Thanks for joining us today - and thanks for following Eurosport-Yahoo's coverage of the Vuelta a Espana throughout the last three weeks. It's been a great 75th edition of the race - and in Vincenzo Nibali the race has a worthy champion.
San Sebastián de los Reyes - Madrid
Vuelta a España - 19 September 2010
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 14:18 on 19 September 2010. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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No changes in the GC: Nibali wins the Vuelta! Overall standings: 1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 85:16:05, 2 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:41, 3 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:03:02, 4 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 0:04:20, 5 Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank 0:04:43, 6 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo 0:04:52, 7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R 0:05:03, 8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo 0:06:06, 9 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin 0:06:09, 10 Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:07:33.
And next five: 6. Bole, 7. Cardoso, 8. Dumoulin, 9. Haedo, 10. Hondo.
Top five: 1. Farrar, 2. Cavendish, 3. Davis, 4. Weylandt, 5. Goss.
Farrar takes the victory but Cav gets second or third and will win the green jersey!
Cav leads it out and looks in command but Farrar bursts through!
Bennati is there too. Forster is leading out. Cav lurks behind Goss's wheel. Perfect position.
Garmin are holding back. It's QuickStep and HTC at the mo.
Yesterday we had Nibali v Mosquera, now surely it's Cav v Farrar...
Quick Step are there now, as are Milram - who have Forster, don't forget.
No can do for Van Avermaet, who is swept up by the HTC-led peloton.
Attack by Greg van Avermaet! It looked like Gilbert for a moment but it's a long pop by his Lotto team-mate, who obviously feels he stands more chance doing it from distance than if it comes down to a bunch sprint.
Liquigas are back on the front, keeping Nibali out of trouble. They will probably stay there until the 3-to-go mark, which will signal the safety point for their man should he get mixed up in a crash. Liquigas also have Bennati after the stage win as well.
Approaching the last circuit now...
So, who else could win today bar Cavendish and Farrar? There's Quick Step's Wouter Weylandt, Francaise des Jeux's Yaugeni Hutarovich, Euskaltel's Koldo Fernandez, Lotto's Greg van Avermaet, Astana's Allan Davis, Footon's Manuel Cardoso, Saxo Bank's JJ Haedo and of course Liquigas's Daniele Bennati. As for outsiders, don't discount Cofidis's Sammy Dumoulin or even Cav's lead-out man Matt Goss.
Garmin and HTC-Columbia are taking it in turns on the front of the peloton. The five leaders only have about 40 metres on the bunch... not any more - that's the end of that! They're caught. The carrots are cooked.
Ramirez takes maximum points at the second intermediate sprint ahead of Rabunal and Kaisen. It's going to all come down to the final sprint to see who wins the green jersey - although Cavendish will take some beating.
There's no doubt that the five leaders will be reeled in but the sprinters' teams in the peloton are taking their foot off the gas because it's in their interests to keep those riders out there for a bit so as to neutralise any threat of counter attacks.
A cluster of Caisse d'Epargne riders, including a heavily bandaged Marzio Bruseghin, are riding on the back of the peloton.
The lead is down to 25 seconds now as the riders hit the eighth lap. The pace is pretty fiece and has caused the peloton to string out quite dramatically. Roels, in his all in one short-and-shirt suit is driving the breakaway forward but it looks like it will be all in vain.
Cofidis's David Moncoutie secured his third successive King of the Mountains title yesterday. "The race has gone just as I had hoped: I have won the polka dot jersey and taken a stage. Maybe I'll return again next year and go for a fourth title."
Onto the seventh lap, the lead has dropped to 33 seconds. Incidentally, Roels is wearing a skin suit out there in Mardid. Bold.
A reminder of the five leaders: Dominik Roels (Milram), Javier Ramirez (Andalucia-Cajasur), Jurgen Van Goolen and Olivier Kaisen (both Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Gonzalo Rabunal (Xacobeo Galicia). The lead is 59 seconds as they hit the fifth lap. Garmin and HTC are beginning to make their presence known on the front of the peloton, taking up the baton from Liquigas. It will take a brave man to predict a win from someone other than Cav or Tyler today.
