Chris Froome (Sky) retained second place overall but dropped time to rival Nairo Quintana on a crazy 15th stage at the Vuelta a Espana.
A short 118.5-kilometre test created fireworks when both Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador attacked in the early going on the road out of Sabinanigo. The pair quickly opened out a significant gap, with Froome eventually isolated in the chasing pack and taking to the front of the final climb to Aramon Formigal.
“It was a tough, tough stage for us,” Froome told ITV Sport. “The guys obviously did a lot of work yesterday so we weren’t as prepared as some of the other teams this morning. Obviously, being caught up there with Contador and Quintana in the early break put us on the back foot and we just never recovered. So credit to them, they rode a really smart race and they gained a lot of time on us.”
“Sometimes you have to take your hat off to people and just say, ‘well done,’” Team Sky boss, David Brailsford added. “That was a great move and it paid off for Nairo and Alberto.
Quintana now leads by 3’37” going into the final week. More mountain stages and, importantly for Froome, a 37-kilometre time trial appear on the menu in Spain.
“We just have to sit down and look at it and keep on going,” added Brailsford. “Sometimes in sport you take a punch in the face, turn around sit yourself down and say right, there six days of racing left, we’re still in the same position as we were this morning and we’ll just keep on going.”
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