PLATAFORMA DE GREDOS, Spain (Reuters) - Slovenian Primoz Roglic is poised to win the Vuelta a Espana after retaining the leader’s red jersey on Saturday as his compatriot Tadej Pogacar won the decisive stage 20 in the mountains with a stunning display of solo climbing.
Barring a crash in Sunday’s final stage from Fuenlabrada to the centre of Madrid, the 29-year-old will earn his first Grand Tour victory and become the fist Slovenian to win one of cycling’s three biggest races.
Roglic came fifth in the gruelling 190km mountain stage —containing five climbs — from Arenas de San Pedro to Plataforma de Gredos nine seconds behind world champion Alejandro Valverde, who is set to be the overall runner-up.
Roglic holds a lead of two minutes and 33 seconds over Valverde, while Pogacar is practically guaranteed third place and a spot on the podium after another superb solo display.
Pogacar, 20, formed part of the general classification group for the bulk of the stage but attacked on the penultimate climb to target the breakaway group containing Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro.
The youngster, who has had an astonishing debut Grand Tour, did not stay with the duo for long and launched a solo attack which saw him steadily increase his advantage as he crested the Puerto de Pena Negra climb alone.
Pogacar never looked like relinquishing his lead and came over the finish line at the summit of Plataforma de Gredos one minute and 32 seconds ahead of second-placed Valverde to collect his third stage win of the Vuelta.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge