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Chris Froome (Sky) leads Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Geox-TMC)
Team Sky rider praises Cobo but will fight until Madrid
Chris Froome (Team Sky) attacked several times on the Alto el Vivero final climb overlooking Bilbao during stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana but failed to distance race leader Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC). He remains 13 seconds down on the Spaniard with just two easy stages remaining. However he refuses to concede defeat.
"I feel like I've got nothing to lose and all to gain, so I'm just going for it now," Froome told Cyclingnews immediately after the stage finish.
"There's only two days to go and so only a few opportunities," he said. "Tomorrow's there's not too much to do, but we'll maybe look at the bonus sprints. It's not over yet. I'll keep fighting. Thirteen seconds is such a crazy small margin that it'd be crazy to sit up and give to him."
Team Sky set up Froome perfectly on the short but steep climb. He and his teammates were unable to catch eventual stage winner and local hero Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar), who were part of the break of the stage, but he attacked hard twice on the climb to try and get a gap.
Froome again thanked his teammates for their hard work and support.
"I have to thank Bradley (Wiggins) and all the team. It's been a dream experience being the protected rider for Team Sky," he said. "They lined me up perfectly to launch my attack. Löfkvist did virtually a full lap on the front and then Bradley set me up on the climb. He was amazing."
Froome also sportingly praised Cobo for the way he defended his race lead.
"Hats off to him, he rode a good race. I attacked several times but he just followed me each time, which is what I'd do if I was in his position," he said.
"The second time I attacked I got bit stuck behind the AG2R rider because the crowds were tight and crazy but that's bike racing. It's no one's fault."
Despite being so close to victory, Froome seems aware of what he has achieved during the Vuelta. He has become the revelation of the race and confirmed his stage racing ability time and time again during the weeks of hard racing.
"This race has been amazing. I think it's the start of something good for me," he said.