The final mountain stage – six categorised climbs including an HC summit finish – and only two riders in the top 10 finished in the place they had started the race in. Yes, Stage 20 was the Vuelta’s version of musical chairs and it was a fitting end to a surprising, spicy and most of all well-fought Grand Tour.
Just when you think it couldn’t get better … Stage 19 was the first of two Andorran stages – and the second-to-last chance for riders to put some serious time into their rivals. A lot of speculation was that it was going to be Alejandro Valverde‘s day – he’s been threatening the red jersey for days now. But the Spanish rider was nowhere to be seen as Thibaut Pinot crossed the finish line for his second stage win in this Vuelta, Simon Yates took over a minute on his Spanish nemesis and Steven Kruijswijk bumped Enric Mas off third overall to take his place on the virtual podium. Boom!
Three summit finishes and a rest day later, Stage 16 of Vuelta 2018 was a lumpy 32km ITT. Would the efforts of the weekend and the unpredictability of form after a rest day separate Simon Yates from the red jersey? Although Rohan Dennis‘s scorching ride for the stage victory (his second this Vuelta) wasn’t a surprise, some of the other times certainly were …