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Vuelta a España 2015: Stage 19


Live coverage of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana, 185.8 kilometres from Medina del Campo to Ávila.

Hoi hoi. With just three stages remaining, excitement is growing in the Netherlands as Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) is on the brink of becoming the first Dutch Grand Tour winner since Joop Zoetemelk landed the Tour de France back in 1980. Dumoulin dealt coolly with Fabio Aru's attacks yesterday but he needed to - he has precious little in the way of breathing room, with just a three-second lead at the top of the general classification.

Today Dumoulin faces another robust test over the rugged surrounds of Avila, and he is sure to face another onslaught from the Astana squad this afternoon. There are just two categorised climbs, the Alto de Valdavia (category 3) and the Alto La Paramera (category 2) but there is scarcely a metre of flat all day long, and the road climbs again in the final two kilometres towards a familiar finale in Avila.

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The full list of escapees is as follows: Christian Knees (Sky), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Amael Moinard (BMC), David Arroyo, Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque, Juan Pablo Valencia (Team Colombia), Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling) Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Andrei Amador, Fran Ventoso (Movistar), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka), Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Tiago Machado, Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Markel Irizar (Trek).

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The general classification picture was as follows at the start of today's stage:

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As this year's Vuelta draws to a close, we can already cast one eye forward to next year's edition of the race, which director Javier Guillen confirmed this morning will start in Galicia, most likely with a team time trial - "all on tarmac," he stressed - on August 20. Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.

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A visit from the Vuelta a Espana to Avila inevitably evokes memories of the late Frank Vandenbroucke's startling

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Salvatore Puccio (Sky) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) were also caught up in that crash, but they, too, have remounted and rejoined the peloton. The break's lead, meanwhile, has nudged out towards 14 minutes.

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It seems that Fabio Aru made two visits back to the race doctor's car following the crash but as yet we have no further information on the extent of the Sardinian's injuries, though he is currently in the main peloton.

Aru's teammate Alessandro Vanotti was also involved in the crash and the Italian has only now regained contact with the rear of the peloton.

Our man in Spain Alasdair Fotheringham is at the finish line in Avila and he reports that both Aru and Dumoulin were safely towards the head of the bunch with their teammates as it passed through. Assessing the state of their injuries or otherwise as they speed past at 50kph is nigh on impossible, of course, but at a glance, it appears that neither man was especially bloodied or battered by the fall - though that is not to say that they haven't been affected by the incident. The Valdavia and Paramera will tell us more.

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Giant-Alpecin maintain a brisk tempo at the head of the peloton on the lower slopes of the climb. It will be fascinating to see if Astana look to follow a similar template to yesterday and take over the reins in the final two hours of racing, or if Dumoulin's apparent ease yesterday will have prompted a rethink in their strategy.

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For anyone weaned on the Vueltas of the late 1990s, El Barraco will forever be synonymous with the late José María Jiménez, who died tragically in 2003. In 1997, El Chava delighted his home fans by going on the offensive on the Paramera in the company of Pascal Richard, though Laurent Jalabert would ultimately win the stage. No matter, Jimenez had won the previous day in Los Angeles de San Rafael and - if memory serves - marked the occasion by wearing an Atletico Madrid jersey on the podium.

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Dumoulin described yesterday's stage as a major confidence boost. "I know that Astana's strategy is to isolate me and get me out of the red jersey," he said afterwards. "But I know if I stay on Aru's wheel, then they cannot do anything."

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Machado isn't waiting for reinforcements. He presses on alone and stretches his lead over the rest of the break to 30 seconds. The bunch trails a further 15 minutes back.

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King, Lemoine, Monfort and Vorganov are all in the chasing group, 32 seconds behind Machado. The bunch is at 16:25.

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Away from the Vuelta a Espana, it's been a dramatic day of racing at the Tour of Britain, where stage 6 has just concluded. To find out more, click

There is precious little cohesion among the chasers in the break, and Machado remains alone in front, 24 seconds clear.

