Britain’s Hugh Carthy is on the verge of an unexpected third place at the Vuelta a Espana with Primoz Roglic set to win.
Barring incident on Sunday’s largely processional final stage to Madrid, Carthy will stand on the podium behind Roglic and Richard Carapaz.
Carthy’s podium comes a fortnight after Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d’Italia for Ineos Grenadiers.
Saturday’s gruelling mountainous stage was won by Groupama-FDJ’s David Gaudu.
Jumbo-Visma’s Roglic will likely defend the Vuelta title from last season when he won his first three-week Grand Tour – finishing 24 seconds ahead of Ineos Grenadiers’ Carapaz and 47 seconds in front of Carthy of EF Pro Cycling.
Roglic’s achievement is impressive after conceding victory in this year’s Tour de France to compatriot Tadej Pogacar on the penultimate time trial – losing two minutes after being the overwhelming favourite – in one of the sport’s most dramatic finishes.
And once again it was a nail-biting finish on the summit of the Alto de la Covatilla as Carapaz attacked in the final seven kilometres and Roglic couldn’t hold on, with Carthy even riding away from the struggling 30-year-old.
Ireland’s Dan Martin is set to take fourth for Israel Stat Up Nation, 2mins 43secs down after being in contention for much of the 18-stage race.
Saturday’s 178.2km summit finish stage from Sequeros, to the west of Madrid, was won by Gaudu after he powered away from Astana’s Ion Izagirre as the last survivors from a large breakaway of riders, which also included Britain’s Mark Donovan, who finished fifth for Sunweb.
“I was trying to test Roglic and Carapaz,” said a breathless Carthy after crossing the line. “In the end it wasn’t enough. I gave it my best – the whole team did for three weeks. I can’t complain.
“It was a real team effort. I’m happy with that and my progression, and I’m proud of myself for showing my ability.”
More to follow.