Kick-starting the final weekend of racing, stage 19 of La Vuelta looked on paper to be a rare opportunity for sprinters to have a chance for success. With just one categorised climb and a profile that was largely flat — by Vuelta standards, at least — one could have reasonably expected that viewers would see another remarkable battle between the likes of Bora-hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep. Whilst the stage results show a battle between these two, the stage was not the cookie-cutter style that I had planned for. Welcome to La Vuelta!
The horrifying ramps of Stage 13’s summit finish at Los Machucos were conquered by a formidable Slovenian onslaught. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) raced away to his second stage victory, grabbing a GC podium spot and the best young rider’s jersey from Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez. His co-attacker, compatriot and race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo -Visma), increased his grip on the red jersey.
The Vuelta’s sole individual time trial brought a battle of the ages. A battle between three Spanish cycling heroes – although two of the three are Colombian – who soar high in the mountains and a Slovenian time trial overlord who seeks to reign supreme in Spain’s singular grand tour.
At the end of this 36.2 kilometer course that ended in Pau, it was the Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) who scorched the competition – Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Movistar duo Nairo Quintana, and Alejandro Valverde – to win the stage as well as catapult into the overall lead with a healthy margin.