MOS, Spain — Primoz Roglic has only the decisive stage’s time trial left to win his third consecutive Spanish Vuelta title after finishing the rugged 20th stage runner-up to Clement Champoussin on Saturday.
Roglic leads Enric Mas by 2 1/2 minutes before Sunday’s time trial over 34 kilometers (21 miles) from Padron to the medieval city of Santiago de Compostela, destination of the St. James Way pilgrimage trail.
“I’m looking forward to the time trial tomorrow,” Roglic said. “We’ve been waiting for this so finally here we are.”
Roglic is favored to hold onto his commanding lead, despite his bad memories from the 2020 Tour de France, where he lost the yellow jersey on a decisive time trial to fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.
Roglic won the time trial gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and the Vuelta’s first time trial on its opening stage. Mas, however, is a pure climber who does his damage in the mountain.
Champoussin took his first professional win by claiming the 202-kilometer (125-mile) ride from Sanxenxo to Mos in 5 hours, 20-plus minutes. The French rider for AG2R blew past Roglic and three other riders who were caught off guard with less than two kilometers left on the final ascent.
Champoussin was part of an early breakaway group that was caught and then passed by the top riders. But he was able to stay in contact and took advantage when he saw his chance.
“I hung on and a little over a mile from the finish I was lucky they looked at each other,” Champoussin said. “Since I’m not dangerous, I thought to myself that I had to try to pass a little faster. The last kilometer wasn’t too hard and I was able to stay ahead until the end.”
Ineos set a hard pace through the middle of the route over green hills on the northwest coast with views of the Atlantic below. An attack by Adam Yates on the category-one Alto de Mougas shattered what was left of the peloton, leaving Roglic with a Jumbo-Visma teammate.
But Roglic needed no help to resist the attacks by Yates and Mas over the final stretch.
“I’m super happy with the place I finished in today with the way it went. I couldn’t wish for more,” Roglic said. “I was mainly looking at Yates and Enric (Mas) but at the end there were a lot more guys. I kept everything more or less under control.”
Mas’ Movistar teammate, Miguel Angel Lopez, however, cracked during the Yates attack and saw his hold on third place overall crumble. After struggling for a long period while the difference grew, the Colombian got off his bike and withdrew from the race.
Jack Haig moved into third overall at 4:48 behind Roglic. Yates was fourth at 5:48. Egan Bernal was sixth, but more than 11 minutes back.
Roglic on brink of 3rd straight Spanish Vuelta title originally appeared on NBCSports.com