Primoz Roglic would need an almighty slip up to fail to win the Vuelta a Espana, though Saturday's penultimate stage belonged to Clement Champoussin.

A monster, 202.2-kilometre route culminated in a summit finish on Mos. Castro de Herville, with 23-year-old Champoussin attacking with 1500m remaining to take the first stage win of his professional career.

The Frenchman crossed the line six seconds ahead of Roglic, who had led a chasing pack that caught breakaway leader Ryan Gibbons with around 4km left.

Roglic's second-place finish, two seconds ahead of nearest general classification rival Enric Mas of Movistar, should surely see the Jumbo-Visma rider claim La Roja for a third successive year.

It could all change in Sunday's time trial, but having won gold in such an event at the Tokyo Olympics, Roglic will know a third Vuelta crown is within his grasp.

Should he hold onto his GC lead, which stands at 2:38, Roglic will become only the fourth rider in history to win the Vuelta on three separate occasions, while he will also match Roberto Heras' feat of three consecutive triumphs (set between 2003 and 2005).

Stage 20 belonged to Champoussin, however. After Roglic, Mas, Adam Yates and Jack Haig had caught Gibbons, the AG2R Citroen rider lodged a surprise offensive, catching the quintet cold.

For a moment, with Roglic gaining ground, it looked as though Champoussin - who only turned pro last year - may have gone too soon, but he held on to claim a maiden grand tour stage success.

Behind Roglic, Adam Yates of INEOS Grenadiers just edged out Mas to secure a top-three finish. A dismal day for Miguel Angel Lopez saw him abandon the race with 20km remaining after he failed to keep pace with the general classification group.

STAGE RESULT

1. Clement Champoussin (AG2R Citroen) 05:21:50
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:06
3. Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:08

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 83:11:27
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:38
3. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) +4:48

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 179
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 145

King of the Mountains

1. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 80
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 61
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 51

What's next?

Sunday's final stage is a 33.8km time trial from Padron to Santiago de Compostela. A consistent climb is followed by downhill, technical sections and a flat straight to the line. 

 

Primoz Roglic heads into the final weekend of the Vuelta a Espana with a third successive title within touching distance, while Magnus Cort won stage 19 on Friday.

Danish rider Cort, who also triumphed on stages six and 12, was the quickest man in a breakaway, holding off Rui Oliveira and Quinn Simmons to clinch victory in Monforte de Lemos.

EF Education-Nippo team-mate Lawson Craddock powered out to lead the final sprint and though Simmons attacked with 200 metres to go, it was Cort who caught the slipstream to claim a dramatic win by a bike length at the culmination of a 191.2-kilometre stage.

Cort, who won two stages in the 2016 Vuelta and one in 2020, said: "It's amazing, it's a dream now, I really hope I don't wake up. It was not before the last five or six kilometres that I started believing.

"They always kept us close and it was a really hard day. We didn't always work perfect together in the front, we had a few attacks that reduced the size of the group.

"I think everybody had tired legs and it was hard to work together in this hilly terrain but somehow we managed to hang onto it."

Roglic kept his general classification competitors at arm's length as he retained his grasp on La Roja heading into the last two stages, finishing 18 seconds behind the leaders.

Saturday's mountain stage could still cause problems, while Roglic has been hurt by time trials in grand tours before – the 2020 Tour de France was settled in Tadej Pogacar's favour in such a manner – but the Slovenian looks well placed to make it three Vuelta wins in a row.

Roglic's family were on hand to witness him receive the 50th overall leader jersey of his career, and the Olympic gold medallist knows he is on the verge of a remarkable achievement.

"It’s beautiful to have my family here. They are my life and I'm very happy," he said.

"It was a hard day from the start to the finish. A super strong break went away. For us, it was fine, and we could take it easy. But La Vuelta is coming to an end so there aren’t much opportunities left.

"The sprinters' teams pulled with a super hard tempo. It's crazy [that this is my 50th Grand Tour leader’s jersey]. Hopefully I can keep it."

STAGE RESULT

1. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 04:24:54
2. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) same time
3. Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 77:49:37
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:30
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +2:53

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 162
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 144

King of the Mountains

1. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 59
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 54
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 48

What's next?

