Vuelta a Espana: Lopez climbs to victory on stage 15

Miguel Lopez (Astana) won his second stage of the Vuelta a España, soloing in to win at Alto Hoya de la Mora on Sunday's stage 15. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), who jumped from the favourites' group near the end, was second, with Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) third.

Chris Froome, who finished fifth, built up his overall lead over Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida), now 1:01 down. Zakarin’s attack moved him up to third at 2:08, with Kelderman falling to fourth at 2:11.

The Sky rider’s overall lead was never endangered on the difficult mountainous stage. A break was allowed to get away, but it shattered on the first climb, as did the peloton. From there, a variety of riders moved to the front and sought their luck. Adam Yates (Orica Scott) took off alone on the closing climb and looked to have it locked up, but Lopez bridged across to him, and the Briton seemed to abruptly run out of energy.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) also put in a glorious acceleration, and he was joined by Lopez in his attack. They had a lead of up to a minute and a half over the ever-smaller Froome group, but the younger Colombian rider jumped again, with Contador having nothing left to answer with. The Trek-Segafredo rider finished at 1:25.

"It's been a magnificent day. With all the work the team did, the team has been up to the task," Lopez said. "Today we decided to attack with Contador. When Contador went, I went with him, but I had some doubts because it was a pretty long and demanding climb. With a final at above 2,000 metres it was really hard. So I had my doubts – but I found myself with the necessary strength and here we are."

How it unfolded

Stage 15 was short but most definitely not sweet, with many metres of climbing and a fearsome mountaintop finish. In addition, the temperatures were high enough that the time limit for finishing was extended.

As expected, the race got off to a nervous start, with multiple unsuccessful attempts to form a break. It was 30 kilometres before a break finally established itself in two instalments.

Cofidis riders Stephane Rossetto and Anthony Perez were joined by Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) in an initial break of three, and within a few kilometres they were joined by Matteo Trentin (QuickStep Floors), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Tom Van Asbroek (Cannondale-Drapac), Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal), and Lluis Mas (Caja Rural).

This group worked and pulled away to a gap of more than two minutes. The intermediate was soon reached, with green jersey Trentin first across the line to add some points to his total.

All three of the day’s climbs came in the final 70 kilometres, and the leaders had about two and a half minutes in hand as they started up the category 1 Alto de Hazallanas, a climb of 16.3 km with an average gradient of 5.5%, but also with stretches of 16.7 and 18.3% along the way.

Astana led the peloton and continued to keep the break on a short leash, with the gap dropping on the ascent.

The group fell apart as the gradient increased. Behind them, Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) took off, and was soon joined by Adam Yates (Orica Scott) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). King of the mountains Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) was dropped on the climb.

Up front, Rossetto ground his way up alone in the lead, with Armee the only one to keep him in sight. The two finally joined forces.

The peloton was shattered on this first climb, with Nicolas Roche (BMC) amongst those dropped. With 58 km to go, the two leaders had two minutes on the greatly-reduced peloton, and 1:15 over a new group of Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Yates, Bardet and Oliveira.

Soon Armee was alone in the lead, and he was first over the top of the Hazallanas, 1:23 ahead of the Bardet group and 3:13 ahead of the peloton.

A long descent followed, on which the Bardet group caught Rossetto. The second climb was the category 1 Alto del Purche, 8.5km long, with an average gradient of 8%.

The chasers Bardet, Kruijswijk and Adam Yates caught and passed Armee with 27.5 km to go. Back in the pack, Contador attacked on the ascent, quickly joined by Astana’s Miguel Lopez, while Froome and Sky did not react. They pulled away quickly, soon catching and passing the tiring Armee.

Up front, Yates went off on his own. Contador and Lopez caught Bardet, and they moved up to within 50 seconds of the Yates, while the red jersey group trailed by some 1:30.

Yates easily won the mountain points, with Kruijswijk second, 33 seconds back. Bardet led the Contador group over at 1:10 and the peloton only 30 seconds later.

There was no descent before starting up the next climb, the Alto Hoya de la Mora. The relentless HC climb had an average gradient of 5.6%, with a maximum of 10%.

The Contador group was losing time on Yates, but more importantly, gaining time on Froome and the peloton. They soon caught Kruijswijk, and the gap over the peloton grew from one minute to nearly a minute and a half.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) attacked from the red jersey group with 12 kilometres remaining, but he never extended his lead before 50 metres or so and was forced to relent within two kilometres as Mikel Nieve led the chase.

The Contador group gap was 1:15 with 10km left to climb, and the field, continually shrinking, at 2:04, catching Nibali and De Gendt again along the way.

