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Roglič has one hand on the Vuelta trophy, Gaudu earns brace of stage wins

Slovenian survives late Carapaz attack

Photo by: Sirotti

Primož Roglič survived a late attack from Richard Carapaz on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España and is poised to win his second consecutive Spanish Grand Tour. David Gaudu took his second stage of the race and jumped into the top-10. Hugh Carthy ensured his first Grand Tour podium.

You can watch the last day of the Vuelta a España, the final act of the 2020 WorldTour, on FloBikes.

The Course

This was it. The last GC day of the 2020 Vuelta. Ahead of the riders loomed six categorized including two Cat. 1’s. The final summit finish was the HC-rated Alto de la Covatilla, 11.7 km of 6.9%. It was wet and cool.

It was the final day to fly the flag in the mountains, so an enormous breakaway lit out for glory. Consisting of 34 riders, this platoon included three stage winners, 11th place Gaudu, 10th place David De La Cruz, habitual fugitive Remi Cavagna and KOM holder Guillaume Martin, who was first over the opening climb, Cat. 1 Puerto del Portillo de las Batuecas. By the start of Cat. 3 Alto de San Miguel de Valero, that gap was 3:40.

Martin, nicknamed “Smurf” during this Vuelta because of his blue dot jersey and red shorts, was finally satisfied to sit in and took no points on Alto de San Miguel de Valero and Alto de Cristóbal. The Jumbo-Visma-led peloton kept within 3:00.

As the escapees approached Cat. 3 Alto de Peñacaballera and the gap approached 3:30, Movistar took over the pace making in the peloton in the crosswinds. This caused a split that saw Carapaz momentarily drop away. Michael Woods lost contact because of a puncture.

After that bump of excitement, the race resumed with the break assailing Peñacaballera 3:00 ahead. By the foot of the penultimate climb, Cat. 2 Alto de la Garganta, Movistar had reduced the gap and the break had streamlined.

Movistar’s Marc Soler, once a top-10 threat but 19th overnight, attacked into the mist from the peloton with 31 km remaining. Jumbo-Visma grabbed the reins.

With the help of a teammate who dropped back from the break, Soler reached the front of the race.

The Final Skirmish on Alto de la Covatilla

Soler having arrived, a trio of fugitives skipped away before the race went through very narrow, cobbled streets of Candelario. The peloton pussy-footed through what looked like a back alley. The three riders hit the foot of the climb with 3:32 over the peloton and 41 seconds over the chase.

With 7-km to climb, it seemed likely that the day’s winner would be someone from the day’s big breakaway. Gaudu and Martin made an attempt to bridge from the closest chase. Gaudu made the junction and immediately went ahead. In the peloton, ninth-place Alexander Vlasov attacked.

Then Carthy and Carapaz bounced up the road and found Vlasov. Roglič and fifth-place Enric Mas made it over. Carapaz went hard and gapped Roglič. The Slovenian got a little help from a teammate who was in the breakaway.

It was an amazing pursuit in the final 2-km, with Carapaz yanking back 21-seconds, but Roglič–it must be remembered that he was runner-up in the Tour de France–saved his red jersey, pumping his fist as he hit the line. Gaudu added Stage 17 to his Stage 11 triumph, jumping into the top-10 at the expense of Alexander Vlasov. Alejandro Valverde is set to make his 20th Grand Tour top-10.

Sunday is the procession into Madrid.

2020 Vuelta a España Stage 17
1) David Gaudu (France/Groupama-FDJ) 4:54:32
2) Gino Mäder (Switzerland/NTT) +0:28
3) Jon Izagirre (Spain/Astana) +1:05

2020 Vuelta a España GC
1) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) 69:17:59
2) Richard Carapaz (Ecuador/Ineos Grenadiers) +0:24
3) Hugh Carthy (Great Britain/EF Pro Cycling) +0:47
4) Dan Martin (Ireland/Israel Start-up Nation) +2:43
5) Enric Mas (Spain/Movistar) +3:36
6) Wout Poels (The Netherlands/Bahrain-McLaren) +7:16
7) David De La Cruz (Spain/UAE-Emirates) 7:35
8) David Gaudu (France/Groupama-FDJ) 7:45
9) Felix Grossschartner (Austria/Bora-Hansgrohe) +8:15
10) Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) +9:35