Saturday's route is a monster. A 202.2km stage from Sanxenxo to Mos. Castro de Herville takes in five short but difficult climbs after a relatively flat start.

 

Miguel Angel Lopez sealed a first stage victory of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana for Movistar as Primoz Roglic came second to increase his lead in the general classification. 

The demanding 18th stage concluded with a 14.6-kilometre climb - and it was with roughly with four to go that Lopez made his move. 

With a group of the world's best riders not far behind and primed to take advantage should he ultimately come up short, the Colombian knew he would likely need to maintain his aggression all the way to the finish. 

And despite the chasing pack edging a little closer in the latter stages, Lopez did enough to cross the line up in the clouds at the summit finish on Altu d'El Gamoniteiru, ending up 14 seconds clear. 

Missing out on first place will have been of little concern for Roglic, however, as the two-time Vuelta winner added another few seconds to his overall advantage over Lopez's Movistar team-mate Enric Mas as he enjoyed a strong conclusion to the last major climb of the race. 

Despite finishing well, Roglic stressed just how difficult Thursday's outing was after a superb effort when winning stage 17, while he was happy to be done with the high mountains at the Vuelta for 2021. 

"It felt like a queen stage, it was really hard, especially after yesterday's effort," he said. "It was extremely hard for me and I'm happy that I had something left to climb this mountain. 

"We were off duty [with Bahrain Victorious and Movistar Team pulling the peloton]. In my opinion, we could have gone easier! It was a hard pace and a hard day from start to finish. 

"I'm happy we're done with the big mountains. We're all feeling the efforts from the last two days and the three weeks before. 

"Still there are hard stages to come. Hopefully, we can do our best and finish it off." 

STAGE RESULT

1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) 04:41:21
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:14
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:20

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 73:24:25
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:30
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +2:53

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 162
3. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) 123

King of the Mountains

1. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 59
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 54
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 48

What's next?

Friday's 191.2km route from Tapia to Monforte de Lemos could be decisive. Considered "hilly" rather than mountainous, the peloton is likely to be tired after the exploits of Thursday, meaning opportunities for breakaways should be presented.

Primoz Roglic got himself back into La Roja with a superb effort in stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Two-time defending champion Roglic headed into Wednesday's route trailing general classification leader Odd Christian Eiking by 96 seconds, yet he put himself in a brilliant position to win a third successive Vuelta title.

Egan Bernal, another of the pre-race favourites, attacked with 61km remaining, but his effort was matched by Olympic gold medallist Roglic, who then powered away from the Colombian with 12km to go.

Giro d'Italia champion Bernal could not keep the pace and as Roglic powered away up the final ascent of Lagos de Covadonga, he was swallowed up by the chasing pack in the final kilometre.

Roglic crossed the line well over a minute ahead of Jumbo-Visma team-mate Sepp Kuss and now holds a big advantage over Movistar duo Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez, while Eiking was dropped by the chasing group before he crashed on a descent.

While he will be confident of holding on to defend his title, Roglic knows Thursday's stage – a 162.6km route featuring four climbs – will be crucial.

"In cycling there's always a risk and a lot of things can happen but it went well today. I enjoyed it and it's a super nice day for me and the whole team," he said.

"I just went with [Bernal]. It's a race eh? I didn't think, I just went with him. Then I was thinking 'it's quite far' a little bit. It's still a hard climb at the end. I was going good, it was a real show, real racing.

"I just tried to ride up the climb as fast as possible. At that point Egan didn't follow anymore so I just went alone.

"Tomorrow is a real queen stage coming. We'll see if [my lead] will be enough after tomorrow."

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:34:45
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +1:35
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 68:42:56
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:22
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +3:11

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 145
3. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) 123

King of the Mountains

1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 51
2. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 34
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 33

What's next?

Thursday's race from Salas to Altu d'El Gamoniteiru really could decide the general classification tussle in Roglic's favour should he triumph. It features two category one climbs, one category two ascent and a summit finish.

Romain Bardet's late attack paid dividends as he took stage 14 of the Vuelta a Espana in Saturday's potentially pivotal mountain route.

Bardet pushed off with just under 7km remaining of the final ascent up the 14.7km Pico Villuercas climb.

