After almost a month of gruelling racing, we finally arrive at the end of 2017’s La Vuelta a España, Chris Froome having achieved his ambition of consecutive grand tour victories in familiar faultless fashion. With a processional ride into Madrid to celebrate his success, much of the race’s remaining stress will be upon the shoulders of sprinters and their teammates. Leaving the start in Arroyomolinos, it is a total of 117.6km to the finish within the Spanish capital, of which should prove another showcase of the fastest men left standing at the race this year. The finale itself posses very few technical challenges, with the final dash to the line a simple affair that will be a drag race set to have the sprinters duke it out for the last stage honours on offer.
Magnus Cort shall finally be allowed off the leash to chance his luck amongst a bunch kick on the last stage of this year’s Vuelta a España. Though we have not seen a great deal of the Orica-Scott rider during the last three weeks, he is certainly one of the fastest riders present and will relish the opportunity to remind people of this fact. The leadout afforded to him shall not be particularly ideal, though at the end of a grand tour stage race, it becomes more of a head to head task to discover who has the energy remaining to turn in one last successful sprint.
Matteo Trentin has ridden the race particularly intelligently and could walk away with one of the leader’s jerseys as a result of his canny tactics. He is not the fastest man here and should be one of the most fatigued as a result of his recent breakaway efforts, though the motivation to win the points jersey at the final time of asking could make all the difference for him. The leadout at his disposal might remedy any issues however, as their combined power will make it tough for rivals to seize control in the concluding kilometres.
Edward Theuns should find himself with a brilliant chance of taking the win on Stage 21, as the talented Belgian appears to have survived the rigours of the previous three weeks in good shape, providing confidence that he is still able to produce his best in a sprint finish. Though his role has often meant supporting his teammates, limiting his hopes of winning, his surprising freshness has been evident when working for Alberto Contador. If Trek-Segafredo manages to produce a successful leadout, then they shall have great odds of taking back to back stage wins in the final weekend of racing.
Adam Blythe should feel a sense of pressure having been lessened as a result of teammate Stefan Denifl’s victory last week for Aqua Blue Sport, allowing him to enjoy this last opportunity to secure a win for himself. This stage suits him convincingly so and the leadout train expected to support him will be one of the best still capable of performing strongly at such a late point in the race. The British sprinter’s greatest problem will be fatigue; though this is the case for everyone now and his highly motivated teammates could compensate for this issue well enough for him.
Those also expected to muster a final strong showing in the anticipated sprint are Sacha Modolo, Tom Van Asbroeck, Søren Kragh and Michael Schwarzmann.
1st Adam Blythe 2nd Matteo Trentin 3rd Magnus Cort