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Vuelta a España stage 17 – Live coverage

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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from the penultimate stage of this year's Vuelta a Espana. It's the final mountain stage of this year's race and the final shot for the GC riders and climbers.

Here's how things stand coming into stage 17 and as you can see less than a minute separates the top-three on GC. Roglic claimed a few more seconds yesterday in the reduced bunch sprint but it's still too close to call. We all thought Roglic was the favourite to win the Tour de France with two days to go so this race isn't over until tomorrow's final stage.

General Classification
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 64:20:31
2 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:45
3 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:53
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:01:48
5 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:29
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren 00:06:21
7 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:07:20
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:08:45
9 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team 00:08:54
10 David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 00:09:29

We actually finish at Alto de La Covatilla, where Dan Martin won a stage in 2011 but this is a really difficult and testing day before we even reach that final climb. We've got to race 178.2km and the first cat Alto Portillo de las Batuecas comes inside the first 50km of racing. We then have the third cat Alto de San Miguel de Valero, another third cat Alto de Cristóbal, a final third cat at Alto de Peñacaballera, then the second cat Alto de la Garganta, before the major climb to the finish.

The ascent of the Alto de La Covatilla is a brute, 11.4km in length with an average of 7.1 per cent and pitches of around 12 per cent at some points. That's where this year's Vuelta a Espana will be won.

We're about 10 minutes away from the start of today's stage. 

For an excellent preview into today's stage, you can read Alasdair Fotheringham's article, right here.

Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz ride in peloton on stage 16 of Vuelta a España

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

And through the neutralized zone we go. We'll be officially racing on stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana in just a moment. Roglic is near the front in red as he looks to defend the race that he won in 2019. 

It's only a short neutralized zone and already we're officially racing on stage 17 of the  Vuelta a Espana. It's all to play for.

The first 10-15km are rolling as we leave Sequeros but there are a few steep descents and uphill sections before the road flattens out. It's excellent terrain for a break to form and for GC riders to potentially throw teammates up the road for later. It's no surprise that the start has been incredibly fast but no breaks just yet.

We've already covered 8km and still no break but there have been countless attacks from the front of the peloton. 

There's a bit of a cross-headwind out there right now and temperatures are at a relatively cool 11 degrees as we see arm warmers are several layers on most riders. They'll drop those extra layers once we hit the final couple of major climbs.

Three riders have just clipped off the front of the peloton. Schwarzmann, Henao and Dewulf. They only have ten seconds on the peloton after 10km of racing.

Henao is still looking for a contract for next season and this is his final chance to get noticed before the race is over. Here's a story on 10 (although one of the riders listed now has a deal) riders that still need a contract for next year.

Henao and his two companions have been caught but they were briefly joined by Cavagna, who came close to winning a stage yesterday. He was caught with around 2km to go.

A new wave of riders goes clear, this time with 12 in the break but they only have a handful of seconds over the peloton. This has been a relentless start to the action.

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) is on the attack - of course he is - but there are about 15 riders off the front at the moment but they're currently split into at least two groups with 20km covered already.

We're still some way off but the first major test today is the Alto Portillo de las Batuecas. It's 10.1km in length and has an average gradient of 6.5 per cent.

We're now back to having three riders up the road with Oliveira, Dewulf and van der Sande on the move. They only have 20 seconds but that's still the biggest gap that we've seen this morning.

Back together again but UAE, Movistar and NTT are among the teams trying to tear the race apart as we see a few drops of rain start to land. 152km to go.

A group of around 35 riders have now moved clear of the peloton, or what's left of the peloton.

De La Cruz is the top GC rider on the break. 

The large group have opened up a 45 second lead with 149km to go as we look back and see Jumbo Visma set the pace for the peloton.

Here are the riders in the break:


Hofstede (Jumbo-Visma, Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), De la Cruz, I. Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates:), Lopez (Trek-Segafredo), Donovan (Sunweb), Fraile (Astana), Ackermann, Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Schultz, Smith (Mitchelton-Scott), Armirail, Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Dewulf, Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Herrada, Martin (Cofidis), De Bod (NTT), Arcas, Erviti, Oliveira (Movistar), Bagües (Caja Rural), Molenaar (Burgos-BH).

There are a lot of followers in the break, who aren't working but the gap continues to  go out, and it's now at 1:32 with 145km to go as the rain starts to come down a bit heavier. 

