10/09/17 - 5:00 PM
Arroyomolinos - Madrid
Vuelta a España • Stage21

Arroyomolinos - Madrid
Vuelta a España - 10 September 2017

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Thanks for joining me, Felix Lowe, throughout this Vuelta a Espana. Feel free to follow me beyond three-week cycling tours in Spain on Twitter - @saddleblaze. And I leave you with a picture of the Vuelta green jersey winner with a slice of pizza... Adios, amigos!


Trentin may have beaten the likes of Manzin, Kragh Andersen, Van Asbroeck and Garcia Cortina in the final sprint, but Froome's late surge saw him win the green jersey by two points. Davide Villella won the polka dot jersey, Froome the combined, and Astana - oddly enough - the team classification. And that's a wrap...


So, here's the final top 20 as Froome is joined on the podium by Nibali and Zakarin.


Confirmation that Froome's 11th place sees him finish on 158pts - that's two more than Matteo Trentin. Some will applaud that, others will think it's a bit much: the green jersey means nothing to him, but the world to the Italian. But there you go - he's hungry for success on every plane.


We're on tenterhooks while we wait... and there it is: Froome finishes 11th - and wins the green jersey as well as the red.


Chris Froome (Team Sky) wins the Vuelta a Espana. And he got involved in the final sprint - and it looks like he finished 13th, which may give him enough points to hold on to the green jersey...


A fourth vctory for Matteo Trentin of Quick-Step Floors! And with it, the green jersey!


Alaphilippe leads it out...


It's around the tight left-hander for the last time and under the flamme rouge...


The pace is really high now as Quick-Step really wrest control of this final stage. Trentin has a rogue Cofidis rider in front of him.


But Quick-Step are the only team with a proper train - with four riders leading out Trentin for now. Can the big Italian get a fourth win and secure the green jersey?


Trek-Segafredo edge forward for Theuns - and there are riders for Ag2R-La Mondiale and Cannondale-Drapac as well.


Bahrain Merida have two men on the front now, which is odd because they don't really have any sprinters.


Orica-Scott move up now - they'll be working for their man Magnus Cort. And here come Aqua Blue Sport for Adam Blythe.


The bell rings for the last lap - and Costa and De Marchi have sat up. Game on.


We're approaching the flamme rouge for the penultimate time and FDJ have come toward to help Quick-Step in the chase, as well as Bora-Hansgrohe.


Here's the moment Contador rode clear of the pack ahead of these laps... spine-tingling.

Video - Contador laps up applause of crowd on farewell ride


Schultz has called it a day, so just two men out in front now - Costa and De Marchi.


Yves Lampaert - the Stage 2 winner and second man to wear the red jersey - leads the chase with fellow Quick-Stepper Tim Declercq. They're closing in on the leaders...


Two more laps now for the riders - and the gap is seven seconds.


The sun is setting on Madrid, on this race, and on the career of Alberto Contador. And it's also setting on the hopes of this leading trio, who's gap is down to less than 10 seconds now.


Three more laps and the gap is still around the 15-second mark.


De Marchi has been a regular fixture in breakaways in this year's Vuelta, while Costa has features on a handful of occasions too. Their gap is getting bigger - around 15 seconds now - but surely they won't call an upset today?


The gap is 13 seconds as the three leaders cross the finish line to mark four laps to go.


Quick-Step continue to lead the chase - and they're keeping this leading trio on a leash. They're digging deep but they haven't managed to open up much of a gap.


In the aftermath of that sprint, three riders have zipped clear: Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Nicholas Schultz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).


Stannard leads Froome out - but the red jersey doesn't have the power to come through - and instead it's Moscon who takes third place in the sprint behind... Trentin and Alaphilippe. So Trentin is on course for green - but he'll still need to win the stage. That was quite risky by Froome, who came very close to being clipped by Alaphilippe near the barriers. Needless, really.


Right, we have the sprint coming up in one kilometre - and now Froome has come up near the front with Stannard - he wants it all!


Two more Sky riders test Quick-Step's patience by riding clear - they're taking the p*ss, surely?


They cross the line - and there are seven more laps now. The intermediate sprint comes after the next lap, so it's odd seeing so much argy-bargy so early on before the sprint.


Seven Quick-Step Floors riders come to the front now - and they're having words with Moscon, probably to the effect that he should stop being such a d*ck.


They're approaching the intermediate sprint now and the pace getting intense now as Gianni Moscon zips clear ahead of the tight U-bend before the flamme rouge.


Straight away, Team Sky send two riders onto the front as the pace increases - this is met by a response by Quick-Step Floors, who need to deliver Trentin to at least one point at the intermediate sprint to keep the green jersey dream alive. Sky are not going to let them have it easy.


Contador is given a full five kilometres to milk the applause of the home crowds - and he passes through the finish line to rapturous cheers before being reabsorbed by the peloton.


Emotional scenes as Contador continues his valedictory ride in front of the fans...


That's a nice touch: Alberto Contador, on his final day as a pro, is allowed to ride ahead of the peloton to take in the praise and applause from the home crowds. He's give a few kilometres out ahead and the crowds are going crazy - and under those sunglasses, there are clearly some tears.


