilla.

3) Hugh Carthy (Great Britain/EF Pro Cycling) +1:15
This is huge result for Hugh. Along with Sergio Higuita, he is now EF’s main Grand Tour man. Out of the eight fellows who stood on the ’20 GT podiums, five did so for the first time; Carthy joins Jay Hindley and Tao Geoghegan Hart as Ones You Now Have to Keep an Eye On.

A Grand Tour podium is a huge step for Hugh Carthy. Photo: Sirotti

4) Dan Martin (Ireland/Israel Start-up Nation) +2:43 A sentimentalist would’ve wanted Martin to take his first Grand Tour podium, like Richie Porte did at the Tour. Still, fourth is Martin’s best GT result. Along with two Grand Tour stage wins (Martin on Stage 3 and Alex Dowsett at the Giro), the Irishman’s “Canadian Bronze” is an excellent WorldTour start for ISUN.

5) Enric Mas (Spain/Movistar) +3:36 Another Tour/Vuelta Achiever, Mas was fifth in both races. Movistar will be relieved to win the white jersey in Spain and pleased that Mas proved a worthy replacement for Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana.

6) Wout Poels (The Netherlands/Bahrain-McLaren) +7:16 “Haimar Zubeldia-ing” his way to sixth and tying his Grand Tour personal best, Poels never seemed to be in the final selection, but nonetheless leads the bottom half of the top-10. Bahrain-McLaren had five different guys in the 2020 Grand Tour top-10s.

7) David De La Cruz (Spain/UAE-Emirates) 7:35
Another fellow who tied a Grand Tour personal best, De La Cruz jumped three spots on the final GC day by going in the breakaway.

8) David Gaudu (France/Groupama-FDJ) 7:45 Like Carthy, this was a big step for Gaudu. He earned two stage wins and a top-10, with the second win and the GC spot achieved by—along with De La Cruz—getting into the final GC day’s break. Even though he did not finish the Tour, he still outshone teammate and compatriot Thibaut Pinot this season.

Like Carthy, David Gaudu also took a big step in his career at the Vuelta. Photo: Sirotti

9) Felix Grossschartner (Austria/Bora-Hansgrohe) +8:15 By far his best Grand Tour result. His spot begs the question: when was the last time three different Austrians made the top-10s of the Grand Tours in one season? “Triple S” saw his teammate and compatriot Patrick Konrad take 8th in the Giro, where another Austrian, Hermann Pernsteiner of Bahrain-McLaren, came 10th. Instead of Rafal Majka and Emanual Buchmann as Bora’s top GC men in the 2020 Grand Tours, it was the Austrians.

10) Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) +9:35
Dig it: forty-year-old Valverde has made Grand Tour top-10s twenty times.

34) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Pro Cycling) +1:28:18 Woods must be happy with a stage win on Stage 7 and two runner-up spots, all on the way to helping Carthy onto the podium. Woods had two bits of horrible luck: a crash before Stage 1’s finishing climb that saw him come in 18:29 after Roglič, and a flat before the final battle on Covatilla that cost him seven GC spots. It was a commendable way to end his time with the team.

Green Points Jersey: Rogla held it from start to finish. Michael Woods was 7th.
White Young Rider’s Jersey: Enric Mas
Blue Polka Dot Climber’s Jersey: Guillaume Martin. Cofidis’s ace just missed out on the Tour top-10 and took 14th in Vuelta. Moving into the polka dots after Stage 7, Martin raced intelligently to keep it away from double stage winner Tim Wellens and the guys higher on GC. Martin never finished lower than 14th in any stage race or one-day race the entire season. Woods placed 7th in this competition too.

Team competition: Who else? Movistar added this to their team triumph in the Tour.