Welcome to Cyclingnews' live race centre for full coverage of stage 16 of the 2016 Vuelta a España.
Stage 15 report: Quintana lands body blow to Froome
Hola and welcome to live coverage of stage 16 as the rider head to Peniscola on the coast.
After some intense and aggressive days in the Pyrenees, today's stage is one for the sprinters or a breakaway, before the peloton gets to enjoy the second rest day of this year's Vuelta.
The riders are about to line up for the start of the stage in Alcaniz, in the Aragon region for the start of the 156.4km stage.
There are tired legs in the peloton but many of the riders are happy to still be in the race after the race judges decision to allow them to stay despite not finishing within the time cut.
A brief communiqué issued by the Vuelta a Espana's UCI commissaires confirmed late on Sunday evening that 93 riders who had missed the time limit by over 20 minutes would be re-admitted to the race.
90 riders crossed the line more than 22 minutes outside of the time cut, including most of Froome’s teammates and the whole Direct Energie squad.
This enlarged grupetto had a race speed almost 10km/h slower than the stage winner with most coming in 53-54 on stage winner Gianluca Brambilla.
The UCI judges opted to allow the riders to stay at the Vuelta, following a rule created to protect the image of races when more than 20% of he peloton is outside the tine cut.
Back to today's stage, the ribbon has been cut at the start and the riders are in the neutralised section of the stage.
The riders get to enjoy 5km of neutralised racing but then the flag will drop and the racing begin.
Today's stage includes one categorised climb: Alto Castillo de Morella, that comes mid-way through the stage after a gradual climb to 800.
It is followed by a fast descent to the sea level and the coast for the finish in Pensacola.
It will be fascinating to see if a break is allowed to get away and fight for victory or if the sprinters' teams will work for their fast finishers.
Yesterday's attacks came right from the start and caused a dramatic shift in the overall classification.
To look back over the stage, click here to read our full stage report and see our photo gallery of all the action.
The stage saw Chris Froome lose time to Quintana after the Colombian attacked with Alberto Contador and a group of other riders.
From the Cyclingnews blimp we can see that the flag has dropped and that the racing has begun.
There are 164 riders in the peloton. Imagine if the 90 riders had been put out of the race. The peloton would be down to just 74.
If you want to enjoy Sunday's stage, click here to watch the highlights of the action.
You will see the moment when Froome crossed the line with his head bowed after fighting to try to stay in contention.
So much for a quiet ride to the coast.... We immediately have the first attack of the day.
Silvan Dillier (BMC), Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and Julien Morice (Direct Energie) immediately jump away. They're being chased by Davide Villella (Cannondale) and Mario Costa (Lampre - Merida).
Mate asked his fans via Twitter if he should go in the break today.
He wrote: What today, break or not?
PS: my hurt legs yesterday.
The six riders have come together and already have a lead of 1:20 on the peloton. It could be their day.
After 8km the gap is already 2:00.
After the fireworks and attacks of the last few days, the overall contenders and their teammates seem happy to enjoy a steady day in the peloton on the road to Pensicola.
The sun is out in Spain, with the riders enjoying temperatures of 26C and a slight tailwind of 10km/h.
142km remaining from 156km
The gap has opened to 3:00 but the Astana team is now leading the chase.
The Astana team is down to seven riders and does not have a sprinter, so it curious to see why they're chasing.
@BoraArgon18 Mon, 5th Sep 2016 12:23:27
Giant-Alpecin is also helping with the chase. They have Nikias Arndt who could fight for victory in the sprint finish.
The roads are rolling as the race heads south. It's an easier day for the riders but they are still racing hard.
The game of cat and mouse is underway, with the break pushing its gap out to 3:00.
As some riders fight on at the Vuelta, others are winding down their season and even their career.
On Sunday Fabian Cancellara race for the last time in Flanders after all his success on the cobbled tracks of the Belgian region.
Read what he said as he said goodbye to Belgium by clicking here.
Despite Giant-Alpecin's efforts, the break has pushed its lead out to 3:30.
@TeamDEN_fr Mon, 5th Sep 2016 12:45:52
The Vuelta is known for it's heat and today is no exception. The temperatures have risen to a sweat inducing 35 degrees Celsius.
With several teams interested in the bunch sprint today, in particular Etixx-QuickStep, the breakaway is unlikely to succeed. Should they make it though Sven Erik Bystrom would be a clear favourite to take the win in a small sprint. Bystrom is riding his first Grand Tour but he has pedigree with his victory in the under 23 World Road Championships in Ponferrada in 2014.
Yesterday, Jan Bakelants expressed some strong opinions regarding the decision not to throw a large group of riders out of the race for missing the time cut. The Belgian said on Twitter that it felt like 'fraud'. He reiterated his stance to Eurosport television, saying that all the riders should be expelled from the race. Had they made an effort and only missed it by five minutes then he would have been happier with their inclusion in the race.
