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Vuelta a Espana 2016: Stage 21


Live coverage of stage 21 of the Vuelta a España, 104.8 kilometres from Las Rozas to Madrid

Vuelta a España race hub on Cyclingnews
Stage 20 report: Quintana seals Vuelta victory on Alto de Aitana
Quintana: Winning Vuelta a Espana gives confidence for Tour de France
Contador criticizes Movistar for not chasing Chaves
Froome unable to dislodge Quintana in Vuelta a Espana finale

It's all over bar the shouting - and the sprinting - at the 2016 Vuelta a Espana. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will ride into Madrid this evening in the red jersey and claim the second Grand Tour victory of his career, while the fast men ought to have one final opportunity at the Plaza de Cibeles. The stage gets underway in a little over ten minutes, and the pace should be sedate until the peloton hits the finishing circuit. Nine laps of a 5.8km circuit follow, with the pace ratcheting upwards all the way to the finish.

General classification:

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 80:42:36
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:23
3 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:04:08
4 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:04:21
5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:07:43
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:08:33
7 David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:11:18
8 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:13:04
9 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:13:17
10 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:14:07


The peloton is lined up on the start line in Las Rozas, with the jersey wearers Quintana, Chris Froome (Sky), Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) and Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) on the front row.

The peloton ambles through the neutralised zone, though we shouldn't expect any dramatic change of pace when the flag drops in a few minutes' time.


Quintana and Froome share a few words as they soft pedal behind the race director's car. This year's Tour de France was billed by many as a prize fight between Froome and Quintana - Froome-Quintana III after their duels in 2013 and 2015 - but the Colombian's subdued performance there left many wondering if the greater challenges to Froome's supremacy might come from other quarters next July. Quintana's victory on this Vuelta breathes fresh life into that rivalry.


Quintana has been winner-elect of this Vuelta since he and Alberto Contador tore up the script en route to Formigal, but he endured a late scare when a reanimated Froome produced a startling display in Friday's time trial, setting up the denouement on the Aitana yesterday. Though Froome launched repeated attacks in the final five kilometres, however, Quintana was able to respond each and every time, and was full value for his final overall victory.


100km remaining from 104km

A year ago, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) snatched the points jersey from Joaquim Rodriguez on the final stage in Madrid by clipping off the front to take the intermediate sprint. He is a little further off Fabio Felline's green jersey this evening - 7 points - and the two are locked in friendly conversation as the peloton ambles onwards.


The final stage of the Vuelta is officially underway, but in truth, this stage will be one long neutralised zone until the race reaches the finishing circuit in Madrid.


Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is riding his final race as a professional this evening, and the Frenchman will bring the curtain down on his career with 13th place overall. "When you see my previous results you can tell my overall ranking is not that outstanding or exceptional," Peraud said. "My last year of competition was much more complicated. That is why I really wanted to be in great shape again for this race."


A latecomer to the road scene after a fine mountain bike career that yielded the silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Peraud went on to take second overall at the 2014 Tour de France. "I am truly proud of what I accomplished. The Olympics are the high point of sports and it was an honor to win a medal. It was a childhood dream and it came true," said Peraud. "I have, may be, one regret about my career: I never completed a Giro." Peraud, of course, started this year's Giro but was forced out by a crash before the race even reached Italy.


98km remaining from 104km

The second Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta has taken place this afternoon, with Jolien D'Hoore taking the honours ahead of her Wiggle-High5 teammate Chloe Hosking. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) was crowned as winner of the inaugural Women's WorldTour, having already wrapped up the classification before this final leg in Spain.


95km remaining from 104km

Away from the Spain, meanwhile, Caleb Ewan (Orica-BikeExchange) has won the final stage of the Tour of Britain in London, while Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) finished in the main peloton to seal final overall victory.



Chris Froome (Sky) preferred not to speak to the press at the summit of the Aitana yesterday, meaning that he has yet to clear up whether his applause for Quintana's late sprint was of the ironic variety... The Briton did, however, speak to Eurosport before the start of this today's stage. “It’s been tough. It’s been tough, I won’t lie, especially on the back of the Tour de France and then going to Rio for the road race and time trial. Coming here, it means I haven’t had much time at home for the last three months, I’ve had a lot time away from the family,” he said.


90km remaining from 104km

On his rivalry with Quintana, meanwhile, Froome says: “I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. I’d love to have been fighting for the win and I did all the way to the end. This time Nairo got the better of me. It’s too early to talk about next year but certainly we’ve got a very good rivalry and I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”


88km remaining from 104km

Quintana and Movistar ham it up for the cameras at the back of the peloton with glasses of champagne. The pace remains sedate.


