Entering the day’s racing, Primož Roglič held a slim margin of 45 seconds over Richard Carapaz. The Ecuadorian delivered an inspired ride in an attempt to reverse the status quo. Roglič held on to effectively clinch the Vuelta title on the penultimate day of action.
Today’s profile suggested one last battle for all the marbles, and the overall favorites certainly delivered. All eyes were on the time gap between Roglič and Carapaz. However, their rivalry was far from the only storyline that developed on the day. Here is a look back at how the stage unfolded, and what it means in the context of the race as a whole.
Gaudu Secures Stage Win
While the majority of attention was focused on the contenders for overall victory, the early breakaway earned enough of an advantage to contest the stage honors. The duel for the stage ended up being a phenomenal back and forth battle that saw David Gaudu claim his second victory of this year’s race.
The 24-year-old Gaudu finished just ahead of 23-year-old Gino Mäder in what ended up being a showdown between two young riders establishing themselves as future stars. Sunweb riders Mark Donovan (21) and Michael Storer (23) both continued that trend. The teammates each took a top ten from the breakaway as a reward for their efforts.
David Gaudu’s victory on the day also propelled him all the way up to eighth in the overall standings. Assuming things go smoothly tomorrow, this will be the Frenchman’s best Grand Tour result to date. His previous marker was 13th at the 2019 Tour de France, which he rode primarily in support of Thibaut Pinot.
Guillame Martin Wraps Up KOM Competition
Appearing in yet another breakaway on a mountainous stage, Guillame Martin put the finishing touches on his victory in the mountains classification. Martin grabbed an additional ten points to take his total up to 99. In the end, Martin will secure the polka dots by a margin of 65 points.
Martin may have been slightly disappointed with 11th place at Le Tour based on his performances in some of the tune up races. However, the climber’s jersey is another milestone in what has been the best year of the Frenchman’s career.
The Cofidis team leader has improved steadily over the past few seasons. Securing a top ten at next year’s Tour should be within reach if Martin continues to trend upwards.
The GC Battle
With Carapaz starting the day within striking distance of the overall lead, it was clear he was going to try to put Roglič under pressure. The Ineos man did exactly that. Carapaz attacked and distanced Roglič outside of two kilometers from the finish. However, he only managed to extend his gap to 21 seconds by the time he hit the line. Carapaz did damage, but it was not enough to flip the script. Assuming we’ll see no action in the general classification tomorrow, Roglič will win La Vuelta by 24 seconds.
Roglič certainly had some help along the way. Today, his Jumbo-Visma teammate Lennard Hofstede dropped back from the break at the perfect moment to reinforce his position. Moments later, Marc Soler did the same for Movistar leader Enric Mas. The Spaniard gave Roglič another ally to work with in his effort to limit his losses to Carapaz. Roglič had the stronger team throughout the duration of the race, which may have made the difference. The Slovenian was constantly surrounded by the likes of George Bennett and Sepp Kuss to help him out when the going got tough. Carapaz simply did not have the luxury of a team that was capable of making the race more difficult to challenge Roglič.
In the end, La Vuelta was decided by bonus seconds. Over the course of the race, Roglič accumulated 48 bonus seconds to Carapaz’s 16. Largely due to Roglič’s four stage wins, the disparity provided the Jumbo-Visma rider with an extra 32 second advantage over his rival. With the race ultimately being decided by just 24 seconds, that margin has turned out to be crucial.
Roglič’s Personal Comeback
Primož Roglič has had an incredible season in 2020. Perhaps more impressive than any physical performance on the bike has been the mental fortitude that he has displayed in bouncing back from a heartbreaking loss at Le Tour. At the time, there was speculation that such a defeat would leave a permanent impact on Roglič’s career. Today, when Carapaz went on the offensive, it looked as though the same movie might be playing out again.
This time, Roglič rose decisively to the occasion. He refused to panic, stayed within himself and defended his lead. In doing so, Roglič secured his second consecutive Vuelta crown. Along with his 6th place at the World Championships and his first monument victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it has been a successful post-Tour month and a half for the Slovenian.
Considering the state of things in March when the racing was put on hold, it is pretty impressive that the cycling season has reached this point. In the end, the riders delivered three closely contested Grand Tours. For the first time ever, the Giro, Tour and Vuelta are going to finish with a gap of less than a minute between the top two riders.
– Andrew Fasciano (@afasc573)
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