‘My greatest achievement’

Chris Froome crosses the finish line on stage 20

Chris Froome will win La Vuelta after finishing runner-up on three occasions

Chris Froome has effectively become the first Briton to win the Vuelta a Espana as Alberto Contador won the penultimate stage of this year’s race.

Contador, who retires after the race, surged clear on the gruelling 13.2km ascent of Alto de Angliru.

Team Sky’s Froome was third, 17 seconds behind Contador but 34 clear of Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali to extend his lead over the Italian to two minutes, 15 seconds.

Sunday’s finale is largely processional and Froome will not be challenged.

If the 32-year-old completes the stage, which is expected to finish in a bunch sprint in Madrid, he will become just the third man in history to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year, following Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978).

It will be a fifth Grand Tour victory for the four-time Tour de France champion and move him up to joint seventh on the all-time list – Eddy Merckx, who is also one of six riders to win each of the three Grand Tours (the other being the Giro d’Italia) at least once, leads the way with 11.

‘It’s been a rollercoaster, relentless’

Both Anquetil and Hinault won the Vuelta when the Spanish race was held in the spring, with the Tour following in July, so Froome will be the first to complete the double since it was moved in 1995.

“It’s an amazing feeling, having come here for the last six years trying to win and finishing second three times,” he told BBC Sport. “Once I get home and have to make my own breakfast for the first time in over a month I’m sure it will begin to sink in.

“The team has just been incredible over the last few months. It’s meant so much to me, the way they have supported us. I owe a massive thank you to all my team-mates.

“That is probably the toughest Grand Tour I’ve ever ridden. There was something different happening every day. I’ve had good days and then I’ve been lying on the ground, bleeding, thinking my race might be over.

“It’s been a rollercoaster – absolutely relentless. It’s a relief now to finish and to be getting to Madrid.

“It probably is my greatest achievement, being the first person to win the Tour de France and then go on to win the Vuelta.”

  • Relive the penultimate Vuelta stage


Contador delivered a dominant show of climbing and at one point collided with a spectator

Froome has finished second in the Vuelta on three occasions but flanked by his team-mates he never looked in danger of losing his advantage on Saturday as riders faced up to the one of the hardest summit finishes in Europe.

Contador, who has won seven Grand Tours, including three Vuelta a Espanas in a glittering career, grimaced on his way up the Angliru, where the gradient rises to more than 20% in the closing few kilometres.

The Spaniard, 34, pushed clear in the final 6km. At one point he was almost forced to a standstill when he collided with a spectator as boisterous fans spilled onto the roads.

He celebrated wildly as he crossed the line for a second win on the Angliru, emulating his 2008 triumph which led to his first Vuelta victory.

The Trek-Segafredo rider said: “There couldn’t be a better finish, winning on the Angliru at the end of my career, no way for a better end.”

Froome was quick to congratulate Contador, saying: “L’Angliru is such a brutal climb, so congratulations to Alberto for finishing off the way he did. That was an amazing way to end a career. He was just too strong for us.”

Nibali cracks on Angliru

Bahrain-Merida rider Nibali started the stage 97 seconds adrift of Froome and his hopes of erasing any of that deficit were hindered when he crashed on the slippy descent of Alto de la Cordal – the final descent of the race.

He caught back up with Froome’s group but found the pace too high and dropped away in the closing kilometres, eventually finishing 34 seconds adrift, with the Briton also picking up four bonus seconds for his third place.

Russia’s Ilnur Zakarin put in a late burst to deny Contador the third spot on the podium, as he finished fourth on the stage.

Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman, who started the stage in third, dropped to fifth overall.

Sunday’s final stage to Madrid will feature several laps of the Spanish capital and is expected to climax in a bunch sprint finish.

There will be live text commentary on the BBC Sport website from 16:00 BST.

