Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana. Today is the important 37km individual time trial from Xabia to Calp.
Stage 18 report: Cort Nielsen wins stage 18 in Gandia
Hola and welcome to what promises to be another intense day of racing.
Today's 37km is a huge day for the overall contender as they fight for victory, places on the final podium in Madrid and places in the top 10 that award precious UCI worldTour ranking points.
As we join the action and lift off with the Cyclingnews blimp, Svein Tuft is about to start as first rider in action today.
The Canadian could actually be a contender for victory if he has energy left after 18 stages of hard racing and hard work for the Orica team.
It's another hot day on the coast in central Spain. Lots of European holiday makers are enjoying the warm conditions but the heat and a strong crosswind will make the 37km time trial extra difficult.
The riders will start at one minute intervals, with two-minute intervals for the top-30 on general classification.
to see the full start list of the 161 riders left in the Vuelta, click here.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will start last a race leader.
Riders are already warming up on the rollers at their team buses for their 37km effort.
The 37km time trial looks suited to the power riders and is sure to see a shake up on the general classification with just 45 seconds between Chris Froome in second place, Esteban Chaves in third, and Alberto Contador in fourth place.
It's not only a battle for the podium as Quintana starts with a 3:37 minute buffer over Froome and will aim to hold his lead to ensure he is in pole position to win a debut Vuelta a Espana title.
It's only a time trial for the general classification riders with the likes of Belgian national champion Victor Campenaerts, Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac), Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) and Giant-Alpecin's Tobias Ludvigsson capable of winning the stage.
At the start ramp the first riders are waiting to roll down the ramp after the UCI has checked and approved their time trial bikes.
Tuft is the start ramp. Here we go!
Two minutes to to go.
10 seconds to go.
Tuft is off! The time trial stag is underway. We will have full coverage of all the riders and results as they tackle the 37km time trial.
This is the profile of the 37km time trial from Xabia to Calp.
It heads inland to Benitatxell, with the main climb starting after 10km. The route then return to the coast and hits a twisting section of road at Fustera.
The finish over looks the Calp port with an out and back leg just before the finish.
For more details on the TT course, check out Alasdair Fotheringham's analysis. He studied the course this morning to give Cyclingnews some special insight.
Click here to read Alasdair's article.
A total of 11 riders have now started, including Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data).
We're waiting to see Tuft's time at the first tim split after 12.5km. He will set the benchmark for the other riders.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 9th Sep 2016 11:59:35
Recent stage winner Jempy Drucker (BMC) also gets underway.
At the first time check Tuft sets a time of 14:54.
Other riders are reaching the intermediate time split but are off Tuft's pace.
The early riders are mainly the sprinters who have suffered much during this Vuelta and so are only concerned about finishing inside he time limit today and recovering as much as possible.
There's a correction to Tuft time at the split. He set 20:13 and that time has already been beaten.
Christophe Riblon of AG2R is now fastest in 19:19.
The hard working Rory Sutherland is also in action now. He will no doubt ride steady and try to rest up after doing so much work on the front of the peloton for Movistar.
@TrekSegafredo Fri, 9th Sep 2016 12:20:46
Opps! We have an inflatable problem.
Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha) has been slowed after a green inflatable collapsed in the wind.
Fortunately race staff and police are holding up the inflatable.
Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo) is the new fastest time at the first split.
The Belgian national TT champion is giving it everything today. He has a time of 18:19 at the 12.5km mark.
Campenaerts dropped off slightly but boy has he picked it back. up. He goes through the second checkpoint (24.3km) in 32:36, which is 1:25 quicker than Manuele Boaro's second-best time.
The first rider out on the course - Svein Tuft - comes in to set a time of 52:27
Gianni Meersman takes to the course
Lots of riders coming across the line now but it's Manuele Boaro who has set the best marker with a time of 50:03
Meanwhile Etixx-QuickStep's Yves Lampaert makes a strong start, setting the new fastest time at the first checkpoint with 18:13.
Campenaerts hits the line now and he has taken chunks out of Boaro to put himself comfortably at the top of the standings. His time is 48:20.
And here is the Belgian TT champ just after finishing his effort
Lampaert continues his strong ride and he's going the right way about earning a place in the hotseat here. The Belgian sneaks ahead of Campanaerts at the second checkpoint by 12 seconds.
Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r) comes in with the third fastest time so far - 50:09.
It's still very windy out there. There are plenty of changes of direction so balances itself out.
Here comes Lampaert...
Lampaert stops the clock on 47:59. That's 21 seconds quicker than Campanaerts and puts him into the provisional lead.
