On Sunday, November 8, the famous Spanish bike race known as “La Vuelta a España” came to a close after having been pushed back two months from its original start date in mid-August. Despite the uncertainties of hosting the race in the midst of a pandemic, Slovenien cyclist Primož Roglič came out on top for the second consecutive year.
Originating in Spain in 1935, La Vuelta is normally a 23-day-long race, 2 of which are rest days. The route itself changes each year with a few constants, including at least two time trials, stretches through the Pyrenees Mountains, and a finish in Spain’s Capital, Madrid. This year’s race was almost entirely limited to the Northern and Northwestern part of Spain, completely dodging Southern and Eastern Spain, with a relatively short stretch taking place in Portugal. The race is known as one of the Grand Tours, along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. This year, the race was especially historic, only consisting of 18 stages instead of the usual 21, which marks the first time in the last 35 years the race has had fewer than 21 stages.
Vuelta 2020 had some impressive moments from a multitude of racers. In the last kilometer of stage 8, both Roglič and Richard Carapaz of Ecuador fought for victory on the final climb of the day. After a few tense moments of the cyclists being neck and neck, Roglič made a huge lunge, putting himself in the lead and ultimately winning himself the stage. With a decisive victory, Hugh Carthy became the first British rider to win on one of the most difficult climbs of the entire race, the Alto de L’Angliru, on stage 12 of the race.
This year’s win for Roglič was even more impressive considering what happened at the Tour de France in mid-August, where he lost to 21-year-old Tadej Pogačar after being in control for the first two weeks. Falling behind on one of the final stages, Pogačar beat Roglič by almost two minutes, thoroughly eating through Roglič’s lead.
This recent win served as a sort of redemption for Roglič, narrowly beating Carapaz in the final climb of the race. The first, second, and third place times were the closest they had ever been, all within one minute. Roglič himself took the red jersey — a special jersey reserved for the winner of the race — by only 25 seconds. Nevertheless, he took the trophy and is the winner of the final race of the professional season.