Alto de Gredos (Spain) (AFP)
Slovenia rules on the Tour of Spain! Unless accident, the red jersey Primoz Roglic assured to win Sunday the Vuelta-2019, after a penultimate stage won Saturday by his young compatriot Tadej Pogacar in the Sierra de Gredos (center).
The designated favorite of the race from Torrevieja three weeks ago, Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has lived up to the expectations to be 29 years old the first big Tour of his career, the first for a runner from his country.
The former ski jumper, with his red jersey uninterrupted since his triumph in the only individual time trial of this Vuelta (10th stage), has perfectly controlled his opponents, including in the six listed climbs of the 20th and before - Last stage Saturday: he controlled his dolphin Alejandro Valverde in the final climb to the "Platform" of Gredos, gateway to the natural park of the same name, and took the 5th place of the stage.
Sunday, at the end of the traditional parade punctuated by a sprint in the streets of Madrid, "Rogla" should except surprise succeed the British Simon Yates, absent this year. What materialize his ambitions on the three-week races after his fourth place on the Tour de France 2018 and third place in the Tour of Italy in the spring.
And to complete the Slovenian triumph, Pogacar (UAE-Emirates) managed a beautiful solo number to win Saturday's stage. At only 20 years old, it is his third stage victory on this Vuelta after having already raised his arms in Andorra during the 9th stage, then at the top of the terrible Alto de los Machucos (13th stage).
- Failure of Colombians -
Not to spoil anything, Pogacar has secured the white jersey of the best young and has reserved his place on the final podium: he should appear on the third step behind Roglic and Valverde (39), who began his career in 2002 while Pogacar was only four years old!
Conversely, it is a failure for Colombians, arrived in a strong position at the start of the race and finally confined to places of honor. And too bad for the stated goal of seeing three South American riders win the big three Tours the same season, after Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Movistar) on the Giro and Colombian Egan Bernal (Ineos) on the Tour de France.
After wearing the red jersey for three days, climber Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) went on the offensive again on Saturday, accelerating in the penultimate climb. But he failed to win his opponents, was opposed by Pogacar and gave him the white jersey, failing to finish fifth overall.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar), winner of a stage and holder of the red jersey one day, finished in his fourth place overall before joining the French team Arkéa-Samsic next season.
As for the blue jersey white polka dot best climber, it is promised to French Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-La Mondiale). At 27, he is the first Frenchman to win this ranking since Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), winner in 2013 and wearing a red jersey one day on this Vuelta.
© 2019 AFP