Having been part of an 18-man breakaway, Bardet – of Team DSM – could not be caught and crossed the line 44 seconds ahead of Jesus Herrada, while Jay Vine came third despite crashing into his team car around midway through the stage.

Odd Christian Eiking kept hold of La Roja, though was unable to keep pace with Primoz Roglic, who edged ahead of Miguel Angel Lopez to gain 20 seconds on the race leader.

Enric Mas, Egan Bernal and Jack Haig managed to stay with two-time defending champion Roglic, who will be looking to make his prowess in the mountains count during a gruelling stage on Sunday.

"It's been a long wait. It means a lot. I've been second too many times," said Bardet, who has now taken the king of the mountains jersey, after claiming his first stage win at a Vuelta.

"Today I went full gas to be in the good break. I know that taking the polka-dot jersey it'd be a double victory. It's fantastic. 

"I think we played it smart with my sports director and he told me exactly when to attack on the steepest part of the climb and go for it as if the finish was there in front of me.

"I opened a good gap and made it to the finish. Everyone is tired but the spirit is so high in the team, so the moral is high. We're all focused and I'm so happy to be part of a good group of guys.

"We're enjoying ourselves and trying to do our best for the team. It's an amazing Vuelta."

STAGE RESULT

1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 4:20:36
2. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) +0:44
3. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 55:3:17
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:54
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:36

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 200
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–Nippo) 114
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 106

King of the Mountains

1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 50 
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 31
3. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 17

What's next?

Four categorised climbs await the riders on Sunday, across a mammoth 197.5km route from Navalmoral de la Mata to El Barraco.

Magnus Cort sealed his second stage win of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana on Thursday as he edged out Andrea Bagioli at the death to bounce back from late disappointment a day earlier.

Cort had looked in good shape to win Wednesday's stage 11 only to be caught in the final 150 metres of a late climb and his struggles ultimately saw him finish down in 25th, with Primoz Roglic crossing the line in first.

But the Dane got the job done this time around – not that he had it all his own way.

It was not until the final 95 kilometres that an initial breakaway formed, though various teams made their moves and ultimately failed to sustain them until the latter stages.

The chances of Jumbo-Visma and INEOS Grenadiers took seismic hits with less than 70km to go as Roglic and Adam Yates were caught up in a crash after a climb. Although both were able to continue, they were effectively out of the running.

EF Education-Nippo held their nerve well and came into their own towards the end as Cort was propelled to victory, though he had to dig deep right to the last as Bagioli tested him in what was essentially a decisive sprint.

Cort subsequently praised his team for such steady work early in the day, with their initially conservative approach paying off as their main man conserved energy following his gruelling efforts on Wednesday.

He said: "We talked about it with the team that we wouldn't do the big bunch sprint, but when the group was reduced, the team wants to support me in these types of stages.

"The whole team did a great job, and I was able to sit back and relax in the first hours when people were fighting for the breakaway.

"Even though I felt the legs a little from yesterday, I managed to get over the two climbs and, in the end, Jens [Keukeleire] did a very amazing job delivering me perfectly for the sprint.

"There were some very good guys, but we wanted to give it a try and I'm super happy to take this win."

Odd Christian Eiking retained the red jersey, with his 58-second gap over Guillaume Martin still in place.


STAGE RESULT

1. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 3:44:21
2. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) same time
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 45:33:18
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:58
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:56

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 180
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–Nippo) 114
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 106

King of the Mountains

1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 31
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 27
3. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 17

What's next?

Sprinters will have their chance to shine on the largely flat stage 13 as the race goes from Belmez to Villanueva de la Serena – but they should expect a demanding test, with this part of Extremadura characterised by its often-sweltering conditions.

Primoz Roglic powered clear of the pack in a thrilling conclusion to claim his second stage victory of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday.

The Jumbo-Visma rider crashed on Tuesday but put that behind him by holding off Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez at the end of the 133.6-kilometre stretch from Antequera to Valdepenas de Jaen on stage 11.

Magnus Cort for a while looked as though he would claim a second stage triumph of his own, but he was caught inside the final 150 metres of the uphill climb and eventually finished down in 25th.

Instead, it was Roglic who timed his burst to perfection as he moved away from the main pack and finished three seconds clear of Movistar's Mas.

