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Vuelta a España 2014: Stage 20

Welcome to live coverage of stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana from Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil to Puerto de Ancares.

The final weekend of the Vuelta a Espana is upon us, as is the final mountain test for the riders.

The riders will be rolling out for the neutral start in just under five minutes. The 185.7-kilometre stage takes in four climbs, including the out of category finale on the Puerto de Ancares.

 

 

The news today is that Dario Cataldo has been forced to abandon the race, just two days away from the finish. The Italian creashed heavily on the final climb. You can read the full story

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The riders are on their way and here is what lays ahead of them today.

Along with Cataldo we have two other non-starters today. They are Filippo Pozzato and Pieter Serry. In total, we have 160 riders of the 198 that started in Jerez left in the race.

Adam Hansen caught the peloton by surprise when he escaped yesterday and went on to win the stage, his second grand tour stage win. Here is how things finished yesterday.

 

1 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 4:21:58
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:05
3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4 Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge
6 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ.fr
7 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
8 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
9 Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale

There were no major changes in the general classification after yesterday's stage, but we can expect a big shake-up on the summit finish today. Here is how it stands this morning.

 

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 76:00:40
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:19
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:32
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:02:29
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:15
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:06:52
7 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:06:59
8 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:09:12
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:09:44
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:09:45

The flag has dropped and the real racing has begun. There have already been attacks from Belkin and MTN-Qhubeka riders. Today is the last chance for many teams to take a stage win so getting in the break will be important.

177km remaining from 185km

A group of riders have a small margin on the peloton. We will bring you names when we have them.

Veteran rider Paolo Tiralongo has been helping Fabio Aru for the last three weeks. At the start, he speculated what might happen today.

 

“Today, the Vuelta ends for everyone. It’ll be a true battle. There’ll be attacks by Sky for sure. With the team they have, even without Cataldo, they won’t just be looking. I’ve seen Froome getting better and better compared to everyone else in this Vuelta. It depends on the condition of the day for each favorite. Yesterday’s stage was very hard and it’ll have some consequences. I’ve told Aru to stick to the favorites. Our tactic will be decided at half way into the stage, according to what Saxo and Sky will do.”

It looks like the peloton has split into two groups, the second group is now trailing by 28 seconds. For now, it seems that none of the big names have missed out on the split.

166km remaining from 185km

At the very front, Danilo Wyss (BMC) and Christophe Le Mevel (Cofidis) have got a 10-second gap on the front peloton.

Wyss and Le Mevel have been caught by the peloton, which is still split in two. The gap between the two pelotons is currently 10 seconds.

Giampaolo Caruso will be riding for Joaquim Rodríguez, as the Spaniard looks to move onto the podium. Here is what he had to say about today's stage.

 

"It’s going to be a very hard stage today. My goal is to move one or two positions up. That means I’d have to do better than either Barguil or Navarro. It’s very difficult because there are a lot of elements in this stage. This is my first time delivering a good result in a Grand Tour. I’ve always saved some energy as much as I could for being consistent. I’m also giving a sign to my future team (BMC) that I can be trusted.”

We've got one peloton again, but now four riders have tried their luck off the front. The riders are Dmitry Kozontchuk (Katusha), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale), Winner Ancona (Lampre-Merida) and Vincent Jerome (Europcar)

It is all change at the front once again. Five riders have gone clear after our previous four were caught.. The riders out front are Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), George Bennett (Cannondale), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Maxime Mederel (Europcar). The fast pace has forced a split in the peloton once again.

149km remaining from 185km

Ten Dam and Bennett have been dropped from the group, leaving three out front with a 15-second gap over the main bunch.

145km remaining from 185km

Wout Poels, who was in yesterday's break, has joined our trio out front. They've got 40 seconds on the peloton.

After 42 kilometres of racing it looks like these four are our escapees of the day, with a gap of 1:08 now. He's a reminder of the men out front Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Maxime Mederel (Europcar)

#LaVuelta After 45 km gap is 1'42". 4 riders formed the breakaway group. http://t.co/NFIw2yujL7

@katushacycling Sat, 13th Sep 2014 12:37:19

Alejandro Valverde went into the Vuelta with his future still unconfirmed, but it looks like that might change soon. According to the team, the Spaniard is close to signing a new contract.

Valverde is currently in fourth place in the general classification. His team manager Eusebio Unzue spoke before the stage start.

 

“We’re already satisfied. The situation is not bad at all. We’ll still try to get the second place back but I have the feeling Froome is getting better and better and it’s the opposite for the others.”

