Tao Geoghegan Hart claimed a remarkable victory at the Giro d'Italia on a sublime final Sunday for INEOS Grenadiers. 

Geoghegan Hart had been set to play a supporting role to Geraint Thomas in Italy until the 2018 Tour de France champion suffered a fractured pelvis early in the race. 

INEOS were without a number of their other big names amid a packed Grand Tour schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Last year's Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and defending Giro champ Richard Carapaz targeted the Paris event, while the departing Chris Froome - a seven-time winner across all three elite events - entered the Vuelta a Espana. 

That left Geoghegan Hart to take centre stage, but he thrived at the Giro to seize a share of the lead with Australia's Jai Hindley heading into the 21st and final stage. 

It was the first time in Giro history two riders had been tied heading into the time trial, a 15.7-kilometre ride in Milan. 

But Geoghegan Hart ultimately rode to a comfortable victory, finishing 39 seconds clear of his direct rival with a time of 18 minutes and 14 seconds.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine this would be possible when we started out in Sicily almost a month ago," said Geoghegan Hart, who became the fifth British Grand Tour winner. 

"All my career I've dreamt of trying to be top 10, top five maybe, in a race of this stature, so this is something completely and utterly different to that. 

"I think it's going to take a long time for this to sink in." 

INEOS' success did not end there, though, as heavy favourite and time trial world champion Filippo Ganna won the stage in 17:16. 

Ganna, making his Grand Tour debut, claimed his fourth stage victory of the Giro after blowing away Victor Campenaerts' early benchmark of 17:48, which remained enough for second place. 


STAGE RESULT 

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 17:16
2. Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:32
3. Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:32
4. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:41
5. Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ) +00:41

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 85:40:21
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:39
3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +01:29

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 233
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 108

King of the Mountains

1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 157
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122

Tim Wellens powered to victory on stage five of the Vuelta a Espana as he emerged as the strongman from a three-way battle for supremacy in Sabinanigo. 

The 29-year-old Belgian, twice a stage winner on the Giro d'Italia in seasons gone by, is making his Vuelta debut this year and ensured it would be one to remember. 

He was locked in a scrap for first place with Frenchman Guillaume Martin and Dutch youngster Thymen Arensman, but the Lotto Soudal rider would not be denied, victory carrying him to the top of the early King of the Mountains standings. 

Wellens resisted a charge from Arensman at the flamme rouge and pushed clear on the uphill finale of the 184.4-kilometre ride from Huesca, with Martin taking second place, four seconds back. 

"It feels super good," Wellens said. "It was the goal of the team to have minimum one victory in the Vuelta and it's super nice it's come so early. 

"Now in the next weeks we don't stress, so I'm super happy with the victory." 

Assessing the race in the closing stages, he said: "We rode super good together. All three of us were a little bit at the same level but I had the kick at the end that brought me to victory." 

A hilly second half of the stage had split the field, with Wellens part of a mid-race breakaway of a dozen riders that was gradually whittled down to the trio that entered the last kilometre with the spoils up for grabs. 

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) led the sprint from the peloton to cross the line in fourth, remaining the General Classification leader as the race heads to the Pyrenees on Sunday. 

Roglic's closest rival overall in the red jersey stakes, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), crashed in the closing metres, along with David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), but the Irish rider was able to get back on his bike and complete the stage. 

STAGE RESULT

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 04:19:25
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +00:04
3. Thymen Arensman (Team Sunweb) +00:12
4. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +02:13
5. Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) +02:13

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 20:52:31
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0:05
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:13

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 79
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 57

King of the Mountains

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 19
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 18
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16

WHAT'S NEXT?

The riders have tackled moderate hills so far but Sunday takes them into the Pyrenees, albeit not on the route that was planned initially. French coronavirus restrictions have forced Vuelta organisers to cancel the scheduled Tourmalet summit finish, with the stage instead ending with the category one Aramon Formigal climb.

Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley will look to make every second count in Sunday's decisive individual time trial after a gripping penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia. 

The battle for General Classification glory looks to have come down to a two-man test of speed and nerve over 15.7 kilometres on a flat road from Cernusco sul Naviglio to Milan, after previous leader Wilco Kelderman drifted off the pace on stage 20. 

