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Historic day for Slovenian cycling with riders first and third overall ahead of Madrid finale

Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates – at 20 years of age, the youngest rider in this year’s Vuelta – has won Stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana after launching a solo attack from more than 30 kilometres out on a historic day for Slovenian cycling, with Jumbo Visma’s Primoz Roglic poised to ride into Madrid tomorrow to seal his overall victory.

In a year that has seen many young riders burst onto the scene, Pogacar has taken his third stage victory of this year’s race six days ahead of his 21st birthday. He will also win the white jersey as best young rider, taking it back again from Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez. 

The second rider across the line was the oldest man in the race, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, riding for the last time in the rainbow jersey of world champion. He defended his second place overall, but Pogacar – who finished 1 minute 32 seconds ahead of the Spaniard – moves up to third place overall.

Winner-in-waiting Primoz Roglic

It was a tough day in the mountains. Today, like the last few days, we have shown that we are a strong team. From the start we were well positioned and sharp. Everyone did an excellent job. In the end I felt good enough to stay with the best. There is one more day to go, but fortunately there are no mountains in tomorrow’s stage!”

“After the Giro, it was not difficult to motivate myself for this race. I want to compete for the win in every race I start. I have prepared as well as possible for this Vuelta. It has been three tough weeks and I am glad it’s coming to an end. There was not one key moment this Vuelta, but there were several. Something happened in every stage, even in the relatively flat stages. Tomorrow I have to cross the line in Madrid and then it'll be time to enjoy it.

Stage winner and best young rider Tadej Pogacar

I started the race with good legs, but didn’t feel as good mentally. But then I began to notice that everyone else was struggling in the cold and rain and I started to feel better. When we had about 5kms left of the penultimate climb,

I knew there was a head wind, so I wasn’t initially sure if I should go. But after watching lots of other failed attacks I could tell my rivals weren’t feeling that good. I put in a strong acceleration and no one could follow, then I was able to go full gas and maintain my lead until the finish line. I never imagined I would be in this position three weeks ago. It feels incredible.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.