132km remaining from 185km

The gap to our four escapees has ballooned up to 4:25.

RT @stefelt: @MichaelValgren getting ready 4 #lavuelta in @tinkoff_saxo bus with good music via @beoplay & @compressport_es gear! http://t.…

@tinkoff_saxo Sat, 13th Sep 2014 12:42:56

The summit finish today could have a big impact on the podium and the red jersey. Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford believes that Chris Froome can still take overall victory.

Some good news for the riders is that it is warm and dry at the finish. Very little wind around to hamper their efforts too.

The gap to our escapees continues to grow up to five minutes after 62 kilometres of racing.

The final climb of the Puerto de Ancares featured in 2011 and 2012, however the riders will be taking a different route up the mountain this time.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out our exclusive images of Jens Voigt's hour record bike right here

115km remaining from 185km

After 70 kilometres, the gap between the leaders anf peloton has gone up to a sizeable 7:40.

Przemyslaw Niemiec is the best placed rider in the breakaway, but at over one hour down he is little threat to the GC contenders. He has already won a stage of this year's Vuelta a Espana. The Polish rider got into the break on stage 15 and hung on to win at Lagos de Covadonga. Can he do it again?

Like Niemiec, Wout Poels has been pretty active in the breakaways. He was part of the three-man escape yesterday. The Vuelta a Espana is likely to be one of the last races the Dutch rider does for Omega Pharma-QuickStep. It is expected that he will join team Sky next season.

As our four leaders approach the intermediate sprint, they have a 9:48 advantage over the peloton. None of the riders in the break are a threat to John Degenkolb's points jersey.

Luis Leon Sanchez's lead in the mountain's classification is under threat from the escapees. Niemiec is the best placed in the competition, 38 points behind the Spaniard. With only 40 points available today, Niemiec could nick the jersey from him if he can win the stage. Here is what it looks like in the mountains classification.

 

1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 58 pts
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 30
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 24
4 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 20
5 Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 20
6 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 18
7 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale 18
8 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 18
9 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 16
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 15

We've spoken about two of the escapees in the bunch, but who are the other two. First up is Maxime Méderel. The Frenchman joined Europcar this season, after two years on the Saur-Sojuson team. He turned professional in 2008 with Crédit Agricole. The 33-year-old hasn't had a victory since 2011 where he won a stage of the Tour de Bretagne.

96km remaining from 185km

A brief intermission from our mini-bios of the escapees to let you know that Jérome Coppel took the points at the intermediate sprint, he led Poels and Niemiec over the line.

That leads us neatly to the last of our four escapees. Cofidis rider Jerome Coppel. He also rode for Saur-Sojuson at one time, but joined Cofidis in 2012. At one point Coppel looked like a promising French Grand Tour rider when he finished 14th at the 2011 Tour de France, but he has gradually faded since then. His last victory came at the 2012 Etoile de Besseges, where he won a stage and finish the overall classification.

85km remaining from 185km

The gap jumped above the 10-minute mark for a short time, which seems to have ignited the peloton. Sky and Tinkoff are now doing the work on the front and have brought it down to 8:50, a slightly more comfortable advantage.

On the second rest day, Alberto Contador said that he wouldn't be riding the World Championships. Spanish coach Javier Minguez has other ideas and has put Contador on his long-list for the Worlds.

The leaders are on the first of four climbs, the Alto de Vilaesteva, and their lead has come down yet again. They are now only 8:13 ahead of the peloton.

#Vuelta Facts: When Eddy Merckx won @lavuelta 1973, he did so winning 6 stages & all individual classifications minus KOTM #legend

@inCycleTV Sat, 13th Sep 2014 14:01:58

Of course there is plenty of other races going on at the moment, during a very busy weekend for cycling. Simon Gerrans won the GP Cycliste Quebec for the second time yesterday, showing his form for the world championships in two weeks.

The Tour of Britain is also going on at the moment. Alex Dowsett is in the leader's jersey after the race was tipped on it's head yesterday.

We've got another abandon in the peloton Astana rider Daniil Fominykh has climbed off.

76km remaining from 185km

The leaders have just gone over the top of the first climb, but Sky is chasing behind and the gap is quickly coming down pretty quickly. 7:12 is the latest time check for the four out front.

Astana have also moved up to the front of the peloton. They don't want to let this one go too far and give Fabio Aru another opportunity for a stage win.

Wout Poels is taking this descent a little more cautiously than the other escapees. He's having to chase back on as the road goes up a little bit.