At the end of Saturday's 190-kilometre ride from Alba, INEOS Grenadiers rider Geoghegan Hart and Team Sunweb's Hindley scaled the climb to Sestriere for a third time and finished almost neck and neck. 

Englishman Geoghegan Hart pulled narrowly clear over the final metres, but Australian rival Hindley will start in the maglia rosa on Sunday, albeit with both riders on the same cumulative time - 85 hours, 22 minutes and seven seconds. 

Kelderman, a team-mate of Hindley, finished a minute and 35 seconds off the pace set by the front two, who broke free on the final ascent. 

The stage concluded with the unusual triple climb to Sestriere after French authorities earlier in the week insisted the race should be rerouted to avoid entering the country, amid concerns over roadside gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It meant the daunting Colle dell'Agnello, with a peak of 2,744 metres, was removed from the equation, along with the Col d'Izoard. 

A 21-rider breakaway held a seven-minute lead over the peloton at the halfway mark, but they were reeled in, with Geoghegan Hart's team-mate Rohan Dennis leading the assault. 

Kelderman could not find a response and would need an extraordinary performance on Sunday to get back in contention. 

Neither Hindley nor Geoghegan Hart has won a Grand Tour before, and this is their big chance. 

STAGE RESULT 

1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 04:52:45
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:00
3. Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:25
4. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +01:01
5. Andrea Vendrame (AG2R La Mondiale) +01:34

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) 85:22:07
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:00
3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +01:32

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 233
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 101

King of the Mountains

1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 157
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122

WHAT'S NEXT?

They think it's all over, and it will be after Sunday's pancake-flat time trial from Cernusco sul Naviglio to Milan, with all eyes on the clock.

Sam Bennett sprinted to victory at stage four of the Vuelta a Espana as Primoz Roglic retained his lead in the General Classification.

The Irish rider, who claimed the green jersey at this year's Tour de France, surged past Jasper Philipsen around 25 metres from the summit finish in Ejea de los Caballeros.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step had him well positioned towards the end of the mostly flat 191.7 kilometre ride from Garray, the peloton bunching after Willie Smit had been caught following a breakaway with around 14km left.

Philipsen moved to upset those plans but Bennett timed his finish to perfection, edging out the UAE Team Emirates rider into second, with Jakub Mareczko third.

"It was so fast in the run-in, [I was] a bit nervous, fast all day but I was just nervous, it was a bit sketchy, and in the final, we weren't all together yet," Bennett said afterwards.

"It was mad how we said we needed to be together at one point and, at that point, the team was all there. They did their job perfectly, came together when we needed to. We only asked a few guys to be there and the whole team was there to support."

He admitted Philipsen's move left him fearing he had left a push too late, adding: "I actually really didn't think I was going to catch him, but, in the end, I started getting more and more speed and still accelerating to the line, so I had the power.

"But when he initially went, he was so explosive."

Roglic finished down in 19th but remains at the top of the GC with a five-second gap over Daniel Martin.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 03:53:29
2. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) same time
3. Jakob Marezco (CCC) same time
4. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
5. Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 16:30:53
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0:05
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:13

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 65
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 50

King of the Mountains

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 18
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16
3. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 14

WHAT'S NEXT?

Saturday sees a succession of tricky climbs in the closing 60km during a total ride of 185.5km from Huesca up to Sabinanigo.

Josef Cerny won stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia after Friday's leg was shortened by more than 50 per cent following a protest from the peloton. 

The riders were set to contest the longest stage of the race following back-to-back mountain sections but after health concerns were raised they were transported from Morbegno to Abbiategrasso on buses, reducing the distance from 258 kilometres to 124km. 

Asti was expected to host a sprint finish at the end of a flat stage but maglia ciclamino contender Peter Sagan called off the chase of a 14-man breakaway after no one appeared willing to share the workload at the front of the peloton with his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates. 

Victor Campenaerts forced a split at the front but Cerny pushed again with around 22km remaining and quickly established a lead of around 40 seconds. 

Cerny, who finished fifth in the time trial last Saturday, was able to go solo to secure a first Grand Tour stage win, with Campenaerts unable to close the gap late on. 

