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Vuelta Stage 20: Mosquera takes the stage, but Nibali wins the race

Mosquito bites on the Bola del Mundo, but the Shark bites back

A classic edition of the Vuelta was decided in what will surely go down as a legendary finish on the brutal ramps of the Bola del Mundo, with barely 100m to go the two men at the top of he general classification were locked together the stage went to home favourite Ezequiel Mosquera but Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Doimo followed him home by barely a wheel length to virtually assure himself of victory in the race.  Barring illness or some other major mishap on tomorrow’s procession into Madrid the 75th anniversary edition of the race belongs to Nibali. 

As the race approached the foot of the brutal final climb, the Bola del Mundo (claimed to be harder even than Mont Ventoux, and Alberto Contador's favoured training climb) Johann Tschopp (Bbox) Ruben Plaza (Caisse d'Epargne) were out in front, but with a chasing pack made up of the most of their fellow members of the days's early escape bearing down on them, with the race leaders and the rest of the peloton in turn chasing them down. They were all together with the leaders on the front as the race hit the last 8km of the climb.

With 4Km to go Mosquera pounced following a softener from Frank Schleck (who almost immediately paid for his efforts) despite gapping Nibali he just couldn't get away and the Italian inched back on to the Spaniard's wheel. Mosquera though didn't ease up - his tactic was to crack Nibali as the Bola del Mundo ramped up on to its steepest final sections. As Mosquero went under the 3km kite he had 10 seconds on Nibali but he needed 51 (including the 20 second time bonus for the stage win) to take the red jersey. Nibali was not letting go of that jersey though - and of course there was a 12 second time bonus on offer for second place too. With half a kilometre to go Nibali started to come back once again. As the metres wound down to the finish Nibali surged back on to Mosquero's wheel. The race was his. The stage was Mosquera's by little more than half a wheel. 

Team Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez was third, but couldn't do enough to overhaul Peter Velits for third place on the overall standing, Frank Schleck came in fourth, Xavier Tondo fifth an Nicholas Roche sixth

In surely doing enought to win 2010’s third and final grand tour, the 25-year-old Sicilian, nicknamed ‘Lo Squalo del Stretto’ – ‘The Shark of the Straits,’ a reference to his home town of Messina – thereby caps a fantastic year in which he came third behind team mate Ivan Basso in the Giro d’Italia, a race he wasn’t even supposed to participate in, the rider called up as an eleventh hour replacement for the suspended Franco Pellizotti.

Meanwhile, with today’s stage including the final categorised climbs of the race, David Moncoutié of Cofidis did enough to retain the polka dot jersey, and with the colour of the dots changed to avoid a clash with the race leader’s jersey, he now has a blue and white number to hang in the wardrobe next to the red and white jersey he won 12 months ago

One piece of unfinished business tomorrow is the points competition, where Tyler Farrar of Garmin Transitions trails HTC-Columbia’s Mark Cavendish by 12 points. Cavendish is seeking to become the only British rider after Malcolm Elliott in 1989 to win a points jersey at a grand tour.

Vuelta Stage 20 result

1  MOSQUERA, Ezequiel   (XAC)                          4h 45' 28''
2  NIBALI, Vincenzo     (LIQ)                                + 1''
3  RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin   (KAT)                               + 23''
4  SCHLECK, Frank       (SAX)                               + 35''
5  TONDO, Xavier        (CTT)                               + 39''
6  ROCHE, Nicholas      (ALM)                               + 42''
7  NIEVE, Mikel         (EUS)                               + 50''
8  VELITS, Peter        (THR)                               + 52''
9  LE MEVEL, Christophe (FDJ)                               + 55''
10 DI GREGORIO, Rémy    (FDJ)                            + 1' 00''
11 SASTRE, Carlos       (CTT)                            + 1' 27''
12 PUJOL, Oscar         (CTT)                            + 1' 30''
13 DUPONT, Hubert       (ALM)                            + 1' 33''
14 JUFRÉ, Josep         (AST)                            + 1' 32''
15 KREUZIGER, Roman     (LIQ)                            + 1' 32''
16 SÁNCHEZ, Luis León   (GCE)                            + 1' 32''
17 DANIELSON, Thomas    (GRM)                            + 1' 46''
18 GARCÍA, David        (XAC)                            + 1' 50''
19 CARUSO, Giampaolo    (KAT)                            + 1' 55''
20 URAN, Rigoberto      (GCE)                            + 2' 07''

Top 20 General Classification Vuelta a Espana after stage 20

1  NIBALI, Vincenzo      (LIQ)                        85h 16' 05''
2  MOSQUERA, Ezequiel    (XAC)                              + 41''
3  VELITS, Peter         (THR)                           + 3' 02''
4  RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin    (KAT)                           + 4' 20''
5  SCHLECK, Frank        (SAX)                           + 4' 43''
6  TONDO, Xavier         (CTT)                           + 4' 52''
7  ROCHE, Nicholas       (ALM)                           + 5' 03''
8  SASTRE, Carlos        (CTT                            + 6' 06''
9  DANIELSON, Thomas     (GRM)                           + 6' 09''
10 SÁNCHEZ, Luis León    (GCE)                           + 7' 33''
11 GARCÍA, David         (XAC)                           + 9' 37''
12 NIEVE, Mikel          (EUS)                          + 10' 42''
13 KARPETS, Vladimir     (KAT)                          + 13' 05''
14 MONCOUTIE, David      (COF)                          + 14' 00''
15 LE MEVEL, Christophe  (FDJ)                          + 16' 36''
16 PLAZA, Ruben          (GCE)                          + 16' 40''
17 GUSEV, Vladimir       (KAT)                          + 17' 54''
18 KASHECHKIN, Andrey    (LAM)                          + 20' 58''
19 BAKELANDTS, Jan       (OLO)                          + 24' 40''
20 LARSSON, Gustav       (SAX)                          + 25' 08'''s founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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DaSy | 13 years ago

I don't normally get overly excited by the Vuelta, but this year it has been the best GT of the three for me.

Tony Farrelly | 13 years ago

Ah, I said harder not steeper, and of course I'm going by what the pundits say cos I've never ridden up either so I'll qualify that one I think.

The reason it's suggested today's climbe might be harder is that the Bola del Mundo tops out at 2265m to the Ventoux's 1912, extra altitude etc etc + the final sections are at an average gradient as you rightly point out of 11.7 per cent AND they are not over tarmac but weathered concrete laid down in slabs.

Either way it was a hell of a finish and and awesome piece of riding from both men. Is it me or have the last couple of editions of both the Giro and Vuelta been more exciting that the Tour?

DaSy | 13 years ago

Not sure about the Bola Del Mundo being longer and steeper than the Ventoux.

Bola Del Mundo - 21.8km and gains 1350m - avg 6.4%

Mont Ventoux - 22.7km and gains 1622m - avg 7.1%

I think the last 3km are fairly brutal, with some steep ramps up to 20%, but they still average around 11 - 12%.

That said, it did look tough near the top.

Great work Vincenzo Nibali, an awesome ride worthy of the leaders jersey.

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