photo credits @ La Vuelta
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) claimed stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana today, after the Spanish rider triumphed atop the ominous climb of the Alto Angliru to seize a solo victory 17 seconds ahead of his closest rival Wout Poels (Team Sky).
Contador attacked at the bottom of the Cordal, alongside his teammate Jarlinson Pantano, quickly catching and passing the remnants of the day’s breakaway group.
Meanwhile, race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished just behind Peols to all but secure the overall race victory ahead of tomorrow’s final stage.
“Absolute incredible feeling,” Froome said at the finish. “And what a way to end such a massive three weeks of racing, having completed the Tour/Vuelta double, that’s an amazing feeling. Thanks to everyone for all of the support for the last few weeks. It was such a tough climb. We did everything we could to try and catch Alberto, and my congratulations to him, to finish his career like this is beautiful.”
In the meantime, Vincenzo Nibali (Team Bahrain-Merida) lost time to Froome but will finish second overall at 2:15 back, while Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha Alpecin) remians in third at 2:51 down.
Trek-Segafredo had done a huge amount of work throughout a punishing 117.5km race – featuring two category-one climbs and the ‘Especiale’ final climb of Angliru – to set up their team leader Contador, with Jarlinson Pantano the last domestique to fall away.
Known throughout his long career for his attacking style, the home favorite dropped co-leader and compatriot Marc Soler (Movistar Team) with 5.5 kilometers to go on the brutally steep final climb, and danced on his pedals all the way to the top.
Steven Kruijiswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) mounted a spirited chase before he was overtaken by Sky duo Froome and Poels, plus Zakarin, Franco Pellizotti and Nibali.
Before that Soler had attacked solo from the lead group on the penultimate climb, but crashed on the soaking wet descent, allowing Tomasz Marczyński (Lotto Soudal) to lead the race on to the lower Angliru slopes.
Soler got back into the group of favourites – and soon went out in front with Contador – but finally cracked under pressure from the veteran, after which Contador was not to be caught.
The pace from the start of the stage was frantic and a potent escape group had formed with Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Enric Mas (Quick Step) and Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) among those dreaming of a prestigious stage win.
But Trek-Segafredo never let the break’s advantage above 1:30, while their efforts paid off as Contador signed off in style.
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 3:31:33
2 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:17
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:35
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:51
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:11
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:25
10 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:36
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 79:23:37
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:02:15
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:51
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:11
5 Wilco Kelderman 0:03:15
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:06:45
7 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:07:56
8 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:08:59
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:11:04
10 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:15:36
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