The last mountain stage, the last stage (barring crashes or DNFs) that the final podium could change, the penultimate race day of the 2020 Vuelta and the men’s pro cycling season. We expected fireworks and in a way we got them, although it felt like a slow nervous breakdown watching the final 3km of the GC race. But up ahead, FDJ’s David Gaudu took another Vuelta stage, with NTT’s Gino Mader and Ion Izagirre (Astana) second and third in the stage. Ineos’s Richard Carapaz had one more roll of the dice, which resulted in the most nail-biting three kilometres since … the Giro! With Primoz Roglic alone, under pressure and not looking his effervescent self, the fear was that he was going to lose another Grand Tour (in the same season!) on the penultimate stage. But he dug deep, rode on fumes and mental strength, and limited his losses to save the red jersey for Madrid.
It’s the weekend and the start of a double header of pain. Today’s stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana, in beautifully scenic Asturias, took in four Cat. 1 climbs and finished with breakmates David Gaudu (FDJ) and Marc Soler (Movistar) going mano-a-mano in the last 5km, with the former easily getting the upper hand in the final 125 metres. Gaudu soloed across the line to take his maiden Grand Tour victory while runner-up Soler catapulted up the GC standings from 10th to sixth. Another break-mate, Michael Storer (Sunweb) rounded out the podium. That aside, the top ten on general classification remained generally unchanged.