Vuelta a Espana 2021 : Stage 20 – Champoussin steals a stage stacked with drama

From fairly ho-hum to one of the most bonkers endings ever (on so many levels), Stage 20 of Vuelta a Espana 2021 gave fans a grand tour stage that will stick in our memories for a good long time. We had *the* most magnificent stage steal ever with Ag2r’s Clement Champoussin, some significant changes in the GC top 10 setting up an ITT battle for a final podium step, some inspiring teamwork from Cofidis and Deceuninck-QuickStep, and one of the most bizarre abandons we never saw by Miguel Angel Lopez. Through all this, Primoz Roglic, cool as a cucumber, made more time on his rivals and will be wearing the red skinsuit in tomorrow’s final stage.

On such a batshit crazy stage, it would be doing it a disservice to just reel off who did what when. So, buckle up because we’ll be jumping around …

Stand and deliver!

Picture this: Final four kilometres of the stage. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Enric Mas (Movistar), Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) and Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) catch the last of the breakaway Ryan Gibbons (UAE) and now it’s their stage to win. So they start faffing about. And faffing. And faffing. Then, with 1.5km to go, while Mas was giving Roglic the sideways glance, what happens, but this …

Okay, actually, this … Not paying attention to anyone behind them, Clement Champoussin of the brown-shorted Ag2r came around Roglic like a rocket – a silent screaming rocket – taking them all by surprise and blasting past the lot of them.

Before the red jersey group could work out what was happening, Champoussin had 20sec and that, my friends, is how you steal a stage …

Champoussin beat Roglic by 6 seconds, who got a few seconds on Yates, who came in with Mas, who was followed by Haig. The Twitter crowd went wild.

GC shakeup

The whole stage kicked off when Ineos started riding to annihilate the peloton about 60km from the finish. Yates attacked on the steepest part of the Cat1 Alta de Mougas, whittling down the peloton. Then Bernal went out for a few well-timed attacks, winnowing it down further. Then Yates came back with the knock-out punch, taking Roglic, Mas, Mader and Haig with him.

Gino Mader stayed with Haig for as long as possible, keeping Haig in the red jersey group and most importantly, with Lopez missing the forward surge, riding his teammate into a third place podium position. An unexpected reward for Gino was the white jersey as he usurped Bernal in the young rider standings and jumped from 8th in the GC to 5th.

The other big winner of the day was said teammate Jack Haig. While Lopez missing the move and losing time hand over first, Haig moved from fourth to third well before the stage was over. It wasn’t easy, there were a few times when he was off the back, but he kept at it and ended the day third on GC.

He is now a full minute ahead of Adam Yates, going into the final stage. We’ll see which of them rides a blinder.

During all this chaos, out front, Michael Storer (DSM) sealed the deal for the blue pox jersey tomorrow.

Class acts

For all the faffing that was going on in those final kilometres, it really looked like Roglic wanted to take this stage. But, as ever, he congratulated the winner.

When Egan Bernal finished the day, he dropped a place to 6th and lost the white jersey to Mader. But as we have seen so many times, in the interview, he was so gracious and said how happy he was for Mader to win the white jersey and he knew how much it would mean to him. Pure class.


Fabio Jakobsen is still in green, thanks to his DQS teammates, who made sure that no matter what the day brought, they were going to get him in under the time limit. And they did.

Guillaume Martin, riding with a bruised coccyx and cracked ribs (to name just a few of the injuries), has been suffering through this week, but again, it was his Cofidis team that helped him through it.

Translation: “Without my teammates, without @RochasRemy, without @jesushl90 in the end, I could never have hung on like this. The pain was the worst day “

And he even moved up one spot.

The unseen Movistar drama

Miguel Angel Lopez won Stage 18 impressively. Movistar looked like they had their race strategy nailed! Praise all around! Second and third on GC, what could go wrong?

Everyone was praising them for tactics that made sense and riding that wasn’t done on emotion.

We spoke too soon. 

When Ineos busted the peloton apart and Yates went off the front, followed by Roglic, Mas, Mader, Haig, et al, Bernal and Lopez (who was third on GC still at that point) missed the moment … and never got back.

With no one riding with him to try to link up to the front group, they all sat up soon enough, letting the gap get over 4 minutes, losing Lopez his GC standing. And that was the last the cameras showed of that group. At all.

Reports said that Lopez was angry at Movistar DSs for letting Mas go but not letting Lopez try to chase and bridge to that group (possibly because he would be bringing back Kuss, Bernal, etc etc). But we never saw it! (Although Spanish TV showed it!) If you weren’t on Twitter, you would have had no clue whatsoever that this was happening as the commentators obviously weren’t looking at Twitter either!

Finally, some footage …


Translation of the tweet: 🔴 The images of Miguel Ángel López getting into the Movistar team car to leave this Vuelta! #VueltaRTVE4S The Colombian, in rebellion, decided to abandon the race despite the insistence of his boss Patxi Vila 📹

Meanwhile … once Enric Mas finished the stage …

At the time of writing, we still don’t know what really happened or where Miguel Angel Lopez is … and if he is on a bike. 

The Last Word

All the results

Stage results 

1 Clement Champoussin (Ag2r Citroen Team) 5:21:50

2 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:06

3 Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:08

4 Enric Mas (Movistar) same time

5 Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) +0:12

GC Top 10 

1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 83:11:27

2 Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +2:38

3 Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) +4:48

4  Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:48

5 Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) +8:14

6 Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +4:43

7 Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +13:42

8 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +16:11

9 David De La Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) +16:19

10 Felix Grossschartner (Bora-hansgrohe) +20:30

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)

Points jersey : Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step)

King of the Mountains: Michael Storer (Team DSM)

Best young rider : Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious)

Team : Bahrain Victorious

For full race results, go to CyclingNews

Official Vuelta website is here 

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