"The stage was definitely not [what I expected]. We were standing at the start line and the organiser said we can rest a little bit, it's very nice of him because we had the last three days really heavy, and it was a really hard day also today with the rain," said Cerny. 

"But I'm really happy. I was lucky in the breakaway and we were working together. And then in the final it was just who had better legs. I'm very happy. I still cannot believe it because it was so quick. It was incredible. I cannot describe it." 

Wilco Kelderman retained his grip on the maglia rosa with none of the General Classification contenders able to make in-roads on the short, flat route. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart tried to gain some valuable seconds in the final kilometre but was unable to force a split at the front of the peloton and remains 15 seconds adrift in third.

 

STAGE RESULT 

1. Josef Cerny (CCC Team) 02:30:40
2. Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:18
3. Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo) +00:26
4. Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling) +00:26
5. Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:26 

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification    

1. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) 80:29:19
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:12
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:15 

Points Classification    

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 94 

King of the Mountains    

1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 115 

WHAT'S NEXT? 

The penultimate stage is a 190km ride across the Alps including 3,500 metres of vertical altitude gain, meaning there could be plenty of drama in the GC. 

Dan Martin won an uphill charge to the finish line as he took a "really special" stage three victory in the Vuelta a Espana.

The Irish rider, competing for Israel Start-Up Nation, fended off Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz after a tight finish in the town of Vinuesa, dedicating the success to his team and family.

A five-rider break with just under 50 kilometres to go always looked unconvincing, and although the gap reached a minute and a half at one point, it had been trimmed significantly by the time the final climb arrived.

The 166.1-kilometre drag from Lodosa to La Laguna Negra – the Black Lagoon – had been building towards the final 8.6km ascent, and Martin had the legs to hold off his rivals in a sprint over the final 500 metres.

Martin told Spanish broadcaster TDP: "I've come so close this year to winning and I just wanted to win a stage for this team because they've been so good to me."

He praised the support he and team-mates had received amid the COVID-19 crisis, saying: "There were no salary cuts or anything like that and the team was really motivated for the whole of lockdown because of that to train harder."

Martin competed at the Tour de France, but fracturing a bone at the base of his spine just weeks before that race hindered his competitiveness.

Married to British athlete Jess Martin, with whom he had twin daughters two years ago, the latest Vuelta stage winner dedicated the success to his family.

Tearfully, he said: "It's part for me and part for my wife as well, because it's the first time I've won a race since my kids were born and it's really special."

Martin sits second in the General Classification, with Roglic remaining the overall race leader by five seconds.


STAGE RESULT

1. Dan Martin (Israel State-Up Nation) 4:27:49
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers)
4. Wouter Poels (Bahrain-McLaren) +0:04
5. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana Pro) +0:07

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 12:37:24
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0:05
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:13

Points Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 65
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 50

King of the Mountains

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 18
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16
3. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 14

WHAT'S NEXT?

Friday's stage four sees the riders head off from Garray for the 191.7km journey to Ejea de los Caballeros. With next to no climbing, expect a congested sprint for the finish line.

Wilco Kelderman seized the maglia rosa from Joao Almeida after a memorable 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia was won by Jai Hindley to blow the race wide open.

The 207-kilometre route from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano provided drama aplenty, ending with a new race leader and a stage win for Hindley, who sits second in the General Classification, 12 seconds back from fellow Team Sunweb rider Kelderman.

The daunting Passo dello Stelvio was where the cracks showed for Almeida, the 25km climb to an altitude of 2,758 metres all but ending his hopes of glory as his 17-second advantage gave way to a deficit of over two minutes.

Almeida had described the slog up to the Giro's highest point as "great" before Thursday's stage, but he may take a different view after he was dropped with just under 50km to go, losing the virtual lead to Kelderman.

But the Dutchman was facing a battle to keep up with a leading group featuring Tao Geoghegan Hart, himself now firmly in the shake-up at 15 seconds off the GC leader.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was joined at the front by Hindley and team-mate Rohan Dennis, who was in eye-catching form as he ascended the Cima Coppi.

It was a blistering pace that put paid to any chance Vincenzo Nibali had of triumphing as the veteran fell out of contention, even before the 21 hairpins heading towards the finish line at Laghi di Cancano.