Stage 20 result:

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) 3hrs 31mins 33secs

2. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +17secs

3. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) Same time

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +35secs

5. Franco Pellizotti (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +51secs

6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) Same time

7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo)

8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +1min 11secs

9. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +1min 25secs

10. Michael Woods (Can/Cannondale-Drapac) +1min 36secs

General classification after stage 20:

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 79hrs 23mins 37secs

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +2mins 15secs

3. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +2mins 51secs

4. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +3mins 11secs

5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +3mins 15secs

6. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +6mins 45secs

7. Michael Woods (Can/Cannondale-Drapac) +7mins 56secs

8. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +8mins 59secs

9. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +11mins 04secs

10. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing Team) +15mins 36secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/41214207

Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome maintains lead before deciding stage

De Gendt

Thomas de Gendt won stage 19 in a sprint from a select group of nine riders

Britain’s Chris Froome will take a 97-second lead over Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali into the decisive 20th stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

Saturday’s 117.5km route, which ends with a gruelling 13.2km climb up the Alto de l’Angliru, precedes Sunday’s processional stage to Madrid.

Belgium’s Thomas de Gendt won stage 19 in Gijon on Friday by reeling in Ivan Garcia Cortina of Spain.

Garcia faded to finish third, with Colombia’s Jarlinson Pantano in second.

  • Relive stage 19
  • Stage-by-stage guide and results

Team Sky’s Froome, 32, is aiming to become only the third man to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year, and first to win the double since the Spanish Grand Tour moved from April to August and September.

Apart from shutting down a late attack by Spain’s Alberto Contador, this stage was largely a stalemate between Froome and his rivals, with the peloton content to roll in 12 minutes 15 seconds behind De Gendt.

The racing will not be so sedate on Saturday, but if four-time Tour de France champion Froome retains the red jersey at the end of the stage, he will win his first Vuelta title – convention dictating he will not be attacked on the final day.

“It was about trying to save as much energy as possible for Saturday and get through the day without many issues, so I’m happy to get the day behind us and focus on stage 20,” said Froome.

“The Angliru is going to be rude, but it’s an explosive and short stage, so we can expect fireworks from the start.

“There’s some tough climbs before the Angliru, everybody is tired at this point of the race, but I feel good.”

A summit finish on the Angliru is among cycling’s biggest challenges. Bradley Wiggins saw his bid for the Vuelta title scuppered there in 2011 when he lost significant time to stage winner Juan Jose Cobo, who held on for overall victory ahead of Froome – his first of three second places in this event.


‘The sprint of my life’

A group of 19 riders broke clear shortly after the start of the 149.7km route from Caso, Parque Natural de Redes and were soon joined by a nine-man chasing group.

It was no surprise to see De Gendt there – the Lotto-Soudal rider having spent almost the entire Tour de France off the front in breaks, only to miss out on a stage win and, to his chagrin, the overall combativity award.

With 35km to go, 21-year-old Garcia Cortina went solo, establishing a lead of one minute before he was joined by France’s Romain Bardet over the summit of the final climb.

Ireland’s Nicolas Roche and Slovenia’s Matej Mohoric joined the leading pair and looked set to contest the finish, only for a superb effort by Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels to bring back a group of five chasers, including De Gendt.

Garcia Cortina kicked first in the final 500 metres, looking to become Spain’s first stage winner of this Vuelta in his home town of Gijon, but could not hold off De Gendt, who has now won a stage in all three Grand Tours.

“I’ve had a good season but now my career is almost complete,” De Gendt told Eurosport.

“The Bahrain-Merida rider [Ivan Garcia Cortina] was really strong in the sprint but I was on the wheel and, when he launched, I went full and did the sprint of my life.”