Campenaerts is forced to give up his place on the hotseat (hot turbo trainer)
Some more strong riders out on the course now. Lotto Soudal's Thomas De Gendt has just rolled off the ramp and is finding his rhythm.
De Gendt catches and passes Omar Fraile. The Belgian looks to be on a strong ride - or the Spaniard on a particularly weak one.
No one at the moment is getting close to Lampaert's times at the checkpoints and the finish.
Dries Devenyns (IAM) posts a decent time to take third on the provisional leaderboard, 1:30 behind Lampaert.
Provisional top 5
1. Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) 47'59''
2. Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo) +21''
3. Dries Devenyns (IAM) + 1'30''
4. Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) + 1'38''
5. Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) +2'04''
Pierre Rolland rolls off the ramp. The Frenchman isn't the strongest TTist and spent yesterday in the break, so we probably shouldn't expect too much...
Jonathan Castroviejo, last year's Spanish national TT champ and fourth at the Olympics last month, is about to get going. We've just seen he's riding a 56 ring.
Silvan Dillier comes in now. He's a strong TTist but can only manage third, at 1:14 off Lampaerts, who's time is looking increasingly strong.
We went out to recon the course this morning. This is what we found:
Chad Haga puts in an impressive ride to move fourth at 1:24.
"I always like TT's that suit me, but this one carries special significance: I didn't finish my last ride in Calpe," he says, referring to the horrific Giant-Alpecin training ride crash here in January, which left him with stitches all the way up his neck.
De Gendt comes across the line and takes third place provisionally as Lampaert's stronghold continues.
Hang on. Lampaert is under threat here. Castroviejo passes the first intermediate checkpoint at 12.5km and sets the fastest time with 18 minutes flat. That's 13 seconds quicker than our clubhouse leader.
Our race leader Nairo Quintana has begun his warm-up. He's off in around 40 minutes' time.
For a full list of start times, click right here.
"It’s a very hard course, lots of headwind, lots of up and down, technical, and you have to keep your concentration," Lampaert tells Eurosport from the hotseat.
"I went full gas from start and did a good TT. After 19 stages, I’m happy with my time."
New best time!
Tobias Ludvigsson puts in a huge sprint to the line, almost taking out a stray race official, to end a brilliant ride. He has beaten Lampaert's time by 1.97 seconds.
Ludvigsson came good in the final part of the course. He was sixth at the first checkpoint and fourth at the second one -16 seconds down - but he timed his effort to perfection to put himself into the lead with a time of 47:57.
Castroviejo's strong ride continues and he could be on his way to the top of the leaderboard. The Movistar man posts the fastest time at the second check, some 27 seconds better than Lampaert.
@GiantAlpecin Fri, 9th Sep 2016 14:23:54
Ludvigsson spent several minutes sat on the ground after his big effort.
Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling) comes in with a time of 49:20.
Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) is on fire.
He was fastest at the time splits and sets a time of 47:17.
His time will be tough to beat.
@tinkoff_team Fri, 9th Sep 2016 14:38:35
The overall contenders are about to start their rides. Davide Formolo (Cannondale) rolls away.
His teammate Andrew Talansky is on the ramp now. As a USA TT champion, he should do well today and possible move up overall.
Chris Froome is off soon and the Team Sky mechanics are preparing his bike.
This TT will decide if Froome can move close to Quintana before tomorrow's final mountain stage.
Contador starts, getting a huge cheer as he rolls down the ramp.
He's fighting with Chaves for the third place on the podium.
@Etixx_QuickStep Fri, 9th Sep 2016 14:54:59
Froome starts his power metre and is off!
He is quickly tucked in his aero bars and up to speed on the seafront.
Contador is five minutes into his ride as Quintana waits on the podium.
The crosswinds will play a big role in the next 40 minutes.
In live timing, Quintana is already 13 down on Froome.
Contador dances on the pedals as he hits the climb.
Contador is on the descent, diving down at speed.
TV data shows Chaves climbing at 23kmh. Will that e enough to hold onto his third place.
Froome is fast, super fast. He is 30 seconds faster than Castroviejo after 12.5km.
We will soon know Quintana's exact time deficit. It is at least 40 seconds.
If Froome can gain 40 seconds for each third of the stage, he could be back in contention for overall victory.
Quintana passes through the first time check 46 seconds slower than Froome!
Here comes Valverde, he's not a threat anymore and sets a time of 49:23.
He could play a vital role tomorrow in the mountains.
@tinkoff_team Fri, 9th Sep 2016 15:16:13
The next time check comes after 24.5km. We will know more by then if Froome can turn the race upside down.
Froome is in his famous aero tuck again but quickly gets up to pedal hard again.
Froome is closing on Esteban Chaves, who started 2:00 minutes ahead of him.
