Froome on the brink of Vuelta success

09 Sep 2017

Froome on the brink of Vuelta success

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Chris Froome all but secured Team Sky’s first Vuelta a Espana victory and a historic modern-day Tour/Vuelta double following an emphatic ride on the Alto de L’Angliru.

Wout Poels and Froome crossed the line second and third respectively on stage 20 following a faultless team performance on the queen stage. That was enough to ensure Froome carries an advantage of two minutes and 15 seconds into the final day, and just has to cross the line in Madrid to make sure of his second Grand Tour victory of 2017.
 
Froome had five team-mates supporting him at the start of the fearsome final climb and with 2km to go the red jersey pushed on alongside Poels – the pair finishing 17 seconds back on stage victor Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo).
 
Poels’ rousing ride was enough to elevate him to a fantastic sixth place overall, while Froome all but locked up the white combined classification jersey. He also takes a 25-point lead in the green points jersey into the final stage.
Chris Froome

Chris Froome

I’ve been trying for years now and I’ve been second three times, so to win the Vuelta now is incredible.
After the race a thrilled Froome attempted to explain his emotions. 

"It’s an absolutely incredible feeling and what a way to end such a massive three weeks of racing, and of course for me now having completed the Tour/Vuelta double – that’s an amazing feeling," he said.
 
"I have to say it’s probably the toughest Grand Tour I’ve ridden, this year’s Vuelta. Every day was something else. It’s just such a big relief to have now got to this point and I’m looking forward to getting to Madrid tomorrow. I’ve been trying for years and I’ve been second three times, so to win the Vuelta now is incredible.
 
"[The Angliru] was such a tough climb. We certainly did learn a big lesson back in 2011 riding up here in not quite the right gearing. Today we were well prepared. I have to say congrats to Contador finishing it off the way he did. What a way to end his career on a climb like that. Myself and Wout we did everything we could to try and catch him in the final there. Personally I was really hoping Wout would be able to get the stage win by he proved too strong for us today."

All that stands between Froome and Vuelta victory is Sunday's ride into Madrid.
 
"For now I’m just happy to get to Madrid tomorrow. It’s an incredible feeling. The team has just been incredible over the last few weeks. It’s just meant to much to me, the way everyone has supported us has been fantastic. I just want to say thanks so much to everyone and of course thanks to my family back home for all the support and morale they’ve given me out on the road."

Rain added extra drama to proceedings on the final GC test of the race. After the fight to get into the early break had subsided, Trek-Segafredo gave a statement of intent by riding on the front. Despite 18 riders pushing on up the road the group were never afforded enough of an advantage.
 
A savage pace from Trek-Segafredo on the Alto del Cordal put a number of big names into difficulty and saw the GC group reduced. The action continued as Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) was one of a number of riders to crash on the slick descent.
 
In his final Grand Tour Contador attacked early on the final climb, forcing Team Sunweb into action. David Lopez, Diego Rosa, Gianni Moscon, Mikel Nieve and Poels were all there as the final climb began, but as Bahrain Merida upped the pace it was down to Poels to act as wingman to the red jersey.
 
With 2km to go, and his rivals struggling behind, Froome pushed on himself alongside Poels, pushing out his lead advantage ahead of a trip to Madrid on Sunday.

Stage 20 result:

1. Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) 3:31:33
2. Wout Poels (Team Sky) +17"
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) s.t.

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +35"
5. Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain Merida) +51"

Overall standings:

1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 79:23:37
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +2:15"
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +2:51"
4. Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +3:11"
5. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +3:15"
6. Wout Poels (Team Sky) +6:45"

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