The list of riders on the attack has gone out to 34. We'll have the rest of the names shorly but de la Cruz remains the best placed rider, starting the stage today in 10th overall.

Here's the composition of the break:

Hofstede Jumbo-Visma), Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Costa, De la Cruz, Henao, I. Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates), Lopez (Trek-Segafredo), Donovan, Storer, Sütterlin (Sunweb), Fraile, I. Izagirre (Astana), Ackermann, Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe),
Schultz, Smith (Mitchelton-Scott), Armirail, Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Van den Berg (EF Pro Cycling), Wright (Bahrain-McLaren), Godon (AG2R La Mondiale), Dewulf, Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Herrada, Martin, Lafay (Cofidis), De Bod, Mäder (NTT), Arcas, Erviti, Oliveira (Movistar), Bagües, Lastra (Caja Rural), and Molenaar (Burgos-BH).

Situation

140km to go and the large group of riders have 2'00 over the peloton, with UAE driving the pace in the break for now but Movistar, Sunweb and Cofidis are helping as we start the first climb of the day.

Sunweb and Movistar are having some discussions on the front of the break and they're not happy, perhaps with de la Cruz being there but it was UAE who were helping to push the pace. It looks like the organisation has gone out of this move but we'll see.

This climb is long and hard enough to sort this lead group out though, so we could see another set of riders break free.

Roglic must be thinking as to why UAE have it in for him but although de la Cruz is no threat to the race leader, this pace is going to wear down the peloton well before the final climb. UAE are once more back on the front and setting the pace with the gap at 2'07 now.

Away from the Vuelta a Espana, Gianni Savio has told CN that his roster is complete for 2020. The full list of names will be out next week but there's no room for Fabio Aru, who is still looking for a team. Here's our short interview with Savio

Situation

6.6km from the summit of this climb and we've got 135km to go in the stage. The break have 2'42 now on the peloton with UAE still setting the pace.

Jumbo have a rider in the break but the rest of their roster are on the front of the main field with EF and then Ineos lined out behind them.

The rain has eased but the bunch will keep their jackets on ahead of the long descent as we see the gap to the break move out to 3'07.

It's all UAE on the front of the break at the moment so the rest of the riders in the move can't really complain at this point and the gap is extending as it moves out to 3'14 with 132km to go.

The TT in the Madrid Challenge has taken please. You can find our report right here.

Lots of fog so we can hardly see a thing from the CN blimp but we do know that there's just 2.1km to go until we reach the summit of this climb. Meanwhile the gap has gone out to 3'30 with 131km to go

Descending in the rain, with wet roads and fog will be no easy task for any of the riders out there today, and part of this descent coming up has some really technical and steep parts. We could see more splits but hopefully all the riders come down the climb safely. 

3'45 now for the break as we come towards the summit of the ascent and 129km to go on the stage. Martin is first over the top in the KOM jersey. He's already wrapped up that competition.

UAE continue to push the pace at the front of the break and the lead is almost up to four minutes. 3'52 to be precise. 

A reminder of the riders in the break:

Hofstede Jumbo-Visma), Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Costa, De la Cruz, Henao, I. Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates), Lopez (Trek-Segafredo), Donovan, Storer, Sütterlin (Sunweb), Fraile, I. Izagirre (Astana), Ackermann, Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Schultz, Smith (Mitchelton-Scott), Armirail, Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Van den Berg (EF Pro Cycling), Wright (Bahrain-McLaren), Godon (AG2R La Mondiale), Dewulf, Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Herrada, Martin, Lafay (Cofidis), De Bod, Mäder (NTT), Arcas, Erviti, Oliveira (Movistar), Bagües, Lastra (Caja Rural), and Molenaar (Burgos-BH).

The sun has come out but the roads on the descent are still wet but so far no problems for either the break or the peloton with the gap between them holding at 3'48 and 111km to go.

The rain is back but we're at least off the descent and back onto the rolling terrain that comes before the trio of third cat climbs up the road. 

Terpstra had moved clear of the peloton on the descent but Jumbo Visma have picked him up as the rain worsens. The weather is going to crack a number of GC riders today, for sure. 109km to go.

We're on an unclassified climb at the moment but the rain is once again a factor as the break lose about 20  seconds, with the gap now at 3'40.