Kruijswijk was dropped with some 6.5km left to go, and even Yates was beginning to show signs of weakness. With 6 km to go, the Contador group was only 46 seconds back, with the field at 1:22

Lopez attacked out of the group. Contador gritted his teeth and caught Bardet, but Lopez was out of reach, and he moved up quickly towards Yates. Contador and Bardet continued up together, with the peloton coming closer and closer.

With just over 4 km to go, Lopez caught Yates and soon left him at a virtual standstill. Lopez saw his second stage victory beckoning and went on, as Contador and Bardet were caught by the field of only about 15 riders.

Lopez had about a minute in a relatively flat section just before the final km started. The expected attack out of the Froome group came from Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), and the acceleration saw Contador dropped from that group.

Lopez was able to easily cruise in to the finish line to take the stage win. Zakarin quickly pulled away from the favourites’ group, crossing the finish line 36 seconds later, moving himself up in the GC.

Kelderman pulled away to finish third at 45 seconds, with Esteban Chavez (Orica Scott) fourth just ahead of Froome, both at 0:47. Nibali lost six seconds on Froome in the finale, and now trails by 1:01 on the general classification. Zakarin moves up to third overall, 2:08 down on the Briton, who will look to extend his advantage when the Vuelta resumes with a time trial in Logroño on Tuesday.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team3:34:51
2Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:36
3Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:45
4Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott0:00:47
5Christopher Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 4 - Cell 2
6Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac0:00:50
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:00:53
8Wout Poels (Ned) Team SkyRow 7 - Cell 2
9Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team EmiratesRow 8 - Cell 2
10Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:01:02
11Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:23
13Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo0:01:27
14Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates0:01:46
15Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:02:17
16Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team0:02:42
17Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:03:19
18Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team0:03:37
19Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-Scott0:03:41
20Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky0:03:43
21Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott0:04:37
22Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-ScottRow 21 - Cell 2
23Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:04:58
24David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors0:05:23
25Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:06:04
26Stef Clement (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:13
27Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 26 - Cell 2
28Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team0:09:35
29Hernán Aguirre (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 28 - Cell 2
30Jaime Roson Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:12:45
31Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:12:53
32Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 31 - Cell 2
33Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 32 - Cell 2
34Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:13:08
35Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo0:13:33
36Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors0:14:51
37Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:15:01
38Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ0:15:21
39Jeremy Maison (Fra) FDJRow 38 - Cell 2
40Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 39 - Cell 2
41Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto SoudalRow 41 - Cell 2
43Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 42 - Cell 2
44Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) UAE Team EmiratesRow 43 - Cell 2
45Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 44 - Cell 2
46Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 45 - Cell 2
47David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 46 - Cell 2
48Ricardo Vilela (Por) Manzana PostobonRow 47 - Cell 2
49Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 48 - Cell 2
50David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team SkyRow 49 - Cell 2
51Koen Bouwman (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 50 - Cell 2
52Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky0:15:41
53Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 52 - Cell 2
54Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team0:16:18
55Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 54 - Cell 2
56Bernardo Suaza (Col) Manzana Postobon0:16:36
57Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:16:42
58Hector Sáez Benito (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:17:12
59Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 58 - Cell 2
60Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates0:17:30
61Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team0:17:49
62Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:18:03
63Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:18:04
64Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:18:27
65Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data0:18:33
66Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:19:50
67Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 66 - Cell 2
68Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 67 - Cell 2
69Stefan Denifl (Aut) Aqua Blue Sport0:19:55
70Mark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue SportRow 69 - Cell 2
71Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Astana Pro Team0:20:47
72Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team0:20:55
73Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 72 - Cell 2
74Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 73 - Cell 2
75Fabricio Ferrari (Uru) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 74 - Cell 2
76Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott0:20:58
77Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJRow 76 - Cell 2
78Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team0:21:46
79Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:21:50
80Diego Rubio (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:22:16
81Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:22:56
82Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky0:23:34
83Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:24:00
84Juan Felipe Osorio (Col) Manzana Postobon0:24:17
85Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates0:26:09
86Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 85 - Cell 2
87Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJRow 86 - Cell 2
88Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 87 - Cell 2
89Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step FloorsRow 88 - Cell 2
90Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 89 - Cell 2
91Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana PostobonRow 90 - Cell 2
92Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 91 - Cell 2
93Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team SunwebRow 92 - Cell 2
94Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 93 - Cell 2
95Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 94 - Cell 2
96Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team EmiratesRow 95 - Cell 2
97Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-DrapacRow 96 - Cell 2
98Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
99Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 98 - Cell 2
100Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 99 - Cell 2
101Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 100 - Cell 2
102Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha-AlpecinRow 101 - Cell 2
103Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 102 - Cell 2
104Brendan Canty (Aus) Cannondale-DrapacRow 103 - Cell 2
105Diego Rosa (Ita) Team SkyRow 104 - Cell 2
106Juan José Lobato (Spa) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 105 - Cell 2
107Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
108Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue SportRow 107 - Cell 2
109Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 108 - Cell 2
110Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJRow 109 - Cell 2
111Aldemar Reyes (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 110 - Cell 2
112Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) FDJRow 111 - Cell 2
113Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 112 - Cell 2
114Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 113 - Cell 2
115Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension DataRow 114 - Cell 2
116Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) FDJRow 115 - Cell 2
117Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 116 - Cell 2
118Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 117 - Cell 2
119Daan Olivier (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 118 - Cell 2
120Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La MondialeRow 119 - Cell 2
121Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-DrapacRow 120 - Cell 2
122Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 121 - Cell 2
123Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step FloorsRow 122 - Cell 2
124Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 123 - Cell 2
125Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La MondialeRow 124 - Cell 2
126Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 125 - Cell 2
127Matvey Mamykin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 126 - Cell 2
128Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 127 - Cell 2
129Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension DataRow 128 - Cell 2
130Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 129 - Cell 2
131Michel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue SportRow 130 - Cell 2
132Federico Zurlo (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 131 - Cell 2
133Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 132 - Cell 2
134Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 133 - Cell 2
135Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 134 - Cell 2
136Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 135 - Cell 2
137Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:28:40
138Hernando Bohórquez (Col) Manzana Postobon0:30:22
139Sebastián Molano (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 138 - Cell 2
140Fernando Orjuela (Col) Manzana Postobon0:30:38
141Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 140 - Cell 2
142Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue SportRow 141 - Cell 2
143Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue SportRow 142 - Cell 2
144Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro TeamRow 143 - Cell 2
145Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 144 - Cell 2
146Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-DrapacRow 145 - Cell 2
147Rafael Reis (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 146 - Cell 2
148Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue SportRow 147 - Cell 2
149Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 148 - Cell 2
150Lennard Kämna (Ger) Team SunwebRow 149 - Cell 2
151Clement Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 150 - Cell 2
152Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 151 - Cell 2
153Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 152 - Cell 2
154Magnus Cort (Den) Orica-ScottRow 153 - Cell 2
155Michael Mørkøv (Den) Katusha-AlpecinRow 154 - Cell 2
156Rein Taaramäe (Est) Katusha-AlpecinRow 155 - Cell 2
157Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-AlpecinRow 156 - Cell 2
158Thomas Scully (NZl) Cannondale-DrapacRow 157 - Cell 2
159Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-DrapacRow 158 - Cell 2
160Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica-ScottRow 159 - Cell 2
161Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-ScottRow 160 - Cell 2
162Chris Hamilton (Aus) Team SunwebRow 161 - Cell 2
163Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 162 - Cell 2
164Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 163 - Cell 2
165Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale-DrapacRow 164 - Cell 2
166Conor Dunne (Irl) Aqua Blue SportRow 165 - Cell 2
167Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 166 - Cell 2
168William Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-DrapacRow 167 - Cell 2
169Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb0:30:54
DNFRubén Fernandez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 169 - Cell 2
DNFJimmy Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 170 - Cell 2
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team25pts
2Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin20Row 1 - Cell 3
3Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb16Row 2 - Cell 3
4Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott14Row 3 - Cell 3
5Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida9Row 6 - Cell 3
8Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky8Row 7 - Cell 3
9Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates7Row 8 - Cell 3
10Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team6Row 9 - Cell 3
11Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team5Row 10 - Cell 3
12Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale4Row 11 - Cell 3
13Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo3Row 12 - Cell 3
14Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates2Row 13 - Cell 3
15Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo1Row 14 - Cell 3
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Sprint 1, km 45
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors4pts
2Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1 (Cat. 1) Alto de Hazallanas, km 74
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal10pts
2Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits6Row 1 - Cell 3
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale4Row 2 - Cell 3
4Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo1Row 4 - Cell 3
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Mountain 2 (Cat. 1) Alto del Purche, 109.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott10pts
2Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo6Row 1 - Cell 3
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale4Row 2 - Cell 3
4Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team1Row 4 - Cell 3
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Mountain 3 (Cat. Esp.) Sierra Nevada. Alto Hoya de la Mora. Monachil, km 129.4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team20pts
2Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin15Row 1 - Cell 3
3Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb10Row 2 - Cell 3
4Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott6Row 3 - Cell 3
5Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky4Row 4 - Cell 3
6Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac2Row 5 - Cell 3
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Most combative
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal
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