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Vuelta a España 2015: Stage 20

Live coverage of stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana, 175.8 kilometres from San Lorenzo de El Escorial to Cercedilla.

The day of reckoning is here. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) carries a six-second lead into the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a Espana, and with just Sunday afternoon's procession to Madrid to follow, it's really a case of now or never for Fabio Aru (Astana), who has four category 1 climbs to try and dislodge the Dutchman and make up those seconds.

152km remaining from 175km

We pick up the action at the base of the day's opening climb, the Puerto de Navacerrada, 9.4 kilometres of climbing at an average gradient of 6.6%. Two large groups fired off the front in the opening kilometres and they look set to merge on the lower slopes of this climb. The main peloton, featuring Dumoulin and Aru, is some 3:30 behind.

The general classification picture was as follows at the start today:

1 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 78:20:51
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:06
3 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:24
4 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:02:31
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:02
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:24
7 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:03:39
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:46
9 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 0:04:19
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka 0:07:00

Dumoulin gave himself some breathing room by putting three seconds into Aru at Avila yesterday, but he could well have had - relative - daylight between himself and the Italian when video footage emerged that suggested Aru had taken a hand sling from teammate Luis Leon Sanchez in the finale yesterday. After reviewing the evidence, however, the commissaires this morning

, so the gap remains at 6 seconds.

150km remaining from 175km

There are 11 riders currently out in front, with a group of 24 chasing at 34 seconds. The peloton, led by Giant-Alpecin, is at 5:17.

The 11 riders in the leading group are Rubén Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Lawrance Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Dani Navarro (Cofidis) Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Gonçalves (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Miguel Ángel Rubiano (Colombia) and Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar).

Aru, meanwhile, has a teammate up the road as part of this large chasing group. Luis Leon Sanchez could be a very useful foil later in the day...

Olivier Le Gac (FDJ) has dropped back to the chasing group in a bid to help his teammate Kenny Elissonde bridge up to the front. The full list of chasers is as follows: Kevin Reza (FDJ), Andrey Amador, Fran Ventoso (Movistar), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Andrey Zeits (Astana), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar), Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quick Step), Amael Moinard (BMC), Nicolas Roche (Team Sky), Jelle Vanendert, Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Alex Cano (Team Colombia), Romain Sicard (Europcar).

 

147km remaining from 175km

Goncalves attacks from the leading group of ten near the summit of the Navacerrada, and the injection of pace has seen their lead over the chasers shoot out to 1:06. The bunch trails at 6:32.

141km remaining from 175km

The chasers attempt to orchestrate a more united pursuit on the way down the Navacerrada, and the gap to the leaders closes in to 46 seconds. The bunch, meanwhile, is now more than seven minutes behind.

130km remaining from 175km

The chasers haven't made significant inroads into the leaders' advantage on the ridge over the top of the Navacerrada. The gap remains at 46 seconds as they hurtle down the descent proper. As soon as they hit Rascafria in the valley, they will begin climbing immediately towards the Puerto de la Morcuera.

A recap of the ten members of this leading group: Rubén Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Lawrance Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Gonçalves (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin) and Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar).

123km remaining from 175km

The leaders are stretching their advantage out over the chasers once again. The ten are collaborating smoothly on this descent, whereas the unwieldy chasing group is struggling to organise itself.

120km remaining from 175km

The escapees begin the day's second climb, the Puerto de la Morcuera, which goes up for 11.5 kilometres at an average gradient of 5.4%.

Aru has two Astana teammates in this large second group, currently 1:00 behind the leaders. Luis Leon Sanchez and Andrey Zeits are contributing nothing to the pace-setting in this group, saving themselves in the event that they can lend a helping hand to Aru later in the afternoon.

117km remaining from 175km

Moreno Moser has had a quiet season in the colours of Cannondale-Garmin, and the Italian is eager to salvage something from his campaign. He puts in a long turn on the front of the break. Their advantage remains 1:00 over the chasers and 7:53 over the Giant-Alpecin-led peloton.