He blasts past Chaves and the two almost rode into each other as they both went for the best line on a bend.
Chaves perhaps knows that Contador is riding faster and so set to take third overall. however the little Colombian has to stay focused.
Live data shows Contador is currently 1:08 up on Chaves.
Froome seems to be riding on anger and is fighting for every second he lost in the mountains.
Froome is on the coast now and has pushed his gain on Quintana to 1:11.
Quintana is tucked in his TT position but seems to lack the power and anger that Froome is showing.
Froome's time at the 24.5km split is 31:08. That's 39 seconds faster than even Castroviejo.
Chaves is already well behind. We will soon see how much time Quintana has lost.
Froome is on the twisting climb and descent now. He could gain more time here on Quintana.
At the second split Quintana is 1:32 down. That's after 24km.
Froome has already pulled back close to half his gap on Quintana. He could be within a minute of the Colombian after today's TT.
@lavuelta Fri, 9th Sep 2016 15:29:16
This is the virtual Top five in GC at 24.3km split"
2 Contador +1:12
3 Quintana +1:33
4 Chaves +2:14
5 Yates +2:31
Quintana is on the bars on the descent, that will cost him even more seconds as Froome stays tucked for as long as possible.
Davide Formolo finishes in 51:50.
Here comes Contador.
Sanchez finishes first, His left shoulder is covered in dust and looks in pain. He's clearly crashed and lost time. His top 10 chances cold be at risk.
Contador stops the clock in 48:30. That should secure him third place on the final podium.
But here comes Froome!
He's leading Quintana by more than 2:00.
Froome sets a time of 46:33 That is a huge performance from the Briton.
Can it be enough to give him a shot at overall victory at the Vuelta?
@Lotto_Soudal Fri, 9th Sep 2016 15:41:37
Chaves stops the clock in 49:46. He's had a poor day.
Behind the podium area Froome pours water over his head as he tries to recover.
Quintana started the TT with a lead of 3:37. He's going to lose at least 2:00 of that.
Here comes Quintana. He stops the clock in a time of 48:49
That is 2:16 slower than Froome.
Quintana's is now only 1:21 ahead of Froome.
This Vuelta a Espana will be decided on Saturday's mountain stage to Alto de Aitana.
Quintana actually finished 11th in the time trial and so not a terrible performance. It was Froome who was so much better against the clock.
The final climb is not steep but very long at 21km. It has an average gradient of 5.9% with some steeper sections in the middle.
This is the provisional stage result:
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:46:33
2 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:44
3 Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:01:24
4 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:26
5 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:01:47
6 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:51
7 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:54
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:01:57
9 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:58
10 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:02:10
Froome spoke briefly before climbing onto the podium.
"I'm really happy with the result today, especially at this point of the season," he said.
"This is the last race of my season so I'm really happy to be in good condition. There's one day of tough racing tomorrow. Quintana still has more than a minute but were going to keep fighting."
Froome added, revealing little of his plans for Saturday.
“I'll speak to my teammates tonight and lets see what happens. Nairo with Movistar has a strong team, it’s really going to be difficult to beat him,” he said.
Froome admitted he is always motivated to race hard at the Vuelta.
“I love the Vuelta and love racing in Spain. It's racing at its toughest. I love the challenge. For sure you don’t enjoy a time trial but I get a lot of satisfaction when you hear your fastest. That's why you race, going head to head with my rivals.”
The tactics will be fascinating on Saturday as teams work, possibly together to defend and boost their own interests.
To further understand the consequences of Froome's performance and his time gains, checkout our stage report and photo gallery.
Click here to read the report.
@TeamSky Fri, 9th Sep 2016 16:09:08
Team Sky took its other win at the Tour of Britain with Wout Poels winning in the hills of Devon, in southern England.
Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) is the new race leader.
For a full report and photo gallery, click here.
We've got the first images of Chris Froome in action in the Vuelta time trial.
From the image you can see how aggressive fought to gain time on Quintana.
As well as the fight for overall victory, the time trial also shook up the top ten placings.
With WorldTour points so important to the lower placed teams, placing in the top ten at the Vuelta will be very valuable.
Alberto Contador is now up to third, moving past Chaves. The Tinkoff leader will have to defend 21 second on the Colombian tomorrow.
Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) also jumped up he GC. He went from sixth to fifth, passing Simon Yates (Orica). The US rider leads the young Briton by 20 seconds.
That's about it for today's live coverage of the Vuelta time trial.
Join us tomorrow for full live coverage of Saturday's final and terrible mountain stage to Alto de Aitana.
It should provide a real battle as Froome tries to topple Quintana on the final mountain stage before Madrid.
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