The Colombian fans had plenty to cheer about at the finish of stage 18 in Becerril de la Sierra, as 22-year-old Sergio Higuita took his first grant tour stage win.
Fifteen seconds later, Roglic outsprinted Valverde for an additional two bonus seconds.
Lopez, fifth on the stage, gained a minute on Pogacar to take the upper hand in their back-and-forth battle for the best young rider’s jersey.
A few minutes later, a group of riders who finished together reached out to congratulate (or commiserate with?) each other for surviving another tough mountain stage.
Proud stage winner:
And they say he never smiles!
The medieval city walls of Avila (seen here as Pogacar rides from the sign-in stage to the start line) formed the backdrop for the start of stage 19.
Some of his compatriots came to see their new hero, Sergio Higuita, warm up before the stage.
It was a beautiful scene as the riders rolled through the neutral zone alongside the walls of Avila.
It was raining as they brought us up in shuttles to the finish of stage 20 at Plataforma de Gredos, so we all hung out inside the inflatable press room, watching the stage on tv, until just before the riders arrived.
The rain had stopped, and the Slovenian flags were flying, as Pogacar finished his gutsy solo ride onto the GC podium, and into the best-young-rider jersey.
It was another minute and a half before Valverde and Majka arrived, with Roglic visible just behind them.
Last day in the white jersey for Lopez:
Marc Soler turned himself inside-out for his team leader(s) throughout the Vuelta, but still managed to hang on for a top-ten GC spot.
The team buses were parked ten kilometers from the finish line, so riders fueled up before riding down. The CCC boys had a little picnic with some tortilla wraps, John Degenkolb inhaled a sandwich, and Sam Bennett scarfed some pasta.
Best post-stage smile: Luisle Sanchez
Best press-conference expressions:
Roglic: Should I have an attorney present for this questioning?
Pogacar: These interrogators will not crack me