Hello there and welcome to the Cyclingnews live race centre for the final time of this 2019 Vuelta a España. It's stage 21, and we've reached the end of the race. All that remains is a short, relaxed journey into Madrid, where we should see a sprint on the Castellana before the overall winner is crowned in the Plaza de Cibeles.
The stage is underway, the riders having rolled out from Fuenlabrada. They're around 80km from the finish line, but only 20km or so from Madrid, where they'll be doing laps up and down the Castellana and Gran Vía.
Like the Tour de France, the stage is largely a procession and a chance to celebrate for those who have things to celebrate, before the pace ramps up on the Madrid circuit ahead of an expected bunch sprint finish. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) is the big favourite for the stage win, while Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) just needs to stay on his bike and finish the stage in order to be crowned champion of the 2019 Vuelta.
❤️ @rogla 🚴♂️Congratulations, @JumboVismaRoad! / ¡La celebración del equipo del ganador! 👏#LaVuelta19📸: @PhotoGomezSport pic.twitter.com/fAp74MXaCpSeptember 15, 2019
In case you missed it, here's what happened yesterday on the final 'meaningful' stage of the Vuelta.
In a sweet moment, Burgos-BH's Jesus Ezquerra took advantage of the celebration phase of the stage to propose to his partner who was in the back seat of the team car. He pulled up alongside and dropped a jewelry box into her hand. She said yes!
68km to go
Race leader and soon to be winner Primoz Roglic was having a chat with mountains classification leader Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale), they were trading stories about their Grand Tour firsts. It's Bouchard's first Grand Tour having turned pro at the late age of 27.
Roglic raced his first Grand Tour, the 2016 Giro, in the year he turned 27. So they're both late bloomers, in comparison to the Tour de France winner Egan Bernal.
While the stage is little more than a procession at the moment, we might see some action at 46.4km to go when the first intermediate sprint comes on second time through the finishing circuit in Madrid.
The UCI Women's WorldTour round, the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta took place on the same circuit this morning, with Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) taking out the bunch sprint and Lisa Brennauer (WNT Rotor) the overall classification.
The race was marred by a series of crashes because of wet roads, but thankfully the sun has come out for this final Vuelta a España stage.
Because of the technical nature of the circuits, the officials have announced that if it does rain, they will neutralise the final circuits for the overall standings, so as not to risk a crash affecting the final rankings.
Primoz Roglic has been brilliant on the bike throughout the Vuelta, and despite a few crashes over the three weeks - including that scare in the opening team time trial - he's been unflappable. When he gets in front of the media, however, he hasn't exactly been loquacious. His 'winner's' press conference consisted of just four answered questions. A man of mystery for sure.
The most aggressive rider of the race has to be Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), who until yesterday led the best young rider's classification.
While he lost out to Tadej Pogacar in that ranking, Lopez animated the mountain stages and absolutely went for broke.
James Knox had a breakthrough performance in his second Grand Tour - and his second of the year after the Giro, nearly making the top ten until a bad day on Saturday's last mountain stage.
Led across the line and encouraged throughout by his teammates, Knox paid tribute to Philippe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar for staying by his side.
58km to go
Jumbo-Visma continue to set a light tempo at the front of the peloton as they head into Madrid. Just over 5km before the first of nine trips under the finish line banner.
Spain has reason to celebrate its home hero Alejandro Valverde, whose World Champion's jersey will feature on the final podium in a few hours. Valverde said he never expected to be second in a Grand Tour at age 39.
The road season is winding down with this final Grand Tour stage of the year, but cyclo-cross is just ramping up. You can find our full results, reports and photos of the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup in Iowa City here.
In the Coppa Bernocchi, it was Bahrain-Merida's Phil Bauhaus who took the sprint victory over Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates).
52.5 km to go
Lennard Hofstede leads the peloton into Madrid, and the pace is beginning to pick up a bit now. No more champagne as they pass under the 1km to go banner.
They're on the finishing circuits and the first attacks go! It's Caja Rural who put in the first dig.
The electronic finishing banner reads "Vamos!" and the peloton are obeying - but the pace is too fast for much to stick yet. Wilile Smit (Katusha-Alpecin) puts in a move.
Manuele Boaro (Astana) is quick to get on the wheel, then a few more riders scrabble across - one from Lotto Soudal, CCC Team, Burgos BH, Euskadi-Murias... we'll get some names shortly.
Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) gets a little gap ahead of seven riders, including Damien Howson (MTS), Nathan van Hooydonck (CCC), Boaro, Smit...
The peloton is right on them before the end of the lap, however.
Gonzalo Serrano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) takes the sprint over Manuele Boaro (Astana) with Owain Doull (Ineos) leading the peloton across just behind.
Serrano is pressing on with the advantage he took with that sprint - a good strategy as other riders tend to sit up after the effort. Two more riders are surging to get across.
