Vuelta a Espana 2022 : Stage 21 – Molano leads out his own win, Remco takes overall

This whole report is completely true.

Except for all of the parts that are totally made up. (Mainly the first part)

Give yourself a round of applause, cycling fans. We have made it through the 2022 Vuelta a Espana, which has seemingly lasted six weeks and really could have (and perhaps should have) concluded fifteen stages ago. If you switched off the telly on stage six, I don’t blame you. If you’re here to read what happened on Stage 21, then you’re in luck! I have quite the stage review for you.

Ignoring the precedent of a ceremonial stage, the entirety of Movistar, alongside the likes of Richard Carapaz (EF), Marc Soler (UAE), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), and any other former Movistar riders that have appeared in the critically-acclaimed Netflix documentary, viciously attacked the peloton to unseat Remco The Twerp of QuickStep from the overall lead.

In his routine arrogant behavior, Evenepoel opted not to expend any resources limiting his time losses, rather opting to sit on the roadside with a fresh delivery of Pizza Hut pizza. As the Movistarlettes roared toward the finish in Madrid, it was none other than Marc Soler himself who claimed victory, naturally, because he’s Marc Soler.

What Actually Happened

Okay, I suppose I ought to spend at least a little bit of time writing about what actually happened during the stage. 

In true ceremonial fashion, the peloton spent the time slapping each other’s backs, posing for group photos, and sipping on champagne. The race boiled down to the final 500 meters for a sprint. Would Mads Pedersen claim his fourth stage victory? Would Tim Merlier prove that he has actually been participating in the race? Would Marc Soler pull off the amazing? We were struck with excitement as we waited for the conclusion of the year’s final grand tour!

In the dash for the line, UAE played a blinder with Juan Sebastian Molano leading out Pascal Ackermann as they competed with the “Green Meanie”. Proving that UAE are just Movistar with Tadej Pogacar, Molano continued his leadout all the way across the finish line, claiming victory! At the end of the day, I suppose a win is a win, but I imagine it may be an awkward team celebration for Ackermann, pondering what could have been. Marc Soler, by the way, got the Vuelta’s combativity award. Sometimes it feel like he was fighting himself or his entire team, but combativity is combativity and it shall be rewarded. 

The Podium

Remco Evenepoel

Everything worth saying about Evenepoel’s performance in this year’s Vuelta was summed up perfectly by Euan in his Stage 20 review. There are even vids of Remco crying. Who could beat that?

Enric Mas

If anyone thought or predicted* that Enric Mas could perform well at this race, we probably would have thought they were full of nonsense. Rarely had he shown any Grand Tour promise before [except for finishing second in the 2018 Vuelta a Espana – ed] and his inability to attack makes it rather difficult to succeed at such races. Truly, it’s rather unclear how he has managed to podium in Madrid. I can’t recall a single moment that is a standout performance from him during the race.

Fair play to him, though, as he may have just single-handedly saved Movistar from becoming a second division team.

Yes, you read that right. Enric Mas is the savior of Movistar’s WorldTour future.

*I point to my comments from the first week of La Vuelta:

I am not on the Remco train. You just know he’s going to say something twerpy or have a hissy fit at the slightest inconvenience. I wouldn’t mind Enric Mas winning.

Juan Ayuso

Remember when Juan Ayuso tested positive for COVID during this race and was allowed to continue due to having a low viral load or some other type of nonsense? That feels like it was ages ago. Flash-forward to today and the Spanish rider for UAE is the youngest rider to podium at a Grand Tour in more than a century. That’s rather impressive, actually!

What does Ayuso’s future hold for him? Let’s speculate wildly! Assuming that this isn’t a one-off performance fueled by a weak general classification field, one could imagine that young Ayuso wouldn’t stay with UAE for very long, given the dominance of Pogacar on the team. UAE has him under contract for the next SIX YEARS, however, so he’s more likely destined for super domestique duties and maybe a few week-long leadership opportunities. If he’s lucky, maybe he’ll be granted co-leadership duties at the Giro or something. In other words, he’s the next Richie Porte.

The King of the Mountains

Oh, Richard Carapaz! The Ecuadorian has had a splendid Vuelta for EF, bringing home three stage victories and the King of the Mountains jersey. Granted, he won the classification by default after the crash and subsequent abandonment of Jay Vine. Regardless, those of us who cheer on EF will claim each of these victories as our own – take that, Ineos! Well done, Dickie!

He hasn’t even gone for the polka dot shorts! That’s a bit of a letdown.

The Green Jersey

What can we say about Mr. Mads Pedersen? It’s easy to sit in our ivory tower and look down upon him, saying that he has only claimed the points classification due to the lackluster sprint competition. I don’t believe that to be accurate, though. Was the sprint field overwhelmingly strong this year? No. But Mads and Trek made the race their own. He doesn’t walk away with three stage wins and the green jersey just by chance. Through pure grit and determination, as well as a fair amount of time spent chasing intermediate sprint points in breakaways, he leaves this race with plenty to be proud of!

Valverde and Nibali’s Goodbye

The end of the Vuelta also marks the end of Grand Tour careers for Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali. At 42 and 37, the Spaniard and Italian bring down the curtain on their respective careers. Through his 17 years as a professional, Nibali won the 2010 Vuelta, the Giro d’Italia in 2013 and 2016, and the Tour de France in 2014. His palmares also features 15 individual grand tour stage wins and victories at Milan San Remo and Il Lombardia, amongst other. Valverde on the other hand. . . well, his palmares get murky.

The Last Word


Stage 21 Top 5

1 Juan Sebastián Molan  (UAE Team I’m Going to Win For Myself) 2:26:36

2 Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo) s.t.

3 Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.

4 Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) s.t.

5 Danny Van Poppel (BORA – hansgrohe) s.t.

GC Top 10

1 Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 80:26:59

2 Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:02

3 Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +4:57

4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan) +5:56

5 João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +7:24

6 Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +7:45

7 Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Grenadiers) +7:57

8 Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +10:30

9 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost) +11:04

10 Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) +12:01

All the Jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)

Points jersey : Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)

King of the Mountains jersey : Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)

Young Rider Jersey : Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)

Team competition : UAE Team Emirates

For the full stage review, go to cyclingnews

Go here for the official La Vuelta website

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