Quintana wore a helmet to match his jersey during this Vuelta, but for today's final leg, he has handed red shorts, socks and a red bike to the ensemble. His Movistar teammates, meanwhile, share in his victory by donning red socks and using red handlebar tape.


81km remaining from 104km

It was apparent early on the Aitana that Quintana had Froome's measure yesterday, but the battle for the third step of the podium offered a thrilling denouement to this Vuelta. Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) managed to out-Contador Alberto Contador by attacking on the day's penultimate climb, bridging across to teammate Damien Howson and then staying clear to move up to third place, 13 seconds ahead of Contador. "It was a textbook attack, one which worked out perfectly. And after getting second in the Giro d'Italia, third in the Vuelta is a really important achievement too," Chaves said. "My whole life I'd dreamed of making an epic attack like the one I did today, and I've finally done it." You can read Alasdair Fotheringham's full story here.


75km remaining from 104km

Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) wins the king of the mountains classification for the second successive time after leapfrogging Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) on yesterday's stage to the Aitana. Speaking to, FDJ directeur sportif was brutally frank in his assessment of Elissonde's loss. "We're disappointed for the polka dot jersey, Kenny Elissonde pays dearly for his mistake but he did the exact opposite of what we asked him. He just had to follow Fraile in the first climb and he would actually have won it by one point."


70km remaining from 104km

Another trip to the moving bar for Quintana, who takes on another glass of champagne, this time with Froome and Chaves. 


Cannondale-Drapac has endured another low-key campaign in 2016, but there are grounds for optimism for the future on the basis of this Vuelta. Andrew Talansky raised eyebrows when he opted to forgo the Tour de France, but the American's decision was vindicated by a solid fifth place at this Vuelta - the best Grand Tour result of his career, and his most impressive performance anywhere since he won the Dauphine in 2014. Davide Formolo, meanwhile, underscored his potential as a Grand Tour rider by riding his way to 10th place overall. Winner of a sparkling Giro stage on his debut in 2015, Formolo made little impression in the corsa rosa this season, but 4th place at the Tour de Pologne and 10th at this Vuelta puts a different slant on the 23-year-old's season.

58km remaining from 104km

The peloton, meanwhile, is on the outskirts of Madrid. with Movistar leading the race into the Spanish capital.


54km remaining from 104km

The bunch is now in the streets of Madrid, and will pass through the finish line for the first time with 51.6 kilometres remaining.


51km remaining from 104km

Movistar lead the bunch through the finish area for the first time, and the pace will - eventually - begin to ratchet upwards from here. 9 full laps of the 5.8-kilometre circuit remain.


The final intermediate sprint is up for grabs the next time the bunch comes around to the finish line. Felline's hold on the green jersey seems a safe one, but he will keep tabs on Quintana and Valverde nonetheless...


48km remaining from 104km

The first attack of the evening sees Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pete Kennaugh (Sky) and Loic Chetout (Cofidis) slip off the front of the peloton.


Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) is attempting to bridge across to the three escapees, who are 13 seconds clear of the peloton.


The peloton is still being led by Movistar and they seem content to give the trio of leaders some leeway. The gap yawns out to 40 seconds.


46km remaining from 104km

Bouwman makes contact with the leaders as they cross the finish line with 8 laps to go. The leading quartet have a minute in hand on the peloton.


45km remaining from 104km

A slight injection of pace in the peloton as Giant-Alpecin hit the front in support of Nikias Arndt, and a clump of seconds tumble from the break's advantage.


Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pete Kennaugh (Sky), Loic Chetout (Cofidis) and Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) are dovetailing their efforts well and holding their advantage at the one-minute mark.


40km remaining from 104km

Giant-Alpecin have some help at the front of the peloton now, with Bora-Argon 18 and Etixx-QuickStep moving up, but there is no particular urgency in the bunch just yet.


39km remaining from 104km

The four leaders stretch their lead slightly to 1:20.


35km remaining from 104km

The four leaders continue to collaborate smoothly, with Bouwman particularly generous in his efforts as they come around to the finish line once again, six laps from home.


Movistar are back at the head of the peloton, and there is a sizeable delegation from Etixx-QuickStep arranging itself in support of Gianni Meersman.


33km remaining from 104km

Orica-BikeExchange are also contributing to the efforts on the head of the peloton, with Magnus Cort Nielsen in mind. 1:05 the gap.


30km remaining from 104km

As in Trieste in 2014, there's a sizeable contingent from Colombia on the roadside in Madrid this evening to celebrate Nairo Quintana's Vuelta victory. He is, of course, the second Colombian winner of the Vuelta after Luis Herrera's 1987 victory. Herrera's triumph came about in part as a result of race leader Sean Kelly's untimely abandon with four stages remaining, due to an inflamed saddle sore.