Dani Navarro (Cofidis) is the highest-placed rider on general classification in the leading ten, though he is over an hour down in 30th place. Romain Sicard (Europcar) is the best-placed of all of the riders up the road, but the Frenchman is 16th at 19:21 and not yet a threat to anyone in the top ten overall.

114km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) is unhappy with the pace of the leading group and the Spaniard attacks a lone off the front of the race.

Plaza's determined, seated effort quickly sees him establish a decent gap over his erstwhile companion. He isn't waiting for company as he forges ahead with a little over four kilometres to go to the top of the Morcuera.

112km remaining from 175km

The large chasing group of 29 riders is within sight of Plaza's erstwhile companions, 1:13 behind. The peloton is now 9:40 down, with Giant-Alpecin continuing to set the tempo.

111km remaining from 175km

The two chasing groups have merged into a super group of sorts, and our 38 Traveling Wilburys are currently 1:38 down on Plaza's ambitious solo act.

109km remaining from 175km

Plaza continues to pad out his advantage. The Spaniard is now 2:08 clear as he approaches the summit of the Morcuera. After a short descent, however, he faces 40 kilometres of valley before the road climbs again. Even allowing for the disorganisation of the chasing group, he'll be doing well to maintain that advantage by the time he winds back and tackles the Morcuera from the other side.

101km remaining from 175km

The 38 riders in this merged chasing group are: Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Lawrance Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Dani Navarro (Cofidis) Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Gonçalves (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin) y Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Andrey Zeits (Astana), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar), Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quick Step), Amael Moinard (BMC), Nicolas Roche (Team Sky), Jelle Vanendert, Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Alex Cano (Team Colombia), Romain Sicard (Europcar) and Fran Ventoso (Movistar).

101km remaining from 175km

The 38 riders in this merged chasing group are: Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Lawrance Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Dani Navarro (Cofidis) Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Gonçalves (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin) y Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Andrey Zeits (Astana), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar), Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quick Step), Amael Moinard (BMC), Nicolas Roche (Team Sky), Jelle Vanendert, Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Alex Cano (Team Colombia), Romain Sicard (Europcar) and Fran Ventoso (Movistar).

David Arroyo (Caja Rural-RGA Seguros) appears to have crashed on the descent, though seemingly without consequences. Shortly afterwards, Eduard Vorganov overshoots a corner but manages to stay upright and rejoin the group.

99km remaining from 175km

Plaza, meanwhile, has committed fully to his lone effort. His lead stands at 2:40 over the chasers, while the peloton is tapping along some 11:45 behind.

92km remaining from 175km

As the road flattens out, Plaza's advantage drops below the two-minute mark. If the 38 chasers can strike up a reasonable working alliance, they ought to be able to make inroads into his advantage ahead of the third climb of the day, the Morcuera.

88km remaining from 175km

The large chasing group has split in two following the feed zone, and it's interesting to see no fewer than three Movistar riders in this 12-man front section.

Giovanni Visconti, Andrey Amador and Fran Ventoso are all in this smaller group, which is now just 1:22 behind Plaza.

Meanwhile - and not for the first time this week - Giant-Alpecin have found a South African ally of circumstance in the main peloton. MTN-Qhubeka have begun to contribute to the chase effort, ostensibly with defending Louis Meintjes' 10th place in mind.

84km remaining from 175km

The large chasing group continues to fragment and reform behind, though it is striking that Movistar are a constant presence at the front. They are now just 1:04 behind Plaza. The peloton is at 11:22.

Plaza is currently on the uncategorised Alto Cerro San Pedro with a lead of 1:28 over the chasing group, which is being led by Fran Ventoso (Movistar).

The pace in the main peloton remains steady. Giant-Alpecin are massed on the front, while Fabio Aru is surrounded by a phalanx of Astana teammates just behind them.

Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) fell heavily yesterday but the Italian remains in the race to support Aru, albeit with gauze on his arms.

Aru, too, was a faller on yesterday's stage, though without consequence, but he was - even by his own standards - particularly tense at the finish yesterday. Never one to say much more than "Vedremo" while soft-pedalling away from reporters at stage finishes, in Avila, Aru simply decided to eschew press duties altogether. "Please can you go away?" he apparently told reporters as he shut himself into an Astana van yesterday afternoon. In Gazzetta dello Sport's account this morning, one couldn't help but detect a faint note of satisfaction as they described how the van scraped against a lamp post as it pulled away.

74km remaining from 175km

Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) takes off in lone pursuit of Plaza on the approach to the foot of the Morcuera. He remains 1:25 down on his fellow countryman.

67km remaining from 175km

Haimar Zubeldia has been absorbed again by the chasing group, which is 1:52 behind Plaza. They are five miles from the base of the third of the day's three climbs, the Puerto de la Morcuera (tackled from the opposite side), which goes up for 10.4 kilometres at an average of 6.6%.

64km remaining from 175km

MTN-Qhubeka continue to help Giant-Alpecin to control matters at the head of the peloton. There has been no movement as yet from the Astana delegation in the bunch, though Aru does, of course, have Zeits and Luis Leon Sanchez up the road in the chasing group.

The tight contest between Dumoulin and Aru has been inevitably described variously as a psychological battle, though the Dutchman gave short shrift to the idea when he spoke to the press after yesterday's stage. "I’m not interested in the mental combat. I’m more busy at gaining time,” Dumoulin said. This afternoon, he simply needs to stay glued to Aru's wheel. Bonus seconds will not be an issue with 40 riders so far up the road.

60km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza is beginning to flag visibly even before he starts the ascent of the Puerto de la Morcuera. He still has a lead of 1:42 but he is paying a price for that ambitious solo move and his advantage will surely start to melt away once the climb begins in earnest.

Movistar are bringing a modicum of organisation to the chasers as they hit the base of the climb. It's badly needed - despite his obvious fatigue, Plaza has extended his lead back out to beyond two minutes.

56km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza has found a second wind of sorts. Though his shoulders are rocking from side to side in the manner of Fernando Escartin, he is still tapping out a decent tempo as he grinds on up the climb.

54km remaining from 175km

Kevin Reza (FDJ) clipped off the front of the chasers ahead of the climb but he has been pegged back as the gradient kicks up. According to TVE's onscreen graphic, however, they are now some three minutes behind the seemingly resurgent Ruben Plaza...

George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) exchange turns on the front of the large chasing group in a bid to inject a bit of life into their pursuit.

George Bennett accelerates off the front of the chasing group. Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) looks to follow him. The better climbers in this group will want to whittle it down to more manageable dimensions, otherwise Ruben Plaza risks disappearing into the ether.

Giovanni Visconti slips clear after Bennett is pegged back. Soon afterwards, Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) looks to bridge across. Sergio Henao (Sky) alos puts in a dig, but there's a potentially fatal lack of cohesion in this chasing group.

52km remaining from 175km

The endgame begins. Dario Cataldo (Astana) heads to the front of the main peloton and begins to lay down a brisk tempo. Dumoulin, as ever, is well placed near the front, but he is losing some of his Giant-Alpecin teammates.

Riders are being jettisoned off the back of the main peloton on the Morcuera due to the effects of Cataldo's forcing. The top riders on GC - Dumoulin, Aru, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Movistar duo Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana - are all safely installed near the head of his reduced peloton.

50km remaining from 175km

Giovanni Visconti has been joined by Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) off the front of the chasing group, and the Italian duo are 2:09 down on Plaza as they draw close to the top of the Morcuera.

Back in the main peloton Fabio Aru sits in second wheel just behind Cataldo, and they are trying to break Dumoulin at this early juncture. They still have four kilometres or so of the climb to go.

