The last road stage of the 76th Vuelta was full of twists and turns on Saturday, across the challenging Galician climbs. France’s Clément Champoussin took the day’s victory and some major changes happened in the general classification while the Groupama-FDJ cycling team just made sure to make it through the day safely. The race will end tomorrow, with the Santiago de Compostela time trial that Tobias Ludvigsson will face with ambition.
For those who still had some energy left, it was time to release it. On Saturday, the last road stage of the 2021 Vuelta was made of some very harsh 200 kilometres. Already in the attack in the last few days, Olivier Le Gac tried to follow the first moves on the flat part, but things got more complicated entering the first climbs of the day after fifteen kilometres. The right breakaway eventually went after thirty kilometres and was even able to enjoy a ten minute-lead. All the Groupama-FDJ’s riders then found themselves in the bunch. “I think their head wanted to be up front, but their legs did not”, said Thierry Bricaud. “It was then hard for us. The pace was very high at the start and we knew it would happen this way. We were more surprised to see the leaders restarting the fight, at least in that way and that far away from the finish! There were two races within one, but it was again a hard day”. The peloton literally exploded halfway through the stage when Ineos increased the pace in the first of the five major climbs.
“Tobias will be our number one focus tomorrow”, Thierry Bricaud
Up front, the race got a bit crazy, in particular with some GC contenders completely cracking. The best of them still caught the last riders from the break in the final climb, but Clément Champoussin took advantage of them looking at each other to solo towards the stage win. As for Primoz Roglic, he almost secured his red jersey prior to the final time trial. After around 40 minutes, all the Groupama-FDJ riders had also reached the finish line, including Luxembourg champion Kevin Geniets. “He’s about to complete his first Grand Tour, and that’s a good thing,” said Thierry. “He’s tired, like everyone else, but he’s never been in trouble. The three weeks he has just completed will do him good for the rest of the season and for his career. It will enable him to make another step”. The young man, also a national time trial champion, will surely be keen to put in a good result on Sunday, over the 34 kilometers around Santiago de Compostela. That will also be the case of Tobias Ludvigsson, who was not lucky in the opening time trial. “Tomorrow, we have ambitions with Tobias, certified Thierry. “Above all, he is a specialist and he has good legs. He also wants to finish this Vuelta in a good way and put in a good performance, which he was about to do on day one. He will be our number one focus tomorrow”.