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Cycling

La Vuelta | Stage 18

Uninterrupted Coverage, Hipódromo de la Zarzuela - Madrid (139.6km)

03:12:08

Replay

Top five on the stage

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1. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe)
2. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
3. Max Kanter (Sunweb)
4. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates)
5. Jasha Sütterlin (Sunweb)

Ackermann lights it up first!

But with Bennett fighting back late on, they come to a photo – finish.

It was all neat and tidy until it wasn't. The leadout trains just seemed to melt away and all of a sudden, Bennett was riding on the tails of Philipsen's teammate.

And after an eternity we get the photo....

Pascal Ackermann wins the final stage of La Vuelta! He just hung on after launching his sprint first. Great effort from his leadout train too.

Flamme Rouge!

They take the final hairpin turn and it's Bora leading. Bennett loses a few positions and his leadout is gone. He's tucked behind Bora.

4km to go – Agonising

After a penultimate hairpin turn that causes anyone in the final third of the peloton to come to a dead stop, it's still Deceuninck QuickStep leading, with UAE Team Emirates trying to infiltrate.

One more turn to come and Sunweb look to have the better side of the road going into it now.

And now a HUGE turn from MItchelton brings their sprinter into contention.

5km to go – Catch is made

That was a valiant effort from the quartet, but as we hit the bell lap they are absorbed back into the peloton.

Bennett has a phalanx of Deceuninck QuickStep riders to support him and they are right in pole position.

10km to go – Sprint teams to the fore

No surprises that it's UAE Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-Quick Step who are doing the work in the bunch. They have rapidly chopped 15 seconds from the breakaway's lead.

Sunweb are also looking very interested.

15km to go – 25 seconds for our break

And they are showing no signs of slowing down at the moment.

This is impressive stuff from Wellens and co. The Beligian from Lotto Soudal has been at it all the way through this race, with a stage win already to his name, not to mention an astonishing number of kilometres in the breakaway.

20km to go – Four in the lead

But hardly any gap at all. This pace is furious.

Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) and Gonzalo Serrano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) join Smit and Wellens now.

25km to go – Well this is truly unique..

We're seeing an intermediate sprint that actually matters at this year's Vuelta.

Right now Astana are trying to set up Aleksandr Vlasov for the bonus seconds on offer at the intermediate. If he wins the sprint, he'll take three seconds and leapfrog Alejandro Valverde into the top ten on GC.

Movistar are doing everything they can to prevent this, as well as Tim Wellens and Willie Smit who are still off the front. If either of the escapees crosses first, Vlasov can no longer 'catch' Valverde.

30km to go – Hammer down!

There will be no ceremonial first passage of the line today for Jumbo Visma, as Tim Wellens launches off the front to try and form a breakaway.

The honour of crossing the line the first time is usually reserved for either a retiring Spanish rider, or the team of the overall winner – but today it's Wellens, who is not hanging about. Can he really hold off the peloton for 30km?

Willie Smit of Burgos BH has joined him.

40km to go – Final hour of racing

This is it then, they're on the central Madrid circuit and they will be hammering up and down this road for the remainder of the 2020 pro cycling season!

It's strange and sad to see the streets of Madrid so deserted. This stage is usually a jubilant and vivacious afternoon of bike racing and day-drinking in the Spanish capital.

45km to go – Mike Woods is nuts

And finally some pace has been injected into the stage. Jumbo Visma are back on the front drilling it, as they have been for much of this three week race.

Before we hit the circuit, let's hear from Mike Woods of EF Pro Cycling.

Woods on why this Vuelta is his best Grand Tour yet ... and why if he was a nut he'd be a cashew

50km to go – Trophy for Froome at long last

Chris Froome became the champion of La Vuelta 2011 retroactively, when the title was taken away from Jaunjo Cobo for doping.

Today, before the stage, Froome was presented with a trophy for his win. Here he is reminding us of the remarkable circumstances in which he found out about that victory.

Froome - 'The 2011 Vuelta was hugely significant for me, to be given the trophy now is incredible'

And here he is lifting the trophy earlier on.

Beaming Chris Froome finally receives his trophy for the 2011 Vuelta

60km to go – Thoughts turn to 2021

Seems kinda strange that Dan Martin and Chris Froome have been around so long, and yet never raced together on a pro team.