Mikel Landa hits the front and accelerates with Aru on his wheel. Quintana and Majka are also following but Dumoulin has been distanced...

Dumoulin finds his rhythm and coolly bridges across to Landa, Aru, Quintana and Majka, bringing Valverde, Rodriguez and Nieve with him.

Valverde swings over, unable to match the pace laid down by Landa and Aru. Dumoulin, Quintana, Majka, Rodriguez, Chaves and Nieve are all still in touch in this increasingly select red jersey group.

46km remaining from 175km

At the front of the race, meanwhile, Ruben Plaza has crested the summit with 1:34 in hand on Visconti and De Marchi. The remnants of the chasing group are at two minutes, while the red jersey group is 10:37 back and still with some climbing to go before they reach the same point...

Mikel Landa launches another searing acceleration with Aru on his wheel. Dumoulin remains in fifth place, tucked in behind Quintana and Majka. If he can survive to the top of this climb, he will surely fancy his chances of holding onto Aru on the apparently less demanding Puerto de Cotos.

Alejandro Valverde, meanwhile, is alone some 25 seconds back on the red jersey group, and conceding ground each time Landa rises from the saddle. He risks slipping from 6th to 8th place overall if he doesn't manage to get back up to the group on the descent.

Aru accelerates off the front of the red jersey and opens a gap. Tom Dumoulin is left to lead the chase and he can't bridge the deficit...

Dumoulin is dropped in turn by Majka, Rodriguez, Quintana and Landa as the summit approaches. He is 20 seconds behind Aru on the road and is - virtually - out of the red jersey.

Aru is joined by Quintana, Majka, Rodriguez, Chaves and Mikel Landa as he crests the summit of the Morcuera. Dumoulin chases at 20 seconds in the company of Mikel Nieve...

36km remaining from 175km

Dumoulin hurtles down the descent of the Morcuera. He is exactly 20 seconds behind the Aru group. He needs to bridge this gap before the road starts to climb again with 29 kilometres remaining.

Landa piles on the pressure at the front of the Aru group on this descent. Dumoulin has closed the gap to 15 seconds, but it's going to take a monumental lone effort from the Dutchman to catch back up.

Jose Goncalves and Matteo Montaguti have joined De Marchi and Visconti in the second group on the road, 1:17 down on Ruben Plaza, but frankly, it's a side show at this juncture. This is all about the battle for the red jersey, and Fabio Aru is desperately trying to stretch out his advantage on the descent of the Morcuera.

32km remaining from 175km

A recap of the situation with 20 miles to race: Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) is alone in front, approaching the foot of the final climb, the Puerto de Cotos. Visconti, De Marchi, Goncalves and Montaguti are 1:17 back.

Fabio Aru is in a group with Quintana, Landa, Rodriguez, Majka and Chaves. They're 9 minutes behind Plaza but - crucially - 12 seconds ahead of the red jersey Tom Dumoulin.

31km remaining from 175km

Dumoulin can see the motorbike behind the Aru group as he sweeps around these corners on the descent. He is just 11 seconds behind as the road flattens out.

Astana have pulled Andrey Zeits and Luis Leon Sanchez back from the early break. Zeits puts in a huge turn on the front of the Aru group, and the gap to Dumoulin stretches out to 20 seconds once again. Shades of Kelme's famous, multi-pronged offensive on the road to the Angliru in 2000...

30km remaining from 175km

Dumoulin's deficit has stretched out to 30 seconds. The Dutchman is on the brink of losing this Vuelta a Espana, as Astana continue to drive the Aru group clear on the approach to the day's final climb.

It's an absurdly cruel sport. Dumoulin shakes his head ruefully. Two kilometres ago, he almost had Aru's coattails in his grasp. Now the Vuelta is ebbing away from him.