104km remaining from 156km
The gap is crawling down as the peloton is strung out on these twisting roads. IAM Cycling and Etixx-QuickStep lead the way as the advantage of the escapees hovers just over 3 minutes.
@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 5th Sep 2016 13:05:44
Simon Yates looks like he's been on the deck, although there were no images of a crash. He's shaking his wrist and he has a few fresh scrapes but he's making his way to the peloton.
Yates is getting attention from the medical car but it doesn't look like anything serious. A replay shows that he came down in the middle of the bunch with his teammate Sam Bewley, who is also getting some medical attention.
Yates is now 40 seconds back on the peloton as he and Bewley set off in chase.
@saddleblaze Mon, 5th Sep 2016 13:15:19
Yates drops back to the medical car again to get a small wound on his knee cleaned up. Yves Lampaert is back with them too, although he has no obvious signs of injury.
94km remaining from 156km
Yates and Bewley rejoin the peloton and they both collect a few refreshments for their teammates along the way.
The approach to the finish today will take the riders along the coast where they are likely to be subjected to some wind. IAM Cycling's Jonas van Genechten says that the wind will be a key factor in the finish.
"It's possibly a stage for the sprinters, we'll have to see how the legs respond after a tough weekend. The wind will make things tricky. It will be a quartering tailwind at the start and more of a headwind in the finale. We'll have to check how it changes directions."
88km remaining from 156km
The gap has remained steady aronud three-minute mark as the one and only climb of the day approaches.
Qiuntana opens his jersey a little bit more. Even the Colombian is feeling the heat today. Movistar is sitting as the third full team in line, with IAM Cycling and Etixx-QuickStep taking the strain. Dimension Data and Giant Alpecin also have riders up front. After yesterday's massive effort, the Movistar riders are probably very happy to let others do the work on the front.
Gianni Meersman already has two wins to his name in what has been a very successful Vuelta a Espana for Etixx-QuickStep. He will be one of the favourites and his team are working hard to set him up.
"There's chance it will end up in a bunch sprint. Teams like IAM, Giant and maybe BMC will be looking to control the stage, too. There are not may stages for the sprinters here, it's a very hard race with a lot of uphill finishes. We're going to work for Gianni today," Meersman's directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters told the race website.
The riders in the break are starting the only categorised climb of the day. It will be interesting to see how this affects their lead on the peloton.
Behind the chase is well organised, with Dimension Data, Etixx and Giant-Alpecin all helping, knowing they have a chance in the sprint.
The break has passed over the 3 Cat KOM at the Alto Castillo de Morella, with the castle walls.
Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Drapac) has a flat but quickly gets a wheel change and is away.
@BoraArgon18 Mon, 5th Sep 2016 13:51:18
The peloton is passing through the feed zone, grabbing their lunch.
At the head of the peloton the IAM and Dimension Data riders are still leading the chase, some with musettes over their shoulders.
The gap is falling now, it is down to 2:00.
66km remaining from 156km
The riders now face a fast 65km to the finish thanks to a descent to the coast and finish town Peniscola.
For now the sprinters' team seem in control of the break.
Race leader Nairo Quintana is enjoying a quiet day in the peloton, protected and surrounded by his Movistar teammates.
The early part of the descent is spectacular with some high-speed hairpins.
The riders will be happy to enjoy the cooling air on the fast descent, it is still 36C out there.
55km remaining from 156km
The peloton is lined out, with Etixx upping the speed.
The peloton is split under the speed but is coming back together.
@LottoJumbo_road Mon, 5th Sep 2016 14:14:32
The peloton is all together and has eased slightly.. It is a chance to grab some food and talk tactics.
@GiantAlpecin Mon, 5th Sep 2016 14:18:49
Upfront the break is still working smoothly, doing turns on the front together.
The peloton is charging after the peloton at 58km/h.
46km remaining from 156km
The break is also pushing on at speed. They're going to sell their souls at a high price.
Who is your tip for the sprint today?
Gianni Meerman (Etixx) has won two stages so far but don't forget Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data).
IAM cycling has several options.
The descent has eased now, with the peloton on a long straight road through olive groves.
38km remaining from 156km
The gap is down to 1:30. The break is fighting to stay away but the peloton is looming.
@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 5th Sep 2016 14:38:28
The average speed is high today, meaning the race will finish ahead of schedule.
The gap is down to 1:05 but the peloton is likely to ease off the pace to ensure they don't catch the break too soon.
The breakaways are struggling into a cross-head wind. It is hurting the six riders but also affecting the peloton.
The peloton can see the breakaways up the long straight road but they re not within grasp just yet.
The peloton has avoided any echelons but the squads are forming on the front and riding in formation.
They know it is time to get organised to protect team leaders and sprinters.
All the teams and riders have no doubt studied the race book and race route and know that there are a series of roundabouts and pinch points in the final 5km. The roads are straight but are disturbed by the critical points.