With Dennis' race run, Geoghegan Hart and Hindley contested the sprint on an uphill finish and it was the Australian who crossed the line first to earn a time bonus that put him ahead of his British rival in riveting race now led by Kelderman.

STAGE RESULT

1. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) 06:03:03
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:00
3. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) +00:46
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) +01:25
5. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +02:18

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification  
1. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) 77:46:56
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:12
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:15

Points Classification  
1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 94

King of the Mountains  
1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 115

WHAT'S NEXT?

Stage 19 largely spares the riders any further punishment on the climbing front, but they must still cover 258km from Morbegno to Asti. With a flat final 5km, this is one for the sprinters.

Defending champion Primoz Roglic extended his early lead at the Vuelta a Espana to nine seconds as he finished second behind Marc Soler on stage two.

Roglic appears especially determined to retain his red jersey in Spain, having been dramatically denied at September's Tour de France.

And his bid for a second General Classification title is going to plan so far.

Roglic was 19 seconds shy of Soler on Wednesday but led the chasing pack - including several other GC contenders - pipping Daniel Martin to claim the six-second bonus for second place.

Martin finished third for the second day running, while Richard Carapaz - second on Tuesday - was fourth, the pair switching places in the overall standings.

Victory was Spaniard Soler's reward for a late solo attack, pulling clear on the descent of the final summit for a first Grand Tour stage win.

"I'm very happy because we're racing on home roads," he said. "This was a stage we really wanted to win and we'd studied the roads this week.

"This is my first win in a Grand Tour and I'm very happy about that.

"It pays us back for all the hard work done during what has been a very difficult year. It's great for all the team and I can only thank them for their support."

Meanwhile, Chris Froome is now almost half an hour back after another poor showing in his final Grand Tour with INEOS Grenadiers.


STAGE RESULT

1. Marc Soler (Movistar Team) 3:47:04
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +00:19
3. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:19
4. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:19
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +00:19

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:22:24
2. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:09
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:11

Points Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 45
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 34
3. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 32

King of the Mountains

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 14
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 14
3. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 6 

WHAT'S NEXT?

Thursday's stage three takes in the tough 166.1km ride from Lodosa to La Laguna Negra de Vinuesa, consisting almost solely of climbs.

Ben O’Connor made up for his near miss the previous day with victory on Stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia, while Joao Almeida maintained his lead in the General Classification. 

O'Connor had finished second on Tuesday, unable to haul in Jan Tratnik in the closing stages of the journey from Udine to San Daniele del Friuli. 

However, the Australian would not be denied 24 hours later, leaving the rest of the breakaway group behind with just eight kilometres to go and impressively staying clear through to the finish line. 

"Yesterday it was so close and to pull off today in the mountains, I dreamed about. It means a lot," O'Connor said after the biggest stage win of his career to date. 

On the timing of the attack, he added: "I could see everyone was struggling at the time, there was no real pace between the guys and everyone was looking at each other, I felt good again and I thought, 'Why not?'.  

"The aim was just to win and I can't believe I've done it."

Herman Pernsteiner claimed second place, 31 seconds back of the winner, while Thomas De Gendt held off the challenge of Ilnur Zakarin to take third. 

As for the maglia rosa, Almeida remains 17 seconds clear of nearest rival Wilco Kelderman after neutralising the solitary attack from Team Sunweb during the course of the 203km-ride from Bassano del Grappa to Madonna di Campiglio, a journey that included four categorised climbs.

"Today they tried, but my feeling was good," Almeida said. "I was feeling good again. But tomorrow is another day, I can have a bad one and lose everything."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Ben O'Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:07
2. Herman Pernsteiner (Bahrain-McLaren) +00:31
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) +01:10
4. Ilnur Zakarin (CCC Team) +01:13
5. Kilian Frankiny (Groupama-FDJ) +01:55

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification  
1. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 71:41:18
2. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +00:17
3. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +02:58

Points Classification  
1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 90

King of the Mountains  
1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 198
2. Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabu-KTM) 148
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 82

WHAT'S NEXT?

Stage 18 is the penultimate mountain day of this year's delayed Giro. The 207km from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano includes a trip up the daunting Passo dello Stelvio, while an uphill finish littered with hairpins could provide late drama.

