Wow! I bet no one was expecting UAE Team Emirate’s Marc Soler to grab victory on stage 5 of La Vuelta a Espana. To be honest, I’m still not sure I can explain it! In true Soler style, the mercurial Spaniard chased like crazy to get into the break, got dropped in a finale backloaded with climbs, somehow made it back, shot off the front solo on the Alto del Vivero, held his advantage on the descent and sailed over the line, arms aloft with four seconds to spare on his chasers. With Jumbo-Visma happy to let the race lead go to someone in the break-of-the-day, Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) played his cards – and Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) – perfectly to move into the red jersey for the second time in his career.
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.