The final procession to Madrid is the last chance for the sprinters and a victory parade for the new red jersey wearer Fabio Aru.
Stage 20 Wrap: Tom Dumoulin cracked. Astana worked over the Dutch race leader on the penultimate climb. Fabio Aru attacked and Dumoulin didn’t respond, instead he instead looking behind and hoping someone else would chase. He was quickly dropped and chasing alone with Mikel Nieve on his wheel. On the descent Dumoulin was closing the gap and got to 10 seconds of the Aru group but just at this point Astana got another team member to help drive the Aru group and they rode away. The gap went up and Dumoulin’s shoulders went down. Ruben Plaza won the stage with a giant 117km solo raid.
The Route: unremarkable. A ride into Madrid and then laps of the 5.8km finishing circuit. This has wide boulevards and a long finishing straight over a kilometre long. They cross the finish line ten times on the way to the finish.
The Contenders: back the sprinters. John Degenkolb gets his final chance at a stage win and maybe Tom Dumoulin folds into the sprint train too. Degenkolb is the only big pedigree sprinter left in the race but has been struggling all the time so once again we could see another rider surprise. It’s difficult to pick someone here because the sprints have been unstructured and random: no team has controlled matters and no sprinter has gone on a winning streak. Degenkolb has kept losing but it’s this consistency which suggests he can be close again today and when others have won it’s because “Dege” and his team have made mistakes. Nobody else seems to be above all the others so it’s hard to chose between Tom Van Aesbroeck (Lotto-Jumbo), Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing), Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka), Jean-Pierre “Jempy” Drucker (BMC Racing) and Julien Simon (Cofidis) come to mind with Van Poppel the safest pick among them.
A sprint isn’t certain either, as the Giro’s final stage showed when teams don’t and won’t take control others can have a good chance. Look to fast, powerful riders like Iljo Keisse or Jimmy Engoulvent. Lastly if he can make to the finish then Adam Hansen wins by setting the record for the most consecutive grand tours ridden, now 13.
|Danny Van Poppel, Tom Van Aesbroeck
|Impey, Drucker, Richeze, Rojas, Keisse, Engoulvent
Weather: sunshine and a few clouds, 26°C at the start and cooling in the evening.
Daily Díaz: Do you know Mortadelo y Filemón? Perhaps you’ve heard of the mas Mort & Phil, as they are known in English speaking countries. Their creator, Francisco Ibáñez, has been working on them since 1958, which makes this couple a classic in Spanish comics, read for decades and still active (the latest issue, El Tesorero,was launched earlier this year). Mort & Phil are detectives of the TIA (Técnicos de Investigación Aeroterráquea), and every case they are assigned becomes a mess before a surprising solution is discovered. Mort is a master of disguise, while Phil is the boss but usually the more unlucky of the two. Their adventures are absurd, ridiculous and very funny. Sometimes you’d think they are the organisers of the Vuelta!
Many thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information during the Vuelta. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel