Roglic poised to retain Vuelta title

·2-min read

Primoz Roglic stands to win the Vuelta a Espana for a second consecutive year but was made to sweat for it as a late attack from second-placed Richard Carapaz halved his advantage and threatened to deliver heartbreak on the penultimate stage.

Two months after Roglic's dreams of Tour de France glory evaporated on the stage 20 time trial, the Slovenian was in danger of seeing victory once again slip away at the final hurdle as Ecuadorian Carapaz attacked on the Alto de La Covatilla.

Carapaz, who started the day 45 seconds down in second place, pulled clear around five kilometres from the end of the 178km stage from Sequeros and opened up an advantage of 29 seconds at one point, but could get no closer as Roglic recovered before the line.

"It's always good to have some exciting finishes and this was exciting, but I still had just enough left that I knew if I went at my own tempo it should be enough," Roglic said.

"Sometimes at the end you just need to stay under control and do you thing. What can I say? I'm super happy and it's a really nice way to finally finish the season."

Britain's Hugh Carthy had been the first of the main contenders to try an attack, and the EF Education First rider consolidated his place in third before Sunday's processional run in to Madrid.

Jumbo-Visma's Roglic leads by 24 seconds from Carapaz, of the Ineos Grenadiers, with Carthy a further 23 seconds down in third place, almost two minutes clear of Irishman Dan Martin in fourth.

Frenchman David Gaudu took the stage win for Groupama-FDJ from the breakaway, but all eyes were a further three minutes down the mountain with this the last chance to make a move in the general classification.

Roglic lost his grip on the yellow jersey at the Tour two months ago when he conceded almost two minutes to Tadej Pogacar on the decisive time trial, and must have feared a repeat when Carapaz raced clear near the top of the steepest section of this climb.

But this time he had the resources to pace himself to the line, even as Carthy put in a late dig to consolidate his third place.

Sydney's young Team Sunweb rider Michael Storer enjoyed a fine day's work, coming home fifth on the stage.

Mitchelton-Scott's Nick Schultz is set to end the race as the top Australian as he currently lies in 25th place after more than 70 hours in the saddle.