Stage 19 result

1. Thomas de Gendt (Bel/Lotto-Soudal) 3hrs 35mins 46secs

2. Jarlinson Pantano (Col/Trek-Segafredo) Same time

3. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa/Bahrain-Merida)

4. Rui Costa (Por/UAE Team Emirates)

5. Floris de Tier (Bel/Team LottoNL-Jumbo)

6. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors)

7. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R Ka Mondiale)

8. Nicolas Roche (Ire/BMC Racing Team)

9. Daniel Navarro (Spa/Cofidis)

10. Koen Bouwman (Ned/Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +45secs

General classification

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 75hrs 51mins 51secs

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +1mins 37secs

3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2min 17secs

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +2mins 29secs

5. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +3mins 34secs

6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +5mins 16secs

7. Michael Woods (Can/Cannondale-Drapac) +6mins 33secs

8. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana Pro Team) Same time

9. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +6mins 47secs

10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +10min 26secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/41206582

Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome extends lead over Vincenzo Nibali after stage 18

Sander Armee

Stage winner Sander Armee rides for the Lotto-Soudal team

Chris Froome extended his lead over Vincenzo Nibali as Belgium’s Sander Armee claimed a solo victory on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Team Sky rider Froome, 32, whose overall advantage was cut on Wednesday, attacked late on the 169km stage to pick up 21 seconds on Italy’s Nibali and lead him by one minute 37 seconds.

Armee finished 31 seconds ahead of Alexey Lutsenko and Giovanni Visconti.

There are two stages left before Sunday’s parade into Madrid.

  • Stage-by-stage guide and results

Froome broke clear of the peloton 600m from the summit finish at Santo Toribio de Liebana, with only Spain’s Alberto Contador and Canadian Michael Woods able to stay with him.

The four-time Tour de France champion is bidding to become only the third man to complete the Vuelta and Tour de France double in the same year.

Lotto-Soudal’s Armee and Astana’s Lutsenko were the final survivors of a 20-man breakaway as they came to the final climb at the end of the stage from Suances.

Armee rode clear of Kazakh rider Lutsenko, who turned 25 on Thursday, with 700m left for a healthy win.

Friday’s 149.7km stage will take the riders from the Parque Natural de Redes to Gijon.

There will be live text commentary of the final three stages of this year’s race on the BBC Sport website, starting on Friday at 14:00 BST.

Stage 18 result

1. Sander Armee (Bel/Lotto-Soudal) 4hrs 09min 39secs

2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana Pro Team) +31secs

3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +46secs

4. Alexis Gougeard (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +1mins 02secs

5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Movistar Team) +1mins 06 secs

6. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita/BMC Racing Team) +1mins 19secs

7. Matteo Trentin (Ita/Quick-Step Floors) +1mins 21secs

8. Sergio Pardilla (Spa/Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) Same time

9. Antwan Tolhoek (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +1mins 38secs

10. Anthony Roux (Fra/FDJ) +1mins 42secs

General classification

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 72hrs 03mins 50secs

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +1mins 37secs

3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2min 17secs

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +2mins 29secs

5. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +3mins 34secs

6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +5mins 16secs

7. Michael Woods (Can/Cannondale-Drapac) +6mins 33secs

8. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana Pro Team) Same time

9. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +6mins 47secs

10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +10min 26secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/41192695

Froome’s Vuelta lead cut by Nibali as Denifl wins stage 17

Stefan Denifl

Stefan Denifl rides for Aqua Blue Sport, who are competing in their first major tour

Britain’s Chris Froome had his lead cut by 42 seconds as Austrian Stefan Denifl won stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Froome, who won Tuesday’s time trial, struggled on the gruelling final climb to Los Machucos, conceding time to second placed Vincenzo Nibali.

The Italian, who finished fourth on the stage, now trails Froome by one minute and 16 seconds overall.

Aqua Blue Sport rider Denifl won by 28 seconds ahead of Spain’s Alberto Contador, who retires after the race.

Irish team Aqua Blue Sport are competing in their first major tour and had their bus destroyed in an arson attack earlier in the Vuelta.

  • Stage by stage guide and results

Wednesday’s stage was a 180.5km ride from Villadiego to Los Machucos, with a final ascent of 7km – featuring gradients of 31% near the bottom, 15% in the middle and 12.5% at the top.

Denifl, 29, attacked out of a breakaway with 5km to go, to hold off Contador’s brave chase and gain his first stage win on a Grand Tour.

Three-time winner Contador boosted his chances of a podium finish in Madrid on Sunday, gaining time on his rivals, with Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez finishing third.

