Stage 21: Fuenlabrada - Madrid
The 74th edition of the Vuelta a España concludes with the traditional run-in to Madrid, which this year gets under way in Fuenlabrada, the municipality to the south of the capital that was co-sponsor of a Spanish second-division team between 1999 and 2007 and featured, among others, future Classics specialist turned Eurosport commentator Juan Antonio Flecha within its ranks.
Leaving Fuenlabrada, the route starts to the west before making an anti-clockwise sweep though the capital's dormitory suburbs in order to enter central Madrid from the south-east. The riders will enter the 5.8-kilometre finishing circuit at its southern end and pass through the finish line for the first time to start eight laps based on the Paseo de Recoletos, the Calle de Alcalà, the Gran Vía and the Paseo del Prado. The intermediate sprint will take place on the second passage through the line.
The stage, which will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the red leader's jersey, La Roja, is almost guaranteed to finish with a bunch sprint. In the decade since the colour of the leader's jersey changed, every edition has finished in this way apart from 2013, which concluded with a time trial in Santiago de Compostela. Past winners here include Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews, John Degenkolb and, last year, Elia Viviani.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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