Madrid (dpa) – When Primoz Roglic was already in the mood for a party after his happy ending, Pascal Ackermann provided a furious final of the special 2020 cycling season.
The sprint star from the Palatinate won the final stage of the Vuelta with a powerful sprint and a minimal lead and was one of the main protagonists on the street in Madrid, alongside overall winner Roglic. Just like last year, the Slovenian won the Vuelta after an exciting confrontation on Saturday after he had just averted a bitter déjà vu.
Roglic was accordingly determined for the triumphant ride in the Spanish capital. Just like in the Tour de France, the winning photos were taken at the start of the completely flat final stage before the sprinters had their chance. Arm in arm with overall runner-up Richard Carapaz and third Hugh Carthy, Roglic cycled at the top of the field. “It’s very special. We have achieved something great. I am proud of my achievement,” said Roglic, who lifted his bike after crossing the finish line.
Ackermann lacked the power for such cheering scenes. After a long sprint, Ackermann won with a millimeter decision the Irishman Sam Bennett and his German compatriot Max Kanter. “I wasn’t sure I had won. I’m so happy. My teammates have put me in a great position,” Ackermann said.
The day before, former ski jumper Roglic had fought a big battle with Carapaz for the overall victory. “I wasn’t always under control, but I did my job. I had no doubts,” Roglic assured. Seven weeks after the bitter knockout. In the Tour de France, when he gave up the seemingly certain overall victory on the penultimate day and lost the yellow jersey in the individual time trial to his young fellow countryman Tadej Pogacar, the world was all right again. This time he had not succumbed to great pressure in the “big fight” in the Sierra Bejar Covatilla ski resort.
For a moment it seemed that the evil spirits would catch up with Roglic again. Carapaz attacked three kilometers from the finish, the man from Ecuador drove away second after second. Meanwhile, Roglic’s virtual overall ranking showed just 17 seconds ahead. But this time, Tony Martin’s teammate showed no nerves. Roglic was honored in Madrid on Sunday with a margin of 24 seconds.
Chris Froome was also allowed to climb back on the podium for the final stage. The four-time Tour de France winner received the trophy for his overall victory in 2011. The Briton was victorious at the end of last year eight years after the original winner Juan José Cobo was disqualified due to anomalies in the organic passport. “It was a bit surreal to get the trophy now. The Vuelta 2011 was the turning point in my career. After that I had the confidence to tackle the general classification in grand tours,” said Froome.
This year, the Briton played no role. With more than three and a half hours he was listed in the general classification. An era came to an end for Froome on Saturday. It was his last race for the Ineos racing team (formerly Sky). The following year, he will drive for the Israel Start-Up Nation team.
Roglic also owed his narrow lead in the Tour of Spain to the 48 bonus seconds he collected over six stages. He had no guilty conscience. “If you win, you don’t end up looking at how you did it. Everyone has an equal chance at the bonus seconds. I took them.” With four stage wins and three second places, Trbovlje’s man also earned the red jersey. Roglic closes the season as the number one in the world. Twelve victories of the season, including the triumph in the classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège, testify to an excellent year.
The fact that the cycling season could continue in Corona’s times, with a few exceptions, Roglic considers a great victory: “In the state of the world, we can be happy that we can race.”