It will be a technical, high-speed finish, with everyone no doubt nervous about the finish.
21km remaining from 156km
The 3km point is also a roundabout making for an interesting decision in the case of a crash.
The final two roundabout come together with 1.5km to go.
The Cannondale team is central in the road but the other teams are spread across the road too.
Cannondale is working to protect team leader Talansky, who is now seventh overall after an aggressive weekend.
The race is heading to the coast but then turns right for a loop in land before hitting the sea front with the big left turn.
The cross wind blowing from the sea will also play a factor today. Watch for riders to sprint up the left side if the breeze is coming off the sea.
Attack! As they go for the late intermediate sprint, we have an attack in the break.
Dilier made a move but is chased by the others. However the peloton is about to sweep them up.
The gap is down to 15 seconds.
@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 5th Sep 2016 15:02:47
13km remaining from 156km
Behind Bora-Argon 18 has picked up the chase and seem keen to lead out the sprint.
The peloton has caught the remains of the break, as Astana and Tinkoff hit the front. Tinkoff has veteran sprinter to look after as they also protect Alberto Contador.
Team Sky is also near the front, protecting Chris Froome.
10km remaining from 156km
The riders seem nervy about the risk of crashes as the race passes through the suburbs with crowds on both sides.
The riders turn left and enter a narrow section and move through a chicane in the road.
@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 5th Sep 2016 15:08:52
AS Team Sky sit on the front, here come the sprint teams. Giant and Lotto are both trying to take control for the sprint.
Behind some riders have been dropped as they ease up and roll home.
6km remaining from 156km
Now the riders face the multiple roundabouts.
@LottoJumbo_road Mon, 5th Sep 2016 15:12:29
Giant is in control for now.
Riders throw their final bidons as they prepare for the fiat finish.
4km remaining from 156km
Lotto Soudal is also waiting for the sprint as a huge roundabout splits the peloton.
3km remaining from 156km
Now BMC takes control. They're riding for Drucker perhaps.
The peloton passes under the 3km banner. The GC guys are safe in case of a crash but the speed is high.
Etixx is on the right of the road, as Bora also gather, as does Tinkoff for Bennati.
Bennati gets a gap and dives into the roundabouts. He's got a gap!
Bennati is going for it. Who leads the chase?
Bennati leads round the final corners and into the 1.5km finishing straight.
The peloton is splitting under Bennati's effort.
They catch Bennati.
Etixx leads it out but it is Drucker who gets it!
It was a high-speed finish but Drucker tined his surge just right.
Drucker came off Meersman's wheel, who was forced to lead out a little early. He'll be disappointed but Drucker is overjoyed to have won.
It is the Luxembourg rider's third pro win and confirms the speed he showed to win the 2015 RideLondon Classic.
Meersman was only able to finish fourth at the line.
Drucker outsprinted Bora Argon’s Rudiger Selig and Giant-Alpecin’s Nikias Arndt on the Peñíscola seafront.
The photo finish confirms that Drucker won by more than a bike length.
Here is the provisional stage result.
1 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team 03:21:18
2 Rudiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
3 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
4 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
5 Lorenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ
6 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
7 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
8 Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
9 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10 Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Team Katusha
With all the overall contenders in the peloton, the general classification remains unchanged.
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 64:57:27
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:03:37
3 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 00:03:57
There was a slight split in the peloton but riders lower than 11th only lost 2 seconds and the top ten was not affected.
The reply of the sprint confirms that Bennati was caught just 400m from the finish. The other sprinters and the Etixx team hesitated and widened at that point, allowing him some extra freedom.
Meersman was forced to pick up the chase and so lead out the sprint, trying to go with along range surge. However Drucker was on his wheel and came past him at the right time to win.
An interesting but perhaps irrelevant statistic posted on Twitter by @Irishpeloton points out that all the top 10 finishers today all finished in the gruppetto that finished well outside the time limit yesterday.
If they had been part of a smaller group, they could have been ejected from the race and so missed the chance to sprint today.
The riders left in the race - up at 164, all finished the stage and so get to enjoy the second rest day on Tuesday.
Wednesday's stage 17 starts in Castellón just down the coast and so the riders will get a to enjoy a rest day on the coast in and around Pensicola.
Stage 17 is over 177km and will be a nasty return to racing for the peloton. The includes several climbs -for a total of 3600m of climbing, and ends with the Alto Mas de la Costa climb -3.8km at an average of 12.5% and sections close to 20%.
Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage from the Vuelta.
For a full stage report and photo gallery, click here. We already have some race images and provisional results.
We'll be back for full live coverage of Wednesday's stage.
As you may have seen and enjoyed today, we also have full live coverage of every stage of the Tour of Britain.
Enjoy the coverage of stage 3 from the British race tomorrow, while the Vuelta riders enjoy a well-deserved rest day.
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