The Colombian cyclist Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) has won the last stage of La Vuelta a Espana, which has covered 96.7 kilometers between Las Rozas and Madrid with a circuit at the end, with the Belgian Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Setp Alpha Vinyl) celebrating the title and on a day also marked by a tribute to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), who ran his last Spanish round.
After starting this 21st stage some 20 minutes late, Molano did a good job for his team in the last sprint to reach the finish line, after overtaking Julius Johansen (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) and Lucas Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) , protagonists of the only leak that frustrated on this last day.
Remco Evenepoel, who has worn the leader’s jersey for 15 days, was able to celebrate his La Vuelta title in Madrid, becoming the youngest winner of La Vuelta since Angelino Soler in 1961 and the fourth youngest winner in the history of the round Spanish, 22 years, 7 months and 17 days. In addition, with this victory he manages to win the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Clasica de San Sebastian and La Vuelta in the same year, the first to do so.
The podium of the general classification was completed by two Spaniards, Enric Mas (Movistar Team) and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates), the latter being the second youngest rider to stand on the podium of a major, and the youngest after 118 years and Henri Cornet’s victory in the 1904 Tour de France.
This day also served to pay tribute to the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who lived with emotion his last stage in a Grand Tour in his career. Thus, the ‘Bala’ said goodbye to La Vuelta 20 years after his debut in 2002. At 42 years old, the Murcian has 16 participations in the Spanish race, which he won in 2009, where he has achieved 12 stage victories and has added 7 times on the final podium.
The last stage started slower than expected, and as is tradition, the jersey wearers led the pack at the start of this final stage. Thus, Evenepoel, with La Roja leading the general classification; Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), with the green jersey of leader of the points classification; Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), with the polka dot jersey of the mountain classification; and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates), with the white jersey of the best youngster, received a well-deserved recognition.
The Australian Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) was the first to stand out from the peloton, with a minute and a half ahead of the main group of cyclists, a break that was not fruitful. The race continued its course with all the cyclists grouped together, until, already in Madrid, the Dutchman Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) starred in the first attack on the final circuit in Madrid, with just under 50 kilometers left to go.
After a brief and slight attempt by the Spanish Raul Garcia Pierna (Kern Pharma Team), who also wanted to be seen at home, finally the escape that had its reward was the one carried out by Julius Johansen (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) and Lucas Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers), who took a few seconds and meters at the head of the race. These two runners set the pace until the last 700 meters, when they were already caught up by the peloton.
Before, there was a fall at the rear of the peloton, affecting Lawson Craddock (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and Oscar Cabedo (Burgos-BH), with 43 kilometers remaining, on the climb up Madrid’s Gran Via, in one of the most narrow circuit, after a strange movement when ascending to Callao. They managed to rejoin easily.
With the two escapees about 20 seconds away, in the peloton, 21 kilometers from the finish line, the Alpecin-Deceuninck team set the pace, working for the Belgian champion Tim Merlier, their best asset in the sprint. Finally, Molano won the last sprint in Madrid, with Pedersen close but without a prize, on a podium finish in the last stage completed by Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates).
1. Juan Sebastian Molano (COL/UAE Team Emirates) 2:26:36.
2. Mads Pedersen (DIN/Trek-Segafredo) mt
3. Pascal Ackermann (ALE/UAE Team Emirates) mt
4. Mike Teunissen (HOL/Jumbo-Visma) mt
5. Danny van Poppel (HOL/Bora-hasngrohe) mt
1. Remco Evenepoel (BEL/Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 80:26:59.
2. ENRIC MAS (ESP/MOVISTAR TEAM) at 2:02.
3. JUAN AYUSO (ESP/UAE TEAM EMIRATES) 4:57.
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/Astana Qazaqstan Team) 5:56.
5. Joao Almeida (POR/UAE Team Emirates) 7:24.
Source: Europa Press