Nelson Oliveira, de la Cruz and three other riders have gone clear with 101km to go. No time check to them and the rest of the break. 

And onto the second climb of the day, the  Alto de San Miguel de Valero. It's 12km in length but only a third cat. 

Crash! Garcia for Caja Rural has come down in the wet conditions. He's slowly getting back to his feet and should be okay. 

Back to the peloton and Gesink has taken over. His task might be to set the pace for the next three third cat climbs. The average gradient on this climb is 3.4 per cent but after the tough start and in  these conditions, it will still hurt the GC riders.

The gap has come down to the break  - and it's all together again - after Gesink came to the front with the advantage down to 3'15 with 93km to go.

Gesink isn't messing around and his pace setting has dropped about 30 riders already as what's left of the peloton line out behind him.

Just 2.4km to go on the climb and Chaves has been dropped. His top 20 chances are going to end at this rate. He came into the stage 20th overall but was a top-five contender after a few days of racing. 

Still, a healthy Chaves should be able to hold this pace as we see him lose ground on this long third cat climb. 91km to go.

Situation

The climbs come thick and fast and we're almost at the base of the next climb, the Alto de Cristóbal. We've goy 82km remaining in the stage.

It's still Gesink on the front of the bunch with Roglic and the rest of Jumbo Visma just behind them as the rain returns once more. 

The gap is holding on the Alto de Cristóbal as Gesink continues to se the pace. Just behind Jumbo we have EF and Ineos.

Armirail is doing a huge amount of work on the front for Groupama, who have Gaudu hidden in there somewhere.

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Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Through the feedzone and the break have 3'00  exactly on the peloton with 74km to go.

Over the top of the climb for the break but they've lost Ackermann, who has been dropped from the front of the race.

That all means that we have just three more climbs remaining in this year's Vuelta a Espana. Here's the GC coming into the stage.

General Classification

1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 64:20:31
2 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:45
3 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:53
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:01:48
5 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:29
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren 00:06:21
7 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:07:20
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:08:45
9 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team 00:08:54
10 David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 00:09:29

And the sun is out. For now at least. With 70km to go we have a gap of 2'56 between the break and the rest of the peloton.

Chaves made it back to the peloton on the last descent but he's still towards the read of the main field as up front Gesink does all the work for Jumbo Visma.

It's still just UAE and FDJ on the front of the front as the work for de la Cruz and Gaudu respectively, as we see Ackermann is caught by the peloton. 65km to go.

Just under 15km to go until we reach the final 3rd cat climb of the stage, the Alto de Peñacaballera.

We're an unclassified climb once more and the gap is up to 3;29 but with 59km to go Movistar have replaced Jumbo on the front.

Enric Mas is fifth on GC so this all for him today as Movistar try and crack the podium. It's going to be tough ask but Movistar have caused a split and it looks like Ineos have been forced to chase. 

Dan Martin and Carapaz have been caught out and they need to close this one down very quickly. 

They've made it back and the peloton has reformed but that was a slight scare for Carapaz and Martin (D) but that acceleration has taken 30 seconds off the break's lead.

Movistar have six riders on the front while Roglic only has two or three riders left at this side. Can Movistar finish this off though? That's the big question. 

That looks like Froome losing contact with the leaders and Carapaz might be isolated already with 56km to go.

Carapaz has two riders, and one of them is Amador as what's left of the main field is strung out all over the road with 55km to go. The break are at 2'56.

Situation

We're just on the descent that approaches the next climb of the Alto de Peñacaballera. 50km to go and the gap is at 2'53.

The climb is 4.6km in length but it's tough enough to imagine we'll lose a few more riders off the back of the peloton in the next few kilometers. 

The rain is back, by the way, as Movistar continue to set the pace and line out the GC favourites. The break are 2.6km from the summit of the climb.

Oliveira has done most of the work on the front of the break and he's still there now with the break holding at 2'56 with 44km to go. We're 1km from the summit of this climb. 

Oliveira leads the break over the climb before FDJ hit the front. We just have two climbs to come and they're the toughest of the day, the Alto de la Garganta and then the final slog up the Alto de La Covatilla.

A number of riders have been swept up by the peloton, including Oliveira, who has finally sat up. Mas has three teammates left, plus Valverde, if you want to count him.

We're onto the Alto de la Garganta. It's 12km in length with an average gradient of 4.8 per cent as we see Movistar sweep up a few more riders who were dropped from the break. 