Dumoulin is is now 47 seconds behind the Aru group and is surely losing all hope of winning this Vuelta a Espana.

Katusha's Eduard Vorganov has sat up from the early break and joins in the pace-making duties at the head of the Aru group. Joaquim Rodriguez is eyeing up Dumoulin's provisional second place as the gap stretches out to 50 seconds.

Mikel Nieve (Sky) finally puts in a token effort to relieve Dumoulin, but it's not much help to the Dutchman at this juncture. The Giant-Alpecin team car draws alongside him and Dumoulin barely glances up. What is there to say at this point?

26km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza begins the climb of Puerto de Cotos (11km at 5.3%) with a lead of 1:36 over Visconti, De Marchi, Goncalves and Montaguti.

The Aru group, meanwhile, is 7:12 down on Plaza but - crucially - 1:10 ahead of Dumoulin. The day began as an Aru versus Dumoulin battle, but may now be redrawn as Aru versus Rodriguez.

Dumoulin has been joined by Alex Howes in his small group. The American drives on the front but the deficit to Aru and Rodriguez continues to grow. He is 1:10 behind and risks dropping to third or even fourth place overall by day's end.

24km remaining from 175km

Dumoulin has just Nieve for company once again. They work together on the lower slopes of the Puerto de Cotos but the deficit continues to grow. They are almost 1:30 down on Aru.

23km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza still has 1:34 in hand on the four chasers as he forges on alone with five kilometres of climbing still to go.

Aru's Astana guard remain fixed on the front of the group of favourites. As it stands, the Sardinian is set to win the Vuelta a Espana. The only question now is whether Rodriguez and Quintana will be happy to take a free ride from Astana or if they will look to tack on attacks of their own as the summit draws near.

21km remaining from 175km

This could well be Landa's final act in the Astana jersey and he has put in a man of the match performance in the service of Aru this afternoon. The Basque's forcing on the Morcuera laid the groundwork for Aru's attack and Dumoulin's collapse, and he is on the front once again on the Puerto de Cotos, setting a very brisk tempo indeed.

Dumoulin is now 1:50 behind the Aru group, and has only Astana's Andrey Zeits for company. Zeits, of course, sits like a dead weight on the Dutchman's wheel.

20km remaining from 175km

Plaza looked out for the count before the Puerto de la Morcuera, but he still has 1:36 in hand on the chasers with just under 3 kilometres of climbing to go. The Spaniard, remember, attacked alone with 114 kilometres remaining.

Nairo Quintana attacks from the Aru group in a bid to move his way into the top four - or better. Majka follows immediately, while Aru's Landa guard are happy to maintain their current tempo.

Dumoulin is 2:30 down on the Aru group and runs the very real risk of losing even the consolation of a place on the podium.

17km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza leads over the top of the Cotos. VIsconti, Goncalves and De Marchi trail at 1:48. Quintana and Majka are at 4:45. The Aru group is at 5:15, while Dumoulin is 7:50 down.

The Aru group is still being led by Mikel Landa. Luis Leon Sanchez is also on board, along with Katusha's Rodriguez and Alberto Losada, and Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEdge.

Majka leads Quintana over the top of the Cotos, 4:30 down on Plaza. Majka looks set to move up to third overall this afternoon, as Dumoulin toils more than 3:30 down the road..

13km remaining from 175km

Rodriguez comes to the front of the Aru group, eager to protect his provisional second place from Majka. Quintana is on the cusp of moving into fourth overall, while Esteban Chaves could finish the day in fifth overall, as Dumoulin and Valverde continue to cough up minute upon minute.

Tom Dumoulin crests the summit of the Cotos as part of a sizeable group some 7:50 down on Plaza. He is almost four minutes down on Quintana and Majka, and 3:30 down on Aru.

11km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza is coming to the end of the long ridge that follows the summit of the Cotos. From here, its a rapid drop to Cercedilla, and the veteran Spaniard is set for his second Grand Tour stage win of the season.

