It looked for a while as if Mitchelton were happy with letting the break stay away but Astana decided to up the pace with 60km remaining and things were back together over the second summit of Beixalis. Lopez had bridged to team-mates up the road but it was too early and they were pegged back by Adam Yates.
Some attacks went on the descent (Quintana) and on the Cat-3 climb (Lopez), before Simon Yates and Mas bridged from the peloton just before the top of that climb. The four worked well, aside from Quintana who had Valverde behind, and they built up a strong gap by the last climb of the day. The Movistar man dropped back to pace Valverde behind while Mas and Lopez pushed on a little, as Yates just decided to do the sensible thing and set his own pace so he didn’t go into the red. The young duo then fought out for the stage win and it was the Quick Step rider who took his maiden Grand Tour success, which meant his team’s tally moves up to a rather remarkable 64 wins for the year, so far. Must be something in the water and by looking at the following picture, it might just be too much caffeine, eh Patrick?!
Yates crossed the line in third to seal the overall title. A result that shows a lot of his character and legs with the fact he had the mental fortitude to bounce back so quickly after his disastrous finish to the Giro earlier in the year. Congratulations to him!
He does now hold the dubious honour (at least I think he does but I’m not 100% sure) of being the first rider to win their maiden GT after returning from a doping ban. His win also makes it three British winners of the three GTs and the first time ever that they have been separate riders. Don’t think I’d be saying that when I got into the sport back in 2007!
With a few slipping and losing contact behind, it meant that Mas climbed to second overall with Lopez trailing him in third place. Both great results considering this is only Mas’ second ever GT and it is the first time Lopez has done two GTs in the year.
Anyway, there is one last day of “racing” ahead so let’s take a look, very quickly, at what lies ahead for the riders.
A little commute into Madrid that then sees some laps of a circuit.
The circuit itself is pretty easy and I would describe it as an elongated hot dog.
With the last dead turn coming just before the Flamme Rouge, it is possible for a team to drill it through there and power home. That’s exactly what Quick Step did last year for Trentin and I imagine it will be something very similar this time out.
Can anyone stop Viviani?
No, probably not.
Can anyone get close?
Sagan is looking better and at the end of a Grand Tour he always seems to produce a strong sprint. Van Poppel will have his whole team devoted to him and he does have the speed to challenge, just needs to work on the positioning. Nizzolo is a nearly man but I’d love to see him change that and win.
We do get some odd results sometimes on the last day of racing and some surprise names appear. Pull a name out of a hat for the regular 5-12 finishers as they look to upgrade to the podium.
Quick Step to nail the lead out, bringing up number win number 65 this season for them.
Unless of course they have already made it 65 over in Slovakia before the stage here finishes.
No bet, might have a look at H2Hs later/tomorrow, maybe not.
A big thanks to everyone for reading and sharing the content and joining in the conversation over the past month. That’s the third Grand Tour of the year ticked off with daily stage previews. It has been a slog at times but there have been many rewarding and fun days of racing to write about too and it turns out I’ve written roughly 78,000 – 80,000 words throughout them all. I’m amazed most of you have put up with my drivel for that long. The season isn’t over though and I’ll be back with the Worlds and end of season one-day races before you know it.
If you’ve enjoyed the previews and want to show some support then you can do so through this link : http://paypal.me/jamiehaughey/3.50
For one final time this Vuelta…
Thanks for tuning in,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.