Situation

With 35km to go the break has 2'03 over the peloton. 

Molenaar has just been caught by the peloton but we still have 9.5km to go on this climb. Up ahead it's Rui Costa who leads the break. 

Mas still has four riders on the front as the break's advantage drops below two minutes. That could be a minute by the time we reach the summit of this climb. We're going to see Roglic, Carthy and Carapaz decide this stage and the GC.

Fraile has to stop for a mechanical and that might mean he's going to be caught by the bunch too. 

The climb levels off briefly but a few more riders are still being dropped from the break. That's Sutterlin going backwards, alongside Lastra.

We're down to less than 20 riders still in the break as Movistar chip another 15 seconds off the leaders' advantage. The gap is at 1'41 with 31km to go.

5km from the summit of this penultimate climb as Fraile is about to be caught by the peloton. 

30km to go and Soler has attacked. 

That means Movistar have sat up and it brings Kuss and Bennett to the front for Roglic. 4.3km to go until we're at the top of the climb.

The break only have 1;15 as we see Soler quickly open up a decent gap. 

Into the mist of the mountain and Soler is picking his way through a small group of riders who were dropped from the break earlier. He might make contact by the top of the climb because he's only 50 seconds back. 29km to go.

Soler is on a mission. He's 38 seconds from the break and has 55 seconds on the Roglic group. Jumbo may prefer him to take the stage and the related time bonus at the finish.

Soler has a teammate wait for him and he has 1'10 now on the Roglic group. 

Over the top of the climb and with 25km to go the stage and the GC are still to play for. 

Erviti and Soler are now just 10 seconds down on the break, which only consists of 14 riders. The bunch are at 1'50 as Roglic just asks his team to set a steady tempo before the final climb. 20km to go. We're almost on the final climb.

Even if Soler makes contact he'll still have to battle Gaudu and Martin on the final climb but things are looking good for Movistar as they hunt the stage win. 

19km to go and Soler makes contact. He has two men in the break so Movistar will probably need to push on right away because at 2'09 they need a much bigger margin. Back in the peloton and Jumbo Visma are leading.

We have a small cobbled climb and it's steep in sections as we see a few riders in the break struggle for traction. 

Riders have begun attacking from the break before the main final climb starts. 17.7km to go.

Gino Mader kicked clear and he has a small gap as back in the bunch Roglic moves up to second wheel. 

This narrow cobbled climb is no joke as we see a number of riders struggle at the back. The break have 2.29 with 16km to go.

Mader, Izaggire and Donovan lead the race now but the rest of the break are only 10 seconds back. 

Izagirre is the most experienced rider in this three-rider break and they now have 20 seconds on the chasers as the road starts to tilt upwards with 15km to go.

The road briefly dips but it's about to get a lot harder as we head into the final 12km of the stage. The leading trio have 33 seconds over the Soler group, with the peloton at 3'22. So the winner of the stage will come from the leading two groups.

De la Cruz has been dropped by the break, which is a major surprise as he was 10th on GC at the start of today.

40 seconds for our three leaders out front but the real climb is still to come.

De la Cruz has made it back.

The gap continues  move out for Izagirre (Ion), Donovan and Mader, with their lead at 43 seconds with 10.5km to go. The bunch have since drifted to 3'49 so they're just preparing for the final showdown. 

Rui Costa gives De la Cruz a pat on the back and sits up as we head into the final 10km of the stage.

We're about to hit the really steep parts of the climb.

Donovan looks really good as he leads the break onto the steeper part of the climb and they extend their lead to 46 seconds. 

Gaudu still wants this though, so he gets one final turn from Armirail.

50 seconds for the trio out front with 8,1km to go.

Roglic, Carapaz, Carthy, Martin, and Mas are all still in the GC group.

Roglic still has Bennett and Kuss but it's Bora who have decided to set the pace with 7.3km to go.

The GC contenders will not contest the stage but they'll attack each other inside the final 5km for sure. Up from and Mader, Izagirre and Donovan have 49 seconds on the Soler/Gaudu group.

6.8km to go and Izagirre has attacked. As further down the climb Gaudu and Martin attack.  The GC group are now going full gas too. 

Mader makes it to Izagirre but Donovan has gone. While Soler has been dropped by several riders. 