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Markel Irizar, incidentally, was the first man to try to respond to Machado's attack, but his pursuit was thwarted by an untimely puncture.

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Machado, Gougeard and Duque are 30 seconds clear of the rest of the break as they approach El Barraco. There is no such urgency in the main peloton, which is now 17 minutes down, still led by Giant-Alpecin.

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The Alto de la Paramera is 8.7km in length, and though the average gradient is just 4.7%, it will hurt the escapees at this stage in proceedings.

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Leonardo Duque has been dropped as the climb begins to bite, leaving just two riders in front - Tiago Machado and Alexis Gougeard. They have 40 seconds in hand on the chasers Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) and Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal).

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Amael Moinard (BMC), Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) are the strongest of the chasers, and they have picked up Machado. This quartet is 25 seconds down on Gougeard.

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The uneasy truce in the main peloton is broken on the way up the Paramera, as Movistar hit the front en masse. Riders are being jettisoned out the back and Esteban Chaves initially appeared to be caught out, but Orica-GreenEdge have marshaled him back to safety towards the front.

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Amador and Moinard appear the strongmen among the chasers - or at least, they have been the most generous in their efforts. The quartet is still 18 seconds behind Gougeard.

A touch of wheels in the main peloton sees Arnaud Courteille (FDJ) hit the ground, but the overall contenders are all safely at the front. The injection of pace from Movistar has lined out the bunch but so far there has been no attack from among the contenders...

Indeed, Alejandro Valverde breaks the deadlock on the Paramera with a solo attack, but he is quickly brought to heel by a delegation from Tinkoff-Saxo.

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Valverde tries again from the main peloton, which is now more of a red jersey group. There are just 20 riders or so in the group, including Dumoulin, Aru and Rodriguez.

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Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) wins stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana in Avila.

Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) managed to catch and pass the chasers on the cobbled climb, and he crosses the line in second place, 40 seconds down on Gougeard.

Moinard takes the sprint for third place ahead of Amador, Monfort and Machado.

The red jersey group is still out on the road, of course, still some 13.5 kilometres from the finish in Avila. Movistar force the pace on the descent of the Paramera, while Dumoulin stays close to Fabio Aru. It will be a fascinating duel between that pair once they reach the walls of Avila.


That's the stage result, but there's another race within a race still on the cusp of kicking off. Valverde tried to force a split on this rapid descent but has been brought back. Dumoulin, as ever, stays vigilant and watches Aru closely.

Aru has three teammates for company in this red jersey group, whereas Dumoulin appears to have no support. Astana will surely look to make their numerical advantage count.

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Dumoulin does, in fact, have at least one teammate in this red jersey group. Lawson Craddock is trying ti bridge across to Valverde and Rosa.

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A delegation from Tinkoff-Saxo leads the pursuit of Valverde, who looks set to sit and wait for the red jersey group.

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Aru will lose ground, but not much. The Sardinian is limiting his losses well.

Dumoulin cross the line just ahead of Moreno. Aru comes home with Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale), either two or three seconds behind him. We await the verdict of the timekeepers...

In any case, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) retains the red jersey of race leader and has extended his lead to 5 or 6 seconds over Fabrio Aru (Astana) ahead of tomorrow's tough afternoon in the Sierras around Madrid.

Degenkolb and Craddock did very well indeed to hang on (or perhaps chase back on) over the top of the Paramera, and their assistance in the finale proved crucial. Who knows how valuable these seconds will prove to be when the race reaches Madrid on Sunday...

The provisional general classification states that Tom Dumoulin is now 6 seconds clear of Fabio Aru. That breathing room could prove crucial.

General classification after stage 19:

1 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 78:20:51
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:06
3 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:24
4 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:02:31
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:02
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:24
7 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:03:39
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:46
9 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 0:04:19
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka 0:07:09

Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Vuelta a Espana this afternoon on Cyclingnews. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, and Alasdair Fotheringham will have all the news and reaction from Avila in due course. And, as ever, we'll be back with more live coverage tomorrow.

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