Roglic stays third in the general classification, one minute and 56 seconds behind Odd Christian Eiking, who is 58s ahead of Guillaume Martin after finishing strongly to end in 10th place.

"It was close again, eh? It was a hard stage," Roglic said after the race. "It was short but super hot again. I was also suffering a lot but luckily at the end I had enough for a win.

"Mas is also really super strong and luckily I had a little more at the end. It's always nice to win. You never know when it's the last one. 

"It was a nice finish with a steep uphill where I can normally do well. 

"It was a nice challenge, and the team did an amazing job pushing hard all day and keeping the breakaway at a distance so big thanks to them."


STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 3:11:00
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:03
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +0:05

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 41:48:57
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:58
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:56

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 180
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 101
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–Nippo) 84

King of the Mountains

1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 31
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 22
3. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 17

What's next?

Thursday's stage is another hilly one that starts in Jaen and concludes 175km later in the city of Cordoba. There are two climbs in the final third of the stage, providing a chance to break away. 

Damiano Caruso became the first rider to win a mountain stage in two different grand tours in 2021 as he triumphed at the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday.

On the back of a second-place finish at the Giro d'Italia, Caruso took stage nine, holding off pressure from Enric Mas and general classification leader Primoz Roglic in the process.

Caruso, who won a mountain stage at the Giro, finished 65 seconds clear of two-time defending champion Roglic, with the Slovenian Olympic gold medallist outsprinting Mas to beat the Spaniard by a second.

Roglic's lead in the GC now stands at 28 seconds, with the race's first rest day coming up on Monday.

"We deserve it eh? It was a hard day, again super hot, and some big climbs. I survived it and I'm looking forward for tomorrow," Roglic said at the finish in Alto de Velefique.

"For sure our guys did a great job. INEOS [Grenadiers] put a hard pace on the long climb. It was hard and then here at the end it was quite fast with a big explosion. Luckily, I had OK legs so I could finish it.

"It's a beginning, now we have the rest day, and we just need to stay in one piece healthy with the whole team and then we'll be looking for the next stages."

Mas sits second in the GC standings, with his Movistar team-mate Miguel Angel Lopez almost a minute behind, ahead of Jack Haig.

Miguel Angel Lopez is one minute and 21 seconds behind Roglic in third, with Jack Haig one minute and 42 seconds back in fourth and Giro champion Egan Bernal in fifth.

STAGE RESULT

1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 5:03:14
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:05
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +1:06
4. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) +1:44
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +1:44

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 34:18:53
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:28
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +1:21

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 180
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 164
3. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 74

King of the Mountains

1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 28
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 22
3. Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) 16

What's next?

A rest day in Almeria comes on Monday, with the Vuelta kicking back into gear on Tuesday with a 189m route from Roquetas de Mar to Rincon de la Victoria. It is mostly flat, but a category two climb will separate the contenders before a descent to the finish line.

Primoz Roglic held on to La Roja but saw his Vuelta a Espana lead cut to eight seconds as Michael Storer claimed victory on stage seven.

The first mountain stage of this year's Vuelta promised to shake things up in the general classification pack but two-time defending champion Roglic retained his place in pole position.

However, his lead was trimmed down by 17 seconds in total, with Felix Grossschartner - who finished one minute and 32 seconds behind Storer - closing the gap.

Enric Mas, who was in second, stayed 25 seconds back from Roglic.

The day belonged to Storer, however, with the Team DSM rider powering to victory on the breakaway, finishing 21 seconds clear of Carlos Verona up the Balcon de Alicante, the last of six categorised climbs on Friday.

Storer's aggression paid off with 4km remaining when he countered an attack from Movistar's Verona, who crossed the line 38 seconds ahead of third-placed Pavel Sivakov, who also clinched the lead in the climbers' classification.

Verona's effort capped a difficult day for Movistar, who lost Alejandro Valverde with around 40km of the route remaining.

The Spaniard, who started the day fourth overall, attacked on the Puerto El Colloa, attempting to put his GC rivals onto the back foot, only to spin out of control on a difficult right-hand turn.

Valverde, the 2009 Vuelta champion, crashed through a gap in the barriers and onto the lip of the hillside, though fortunately managed to avoid tumbling over it.

He attempted to carry on after receiving treatment, but could not last and is out of the tour.

