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Vuelta a España 2014: Stage 19


Stage 19 – not much time left in the Vuelta! How will the top three deal with one another again today?

Today we have 180km from Salvaterra do Mino to Cangos do Morazzo, with two climbs along the way, including one only 15 km from the finish. Bunch sprint or successful breakaway?

112km remaining from 180km

Looking at the profile, we would call this one somewhere between “flattish” and “lots of little bumps along the way,” with two cat. 2 climbs added in for fun.

The first of those climbs is rapidly approaching, the cat. 2 Monte da Grova. The climb is 12 km long but with an average gradient of only 4.3%.

We had one rider DNS this morning: Bob Jungels of Trek. No reason given as to why the 21-year-old didn’t start.

What are your thoughts on today's stage? On the contenders? On the Vuelta? Share them with me on Twitter @WestemeyerSusan

100km remaining from 180km

This is another stage just made for a long break group. On the other hand, the sprinters think they have a chance – their last one for sure at this Vuelta. Giant-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge this morning sat down together and agreed that they would work together today.

Some tweets:

The leading trio is not yet at the summit of this not-so-difficult climb, but the gap has fallen to 2:37.

Giant-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge are eager to chase down any break groups today, but not all the teams are like-minded. Both Katusha and Sky have said they won't participate in a chase, as they want to save themselves for tomorrow's difficult mountain stage.

This break group is not at all a threat to the GC riders. Poels is the highest-ranked of the trio, in 35th place at 1:20:12 down.

The mountain points went in this order: Poels, Mangel, Ligthart.

These last few stages are particularly exciting in light of the closeness of the top riders. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is holding on to his lead of 1:19 over Chris Froome (Sky), with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) third at 1:32. Which of the three will make or lose time today?

88km remaining from 180km

The riders have all hit the feed zone, with the gap at 2:09. The day's first intermediate sprint is coming up momentarily.

And of course, if Degenkolb wins today, he would build up his lead in the ranking, which he leads, with 149 points. Valverde is second with 130 and Contador third with 120.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) looks set to take the mountain ranking home. He has 58 points, with Valverde second at 30 and Contador third at 20.

Cyclingnews got an exclusive look at the bike that Jens Voigt will use in his attempt at the hour record next week. Check it out! 

63km remaining from 180km

Contador leads the combination ranking, although both he and second-ranked Valverde both have 7 points. Froome is third with 14 points.

The best team is Katusha. Second is Movistar at 26:32 and Tinkoff-Saxo third at 32:55.

Don't count Chris Froome out! Sky manager Dave Brailsford thinks he still has a good chance to win this Vuelta, telling Cyclingnews, "You've got to believe that and for sure he can."

The gap had fallen to 1:20, but is now back to 1:55. Giant-Shimano doesn't want to catch this group too soon -- after all we still have 55km to go.

Did Contador make a mistake in letting Froome get away and gain some valuable seconds yesterday? He said that it wasn't really all that important....

134km remaining from 180km

Bob Jungels, who abandoned today due to a saddle sore, was named most combative rider yesterday. He is up for three Worlds events, so he needs to heal quickly!

It is not raining at the moment, but it has rained today. And the road is still wet. Let's be careful out there!

Lots of people out to root on the riders. And Orica-GreenEdge has, as promised, moved up to help Giant-Shimano with the chase.

Froome took off at the end of yesterday's stage, taking second place on both the stage and the GC. "I'm very happy with that result," he said. 

40km remaining from 180km

The next climb starts in 20km. We could well see an attack out of the field, by either an outsider or one of the favourites.

One tends to forget that Cadel Evans is riding in the Vuelta, as he has managed to stay pretty much under the radar. He has said that he will announce his plans for next season -- new team or retirement -- before the World Championships.

The rain has returned, and the wet roads are becoming even wetter. Too bad.

What a year this has been for Fabio Aru -- third place in the Giro d'Italia and two mountain stage wins in the Vuelta. Yesterday's win "feels really special," the Astana rider said. 

The peloton successfully tackles a roundabout with 29 km to go, and a gap of only 45 seconds.

The sun has come out again!

The trio will soon feel the peloton breathing down their necks. They probably won't make it away until the final climb.

It looks like someone is planning something: Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky have moved to the head of the field and are pushing the pace.

Never a good sign when the break group starts looking back to see where the field is.....

Mangel falls back, but Ligthart and Poels fight on.

Sky at eh head of the field, having caught the final two. The British team wants to be at the head of the field going up the climb. But first everyone has to master a very tricky S-curve.

An Astana rider has attacked: Lutsenko.

19km remaining from 180km

Degenkolb is sitting on Froome's rear wheel as they go up.

Fortunately it is not raining and the road is not wet. 

Lutsenko has about 10 seconds on the peloton.

He continues to hang on to his narrow lead.

More and more riders are falling back as they wind their way up this cat 2 mountain.

Sky continues to pull the peloton up the climb. mother rider has jumped now.

A familiar name: Lavarlet of Cofidis.

He is caught again, though. Looks like Lutsenko will make it to the summit.

15k m to go, and Lutsenko takes the mountain points. Now he can fly down the descent alone and dream of going the rest of the way to victory.

Degenkolb made it over the climb near the front of the group. Hopefully he didn't use up too much strength which he will later need in a bunch sprint.

Samuel Sanchez (BMC) takes the lead of the field in the descent. 

The fallen rider is Dario Cataldo.

Lutsenko is taking every risk on this descent. Sometimes we would rather not watch....

Lutsenko has 10 seconds on Sanchez, but the Spaniard is about to be caught by the field.

The descent is over, and Lutsenko has built his lead up to 19 seconds, with 10 km to go.

Lutsenko may be getting a bit too close to the moto ahead of him. He doesn't want to get in any trouble with the race jury.

Giant-Shimano has moved back to the front of the field. The pace is very high, as you might imagine. 8km to go and a gap of 8 seconds.

They now have Lutsenko well in their sights. 

CAm Meyer leads the field past Lutsenko with 5.4km to go. Phililppe Gilbert is right behind him.

Adam Hansen takes a dash off the front. This is his third grand tour this year, and something like his 12th in a row.

Hansen is building up a nice little gap. We don't think he has any chance, though.

With 3 km to go, Hansen has 7 seconds on the field.

The peloton is beginning to realise that it needs to catch Hansen, and that it could dump both Degenkolb and Michael Matthews.

Hansen takes the final km with an 11 second gap!

We were wrong! Hansen solos in to take his second grand tour stage win!

It looks like Degenkolb wins th sprint of the field. That gives him some very important points to hopefullly maintain his points jersey at the end of the race.

Hansen is exhausted but laughs, smiles and enthusiastically hugs team support staff. He has just brought in Lotto's first stage win in this Vuelta.

Apparently this is only Hansen's 10th grand tour in a row.  "Only" his tenth......

Third today was apparently Pippo Pozatto, with Matthews fourth.

No, Yannick Martinnez of Europcar took fourth, with Matthews fifth.

The top ten on today's stage: 

General classification after stage 19

Another group of riders straggles in to the finish. And we will finish too. Join us again tomorrow for another exciting mountaintop finish!

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