7km remaining from 175km

Barring last minute incident, Fabio Aru is set to win this Vuelta a Espana. Joaquim Rodriguez, however, risks losing provisional second place to Majka, hence the injection of urgency from Katusha at the front of the Aru group.

5km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza, meanwhile, still has 1:21 in hand on the chasers Goncalves and De Marchi.

Tom Dumoulin is eight minutes behind Plaza and almost four minutes behind Aru and Rodriguez. The Dutchman will lose the red jersey and likely won't even have a place in the top five overall by day's end.

2km remaining from 175km

For now, Joaquim Rodriguez is - just about - set to take second place overall, while Majka and Quintana will be third and fourth respectively.

1km remaining from 175km

Ruben Plaza enters the final kilometre with 1:18 in hand. He struggles visibly on a false flat, but stage victory is already assured.

Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) wins stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana after an improbable 114-kilometre solo break.

José Goncalves (Caja Rural-RGA Seguros) comes home in second place, just ahead of Alessandro De Marchi (BMC). They cross the line 1:06 down on Plaza.

Quintana and Majka have picked up a sizeable chunk of the early break in the closing kilometres and they come home 2:41 down on Plaza.

Fabio Aru, Joaquim Rodriguez and Esteban Chaves cross the line a little over 3:35 down. Aru will win the Vuelta a Espana, while Rodriguez will be second overall in Madrid tomorrow.

Fabio Aru is swarmed as he dismounts past the finish line. A soigneur and a press officer beat a path for him towards the podium. After yesterday's post-stage surliness, there are only smiles from the Sardinian this afternoon. The Vuelta is his.

Tom Dumoulin is still out on the road, and has just entered the final kilometre as part of a decent-sized group of beaten men.

Tom Dumoulin crosses the line 7:30 down on Plaza, the dream dead. Alejandro Valverde was also in the same group, along with Louis Meintjes.

Dumoulin drops to 6th place overall after an extremely trying day. Colombians Nairo Quintana and Esteban Chaves will be fourth and fifth overall.

Result:

1 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Lampre-Merida 04:37:05
2 Jose Goncalves (Por) Caja Rural-RGA Seguros 00:01:07
3 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team 00:01:08
4 Romain Sicard (Fra) Europcar 00:01:29
5 Amael Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team 00:01:30
6 Carlos Verona (Spa) Etixx-QuickStep
7 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky
8 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ 00:01:35
9 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale 00:01:43
10 Moreno Moser (Ita) Team Cannondale-Garmin 00:02:40
 

General classification:

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 83:01:40
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 00:01:17
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:01:29
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 00:02:02
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:03:30
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin 00:03:46
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar 00:07:10
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 00:07:26
9 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha 00:07:32
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka 00:10:46
 

After receiving the red jersey on the podium, Fabio Aru pays tribute to his Astana teammates in the mixed zone, with a thought, too, for the absent Vincenzo Nibali and Paolo Tiralongo. "This victory is thanks to my teammates, it’s not just about me. They’ve been phenomenal for the whole Vuelta – Mikel, Luis Leon and Dario Cataldo – and we think of the guys who aren’t here, Paolo Tiralongo and Vincenzo Nibali. We had our difficulties at the start of this Giro but we’ve worked hard and we’ve been very united."

A forlorn Tom Dumoulin, meanwhile, holds court from the passenger seat of a team car, and right now he is struggling to draw positives from his Vuelta. “At the moment, it’s just disappointment. Tomorrow I will be proud but today it’s just disappointment,” he says sadly. “I was just empty, I had no legs. I had an idea that was the case but I just fought for what I was worth and in the end you just got to deal with it.”

Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Vuelta a Espana this afternoon. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, Alasdair Fotheringham will have all the news and reaction from Spain, and we'll be back with more live coverage on Cyclingnews from tomorrow evening's final stage in Madrid.

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