The peloton has just reached the top of the Alto de Vilaesteva, 6:47 after the leaders did.

The results at the top of the first climb has been confirmed. Poels took full points, while Niemiec didn't score anything. That means that Luis Leon Sanchez is safe in the mountains jersey and will be wearing it on the podium tomorrow.

67km remaining from 185km

The rain has started to come down on this descent and the peloton is having to pick their way down. A couple of riders have come a cropper on a corner, but nothing serious.

Esteban Chaves looks like he was involved in that, but he has made it back to the peloton. It was only a brief shower and it has stopped, but there is still some damp patches on the road.

Luke Rowe is leading the peloton down very slowly, he and two Astana riders have built a small gap and they will be able to feed back any information to their team leaders. Rowe has been talking into the radio.

The slower pace in the peloton has given the leaders a small bit of respite, but Rowe is now charging down the descent and we can expect it to come down just as quick.

63km remaining from 185km

The pace has really strung out the peloton and in a matter of minutes has taken about 30 seconds out of the leaders. Second climb is almost upon the escapees.

It is really Sky and Astana doing much of the work on the front, we have hardly seen Tinkoff-Saxo and Movistar for quite some time. Tinkoff will be happy to let the others take some of the pressure off them, but Movistar will have to be careful not to let this get away from them.

Warren Barguil completely emptied himself for John Degenkolb the last couple of days. Looks like it'll cost him Top10 overall. #LaVuelta

@mrconde Sat, 13th Sep 2014 14:38:59

The leaders are onto the third category Alto de O Largo with a gap of 6:12 as the pace in the peloton eases up. Astana sitting on the front of the main group.

57km remaining from 185km

It looks like the peloton are a bit more comfortable with this margin. There will be a lot of riders in this group that will be looking for the stage victory on the final climb and these four won't be allowed to go to the line.

Niemiec leads the escapees over the second climb of the day and the time begins to tick away to the peloton. This descent comes in two parts. The riders will descend for around 6-7 kilometres before a short unclassified climb and then comes the second descent.

The hardest terrain is yet to come for the riders, with a first category and high category climb still ahead. We can expect things to begin light up on the penultimate climb of the Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas

 

The leaders are riding the uncategorised climb. It might not be categorised, but it's fairly steep. Wout Poels is the only one of the escapees to be riding it in the saddle.

48km remaining from 185km

Quite a few riders have been dropped from the peloton, as Astana and Sky turn the power on again. They've brought the gap down to 5:21.

Sky and Chris Froome obviosuly have something planned for the finish today, or perhaps a little earlier on. Froome is 1:19 behind Contador in the general classification. With the time trial only 10 kilometres tomorrow, he will have to make time on the Spaniard today if he wants to win overall.

46km remaining from 185km

Astana are likely to be setting Aru up for the stage victory. He is down in fifth position and a second stage win would cap a brilliant race for him.

One rider who has been practically invisible today is Joaquim Rodríguez. He nor his team have made an appearance on the front of the peloton. Is he struggling, or is he trying to keep himself quite to later try and spring a surprise?

45km remaining from 185km

The gap continues to drop and is now below 5 minutes at 4:44, behind the leaders the peloton is slowly getting smaller.

Lots of riders are using one of the many races this weekend as preparation for the World Championships. Once of those is the teammate of Vuelta leader Alberto Contador. Nicolas Roche spoke to us yesterday about his chances in Ponferrada.

Finally the leaders are on the proper descent and the peloton is in hot pursuit.. The leaders are going over 70koh, while the peloton is going more than 10kph faster. Needless to say the advantage is tumbling.

36km remaining from 185km

The pace set by Sky ont he front in the peloton has the group in one big line and Carlos Betancur is in his usual position as the back of the peloton.

The leaders are almost in the valley, where they have a short flat section to the penultimate climb. It has a maximum gradient of 10% but is fairly straightforward and shouldn't trouble the main contenders too much.

31km remaining from 185km

It is all Sky and Astana still. For now, Sky has almost their entire team on the front on this descent and the gap is almost down to three minutes. It's beginning to hot up here in Spain.

Poels looks like he's struggling a little on the back of the leading group. He was off the back on the last climb too, perhap yesterday's efforts are taking their toll on the Dutch rider.

A bike change for Luis Leon Sanchez. He takes one of his teammates bikes. Fortunately for the Spaniard the peloton is climbing again and the pace has dramatically slowed.

29km remaining from 185km

Poels is well and truely out the back door now and we only have three men left out front.