29km remaining from 104km

The break's lead hovers at around one minute, but the sprinters' teams are beginning to mass at the head of the peloton in preparation for the finale.


25km remaining from 104km

Orica-BikeExchange have injected some urgency at the head of the peloton with a shade under five laps remaining.


23km remaining from 104km

Kennaugh leads the break through the finish line. They have four laps remaining to go, and the pace is beginning to ratchet upwards in the main peloton.


21km remaining from 104km

Jauregui, Chetout, Bouwman and Kennaugh have a lead of 38 seconds over the peloton, which is gradually beginning to reel them in.


19km remaining from 104km

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) finds himself in the cars at the back of the peloton. It appears that the Spaniard had a mechanical problem, but he is now being guided back towards the rear of the bunch by a brace of Tinkoff teammates. The Spaniard is only 13 seconds shy of the podium, but a late assault on Chaves' third place seems ever more unlikely.


17km remaining from 104km

Three laps to go for the four leaders, but their lead is down to just 12 seconds. Contador, meanwhile, still has some work to do to latch back on. 


Contador makes it back to the rear of the peloton, having been guided by three of his Tinkoff teammates. Etixx-QuickStep have taken the reins at the head of the bunch and the pace rises accordingly.


15km remaining from 104km

Kennaugh and company have 15 seconds in hand with 15 kilometres to go. They are well aware that they are fighting a losing battle at this juncture.


12km remaining from 104km

The peloton is now within sight of the break, which now numbers three riders as a tired Bouwman sits up and waits to be caught.


11km remaining from 104km

The three survivors pass the finish line with two laps to go. Their lead is just over 10 seconds.


Etixx-QuickStep have been very active this evening as they bid to set up the sprint for Meersman. Out in the break, Chetout and Jauregui seem a little more generous than Kennaugh with their turns on the front. 


10km remaining from 104km

The gap drops to just 8 seconds as Movistar and Etixx-QuickStep swap turns on the front.


9km remaining from 104km

And then there were two. Kennaugh is unable to follow Jauregui and Chetout, who press on together, raging against the dying of the light.


8km remaining from 104km

Chetout and Jauregui have even managed to augment their lead slightly, but they surely won't last too much longer.


7km remaining from 104km

The peloton is getting its last sighter of the final kilometres of the stage. The next time around will be for keeps.


6km remaining from 104km

Still Chetout and Jauregui press on in front, but Etixx-QuickStep leads the pursuit behind with increasing urgency.


5km remaining from 104km

Jauregui and Chetout take the bell just 50 metres ahead of the peloton. Their race is almost run.


5km remaining from 104km

Jauregui is the first to be swept up. Chetout lasts a little longer, but there is not much he can do by himself, and he too is caught. Gruppo compatto.


4km remaining from 104km

Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) leads the peloton into the final 4 kilometres in support of Daniele Bennati.


3km remaining from 104km

The sharp left hander with two miles to go causes a degree of unease in the peloton but everybody seems to be through safely. Boaro still leads.


Giant-Alpecin's train moves into place just behind Boaro.


2km remaining from 104km

Etixx-QuickStep have a delegation moving up alongside the Giant train, but Boaro still leads.


1km remaining from 104km

Giant-Alpecin take over in the penultimate kilometre and lead the peloton into the final hairpin on the circuit.


Giant-Alpecin lead out the sprint, Arndt is well placed ahead of the final turn.


Daniele Bennati opens the sprint from distance but Cort Nielsen and Meersman are moving up...


Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange) wins the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana in the bunch sprint.


Bennati held on for second place, while Meersman took third.


Nairo Quintana (Movistar) throws his arms skywards as he crosses the line midway through the peloton. The Colombian wins the Vuelta a Espana.



1 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-BikeExchange 2:48:52
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff Team 0:00:00
3 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:00
4 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data 0:00:00
5 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:00
6 Lorenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ 0:00:00
7 Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:00
8 Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Team Katusha 0:00:00
9 Rudiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Argon 18 0:00:00
10 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:00


Final general classification:        

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:23
3 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:04:08
4 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:04:21
5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:07:43
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:08:33
7 David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:11:18
8 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:13:04
9 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:13:17
10 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:14:07


Thanks for joining our live coverage on Cyclingnews throughout this Vuelta a Espana. Our man in Madrid Alasdair Fotheringham will, as ever, have all of the news and reaction from the final stage, and a full report, results and photos from the night are available here.



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