STAGE RESULT

1. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 4:10:13
2. Carlos Verona (Movistar) +0:22
3. Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:59
4. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +1:16
5. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) +1:24

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 25:18:35
2. Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:08
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:25

Points Classification

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 131
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 130
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 67

King of the Mountains

1. Pavel Sivakov (INEOS-Grenadiers) 16
2. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 12
3. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) 11

What's next?

It is back to the flats for stage eight, with a sprint finish into La Manga del Mar Menor rounding off the first week of action.

Primoz Roglic retook the overall lead at the Vuelta a Espana, while Magnus Cort sealed victory in a tightly contested sixth stage.

Cort claimed a breakaway victory up the summit of Alto de la Montana de Cullera following a 158km route on Thursday.

EF Education-Nippo rider Cort finished just ahead of two-time defending champion Roglic, who could not quite catch the Dane up the 1.9km climb.

However, Roglic's efforts proved too much for Kenny Elissonde, who was dropped on the final ascent and had to relinquish La Roja to Slovenia's Olympic gold medallist.

Indeed, Elissonde fell out of the top 10 altogether, with another pre-race favourite – Colombian star Egan Bernal – rising to fifth in the general classification standings, 41 seconds behind Roglic.

Though Roglic's lead at the top of the GC is 25 seconds, the stage victory belonged to Cort.

"This one is special for me in a very different way. The stages I win are always in sprints and I'm very happy to show I can also do it in other terrains and finish off a breakaway like this today," he said.

"I knew we still had a chance. It's hard to know how big the gap is because they go fast in the bunch before a climb like that to get position.

"I could see we had a little gap. For me it was about getting as quickly as possible to the top. I hoped that none of my breakaway companions could stay in the wheel and I'd keep the bunch behind me. It was very close and I'm very happy that I kept Roglic just behind.

"I looked back with 150 metres to go and I could see him coming. I sprinted with everything I had and I luckily could keep him behind me."

STAGE RESULT

1. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 3:30:53
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +0:00:02
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:00:04
5. Enric Mas (Movistar) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 21:04:09
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:25
3. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Movistar) +0:36

Points Classification

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 131
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 130
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 67

King of the Mountains

1. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 10
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek–Segafredo) 7
3. Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) 6

What's next?

A 152km route from Gandia to the Balcon de Alicante takes La Vuelta into the mountains. There are six categorised climbs, including a category one summit finish. This is when Roglic, Alejandro Valverde, Bernal and the other favourites could really break clear.

Fabio Jakobsen sprinted to victory a year after he was in a medically induced coma and Rein Taaramae picked himself up following a late crash on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana to retain the red jersey.

Jakobsen suffered life-threatening injuries in a high-speed smash on the opening stage of the Tour of Poland last year but has made an incredible recovery.

The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider showed great power and speed to take the stage win in Molina de Aragon ahead of Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ), with Magnus Cort (EF Education Nippo) crossing the line in third place.

Dutchman Jakobsen left it late to dart inside Demare for a magnificent victory in an uphill finish at the end of a 163.9 kilometre route from El Burgo de Osma.

Michael Matthews had talked up his chances of winning the stage, but the Australian could not get a clear run and had to settle for fifth place behind Alberto Dainese.

Taaramae was rocked when he went down as the pace was stepped up near the end, yet he remains the race leader by a margin of 25 seconds over Kenny Elissonde as he crashed in the final 3km.

Carlos Canal, Angel Madrazo and Joan Bou spent much the stage at the front after breaking away from the start, but they were caught with 13km to go

Jakobsen said: "It's a dream come true. After the crash, I was a long way back, but I'm happy I'm here.

"A lot of time and effort has gone into this by a lot of people, and it's also their victory. I'm talking about all the doctors and surgeons and medical staff in Poland, through to my second family here with the team, and everything in between.

"It's also their victory. It's also my family's victory because they're the reason I'm here."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick) 03:43:07 
2. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) same time
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education Nippo) same time
4. Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) same time
5. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 13:08:51
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek–Segafredo) +0:25
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:30

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 100
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 68
3. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) 50

King of the Mountains

1. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 10
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek–Segafredo) 7
3. Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) 6

What's next?