Right, who would win today? Matteo Trentin is the favourite to take a fourth stage win but the Italian will be pushed by the likes of Adam Blythe, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Juan Jose Lobato, Edward Theuns, Sacha Modolo, Tom Van Asbroeck, Michael Swarzmann, Lorenzo Manzin, Julian Duval, Magnus Cort Nielsen... Those laps in Madrid are coming up.


Froome is currently riding off the back of the peloton after dropping back to see the team car. That's all that's happening, really. Where does he go from here? Well, given how Quintana suffered this season off the back of a Tour and Vuelta, don't expect Froome to turn up at the Giro before the Tour in 2018. Presumably he will ensure he joins the five-Tour club before giving the Giro any serious thoughts. And if he wins the Tour next year - even if he doesn't - you'd think he'd return to the Vuelta. A double-double, perhaps?


Here was that coffee run by Agnoli earlier...


The pace is beginning to increase a little as the Madrid skyline approaches on the horizon. As a result, the peloton is all strung out - with Team Sky and then Bahrain Merida setting the tempo.


The hijinx continue. But I'm not sure about you - if I were in red, and the team of the man who was runner-up offered me a coffee on the final day, I'd probably politely decline. Who knows what mysterious substance could be in it...?!


One jersey that has not been decided is the green jersey - which could still yet be won by Matteo Trentin should he win today's stage and net 25 points after finishing at least third in the intermediate sprint, to add the final point he would need to tie Froome's tally of 153 points. In between, Vincenzo Nibali has 128 points but - like Froome - he will probably not add any points today. Whereas Trentin already has three stage wins and is probably the best sprinter in the pack...


You know we mentioned the "Un ano mas" song that Contador's team-mates sang earlier? Well, here it is...


Meanwhile, in the race - which isn't actually a race, or at least won't be until we start those circuits in Madrid - the peloton plods along with Team Sky still on the front, goofing around. It's a relaxed atmosphere and everyone is all smiles - except most of the world's media covering the event, who now won't be home in time for dinner.


While we're at it - and while they're riding so slowly - here's a video about how Froome turned three runner-up positions in the Vuelta into a win and a historic double.

Video - Chris Froome does the double: a modern masterpiece


Talking of Contador, here's a career retrospective video on the swashbuckling Spaniard. With the pace so slow at the moment, we'll have time to watch all these highlights - and some - before the finish.

Video - Alberto Contador: The soaring highs and crushing lows of an amazing career


Meanwhile, Markel Irizar and Edward Theuns seranade their Trek-Segafredo captain Contador with the "Un ano mas" song - imploring the Spaniard to ride on for another year before retirement. That was the original plan, until his disappointing Tour. It will be interesting to see what happens next - will Bertie be involved at all with Trek, will he have a change of heart and return to the fold, or will he pile on the pounds while out of the saddle?


It doesn't look like him, but that is Contador with a glass of back-washed Cava. He's in the white combined jersey even through he's tied for points with Miguel Angel Lopez, but behind Froome - who can only wear the red jersey today.


Here's a video of those early beer-swigging exploits from Sky...

Video - Chris Froome cracks open beers with Team Sky colleagues


What do they say, beer then wine, you're fine, but wine then beer, oh dear?


They've been riding for about 25 minutes now and they've only completed 10km. Until they get into Madrid, today is going to be a bit of a trundle.


And it's not just Froome's bike and the eight other Sky riders' kit that has a red theme: the team cars have a red stripe on them, too.


And that's a record: just 3km into the final stage and Sky have already got the beers out. They're now goofing around, with Ian Stannard the ring-leader and spraying most of his team-mates...


While Froome has his red bike, Team Sky also have a celebratory kit today.


It's a sunny day in central Spain with the temperature a warm but decent 25C.


Finally, they're off. Although the pace once the flag is flown is pretty much the same as it was before: sluggish and smiley.


We're approaching the end of the neutralized zone and oddly, we have not yet seen the polka dot jersey of Davide Villella. While the other jersey wearers are on the front of the pack in a line, the Italian clearly didn't get the memo. Either that or he's withdrawn ahead of the final stage, which would be a wretch. Ah, no, there he is! Near the back, for some reason. Come on, Davide, you should be wearing your king of the mountains jersey with pride!


A better look at Froome's bike today...


This is a very long neutral section as they edge their way very slowly out of Arroyomolinos and through the spiralling suburbs of Madrid.


Yesterday's winner talks to the overall winner in their last day riding alongside each other in the pro peloton.


Special limited edition paint-job for the race leader today to celebrate his first ever Vuelta victory.


Having posed for photos and done all the formalities, the riders are now pedalling through the neutral zone ahead of today's stage... Froome is in red, Vincenzo Nibali in green, Contador in white and Davide Villella in polka dots.


Here's what the riders face today in the final stage to Madrid. Safe to say, it won't be as hard as a single kilometre of yesterday's stage to the Angliru...


Hola and welcome to live coverage of the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana - a 117.6km pan-flat ride from Arroyomolinos to Madrid, a largely processional affair which concludes with some competitive laps in the Spanish capital ahead of a final bunch sprint for spoils ahead of Chris Froome's crowning.