Stage 20 of Vuelta 2019 – the final mountain stage and traditionally the last stage for GC podium action. However, let’s face it, with this Vuelta, anything could happen tomorrow in Madrid! But back to today. It was the last-chance saloon for Astana and Movistar to try either to unseat Primoz Roglic or challenge or solidify the other podium places. But it was the youngster Tadej Pogacar who had the boldness to take the race by the scruff of the neck. Taking his chance from 40km out, he quickly got the better of the red jersey group, keeping them at a safe distance the whole way. During his 40km solo ride, he took the white jersey off of Miguel Angel Lopez, picked up bonus seconds for winning the intermediate sprint (with himself), pushed Nairo Quintana off the third step of the podium and even briefly threatened Alejandro Valverde‘s second step before taking his third stage in his very first grand tour. What do we say to that? Hell YEAH!
Stage 18 at La Vuelta served up a spice laden attack fest, a gutsy solo victory and a switcheroo on GC. Stage winning honours went to Sergio Higuita of EF Education First. The young Grand Tour debutant attacked out of the breakaway on the penultimate descent with FIFTY kilometres to go. Tenaciously holding his advantage over an elite chasing foursome all the way to the line. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) outsprinted Alejandro Valverde for second on the stage to strengthen his hold on red. The rainbow clad Spaniard regained second place overall from his Movistar teammate Nairo Quintana. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) never stopped attacking, his fourth place on the stage enough to regain fourth on GC and the Young Rider’s jersey from Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
HOLY MOLY WHAT A STAGE!!! The wind howled for 220km. The average speed was a record-beating 50.6kph. Philippe Gilbert took his second victory after Deceuninck QuickStep destroyed the peloton at the start and gave everyone a masterclass on crosswind tactics and echelon riding. Unlike the top five riders above him on GC, Nairo Quintana found himself on the right side of the split and zoomed from sixth to second, knocking Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde down to third. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) is still in the red jersey, a fact he should thank Astana for.