Reigning champion Primoz Roglic took the red jersey with an impressive success on the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

After losing out on Tour de France glory to Tadej Pogacar in dramatic fashion in September, Roglic quickly laid down a marker in the final Grand Tour of the year.

The Slovenian attacked on the category one ascent of the Alto de Arrate – the final test on the 173-kilometre stage from Irun to Eibar – and beat Richard Carapaz to the line to take a five-second lead in the General Classification.

Only eight riders managed to stay within 10 seconds of Roglic, with Jumbo-Visma team-mate Tom Dumoulin and 2009 champion Alejandro Valverde – both considered among the other contenders for glory in Spain – already over a minute behind in the GC.

Roglic said: "It's nice to win. I'm really happy. The team showed again that they're all really strong. They worked perfectly through the whole stage and in the end I was able to win so it's a beautiful start.

"It was already hard before the final climb, and then we were going full gas. We have crazy guys like Sepp [Kuss] and I'm just happy to win it in the end.

"It's a strange season so I'll just enjoy the leader's jersey, starting from tomorrow, and the fact that we're racing."

Thibaut Pinot lost over 10 minutes, while Chris Froome, contesting his final Grand Tour with INEOS, finished more than 11 minutes back.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 4:22:34
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS) +00:01
3. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:01
4. Jhoan Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) +00:01
5. Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) +00:01

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:22:24
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS) +00:05
3. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:07 

Points Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 25
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS) 20
3. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16 

King of the Mountains

1. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 10
2. Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale) 6
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) 6 

WHAT'S NEXT? 

The 151.6km ride from Pamplona to Lekunberri includes three categorised climbs, the last of which lasts for 9.4km at an average gradient of 7.9 per cent.

Jan Tratnik won a gruelling stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia to taste victory on a Grand Tour for the first time.

Continuing a recent theme of Slovenian success, Tratnik showed his grit with a dogged ride on the punishing 229-kilometre route from Udine to San Daniele del Friuli.

The undulating course featured several sharp climbs, including a section towards the end with a 20 per cent gradient at Via Sottomonte.

But none of that could derail the Bahrain-McLaren rider, as Tratnik followed in the footsteps of compatriots Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic in sealing a podium spot at one of the sport's three headline events.

"I was feeling good, sometimes the best defence is attacking," said Tratnik of his sprint for the line.

"When it's steep like this, sometimes everyone has spent energy, so it was good."

He is not in contention to be on the podium at the end of the race, now in its third week, with Deceuninck-Quick-Step Joao Almeida still leading the way in the General Classification.

Indeed, the Portuguese extended his advantage over Team Sunweb's Wilco Kelderman, who is now 17 seconds back.

Tratnik's joy followed a great deal of suffering as he joined the 28-man breakaway before going solo with around 40km remaining.

Despite the efforts of Ben O’Connor and Ben Swift to chase him down, the 30-year-old held firm to cross the line seven seconds clear of the former.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-McLaren) 06:04:36
2. Ben O'Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:07
3. Enrico Battaglin (Bahrain-McLaren) +01:14
4. Kamil Malecki (CCC Team) +01:14
5. Ben Swift (Team INEOS) +01:14

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification 
1. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 65:45:08
2. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +00:17
3. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +02:58

Points Classification 
1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 90

King of the Mountains 
1. Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabu-Brado-KTM) 148
2. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 118
3. Filippo Ganna (Team INEOS) 48

WHAT'S NEXT?

Stage 17 takes the riders on a 203km route from Bassano del Grappa to Madonna di Campiglio, with a summit finish in store to test tired legs.

Primoz Roglic goes into the Vuelta a Espana as favourite to defend his title, with Chris Froome among a strong group of challengers after the Briton was left out of the Tour de France.

Tadej Pogacar beat Roglic by 59 seconds to win the Tour last month as the Slovenian duo recorded a remarkable one-two for their country.

Roglic, who has reached the podium at all three Grand Tours, goes into the Vuelta as the man to beat, having won by two minutes and 33 seconds over Alejandro Valverde in 2019.

Froome, Valverde, Tom Dumoulin, Richard Carapaz, Thibaut Pinot and Enric Mas will all be hoping to challenge.

Ahead of the event, which starts with a stage from Irun to Arrate on Tuesday and runs until November 8 with the finish in Madrid, we take a look at the biggest talking points with the help of Opta data.