A flat 184.4km stage five from Tarancon to Albacete is likely to end with another sprint finish unless high winds are a major factor.

Rein Taaramae claimed a surprise victory on stage three of the Vuelta a Espana atop Picon Blanco to take the red jersey from Primoz Roglic.

Monday's demanding 202.8 kilometer route saw the first summit finish and Taaramae, whose only stage win at the race came in 2011, saw off some strong climbers to come out on top.

The 34-year-old finished 21 seconds ahead of Joe Dombrowski and Kenny Elissonde was a further 15 seconds back in third as the general classification standings were shaken up.

Previous race leader Roglic drops to third overall after finishing seventh on Monday, 30 seconds behind Taaramae, who is 25 seconds better off than the second-placed Elissonde.

Taaramae is the first Estonian to secure the red jersey after getting the better of an eight-man breakaway. Dombrowski and Lilian Calmejane, who eventually came fourth, took it in turn to attack but Taaramae had the legs to see the job through.

Hugh Carthy, who finished third in this event last year, lost 21 seconds on favourite Roglic, while Olympic road race champion Richard Carapaz is over two minute adrift of the new leader after failing to keep up with the chasing pack.

"Yesterday evening me and my team spoke about winning this stage and taking the leader's jersey," Taaramae said. "I believed in myself today because I'm in a good state. 

"Today was all about whether the peloton would catch us or not. When I saw that we could do it then I had questions about how good Joe Dombrowski and Kenny Elissonde

"They are all good riders but Joe and Kenny are really good so I don't know if I can beat them, but I believed it because I already did it many times.

"Red is a big achievement because I'm 34 and I don't have many years left to try to do this. I have a stage in the Vuelta and Giro but I dream a lot about a leader's jersey in a Grand Tour – at least for a few days."

STAGE RESULT

1. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 05:16:57 
2. Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) +0:21
3. Kenny Elissonde (Trek–Segafredo) +0:36
4. Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroen Team) +1:16
5. Enric Mas (Movistar) +01.45

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 09:25:44
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek–Segafredo) +0:25
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:30

Points Classification

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 50
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 50
3. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) 50

King of the Mountains

1. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 10
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek–Segafredo) 7
3. Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) 6

What's next?

Tuesday's stage spans 163.9km from El Burgo de Osma to Molina de Aragon and will once again favour the sprinters.

Fabio Jakobsen timed his sprint finish to perfection to win stage two of the Vuelta a Espana.

Alpecin-Fenix rider Jakobsen edged out Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) in Burgos on Sunday at the end of a 166.7-kilometre flat stage that started in Caleruega.

Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) took third place as 23-year-old Belgian Jakobsen claimed his second Vuelta stage win after being led out brilliantly by his team-mates.

Primoz Roglic retained the red jersey with a lead of four seconds over Alex Aranburu following the defending champion's time-trial triumph on the opening stage.

Sprinter Jordi Meeus was among the Bora-Hansgrohe riders who were involved in a crash four kilometres from the end of the second day.

Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Sergio Martin (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi) made an early break on a hot, draining day for the riders.

Rubio looked the strongest of that breakaway trio and he tried to go solo, but was caught with a little over 20 kilometres to go to set up the sprint finish that was anticipated.

Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) hit the front with 200 metres remaining, with Matthews on his wheel, but it was Jakobsen who nipped in front to take the victory.

He said: "It's incredible. Yesterday someone put it in our team group chat [that they could win the first sprint of all three Grand Tours] and for sure it was a dream but I didn't want to think about it because the chance is always less high than it would be true.

"It just shows how everyone from team is really motivated. It was a team effort and we can be really proud. It was amazing to see all my team-mates there and everyone on the front line. I had a lot of support and this is how we can win sprints.

"Each of us can be very happy tonight and we start this Grand Tour in a good way."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 03:58:57
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange)
4. Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates)
5. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:04
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) +0:10

Points Classification

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 50
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 50
3. Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech 50

King of the Mountains

1. Sepp Cuss (Jumbo-Visma) 3
2. Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) 2
3. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) 1

What's next?

A first high-altitude finale in Picon Blanco awaits the riders, who will start a demanding 202.8km third stage in Santo Domingo de Silos.

