Chris Froome slashed Nairo Quintana’s lead in the Vuelta a Espana by over two minutes with a dominant victory on stage 19.
Team Sky’s leader won the 37km time trial by 44 seconds from Jonathan Castroviejo, and two minutes 16 seconds in front of Quintana. That leaves the Colombian one minute 21 seconds ahead of Froome overall.
Froome was clearly in a determined mood when he rolled out on the flat 37km course and he knew that he had to make a gamble. This time there was no slow start as he usually has and instead he sprinted down the ramp. Already after a few kilometres, he had gained 15 seconds on Quintana and it was evident that he was on a good day.
The big question was whether he could maintain the speed but there were no such issues. Froome never showed any sign of fatigue and just increased his advantage throughout the entire course. In the end, he stopped the clock in 46.33 to beat pre-race favourite Jonathan Castroviejo who had been in a class of his own until that point, by no less than 44 seconds, and Tobias Ludvigsson by a massive 1’24”.
Froome now just had to wait for Quintana to arrive. The Colombian started fast, posting the sixth best time at the first check, but he couldn’t maintain the speed. In the end, he lost 2’16” in 11th place and so saw his advantage getting more than halved.
Alberto Contador was another winner. The Spaniard was just as motivated as Froome and started incredibly fast. At the first time check, he was just 3 seconds behind Castroviejo but unlike the Brit, he couldn’t maintain his speed. In the end, he had to settle for 8th, 1’57” behind Froome.
However, the result was enough to move him into third as he gain no less than 1’16” on Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) who could only manage 24th. The Australian team had a bad day as Simon Yates did even worse and dropped to sixth behind Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) who posted the seventh best time.
The biggest loser was Samuel Sanchez (BMC). The Spaniard was on track for a top 10 finish when he crashed in the final part of the stage. Instead of moving up in the GC, he lost more than six minutes and dropped out of the top 10. Another loser was Damide Formolo (Cannondale) who slipped to 10th after having failed to finish in the top 10.
Quintana still leads Froome by 1’21” and so the scene is set for a thrilling battle in the final mountain stage. Tomorrow the riders will tackle four category 2 climbs on a day full of ups and downs but it is the final climb of Alto de Aitana that will decide the race. It averages 5.95% over 21km and will crown the winner of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana.
Vuelta a Espana 2016 – stage 19 results (Xàbia – Calp):
|1||Christopher Froome (Sky)||
|2||Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar)||
|3||Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin)||
|4||Yves Lampaert (Etixx – Quick-Step)||
|5||Victor Campenaerts (LottoNl-Jumbo)||
|6||Leopold Konig (Sky)||
|7||Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac)||
|8||Alberto Contador (Tinkoff)||
|9||Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo)||
|10||Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana)||
General classification after stage 19:
|1||Nairo Quintana (Movistar)||
|2||Christopher Froome (Sky)||
|3||Alberto Contador (Tinkoff)||
|4||Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange)||
|5||Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac)||
|6||Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange)||
|7||Michele Scarponi (Astana)||
|8||Daniel Moreno (Movistar)||
|9||David De La Cruz (Etixx – Quick-Step)||
|10||Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac)||
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