Roglic defends Vuelta crown after Tour agony

Madrid (AFP) –


Slovenia's Primoz Roglic won the Vuelta a Espana for the second time in as many years on Sunday to make up for his crushing disappointment at the Tour de France.

Jumbo-Visma's Roglic becomes the first rider to defend the Vuelta since Roberto Heras in 2005, with Germany's Pascal Ackermann clinching the 18th and final stage victory in Madrid.

Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz finished runner-up after leading the general classification for five stages and putting Roglic under intense pressure in the penultimate stage on Saturday.

But Roglic rallied to avoid another collapse and instead took a 24-second advantage into the last day, which he maintained to cross the line as a worthy champion.

Britain's Hugh Carthy secured third place while Ireland's Dan Martin and Spaniard Enric Mas completed the top five.

Roglic's triumph will taste particularly sweet after a late collapse cost him victory in the Tour in September, when he fell away at the end, allowing compatriot Tadej Pogacar to claim first place.

There was no flinching this time around, the 31-year-old a deserved winner and arguably rider of the year at the end of an unprecedented cycling season.

Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe edged the final stage win in a photo-finish with Sam Bennett of Deceuninck-Quick Step. Sunweb's Max Kanter came third.

But the day belonged to Roglic, who had never been lower than fourth in the overall race and now has a second success to go with his 11 stage wins in the Grand Tours.