A DIFFERENT YEAR

As well as clashing with the conclusion of the Giro d'Italia, which runs until October 25, due to coronavirus-related rescheduling, this year's Vuelta has some other key differences.

For the first time since 1985 there will be fewer than 21 stages, with just 18 in the 2020 race across a 2,882-kilometre route.

Irun will host the start of the race for the time, while it was 1961 when La Vuelta last began in the Basque Country.

SPANISH DOMINANCE WANING

Historically, home riders have thrived at the Vuelta, with Spanish participants winning on 32 of the 74 occasions the race has been run. France and Belgium are the next best nations on nine and seven respectively.

However, a Spaniard has not taken the red jersey since Alberto Contador triumphed in 2014, the country's longest drought since 1992-1997 (six races).

The dry spell came after Spanish riders had won eight of the first 10 Vueltas in this century. Now, Contador's 2012 and 2014 wins are their only triumphs in the last 10.

On the plus side, a Spanish rider has won a stage at every Vuelta apart from in 1996.

THE CHALLENGE FACING ROGLIC

Roglic is looking to defend his crown, but no rider as achieved that at this race since Roberto Heras' triumphs between 2003 and 2005. The Team Jumbo-Visma star also faces some stiff competition. 

INEOS Grenadiers rider Froome is the last rider to have won multiple editions of La Vuelta, doing it so in 2011 and 2017 – the longest span between two wins among all riders with multiple titles. 

He will now look to join Heras (four wins), Tony Rominger (three) and Contador (three) among the Vuelta greats.

Valverde has finished on the Vuelta podium a remarkable seven times in 13 appearances (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2019), the most of all time.

He has 10 top-five finishes, although 2009 was his only win. This will be the veteran's 14th participation, more than any other active rider.

Mas finished second in his last outing in 2018, when he also finished as best young rider.

The Movistar rider comes into the race with some form – he was fifth at the Tour and came second in the young riders classification behind only the yellow jersey winner Pogacar.

Pinot has been in the top 10 in each of the two Vueltas he has managed to finish, though he has abandoned in a Grand Tour seven times, which is more often than he has reached the end (six).

Dumoulin has been in the top 10 in each of the last five grand tours he finished, while Carapraz has two major top-five results to his name, though is yet to finish higher than 18th in Spain. 

POINTS JERSEY UP FOR GRABS

Roglic and Froome won the points jersey as well as the overall classification in their 2019 and 2017 triumphs – prior to those doubles, that feat had not been achieved since 2000.

Along with the challengers for overall glory, sprinters Sam Bennett and Pascal Ackermann are among the top contenders for that honour at this event.

Irishman Bennett has seven stage wins at Grand Tours, while German Ackermann won the points classification in the only previous Grand Tour he took part in, the 2019 Giro.

Chris Froome will have "mixed emotions" when he lines up for Team INEOS for the last time at a Grand Tour during the Vuelta a Espana. 

The Kenya-born Briton has won four Tour de France titles, the Vuelta twice and the Giro d'Italia once during a decade of service with the team, although all those titles came under their previous guise of Team Sky. 

Next year, the 35-year-old will ride for Israel Start-Up Nation and Froome concedes it has not fully sunk in he will no longer be at INEOS. 

"It is a sort of bag of mixed emotions really. It is suddenly strange thinking that I won't be in INEOS colours in a few months' time," he said.  

"But after 11 years it's all coming down to the Vuelta again. It is a race that I genuinely enjoy racing.  

"This year's edition is going to be quite different. It is not the typical Vuelta in mid-summer, August, in Spain.  

"We're at much cooler temperatures. It's going to feel a lot more like Pays Basque for three weeks, I think, up here.  

"But I am looking forward to racing and looking forward to finishing my time at INEOS on a high hopefully.  

"We have got a great team here to support Richard [Carapaz] as much as possible. And yeah just take it one day at a time and hopefully finish off on a high note." 

Froome has not truly returned to top form since suffering a serious and season-ending crash at the Criterium du Dauphine in June 2019, while the coronavirus pandemic caused several events to be cancelled or postponed this year. 

Such lengthy time away from the roads is a challenge, Froome admitted. 