Here's Martin, fourth overall in La Vuelta, talking about next season when the two old stagers will unite in the blue and white of Israel StartUp Nation.

'I'm excited to race with someone of his calibre' - Dan Martin on teaming up with Chris Froome

70km to go – Ackermann fancies his chances

The German is certainly second-favourite today.

Confident Ackermann excited by prospect of Stage 18 sprint in Madrid

Jubilant Jumbo

Roglic and his domestique deluxe celebrating the win.

Sepp Kuss and Primoz Roglic celebrate their second Vuelta triumph

95km to go – Some words from today's winner. Probably.

It's hard to look past Sammy B, today. Maybe Ackermann can beat him, but one does wonder if that would require another stray elbow from the Irishman.

Bennett hunts for triple crown - 'I've won in Rome, I've won in Paris, I really want this one'

First double since the dark days

Nobody has won back-to-back Vueltas since Roberto Heras in the early 2000s, when bike racing was slightly more trubo-charged than it is now.

It's a historic achievement for Roglic, for Jumbo Visma and for Slovenia.

100 km to go – Nada

Nothing happening right now. The various combinations of riders (the GC podium, the winners of the jerseys, the various teams of the key protagonists) are riding through to the front for their photo ops. I think we should see a breakaway as we enter the precincts of Madrid, but until then, expect a lot of champagne supping and not much else.

Ceratizit Madrid Challenge winner crowned...

The three-dayer came to a close earlier today on the same downtown Madrid circuit that will bring down the curtain on the men's race later this afternoon.

To find out who won, click here.

If you're avoiding the result, the highlights will be on Eurosport later today at 7pm UK time.

109km to go – Non-threatening Boy Band alert!

Please name this Boy Band... tweet me at

Cavagna takes most aggressive rider of La Vuelta...

And it's hard to argue with that, given his indefatigable approach to getting in breakaways day after day, including on stage 9 where he rode 100m in front of the actual break for about 10 km, purely because he felt they weren't working hard enough.

No stage win for the Frenchman this year, but he gave the peloton quite a fright on a number of occasions.

118km to go – Peloton well underway

But it's all extremely relaxed right now. Ater all, that celebratory cava is not going to drink itself...

One last time around the block...

Welcome all to the final day of live road racing in 2020. It feels pretty amazing to have reached this point, after all we've experienced through the season.

It's the ceremonial sprint stage coming up, with a predicted win for Irishman Sam Bennett (Deceuninck Quick-Step). Just 124km to deal with as well, making it the shortest stage of the race this year, barring time trials.

If you have a Eurosport Player account you can watch the action live by clicking above, while keeping tabs on the live blog comments at the same time. The marvels of modern technology, eh?

Stage 18 preview

What we do know about today's final stage, is that Primoz Roglic’s victory has been a sublime team performance from start to finish.

The peloton will take on a 139.6k ride from Hipodromo de la Zarzuela to Madrid and the finish of the final Grand Tour of an unprecedented season.

Take a look at the route that the riders will be embarking upon...

https://i.eurosport.com/2020/10/15/2915352.png

Feature: Roglic has Hofstede to thank for Vuelta triumph

Richard Carapaz and Hugh Carthy showed that they were stronger than Primoz Roglic on the final climb of La Vuelta, but a lack of support proved their undoing. While Roglic was able to rely on his team-mates just as he needed the help, Carapaz and Carthy were all alone and unable to pull back enough time.

Stage 17 recap - Roglic secures the red jersey

David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) won Stage 17 of La Vuelta a Espana as Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) clung on to his overall lead to go into the processional final stage as the race leader.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos) and Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) both attacked on the final climb, but neither were able to take enough seconds off Roglic to deny the Jumbo-Visma rider.

The top five on the stage was:

1. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)
2. Gino Mäder (NTT), +28''
3. Ion Izagirre (Astana), +1'05''
4. David de la Cruz (UAE Team Emirates), +1'05''
5. Mark Donovan (Sunweb), +1'53''

HOW TO WATCH LA VUELTA LIVE – TV & LIVE STREAMING

The Vuelta a Espana is live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport App.

Each day Eurosport.co.uk will stream uninterrupted coverage of each stage. We will also have rolling coverage online on the website and our social channels.

And don't forget, we are bringing you podcasts from the Bradley Wiggins Show - check in with your podcast provider for the latest show.

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