Some interesting predictions coming in below, most of them tipping Cavendish for victory today. Something different from Wills though, who believes the win will go to Cav's lead out man Matt Goss, with Tyler Farrar taking second and Cav third. Keep them coming...
Roels takes maximum points at the first intermediate sprint ahead of Ramirez and Rabunal. The gap is 56 seconds now.
The Liquigas team of red jersey Nibali lead the peloton. It's been a superb season for the Italian outfit, who saw Ivan Basso win the Giro d'Italia back in May. Nibali, incidentally, finished the Giro in third place.
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The Lotto riders sure do like to attack in numbers: yesterday four went on the offensive en masse and today we have two in the leading group. The riders are on to the fourth of 12 laps.
Gonzalo Rubanal (Xacobeo-Galicia) has joined the four leaders. The five escapees have 43 seconds on the pack.
Two riders are in pursuit of Roels and Ramirez: they are Omega Pharma-Lotto pair Olivier Kaisen and Jurgen Van Goolen.
News just in: Garmin's Danny Pate has joined HTC-Columbia for the forthcoming season. With a name like that, Pate should really become an Ardennes classic specialist. His arrival will bolster the HTC squad, which will lose sprinter Andrei Greipel at the end of the season. Greipel won yesterday's final stage of the Tour of Britain, his last race in HTC colours, and will join Philippe Gilbert at Omega Pharma-Lotto in what looks to be an irresistable pairing.
Roels is joined by Javier Ramirez (Andalucia-Cajasur) and the two combine well to try stretch out a decent lead.
After 20km of passive riding, things finally hot up with an attack from Milram's Dominik Roels. The German has been very combattive throughout the race and quickly opens up a 25-second cushion.
Yesterday's stage featured the first ever summit finish atop the ski resort of Bola del Mundo - and what an addition it proved to be for the Vuelta. Ezequiel Mosquera looked to have cracked Vincenzo Nibali on the final 20% segment of the climb - only for the Italian to claw his way back.
Intermediate sprints aside, Tyler Farrar will need to win today and hope that Cavendish finishes fifth or less if he wants to take the points jersey. The American, who has one win from the race, is 12 points behind the Brit, who has already notched a hat-trick in Spain. Stranger things have happened but it will be asking a lot from Farrar - even if he does wear those special Transition lenses out there...
Despite riding towards Madrid with the red jersey safely on his shoulders, Vincenzo Nibali has withstood the temptation of switching to an all-red bike. A touch of class from the bling-eschewing 25-year-old champ.
So, who do you think will win today's final sprint in Madrid? Send in your top threes underneath in the comments section...
There's no rush in the peloton as the riders take it easy after what has been a gruelling three weeks of this 75th edition of the Vuelta.
The sun's out in Madrid this afternoon. There's a little cloud cover and the temperature is 26 degrees centigrade.
And they're off! Although, such is the slug-like pace there is really no need for any fanfare...
The remaining 156 riders enter the neutralized zone after all signing in without any ado. Nibali, unexpectedly, received a welcome reception: the Liquigas rider is set to become the first Italian in 20 years to win the Vuelta - and he as achieved this at his first attempt in the race, and at the tender age of 25.
Today's stage is much shorter than the usual final leg of the Vuelta and culminates in 12 laps around the centre of Madrid before - in all likelihood - a ding dong battle between the remaining sprinters in the race. Green jersey Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar will be amongst the favourites... they are split by 12 points in the green jersey competition and with 30 points up for grabs at the end of the stage, there's still a lot to race for.
Slovakia's Peter Velits put in another strong ride to secure his place on the podium.
Spain's Ezequiel Mosquera won yesterday's epic mountain stage to Bolo del Mundo but Vincenzo Nibali held his nerve to finish second, meaning he takes a 41-second advantage into this final day and is all but assured of winning the race in Madrid.
Welcome to live coverage of the last stage of the Vuelta a Espana. Stage 21 is a short 85-kilometre affair from San Sebastian de los Reyes to Madrid, which should culminate in a big bunch sprint.