Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic secured Vuelta a Espana victory on Sunday to become his country’s first Grand Tour winner.
Having effectively wrapped up the triumph by finishing the penultimate stage with the overall lead a day earlier, Roglic was confirmed as champion after completing the largely-ceremonial final stage from Fuenlabrada to Madrid.
The 29-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider ended up two minutes and 16 seconds ahead of Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the general classification, while Roglic’s compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) was third.
Sunday’s stage was won by Holland’s Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), who crossed the line just ahead of Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) in a sprint finish.
Roglic told Eurosport: “I am a little tired but it is just a great feeling that we won a nice race in cycling. I’m really happy that we finished it off.
“I still have a lot of things to do, and I am already thinking about other things, not just enjoying this moment.”
Twenty-year-old white jersey winner Pogacar, who won three stages in what was his first Grand Tour, said: “It is really unbelievable.
“I still can’t imagine that I was just standing on the podium next to world champion Valverde and one of the biggest Grand Tour riders, Primoz Roglic. It is an incredible feeling.
“It is really amazing how much we moved the cycling in Slovenia, and to be on the podium, two guys, one winning, it is really impressive.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar continued his unbelievable run of form on Stage 16 of this year’s Vuelta a Espana, by digging deep on the final climb of the day to help drop Alejandro Valverde.
Movistar’s Valverde currently sits above Pogacar in second place in the General Classification with a lead that has now been reduced to 54 seconds.
The stage from Pravia to Alto de la Cubilla Lena featured three classified climbs and the action for the GC men was reserved for the last one. As the breakaway men contested the stage victory, which was eventually taken by Jakob Fuglsang, of Astana, the GC riders eyed each other up on the 17.8km climb that led to another summit finish.
With 4km to go Miguel Angel Lopez, also of Astana, attacked the group in an attempt to distance Pogacar, who leads him in both the overall and youth classification. However the young Slovenian was able to match Lopez’s accelerations – as was the race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma). The three riders eventually worked as a unit and crossed the line together to put time into Valverde and the rest of their GC rivals.
Pogacar remains third in the GC, but has closed the gap on second place by 23 seconds. He also remains in the white youth classification jersey ahead of the final rest day of the tour.
Pogacar said: “Today was a tough day, above all in the finale when Lopez attacked me several times. I gave everything I had to follow him and it went well at the end. It will be a really exciting duel until the last day.
“Today was also a good day because I gained some time on Valverde, and also maintained my advantage on Lopez. I’m tired, I think like everyone, in the morning and after the stage, but I continue to feel good during the race. I hope to be at the top in the last week too.”
After the rest day the race heads from Aranda de Duero to Guadalajara for a 219.6km flat stage, which is likely to end in a bunch sprint finish.
Stage 16 results:
1 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 4:19:04
2 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos +0:22”
3 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana +0:40”
14 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates +5:58”
General Classification after Stage 16:
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo Visma 62:17:52”
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar +2:48”
3 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates +3:42”
UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi will be looking to replicate his 2017 win at the GP Montreal, as he leads a seven-man squad to North America for a double bill of racing in the French Quarter of Canada.
The team will take on both the 201.6km Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec (September 13) and the 219.6km Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal (September 15), two challenging WorldTour races that are played out on street circuits around the respective host cities.
The team, which also includes Sven Erik Bystrom, Rui Costa, Dan Martin, Rui Oliveira, Jasper Philipsen and Jan Polanc will be guided by sports director Neil Stephens.
Ulissi said: “I have special memories of these races in Canada. I won in the past in Montreal, and it’s a race that you need to be switched on for from start to finish.
“For the 2019 edition, the organisers have decided to add two laps of the race circuit, bringing the total count to 18 climbs which will therefore make it even more important to arrive in Canada with a good condition and be present as a team with as many riders as possible in the final.
“The goal is to do well in these races and bring forward the condition from the Deutschland Tour.”