Froome, who is aiming to complete the Tour de France and Vuelta double, could not stay with Nibali on the final climb, crossing the line in 14th place.

There are four stages remaining including Sunday’s traditional parade around Madrid.

“I don’t think anyone enjoys gradients over 25% but that’s just how it is and it’s the same for all of us,” said four-time Tour de France champion Froome, 32.

“It’s never nice to lose time but I feel good. Three more days and I’m confident we can get the job done.”

Thursday’s stage 18 is a reasonably flat 169km route from Suances to Santo Toribio de Liebana.

Stage 17 result

1. Stefan Denifl (Aus/Aqua Blue Sport) 4hrs 48mins 52secs

2. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +28secs

3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +1mins 04secs

4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) Same time

5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) Same time

6. Rafal Majka (Pol/BORA-hansgrohe) Same time

7. Michael Woods (Can/ Cannondale-Drapac) +1mins 13secs

8. Daniel Moreno (Spa/Movistar Team) +1mins 17secs

9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +1mins 19secs

10. David De La Cruz (Spa/Quick-Step Floors) +1mins 42secs

General classification

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 67hrs 44min 03secs

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +1mins 16secs

3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2mins 13secs

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +2mins 25secs

5. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +3mins 34secs

6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +4mins 39secs

7. Michael Woods (Can/Cannondale-Drapac) +6mins 33secs

8. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +6mins 40secs

9. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana Pro Team) +6mins 45secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/41179015

Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome widens his lead with victory in stage 16’s time trial

Chris Froome

Froome is aiming to become just the third rider to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year

Britain’s Chris Froome extended his overall lead at the Vuelta a Espana with victory in stage 16’s time trial.

The 32-year-old Team Sky rider was untouchable as he completed the 40.2km course in 47 minutes.

Vincenzo Nibali began the day one minute and one second behind Froome but was 57 seconds slower, despite a strong performance to finish third.

Froome now leads the Italian by one minute and 58 seconds, as Wilco Kelderman moved up to third overall.

The Dutch Team Sunweb rider finished second on Tuesday’s run from Circuito de Navarra to Logrono, 29 seconds slower than Froome.

Alberto Contador, who is set to retire after the race, rose to the occasion with a combative time of 47 minutes 59 seconds to finish fifth, just behind Ilnur Zakarin.

But nobody could match the remarkable effort produce by Froome, who took his second stage win of this year’s race with another comprehensive signal of his superiority over his rivals.

  • Ewan reclaims Tour of Britain lead with stage win
  • Vuelta a Espana stage-by-stage guide

With five stages remaining, he is well placed to become just the third rider to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year, but there are still significant tests ahead, most notably Saturday’s summit finish on the Alto de l’Angliru.

Wednesday’s stage 17 is a 180.5km ride from Villadiego to Los Machucos.

“The course suited him [Froome] but you still have to time it well and he showed again why he is considered to be one of the world’s best time triallists today,” Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford told Eurosport.

“But there are still some really hard stages coming up, the climbs are so steep and intense that there is no time to relax. It’s a difficult day tomorrow, and for the guys who went full today, we’ll see how that impacts on them.”


Stage 16 result

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 47mins

2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +29secs

3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +57secs

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +59secs

5. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) Same time

6. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe/FDJ) +1min 07secs

7. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +1min 11secs

8. Lennard Kaemna (Ger/Team Sunweb) +1min 30secs

9. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +1min 41secs

10. Daniel Oss (Italy / BMC Racing Team) +1min 49secs

Overall standings after stage 16

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 62hrs 53mins 25secs

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +1min 58secs

3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2mins 40secs

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +3mins 07secs

5. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +4mins 58secs

6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +5mins 25secs

7. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana Pro Team) +6mins 27secs

8. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +6mins 33secs

9. Esteban Chaves (Col/Orica-Scott) +6mins 40secs

10. Michael Woods (Can/Cannondale-Drapac) +7mins 06secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/41162100

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