Alberto Contador won the penultimate stage of the Vuelta with a thrilling attack on the Angliru which draws the curtain on his racing career, which will finish on tomorrow’s stage 21 to Madrid.
The Spaniard’s first win of the season, the effort to attack at the foot of the Angliru came after several attacks in the mountain stages of the race, none of which had yielded a stage win. Contador was out of the running for the GC after a first week which saw him lose a lot of time to Froome and the other rivals, and he has been chasing stage wins since.
Stage 20 had the hardest finish of the entire race in the Angliru, a HC climb that has sections of 22% and 20% over its 12.6km stretch. This was the last chance for GC contenders to try and wrestle the red jersey from Froome but in actuality, the British Tour de France champion would extend his lead over his rivals to claim his second consecutive Grand Tour.
As if the Angliru wasn’t hard enough there were also two Category 1 climbs to contend with in the run in, the Alto de la Cobertoria and the Aldo del Cordal both coming in the final 50km of the stage.
The stage itself began with an uncategorised climb which allowed a group of nine riders to coast clear in the opening km with some dangerous names involved. The break included Julian Alaphilippe, Enric Mas (Quick-Step), Nicolas Roche (BMC), Adam Yates, Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), Nelson Oliveira, Marc Soler (Movistar), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Romain Bardet (AG2R), Rui Costa, Jan Polanc (UAE), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal), Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ), Igor Antón (Dimension Data), Lluis Mas, Jaime Roson (Caja Rural), Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) but Contador’s Trek-Segafredo team were riding fast on the front of the peloton and never let the gap extend to more than 1’30”.
The makeup of the group shifted over the climbs with Bardet, Andersen, Marczynski and Soler playing key roles in the attacks and bringing the group back together. On the climb of the Cordal Soler and Marczynski managed to get a gap on the chasing group and Soler took the mountain points at the summit as the pair began their descent. The wet roads caused problems though and after a motorbike outrider crashed into a barrier, Soler soon followed leaving Marczynski alone at the head of the race with a lead of 18″ over the chasing group as he started the climb of the Angliru.
The peloton had stayed together for most of the stage until Nibali and his Bahrain-Merida team tried to get away on the descent of the Cordal, but were quickly pegged back by Team Sky and Trek-Segafredo who wanted to set the stage up for Contador.
The early slopes of the Angliru took their toll and it wasn’t long before the breakaway fractured and riders started to drop off as the peloton was reduced down to a select group of favourites.
Contador’s attack saw him move away from the favourites group with little effort and a few hundred metres later his teammate Jarlinson Pantano and Enric Mas (Quick-Step) also attacked and moved up to join him. Together the three riders caught the remnants of the break and passed them leaving the trio at the front with Bardet, Soler and Marczynski with the Froome group of main GC riders 40″ behind.
Contador attacked again on one of the steepest sections and managed to pull away with Soler joining him, but Soler couldn’t match the effort of Contador and soon dropped back leaving the former champion alone with the GC in pursuit.
With 2km to go Nibali was suffering and dropped off the back of the GC group as Froome and teammate Wout Poels saw the opportunity to attack, moving off in pursuit of Contador. They managed to pull Contador back significnatly but with 30″ still to find at the 1km mark Contador was able to grind out the victory.
Vuelta a Espana 2017 Stage 20: Corvera – Angliru (117.5km)
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo – Spa)||3:31:33″|
|2||Wout Poels (Team Sky – Ned)||+17″|
|3||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||s.t.|
|4||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha – Rus)||+35″|
|5||Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain-Merida – Ita)||+51″|
|6||Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida – Ita)||s.t.|
|7||Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo – Ned)||s.t.|
|8||Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb – Ned)||+1’11”|
|9||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||+1’25”|
|10||Michael Woods (Cannondale – Can)||+1’36”|
Vuelta a Espana 2017: General Classification
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||79:23:37″|
|2||Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida – Ita)||+2’15″|
|3||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin – Rus)||+2’51″|
|4||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo – Spa)||+3’11”|
|5||Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb – Ned)||+3’15”|
|6||Wout Poels (Team Sky – Ned)||+6’45”|
|7||Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac – Can)||+8’16″|
|8||Miguel Lopez (Astana – Col)||+8’59″|
|9||Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo – Ned)||+11’04″|
|10||STejay Van Garderen (BMC – USA)||+15’36”|