The bunch sprint finish in today’s largely processional stage for the GC riders was won by Magnus Cort, who racked up his second Vuelta victory. It’s been a fabulous grand tour for OBE who have indeed rocked! Nairo Quintana rolled in mid-pack, arms aloft, to seal his second Grand Tour victory.
Rider(s) of the race
It’s been a red, hot spicy Vuelta and, once again, IMHO the most exciting of the three grand tours. So everyone’s a winner in this category. And I do mean everyone, all 159 riders who made it to Madrid.
Movistar had sprung for red socks and handlebar tape for everyone in the team, while Nairo Quintana also added red shorts and a red bike to go with the helmet and jersey, though no matching red shoes. Quintana also picked up the combined jersey and overall combativity award.
The 26-year-old Colombian has been the winner-elect since he and Alberto Contador orchestrated the Formigal ambush (stage 15), critically putting enough time into three-time Tour de France winner, Chris Froome, who turned in a magnificent performance on stage 19’s individual time-trial to take back some but not enough time to reverse his and Quintana’s positions. It’s been an intriguing battle between the twosome which will surely run and run.
This is the first time since 1996 that there’s been no Spaniard on the podium, although it might have been fourth-placed Contador had he been able to counter Esteban Chaves‘ spirited and well thought out attack yesterday, which ironically was much in Contador’s own inimitable style. Instead, he preserves his record of
nine seven grand tour victories and no podiums! He picked up the consolation prize of most combative today as just for a moment he looked as if he was going to try and claw back the 13-second disadvantage. The Little Kangaroo™ Chaves’ third place was the cherry on the icing of a fantastic race for OBE who also had Simon Yates in 6th overall and four stage wins.
Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) retained his king of the mountains crown, fending off a spirited challenge from le petit Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) while Fabio Felline (Tek-Segafredo) demonstrated remarkable consistency to seize the points jersey.
Aside from the top four on GC, there was much to cheer. Two top ten places for Cannondale-Drapac, gained as much by stealth as anything else for Andrew Talansky (5th) and young gun Davide Formolo (9th). There were a whole host of riders (13), young and not-so-young, who scored their first grand tour victories, some of which were also maiden WorldTour wins. The QuickSteppers also had a successful race with David de la Cruz finishing 7th and four stage wins. Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) finished his 16th consecutive grand tour – legend!
Aside from every rider who reached Madrid, particularly after such a gruelling race, I’d also like to include those riders who abruptly left the race due to injury. This includes Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas, BMC’s Samu Sanchez [quick, hand me a paper tissue] and JumboBee Steven Kruijswijk, whose team-mate George Bennett ably picked up the baton to finish 10th overall. Get well soon guys!
Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta
19 teams of six riders disputed the second edition of this race on the same finishing circuit in Madrid as the men’s which brought down the curtain on the inaugural Women’s World Tour, won by Megan Guanier (Boels-Dolmans). Her team was often on the offensive in today’s fast and furious sprint finish but, having started the sprint a bit early, they faded to give WiggleHigh5 an impressive one-two with bronze Olympic track-cyclist Jolien D’hoore and Chloe Hosking. Marta Ballianelli (Ale Cipollini) rounded out the podium.
1 Magnus Cort (Orica-BikeExchange) 2:48:52
2 Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) same time
3 Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step) s/t
4 Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) s/t
5 Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) s/t
1 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 83:31:28
2 Chris Froome (SKY) +1:23
3 Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) +4:08
4 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) +4:21
5 Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) +7:43
All the jerseys
Points leader: Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo)
King of the Mountains leader: Oscar Fraile (Team Dimension Data)
Combined classification leader: Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Team classification leader: BMC
For full stage review: Cycling News
Header image : Magnus Cort Nielsen ©GETTY/Corbis/Tim de Waele