Primož Roglič wrote his name into the history books of the Vuelta a España with a third successive victory in the final Grand Tour of the season.
In the end it was an emphatic victory for the Slovenian, hot on the heels of his gold medal at the Olympic Games, but the three-week journey around Spain from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela provided drama and action in abundance.
Read: La Vuelta a España 2021 Final Standings
From breakaway heroes Michael Storer and Magnus Cort to the comeback kid Fabio Jakobsen and all the suspense and intrigue of a GC battle contested by Enric Mas, Miguel Ángel López, Egan Bernal, Adam Yates, Jack Haig that went right down to the penultimate stage.
Let's cast our eyes back over a wonderful edition of La Vuelta with the best images from the race.
With his gold bike and gold helmet, newly crowned Olympic time-trial champion Primož Roglič got the defence of his Vuelta a España title off to the best possible start with victory in the opening time-trial through the warm, dusky streets of Burgos. Credit: Getty Images.
The first shake-down of the overall contenders came early in the race with the summit finish on Picón Blanco. Rein Taaramäe became an unexpected leader with victory from the breakaway. Credit: ASO/Charly López.
One of the riders who slipped out of the GC battle was Richard Carapaz. The Olympic road race champion turned into aggressive breakaway protagonist over the following fortnight but withdrew before the final week. Credit: Chris Auld
The Transformation. A little over one year on from a crash that nearly took his life, sprinter Fabio Jakobsen took an emotional first victory back in a Grand Tour on stage four. This was to be the Dutchman's race; he went on to win two more stages, the pick of them stage 16 (above), survive the mountains to win the green points jersey, and he leaves Spain back at the top of the sport. Credit: ASO/Photogomezsport
Read: Fabio Jakobsen – A Story of Strength, Bravery and Courage
It wasn't all plain sailing for Jakobsen and Deceuninck-Quick-Step. Jasper Philipsen and his Alpecin-Fenix lead-out train ran him close and the Belgian took two stages of his own. He withdrew after stage 10 but completed the Grand Tour hat-trick for his squad. Credit: Chris Auld
Nor was it straightforward for the rest of the bunch. GC hopeful Romain Bardet was the highest profile casualty of this crash on stage five but bounced back to win atop Pico Villuercas nine stages later. Credit: ASO/Photogomezsport
Great is the sun, and wide he goes, through empty heaven without repose. Credit: ASO/Charly López (and Robert Louis Stevenson)
An undisputed star of the show was Magnus Cort Nielsen. The Dane bagged a remarkable hat-trick of wins in the Vuelta but this one, by mere metres from a breakaway on stage six while Primož Roglič hunted him down, was the pick of the lot. Credit: ASO/Photogomezsport
The 2021 Vuelta was to become a race for the breakaway. Michael Storer dispatched his companions (including Alex Aranburu, pictured) to take the first of two stage wins en route to the king of the mountains classification on the first true mountain stage of the race, which finished at the beautiful Balcón de Alicante. Credit: ASO/Charly López
A diligent Primož Roglič marks an aggressive Adam Yates in the GC battle behind the breakaway on stage seven, during which Alejandro Valverde crashed out. Credit: ASO/Charly López
Read: Primož Roglič – A Champion Always Learning
The Alto de Velefique, the Alpe d'Huez of Spain, brought the curtain down on the opening week of the 2021 Vuelta. Damiano Caruso won the stage with a huge breakaway but Primož Roglič grasped the GC race by the scruff of the neck with Enric Mas in tow. Credit: ASO/Charly López
On the fearsome 'wall' of Valdepeñas de Jaén on stage 11, Roglič and Mas consolidated their positions as the best two riders in the race. Credit: Getty Images
But it was relative unknown Norwegian, Odd Christian Eiking, who wore red. The Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matérieux rider took over the race lead from a break on stage 10 and defied the odds to defend it through to stage 17. Credit: ASO/Photogomezsport
Meanwhile towards the back of the pack, Olympic mountain bike champion Tom Pidcock kept everyone entertained on his Grand Tour debut. Credit: Chris Auld
La Vuelta '21: Notes from an Empty Country. Credit: ASO/Charly López
The Spanish summer sun beat down on the Vuelta as it looped around the southern edges of the country. Kiel Reijnen and Quinn Simmons found time for a quick dip in the Med. Credit: Chris Auld.
Or there's always cold water and juice. Credit: ASO/Photogomezsport
The Ineos duo of Yates and Bernal tried in vain to really ignite the GC race in the second week. Credit: ASO/Photogomezsport
The three amigos. Breakaways succeeded on nine stages in this year's race. Riders from Euskaltel-Euskadi, Caja Rural and Burgos-BH, the three wildcard Spanish invitation teams, reliably filled the ones that didn't. Credit: Getty Images
Classic Vuelta. Hot sun, concrete goat path, ridiculous gradient and loads of happy fans. Credit: Getty Images.
Egan Bernal lit up one of the best Grand Tour stages of recent years when he attacked in the pouring rain with over 60km to go on stage 17 to Lagos de Covadonga. Credit: Getty Images.
Primož Roglič rode away from the Colombian on the Vuelta's most famous summit finish and took what will rank as one of his finest victories, retaking the race lead in the process. Credit: Getty Images
...while the Giro d'Italia champion drifted back into the mists. Credit: Getty Images
Read: Egan Bernal – The Vuelta's Antagonist
Miguel Ángel 'Supermán' López tamed the new climb of the Altu d'El Gamoniteiru on stage 18 although the Colombian's race would end in drama as he abandoned on stage 20 while his third place on the GC was slipping away from him. Credit: Getty Images
Read: Gamoniteiru – The Angliru's Evil Sister
As ever, the Vuelta's stay in the Cantabrian mountains of Northern Spain was a tale of heroics and heartbreak. Matt Holmes battled in vain to beat the time limit on the final mountain stage. Credit: Chris Auld
That fascinating final road stage that saw Miguel Ángel López climb into the team car also saw French youngster Clément Champoussin take his debut Grand Tour stage at the last opportunity. That made it a GT trio for his Ag2r-Citroën team. Credit: Getty Images
With a commanding lead entering the final stage TT, there was never any doubt that Primož Roglič would seal the deal. The race leader took a fourth stage win en route to his third consecutive Vuelta a España title. Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Chris Auld
Roglič was joined on the podium by Enric Mas (second) and an impressive Jack Haig (third), whose Bahrain team helped detonate the race on the penultimate day (but whose child is not a fan of loud bangs and ticker tape). Credit: Getty Images