"Certainly, given the amount of time off after my injury last year and the amount of time off with COVID earlier this season, I was extremely light on racing and I felt I really missed that," he added.  

"I missed the race speed, I missed just being in the peloton and having to stay on the wheels. I felt as if that took a lot more out of me than it typically would. 

"So a lot of this process has been just getting back up to speed again and getting used to that race rhythm and trying to find some more of that top-end, if you like.  

"But I feel as if I have certainly closed that gap quite recently and it will be interesting to see how far off I am once we get into the guts of this Vuelta." 

Tao Geoghegan Hart claimed a first Grand Tour stage victory to propel himself into maglia rosa contention at the Giro d'Italia.

Geoghegan Hart is now fourth in the general classification standings after he stuck with Team Sunweb duo Wilco Kelderman and Jai Hindley inside the final 10 kilometres of the 185km stage 15 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old then put on the afterburners in the last kilometre, out-sprinting his rivals to clinch Team INEOS Grenadiers' fifth stage victory of this year's Giro, which is still led by Joao Almeida.

INEOS' former team director Nicolas Portal died in March this year and Geoghegan Hart dedicated the triumph to him.

"This one was for Nico Portal, we lost him this spring and I think it's been really difficult for the team," he said.

"This is something incredible for me. I don't know about [the GC], I haven't seen the results, but crossing the line first is something truly incredible.

"We've had some great highs this season but also some big lows in the Tour, for me personally and in this race."

Deceuninck – Quick-Step's Almeida finished fourth and still holds the overall lead, with a 15-second advantage over Kelderman.

Hindley is just under three minutes back, a second ahead of Geoghegan Hart.

Two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali lost over two minutes on the final climb, with the Italian down at seventh in the GC, while Giovanni Visconti took the maglia azzurra off Ruben Guerreiro.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS) 04:58:52
2. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +00:02
3. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) + 00:04
4. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) +00:37
5. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +01:22

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification 
1. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 59:27:38
2. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +00:15
3. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +02:56

Points Classification 
1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 90

King of the Mountains 
1. Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabu-Brado-KTM) 118
2. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 87
3. Filippo Ganna (Team INEOS) 48

WHAT'S NEXT?

A final rest day is coming up on Monday, with another climbing route from Udine to San Daniele del Fruili making up stage 16 on Tuesday.

Filippo Ganna claimed his third stage win at this year's Giro d'Italia as Joao Almeida extended his overall lead on Saturday. 

Italian Ganna excelled on stage 14 - an individual time trial spanning 34.1 kilometres - to continue an impressive campaign in his home race, crossing the line in 42 minutes and 40 seconds. 

Rohan Dennis was 26 seconds slower over the course to claim an INEOS 1-2, while the rest of the field were over a minute back on the world time-trial champion. 

"Every victory is important for me, we have a really strong team," Ganna - who was also victorious in the opening time trial, as well as stage five - said after his latest success. 

Almeida, meanwhile, claimed sixth place to tighten his grip on the pink jersey, albeit there is still plenty of racing to go before the finish in Milan. 

Still, the Portuguese rider extended his advantage for a second successive day; he now sits 56 seconds clear of nearest rival Wilco Kelderman, who was ninth on the stage. 

"I did better than I thought, I'm so happy with the result," Almeida - who has worn the maglia rosa since the third day - said. "In the end, it was a positive day." 

Pello Bilbao remains third in the standings but Brandon McNulty is now just behind him, the American moving up thanks to a third-place finish as he sits in front of Vincenzo Nibali, Rafal Majka and Domenico Pozzovivo, who are all within 30 seconds of the podium places.

STAGE RESULT

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS) 42:40
2. Rohan Dennis (INEOS) +00:26
3. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) + 01:09
4. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) +01:11
5. Josef Cerny (CCC) +01:16

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification
1. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 54:28:09
2. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +00:56
3. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) +02:11

Points Classification
1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 83

King of the Mountains
1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 87
2. Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabu-Brado-KTM) 76
3. Filippo Ganna (Team INEOS) 48

WHAT'S NEXT?

Stage 15 could see changes in the general classification as the race climbs into the mountains during the 185km-ride to Piancavallo. Those looking to make a move will know they have a rest day to follow on Monday, too.

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