Fri, Sep 01, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Froome extends Vuelta lead in high mountains

Reuters, MADRID

The peloton competes in the 11th stage of the Vuelta a Espana between Lorca and Calar Alto, Spain, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Chris Froome on Wednesday moved closer to winning the Vuelta a Espana title after coming second in the high mountains on stage 11 and opening up a gap of 1 minute, 19 seconds in the general classification.

Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez of Astana won the stage, his first victory in a grand tour, to move into the top 10 at the expense of Ireland’s Nicolas Roche of BMC Racing, who began the day third overall 36 seconds off the pace, but ended it 4:45 behind Froome.

The Briton made up time in the grueling stage from Lorca to Calar Alto in Andalusia — which featured 3,490m of climbing and finished 2,120m above sea level — with a late dash from the back to the front of the chasing pack behind Lopez.

Team Sky’s Froome beat Dutchman Wilco Kelderman of Team Sunweb and Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida to finish 14 seconds behind Lopez and take a six second bonus in his bid to become the first rider since 1978 to win La Vuelta and the Tour de France in the same year.

Nibali overtook Esteban Chaves of Orica-Scott as Froome’s nearest challenger and moved into second place overall, with the Colombian dropping from 36 seconds behind Froome before the stage to 2:33 adrift in third place.

“I’m very happy with the outcome today. I think it was a very selective day for the general classification and to finish second, I couldn’t have asked for much more than that other than a stage victory,” four-time Tour de France champion Froome told reporters. “When Lopez went, he was extremely strong, and at the top I figured for me the most important thing was going to be to follow Vincenzo and to stay with the real favorites.”

“It was a very complicated stage with the rain, which made it even more exhausting, but I’m really happy because the team has worked so well through the Vuelta,” stage winner Lopez said. “This is a big achievement. In the end we found ourselves with good legs and I knew a bit of the final part, so I was relaxed. I preferred to wait to attack until the last one or one-and-a-half kilometers, which were really hard.”

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