It's Dani Martinez (EF Education First) with Serrano and a rider from Burgos BH who isn't keen to work.
42.5 km to go
It's Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH) and Dani Martinez (EF Education First) with a slight gap, helped along by the three U-turns the peloton must take a bit more slowly. Serrano has gone back to the bunch.
Caja Rural's Jonathan Lastra is in no man's land between the two leaders and the peloton, but there is really just a few seconds between the three groups.
34.8km to go
With six laps to go, Lastra is about to be caught by the peloton, while Martinez and Rubio soldier on in this likely futile breakaway. With no bonus sprints left, it's just television time and a slim chance of victory driving them along.
31.5km to go
Deceuninck-Quickstep are keen to go for the stage win, and Tim Declercq has assumed his usual spot at the head of the peloton, bringing this breakaway to under 20 seconds advantage.
UAE Team Emirates now come ahead to help Fernando Gaviria to get a result here.
27km to go
Martinez and Rubio have managed to eke out a few more seconds, out to 23 with 27km to go.
The course is not completely flat, and with 3km to go ahead of four laps to go, there's a slight climb. Rubio leads Martinez and the peloton further down the road, can see them on the other side of the division of the route.
A reminder of the likely overall top 10 in this year's Vuelta:
Declercq continues to lead the peloton as they pass under the banner for four laps to go, the breakaway continuing to dangle at 21 seconds. It's an interesting finish and will be tricky for the lead-out trains. With just over 3km to go it's uphill, then a U-turn, then a fast descent, a right turn, another U-turn just before 1km to go, then a blazing fast finish.
19.5km to go
Groupama-FDJ come forward now as the breakaway's gap is at 14 seconds with Steve Morabito at the front in his last Grand Tour before he retires.
17.2km to go
Three laps to go for the duo out front, and Rubio - so much taller than Martinez - leads through the line.
A near crash disrupts the peloton as Owain Doull somehow gets his bars tangled into a Burgos rider's wheel. Sunweb's sprinter Max Walscheid is caught out in the melee.
13km to go
The leaders still have 16 seconds in hand, but soon the lead-out trains will begin to assemble.
Deceuninck-Quickstep have the most stage wins in the Vuelta, with Philippe Gilbert's pair, Jakobsen's sprint win and Cavagna's solo victory. Tadej Pogacar has three for his team, while Movistar have wins from Quintana and Movistar.
Bora-Hansgrohe has a pair thanks to Sam Bennett, while Jumbo-Visma have two stages thanks to Roglic and Sepp Kuss. Who's going to add to their tally today?
2 laps to go
The leaders are in sight now as the peloton swarm behind Quickstep.
Three of the Pro Continental teams have won stages this race, which is fairly remarkable: Herrada for Cofidis, Itturia for Euskadi, Madrazo for Burgos BH.
8km to go
The peloton are about to make contact with the leaders. Game on!
Rubio is going flat out to try and stay clear but the peloton is looming large just metres behind.
All of the turns and hairpins are helping the duo somewhat.
7km to go
The duo are caught and Deceuninck-Quickstep have control of the peloton
Walscheid's managed to make it back but stage winner Nikias Arndt is on the wheel...
Bora come forward now getting in the midst of Quickstep's blue train
One to go!
Rafal Majka and Valerio Conti lead with one lap to go
Jakobsen is right behind the first few riders as Archbald comes forward for Sam Bennett.
4.4 km to go and Conti is still in the lead as Quickstep start to amass ahead of the final push. This is going to be a fast one!
Heads are on swivel behind the leaders, with Archbald making sure he can get through for Bennett.
Now Astana get the lead!
Sanchez leads through the penultimate U-turn
Majka is in fourth position behind Sanchez and Fraile and a CCC rider in third
2.5km to go
There's switching and diving all over as the hit the fast run-in
Jakobsen sitting pretty in sixth position now that Quickstep have moved ahead
Cavagna leads and Richeze is further back waiting for the push to the line for Jakobsen
71kph! This is a fast run into the final kilometer!
One last u-turn and now it's lead-out central
Stybar and Richeze lead into the final stretch
Trek-Segafredo trying to battle and Sunweb come forward!
Degenkolb starts the sprint early
Bennett is boxed in
Richeze pulls off and Jakobsen blasts through a clean stretch of road!
Bennett gets around at just the last moment - it's close! Photo finish?
It looks like Jakobsen has it - we'll wait for final confirmation
Jakobsen gets the win!
That was a hectic finish, but Jakobsen stayed calmer than one would expect for a 22-year-old, finishing off the fine work of his Deceuninck-Quickstep team.
What a race for the Belgian team, who had five stage wins and James Knox in 11th overall.
Watch this space for our report and more photos, full results are now availablel.
That's it for 2019 Grand Tours. Thanks for reading!
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