It is still Luke Rowe on the front of the main group. The young Welshman has been putting in a huge effort, we've hardly seen him off the front for the last 30 kilometres. All the big teams still seem to have good numbers.

27km remaining from 185km

The catch is inevitable now and the break seem unable to hold the peloton off. As they struggle up the penultimate climb, they've seen their lead slashed to 1:42.

Rowe has finally dropped off the front and it is now Kiryienka doing to work ont he front. Froome is sitting fourth wheel with Nieve and Contador behind him.

Cadel Evans is obviously done for the day, the camera picks him up as he drops off the peloton. No BMC riders near the front of the peloton.

Away from the Vuelta, the Tour of Britain has seen another change in GC. Michal Kwiatkowski is back on top, after Alex Dowsett was distanced in a fast finale. Kwiatkowski's teammate Vermote wins the stage.

LL Sanchez no gets a bike from the team car, swapping his teammates bike for one that is set to his own measurements. As we said earlier, his lead in the mountain's competition is safe.

25km remaining from 185km

The escapees have started attacking each other. Méderel is the first to go and Niemiec sets off in chase. Initially Coppel can't keep up, but he closes the gap at his own pace.

Correction, Van Baarle is the new leader at the Tour of Britain. He leads Kwiatkowski by 19 seconds.

The peloton can almost sense the leaders in front of them, as Poels is the first to get caught.

A lot of riders have dropped off the back of the peloton and only around 30-40 riders remain. The gap to the leaders is now a small 54 seconds.

The leading trip are almost at the top of this climb and the gap has dropped to 45 seconds.

Kiriyenka doesn't often make facial expressions, but he's gurning a lot before he peels off. Alberto Contador is the first of the peloton to go over the top of the climb. He takes the final point before backing off and letting Sky take the lead again.

Wout Poels was dangling off the front for some time, but he was eventually brought back just before the top of the climb. It should all be together before the end of this descent.

The road kicks up again and the pace has done exactly the same. More riders being shelled out the back. Peter Kennaugh is leading the peloton as Niemiec decides to go it alone out front.

18km remaining from 185km

Niemiec's attack has had an impact on the gapa nd it has gone up to 48 seconds. He's really taking some risks on this descent. Coppel is trying his best to chase him down.

Coppel is with Niemiec now and takes up the front position. This is a very fast descent again and the kilometres are tubling at the moment.

Views from today's office #Ancares #LaVuelta # Eurosport http://t.co/3D8lQUAf8X

@Laura_Meseguer Sat, 13th Sep 2014 15:56:50

Coppel and Niemiec have almost a minute as the hit the bottom of the Ancares. Mederel is around 10 seconds behind them.

The Ancares is a formidable climb that hits 18%. This is what they are on at the moment.

 

12km remaining from 185km

Mederel is caught byt the peloton and the last two men up the road only have 30 seconds, it won't be long before they're brought back too. It doesn't look like Niemiec is going to take a second.

Nobody's told Niemiec that he's unlikely to make it. He digs again and it looks like Coppel is done.

More riders getting distanced. Yesterday's stage winner Hansen is clinging on for dear life at the back, as Kennaugh drops back after finishing his job.

10km remaining from 185km

It's only the hairpin bends that are preventing the peloton from seeing Niemiec now. He's got 24 seconds on the dwindling main group.

Contador wipes his brow, but he's looking as cool as ever. All the big favourites are near the front now, Aru, Valverde, Martin, Rodríguez, Contador and Froome are all there. Froome actually goes off the front for a moment to collect the bonus seconds it the final intermediate sprint.

Niemiec continues to plough a lonely furrow, but he's about to have some company. The peloton are about 20 metres back.

Ryder Hesjedal is done and he gives the camera a little wave as he becomes one of the many victims of the pace.

9km remaining from 185km

Niemiec is caught as we hit some of the steepest sections of this climb. Philip Deignan heads the race.

They're almost at the 18% now and the riders are really toiling here. Samuel Sanchez has been dropped now.

Moreno has gone, but his teammate Rodriguez is still there.

Warren Barguil is also in this front group. Contador has company in Hernandez too.

Rodriguez attacks but none of the other riders respond for now.

Only eight riders in the group behind Rodriguez. They are Aru, Froome, Hernandez, Caruso, Contador, Deignan, Barguil and Valverde.

Valverde finally springs into life as he sees his place on the podium under threat. He brings Barguil with him.

The big loser here is Martin, who is off the back. He can see the group ahead of him though.

8km remaining from 185km

Barguil pays for chasing Valverde and is dropped. The others catch Valverde. Rodriguez has 24 seconds now.