Down the climb and the GC riders are just waiting and watching each other as Gaudu and Martin lead a chase with 6.3km to go. There are groups all over the road now as the gradient really kicks in.

Donovan is back as Martin and Gaudu reduce the gap to 18 seconds.

5.9km to go and Izagirre goes again with only Mader able to follow. Mader isn't giving up and should come back as down the road now Gaudu drops Martin.

Izagirre is only about 4 seconds ahead of Mader with 5.5km to go as Gaudu drops Donovan. 

Meanwhile the GC group is down to 18 riders. 

Through the mist again and Gaudu catches Mader but Izagirre still has 15 seconds. We have just 5km to go.

Mader latches onto Gaudu as down the climb Jumbo still wait as Bennett is about to be dropped. 

Just 8 seconds for Izagirre with 4.6km to go.

Gaudu has dropped Mader and he's going after Izagirre as Vlasov now attacks. Kuss is on the front now and setting the pace as with 4.3km to Guadu makes the catch and then goes clear. He's heading to his second stage win in the race.

Vlasov was ninth on GC at the start of today and could pick up one or two places as Gaudu puts 15 seconds into Izagirre. 

Mader is now second on the road.

The top-five on GC are riding in single file and surely Carthy will be the first to go.

Don't write off Mader though because he's an absolute machine and the road will flatten slightly soon.

3.4km and Cathy attacks. Carapaz goes after him. 

Roglic brings them back as Kuss cracks. That's the first attack and riders are all over the road now.

Dan Martin has been dropped but Mas is there. 

Carthy goes again but Carapaz and Roglic can match him. Mas too and Vlasov. Mas goes but he gets no ground at all. 

2.4km and Mas kicks again and this time he has a small gap but now Carthy attacks. Carapaz and Roglic match him. All back together but Mas has a small lead. 

2.1km and Carapaz with a huge attack. And he's clear. Roglic is the only rider who can react. 

Carapaz has about 8 seconds with 1.8km to go but Roglic, Mas and Carthy are chasing. Carapaz needs 45 seconds to win this race and it's s real possibility. A real possibility. 

It's happening again! The gap is at 20 seconds with 1.3km to go. Roglic is in real trouble. 

Hofstede comes back to help Roglic but the gap is moving out 25 seconds. He only needs another 13 or so.

45 seconds is all Carapaz needed and he's already got it at 20. Roglic is really suffering but Hofstede is there to help him. This is incredible. 

Roglic only has 20 seconds of his GC lead left.

Hofstede has been dropped so it's all on Roglic but Mas is helping him too.

Gaudu takes the stage. Great ride from him but we need to focus further down the climb. 

1km to go for Carapaz. The gap is down to 17 seconds and Carthy has attacked. 

Roglic has 18 seconds left of his lead. 

It's down to 16 seconds.

The gradient does ease and Mas is still working with Roglic. 

Carthy comes to the line, and Carapaz is next. Start the clock.

Roglic comes over the line. What a finish. He's won the Vuelta but only just. He has 25 seconds but that was a huge late scare for the Jumbo rider.

So on GC Roglic has 24 seconds on Carapaz with Carthy at 47 seconds. That was an incredible finish and Roglic came close to losing a a second Grand Tour in a row in the final main stage. 

Here's our brief results, report and photos from the stage.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 4:54:32
2Gino Mäder (Swi) NTT Pro Cycling 0:00:28
3Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:05
4David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates
5Mark Donovan (GBr) Team Sunweb 0:01:53
6Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb
7Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 0:02:23
8Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:35
9Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 0:02:50
10Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:02:56

General classification after stage 17
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 69:17:59
2Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:24
3Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:47

At the finish Roglic rides up to Carapaz and the pair shake hands. We have tomorrow's stage into Madrid but that's a formality in terms of the GC. 

Dan Martin held onto fourth overall, while Mas finishes fifth on GC.

Lets hear from the overall leader and very likely winner of this year's race, Primoz Roglic:

It’s always good to have some exciting finishes but I was still had just enough so that I knew that if I rode at my own tempo then it should be enough. The finish was good. I wasn’t always in control but then in the end at some point you need to stay in control and just do your thing. For sure having Hofstede, every meter that he could do, it was a really nice job from the whole team. What can I say, I’m super happy, and it’s a really nice way to finish the season.

Vuelta a Espana 2020

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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