La Vuelta 20: The Impossible Show Down

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From Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil to Puerto de Ancares, the last 185,7 km to grab or lose la Vuelta.  
"We are not going to set for 2nd" Team Sky boss had said and so it was on Team Sky guys to go on the attack and to drop Alberto Contador. At the start Froome's delays was 1'19'' and the last tt is too short to make a big difference. 
So there we go. The peloton struggles to give birth to a living break. The first to go are Danilo Wyss (BMC) and Christophe Le Mevel (Cofidis): aborted. Then Dmitry Kozontchuk (Katusha), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale), Winner Ancona (Lampre-Merida) and Vincent Jerome (Europcar): aborted too. Finally five riders are out the front: Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), George Bennett (Cannondale), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Maxime Mederel (Europcar). Ten Dam and Bennett got quickly dropped, Wout Poels joins. The pace is so high that the peloton split several times. But this one is the right one: the break-away sticks, in the peloton they take a breath.
Froome: Enjoyed great battle with ContadorJust one: no time to relax, no time to chat, no time for anything but pulling at a crazy speed. Team Sky and Team Astana seem to collaborate, Contador is happy to stay on the wheels. Till the last climb. The very last one. 
Now Chris Froome is supposed, has to, must drop Alberto Contador and grab la Vuelta. Or set for second. The break-away is caught, Purito's attack neutralised. Vasil Kiryienka goes in front and the peloton is down to few riders: all Team Sky, Froome on 7th, Contador, Barguil, Valverde, Rodriguez and Aru
Now. It's now. There is no other option but attacking. And Chris Froome attacks, Alberto Contador like a sickness on his shadow. Never dropped, still glued, still there. And finally Contador drops Froome. It was impossible. This Contador is too strong, definitely stronger than Froome who gave all and even more. Not set but second. That is.
Behind it's another story...

Team Tinkoff-Saxo DS Steven De Jongh:
"We knew that Sky wanted to control things to stir things up and to try to shake Alberto. However, everyone else but Alberto was dropped and I think Alberto played his cards excellently. He never lost his cool and had the situation totally under control. On the final kilometer, he went for the stage win and in one fierce attack, he quickly created the gap and took a beautiful victory consolidating his lead. Of course, the race isn't won just yet. There's a time trial tomorrow and even though it's short, you can't rule out accidents. Now, we're waiting for the weather report and we're going out tomorrow morning to check out the technical spots on the course"

Chris Froome:
"Emptied the tank out there today, what a battle! Thank you for all the support."

Alejandro Valverde:
Movistar Team"I never felt like there was a real threat on my podium finish today. I had good legs and everything was more or less under control through the whole climb. When Purito jumped away I kept my pace in the pursuit, and then, when Froome did, I took sort of a sprint to save some energy and not waste it afterwards with another pursuit to chase them back. However, Froome's pace change was really strong and there was a point when I had to stop and keep going on my own pace. The problem is - you never know if it's the time to stop following them, and actually they two, Froome and Alberto, stopped with their action just ten seconds after.
I still kept my own pace and managed the gap until the end. When Purito dropped I was able to accelerate and catch him, and when I did, I knew the podium was more or less done - in the final slopes, as I saw it was impossible to get back to the lead, I put an easier pace. From tomorrow's TT, I know more or less what you can see on the profile, though it's also known that there might be rain, and thus it might become more risky. It will surely be beautiful for the fans to enjoy with us. We can make it to the overall podium again tomorrow; it would be my sixth time in the Vuelta and I'm really happy about it, as well as the whole, great season we've done so far."

Joaquim Rodriguez:
"My attack was not for show – I attacked to win. I wanted to gain time. I wanted to surprise everyone when I attacked. In the end it was too hard for me but I went for it. I had to. I knew if I was in front it would work better for me to have a gap before Contador and Froome started attacking each other. I have to be realistic – those two are on a higher level at this Vuelta. I’m happy I could stay with Aru in the end as he was my closest competitor for 4th place
I’m very happy with the work of the team this entire Vuelta. It’s a pity that I could not offer more than a fourth place, but I gave the maximum. We were so close to a stage win a few times, like with Moreno. It looks easy to win a stage as we’ve always done in the Vuelta with Katusha, but that’s not always the case. This Vuelta was hard and every day we rode faster. It certainly wasn’t boring for TV watchers but for us it was very hard. I’m proud of the team. Katusha is the strongest team and we will win the teams general classification. We kept fighting every day and there has been tremendous team spirit
For me this has been a difficult year with a lot of bad luck, but I’m happy and the season is not over yet. After one week with my family I will concentrate on the Worlds"

Samuel Sanchez:
"We were only missing (Tour de France winner) Vincenzo Nibali in this Vuelta. These are the best GC riders in the world, so I can satisfied about my placement. It was a tough year and I worked so hard to get this result. It was a spectacular race during these three weeks, beginning with the team time trial in Jerez and finishing with the individual time trial in Santiago tomorrow. To understand how hard it was, you only have to look at the riders' faces."

Warren Barguil:
“I nearly abandoned the stage early on. I had pain in my knee yesterday after hitting my knee in the convoy but I thought that it would be fine and didn’t want to show others that I was in pain as that would have given them the opportunity to attack me. It was OK on the climbs when the muscles are warm but on the flat it wasn’t good.
Fortunately I could count on my team who helped me. Without them I would have nothing. I gave it everything on the final climbs and didn’t think about anything. I gave so much had to lie down after the finish line.
Thankfully the last day is tomorrow and my objective of a top ten is nearly confirmed. I will give everything to keep my eighth place tomorrow evening.”


1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 5:11:43  
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:16  
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:57  
4 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:18  
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:21  
6 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:02:51  
7 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha 0:02:55  
8 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:02:58  
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:03:15  
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:03:20  
11 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:03:22  
12 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:26  
13 Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:03:51  
14 Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team 0:05:21  
15 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
16 Andre Fernando S Martins Cardoso (Por) Garmin Sharp  
17 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:05:34  
18 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka 0:05:40  
19 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:06:04  
20 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:07:27
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 81:12:13  
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:37  
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:35  
4 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:57  
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:04:46  
6 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:10:07  
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:10:24  
8 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:12:13  
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:13:09  
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:13:15  
11 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:16:25  
12 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:19:59  
13 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:24:29  
14 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha 0:25:00  
15 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:25:36  
16 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:30:03  
17 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka 0:31:14  
18 Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team 0:37:22  
19 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:41:51  
20 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:52:04
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 169 pts
1 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 58 pts
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 6 pts
1 Team Katusha

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