Primoz Roglic started the defence of his Vuelta a Espana title in style as he took the lead after a short time trial on stage one.

Fresh from claiming Slovenia's first Olympic gold medal in any cycling discipline, Roglic – who has triumphed at the Vuelta in the previous two years – was the last man out in Burgos.

The 31-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider set a blistering pace around the 7.1kilometre route, which he completed in just eight minutes and 32 seconds – six seconds clear of nearest challenger Alex Aranburu (Astana-PremierTech).

Aranburu had held top spot for much of the stage, but has to settle for second heading into stage two. Jan Tratnik, of Bahrain-Victorious, rounds out the top three, trailing Roglic by eight seconds.

Roglic was forced to abandon the Tour de France after a brutal first week but headed to Spain on a high following his success in Japan, and is aiming to become the first rider to win the Vuelta three times in a row since Roberto Heras in 2005. He is also bidding to draw level with Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador on three triumphs should he keep hold of the red jersey.

"It's a beautiful start, I'm enjoying it, and we hopefully can enjoy it as a team in the upcoming days," said Roglic.

Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal skipped the Tour and is considered Roglic's prime challenger, but the Colombian suffered on Saturday and lost 27 seconds to his rival.

Tom Piddock, who won a mountain biking gold for Great Britain in Tokyo, made his grand tour debut for INEOS Grenadiers, clocking in 36 seconds slower than Roglic.

"That was horrible. I've basically had three weeks of holidays," said Piddock.

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:06
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) +0:08
4. Tom Scully (EF Education-Nippo) +0:10
5. Josef Cerny (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +0:10

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:06
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) +0:08

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 20
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) 17
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) 15

King of the Mountains

1. Sepp Cuss (Jumbo-Visma) 3
2. Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) 2
3. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) 1

What's next?

The Vuelta rolls from Caleruega to Burgos, a 166.7km flat route with a sprint finish, giving the sprinters an early opportunity to shine.

Primoz Roglic will start his quest for a hat-trick of Vuelta a Espana titles when the final Grand Tour race of the year starts in Burgos on Saturday.

Team Jumbo-Visma rider Roglic has won the Vuelta in each of the peast two years and is favourite to continue his dominance of the race.

Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal will be expected to mount a strong challenge after skipping the Tour de France, while the Colombian's INEOS Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates could have a big say.

This 76th edition of the race will have eight mountain top finishes, with 11 stages featuring mountains, including the Picon Blanco with a gradient in some sections of the climb at 17 per cent.

Stats Perform picks out the big stories and standout Opta facts ahead of a race that will finish in Santiago de Compostela on September 5.
 

OLYMPIC CHAMPION ROGLIC TARGETING RARE TREBLE

Roglic put his Tour de France woes behind him to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics last month, claiming Slovenia's first gold medal in any cycling discipline.

The 31-year-old abandoned the Tour after a brutal first week but should start the Vuelta on a high from his heroics in Japan.

Roglic will be bidding to move level with Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador on three Vuelta triumphs if he wins the red jersey – one shy of Roberto Heras' record.

He would also become the first rider to win the race three times in a row since Spaniard Heras in 2005.

 


BERNAL LEADS INEOS CHALLENGE

Bernal claimed his maiden Giro title this year after winning his first Grand Tour crown in the 2019 Tour.

The 24-year-old sat out the 2021 Tour and has been training at altitude in his homeland ahead of a bid to complete a clean sweep of Grand Tour titles.

Bernal could become only the third Colombian to win the race, with Nairo Quintana being the last in 2016.

INEOS have a strong hand as Carapaz and Yates plot a title challenge.
 

LANDA HOPEFUL OF ENDING SPANISH DROUGHT

No Spanish rider has triumphed in the previous six editions of the race on home soil. If that extends to seven, it will be an unwanted record drought.

But Mikel Landa is hopeful of topping the podium after winning the Vuelta de Burgos following his recovery from a broken collarbone and several broken ribs suffered in a Giro crash.

He told the Deia: "Winning the Vuelta de Burgos was unexpected, but it was a great morale boost after so long out injured.

"Now I am going to the Vuelta with optimism. At the end of the day, I haven't competed much this year and I have the bit between my teeth after the Giro. I know I have to be careful, because I am still lacking a bit of form, but I am very motivated."

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