The traditional parade into Madrid to crown the winner and offer a last sprint finish for those who have stayed the course. The finish is later than usual.
Stage 20 Review: Contador delivered the stage win he’d been promising and did so in front of dense crowds on the slopes of the Angliru.
The Route: 117km and a flat sprint finish. There’s 77km looping in and out of Madrid’s suburbs and dormitory towns before 44km of the 5.6km circuit in the city, all on wide flat roads.
The Contenders: who is left to sprint? Matteo Trentin can win the points jersey back from Chris Froome but only if he wins both the intermediate sprint and the stage and Froome doesn’t place. He’s in good shape and has a strong team but the flat finish on a wide road is not his thing, he’s thrived on the punchy uphill sprints.
Sacha Modolo is the pedigree pick, he’s won stages aplenty in the Giro but has had a quiet Vuelta so he’s not a reassuring pick. J-J Lobato (Lotto-Jumbo)has enjoyed some good wins but like Trentin he tends to win harder, hillier finishes. Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) has great finishing speed and this stage is his best chance of all the three weeks. Edward Theuns is Trek-Segafredo’s chance now Degenkolb is out. Bora-Hansgrohe’s Michael Schwarzmann may not be the first name to come to mind when citing German sprinters but finish fast. Tom Van Asbroek (Cannondale-Drapac) is quick too, ditto FDJ’s Lorrenzo Manzin and Ag2r’s Julian Duval. Last among the sprinters is Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott) who won here a year ago and can count on the whole team to set him up again.
But who says it’s a sprint? The likes of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) and Floris De Tier (Lotto-Jumbo) have the power to barge clear in the finale.
|Matteo Trentin, Adam Blythe, MCN|
|Schwarzmann, Theuns, Modolo|
Weather: 25°C and sunny.
TV: It’s on La1 in Spain and Eurosport around much of the world and often on the same broadcaster you watch the Tour de France on. The finish is forecast for 8.20pm CEST.
Madrid Challenge: the women’s criterium takes place on the same circuit in Madrid. The concluding event of the Women’s World Tour, the finish is for 4.15pm CEST.
Daily Díaz: Let’s finish the Vuelta with another music suggestion. La Cabra Mecánica (“The Mechanical Goat”) was a Madrid-based music band from 1995 to 2010. Their most successful years were the late 1990s and the early 2000s. Arguably the song that launched them to the mainstream media was La lista de la compra (“The shopping list”), but I think for a day like today Felicidad (“Happiness”) is more fitting. Who is happier today than three and a half weeks ago? Which riders, or teams, have outperformed their expectations? Which stages, or moments, have been the most enjoyable? Of course, there are still 117,6 km and 3h30’ to be raced, but a preliminary review of the race can be sketched.
Many thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel