Defending Vuelta a Espana champion Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic claimed victory in a tough time-trial yesterday to regain the lead in the overall classification with five stages remaining.
Roglic took back the leader’s red jersey from Ecuador’s Ineos captain Richard Carapaz with the pair having played cat-and-mouse for most of this Tour, while Britain’s Hugh Carthy sits third ahead of the race’s climax on Sunday.
Few had expected anything other than Roglic winning this tough 33.7km individual race against the clock on stage 13 and the Jumbo-Visma rider is now the clear favourite to defend his title this weekend in Madrid.
But his advantage gained over Carapaz and Carthy was not as significant as it might have been and a surprise champion remains possible, with the chasing pair still within a minute of the lead. Carapaz is 39 seconds behind Roglic and EF Pro’s Carthy is 47 seconds back.
Ireland’s Dan Martin is further adrift, almost two minutes off the front. “Better to be 39 in front than 39 behind,” said Roglic. “We need to keep focus, the guys are really strong and we will fight for it.”
Roglic’s strong finish on the summit of the severe slopes of the Mirador de Ezaro might have disappointed those wondering if fatigue might kick in for the 31-year-old this week. “It’s beautiful,” added Roglic. “It’s been a long time since I won a time-trial. It’s a super nice day. I feel strong, surprisingly.”
Roglic led the Tour de France this season only to let the lead slip from his grasp on the penultimate day during a long and tricky time-trial as he was overtaken by Tadej Pogacar. “We all know it’s not really a fun thing to do a time-trial but today I had the legs and I could do a nice time trial.”
Vuelta peloton gets
Meanwhile, the Vuelta a Espana peloton got the Covid-19 all-clear with no positive cases detected in the latest round of testing from the Grand Tour’s “bubble”, organisers announced. The fourth round of controls for coronavirus was conducted on Monday. “In total, all the 681 tests conducted on the second rest day were negative for Covid-19,” a Vuelta statement reported.
Riders, team officials and organisers were subjected to an initial round of tests on their arrival at the “race bubble” in Irun, in the Basque country, two days before the rescheuled Tour of Spain started. Further tests were carried out just before the October 20 start with a third batch conducted on the first rest day on October 26.
Two Bahrain-McLaren team officials and two from Sunweb were found to be positive on the eve of the race getting under way, but no rider has been detected with the virus that is currently sweeping Europe in a second wave of the pandemic and which caused the scheduled opening three days in the Nertherlands to be cancelled. The pandemic also forced organisers to reroute the sixth stage after border restrictions ruled out the planned ascent of the Col du Tourmalet in France.
1. Primoz Roglic (SLO/Jumbo) 46mins 39sec, 2. William Barta (USA/CCC) at 1sec, 3. Nelson Oliveira (POR/MOV) 10, 4. Hugh Carthy (GBR/EF1) 25, 5. Bruno Armirail (FRA/FDJ) 41, 6. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA/DEC) 46, 7. Richard Carapaz (ECU/INE) 49, 8. Remi Cavagna (FRA/DEC) 58, 9. David De la Cruz (ESP/UAE) 59, 10. Jasha Sutterlin (GER/SUN) 1min 07sec.
1. Primoz Roglic (SLO/Jumbo)
49hrs 16min 16sec, 2. Richard Carapaz (ECU/INE) at 39sec, 3. Hugh Carthy (GBR/EF1) 47, 4. Dan Martin (IRL/ICA) 1min 42sec, 5. Enric Mas (ESP/MOV) 3:23, 6. Wout Poels (NED/BAH) 6:15,
7. Felix Grossschartner (AUT/BOR)
7:14, 8. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 8:39, 9. Aleksandr Vlasov (RUS/AST) 8:48, 10. David De la Cruz (ESP/UAE) 9:23
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