So the situation is Rodriguez is up front, with Valverde, Contador, Froome and Aru chasing on.

7km remaining from 185km

Barguil and Caruso are a little further behind, with Martin further behidn again.

Four very different riding styles in this chasing group and Aru looks like he is labouring at the moment. He has been distanced by the other three.

7km remaining from 185km

Chris Froome keeping a constant watch on his power metre as he takes to the front of the chase group. Aru is back, but he looks in trouble. They're catching Rodriguez. 18 seconds now.

The chasers are working together at the moment to try and bring back Rodriguez, but it goes back up to 19 seconds.

6km remaining from 185km

Froome and Contador won't be too worried about the Katusha rider. It is Valverde whose position in the GC could be in trouble as the gap flies up to almost 30 seconds.

Chris Froome attacks and Valverde follows easily. Contador is distanced a touch and he has to really try to catch them.

5km remaining from 185km

Valverde was obviously bluffing and he cracks big style. It's just Contador and Froome chasing down Rodriguez.

Valverde is bringing this pair back, but it's taking a big effort.

5km remaining from 185km

Rodriguez can now see Froome and Contador behind him and the gap is just 7 seconds.

Froome attacks again, he is trying to get rid of COntador but he can't shake the Spaniard. They're about to catch Rodriguez.

5km remaining from 185km

The catch has been made Contador, Rodriguez and Froome up front, with Valverde chasing.

Froome takes off his sunglasses and immediately attacks.

Valverde is still chasing, the leaders are tantalisingly close, but he just can't reach them. He is 11 seconds behind.

Froome is fripping the top of the handlebars, as Contador stands up on the pedals with his hands over the hoods. Both riders look confortable, Rodríguez seems to be struggling behind them.

4km remaining from 185km

The gap to Valverde has grown to 19 seoncs. It doesn't look like he's going to make it back.

4km remaining from 185km

A time check shows Aru is 24 seconds behind the leaders as Rodriguez gets dropped.

Frrome looks under his arm to see where Rodriguez is, he is gone. It's just the top two in the GC left. Who is going to win here?

182km remaining from 185km

Valverde catches Rodriguez and drops him and starts closing the gap to the leaders.

The road has flattened out a little bit, which is playing into the hands of Valverde, he is digging in. He wants this victory.

3km remaining from 185km

Aru has now caught up with Rodriguez.

Froome has been doing the work on the front of this lead group and Contador is happy to let him. Valverde si still chasing hard, but time is running out.

When will the attack come? 1.4km to go and the leading pair are still locked together.

Froome has a dig under the flamme rouge, but Contador looks impassive.

It's hard to tell if Contador is struggling, but he looks calm under the pressure from Froome. Can the Sky rider break him?

Froome attacks

Now Contador goes and Froome is in trouble

Froome's attack barely lasted a few metres before he sat back down and Contador has now left him behind.

Contador looks like he is riding to stage and overall victory.

Froome can see Contador up the road, but there is only 200 metres to go

Contador wins

Froome crosses the line 15 seconds behind Contador.

Valverde loses 56 seconds on the line

Rodriguez drops Aru in the finale and crosses 1:16 down with the Italian coming over 1:20 sown.

The top five in the stage is an exact copy of the top 5 in the GC.

We do have the time trial tomorrow, but it looks lke we have the winner of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana. Froome is unlikely to be able to bring back more than 1:30 in 1o kilometres.

Froome gives Contador a pat on the back as Contador talks to the Spanish media. That was a great fight from both riders.

Two months ago both Froome and Contador were both suffering from broken bones. Today they are first and second in the Vuelta GC. It is a great turn around from both riders.

remember you can find all of the results, report and gallery right here on Cyclingnews

This is our top 10 for the stage

 

1 Alberto Contador
2 Chris Froome +16"
3 Alejandro Valverde +57"
4 Joaquim Rodriguez +1'18
5 Fabio Aru +1'21"
6 Warren Barguil +2'51
7 Damiano Caruso +2'55
8 Samuel Sanchez +3'58
9 Daniel Navarro 3'15
10 Dan Martin +3'22

And as Contador waves to the crowds while he gets his stage winner's trophy, here is the all imnportant GC top 10.

 

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 81:12:13
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:37
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:35
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:57
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:04:46
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:10:07
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:10:24
8 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:12:13
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:13:09
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:13:09

Stick with Cyclingnews for all the reaction from today's stage and all the other day's racing.

That's it from us today, join us tomorrow for the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

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