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Race leader Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Geox-TMC)
Geox-TMC leader to mark Froome closely
Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) looked relieved to have made it to the finish in Bilbao at the end of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana with his race lead intact and is convinced Team Sky will keep the pressure and try and attack him during the race's second stage in the Basque Country on Saturday.
The 30-year-old Cantabrian said he was impressed by Froome's big attacks on the Alto El Vivero climb, and that he could only use one tactic to keep the Briton from getting away.
"I had to stick to him like glue on the climb and that's what I did," he said after pulling on the leader's red jersey yet again.
"I knew he was going to attack. It's been very tough but at least I could respond and it all worked out perfectly. This was a very big step forward, and our plan worked perfectly because the breakaway took most of the time bonuses."
Saturday's 20th stage is a tough 185km of hilly racing in the heart of the Basque Country. It includes four climbs before a flat 45km run-in to Vitoria. The Vuelta ends in Madrid on Sunday with a 95.6km parade stage.
"We'll have to see how Team Sky plan the last two stages, I imagine they will go on fighting. The Urkiola (a first category climb mid-way through tomorrow's stage) is very tough and I am sure that will be a key moment. But I'll have to watch Froome again," Cobo said.
"They've got two options, they can go for it on the climbs early on in the stage or try for the time bonuses. Froome is my big rival, but he's not the only one. And 13 seconds is hardly a huge margin. A technical problem at the wrong moment could cause everything to go wrong."
"I'm not going to breathe easy until I cross the final finish line in Madrid. And I hope I don't have to go chasing after time bonuses on that last stage like it was in a criterium."