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Vuelta a Espana 2017: Stage 20


Hola and welcome to the big day: Stage 20 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.  


2017 Vuelta a España race hub

Vuelta a España start list

Froome’s six-year battle for Vuelta hits crunch time in Angliru

Vuelta a Espana: De Gendt wins stage 19




 As we kick off our live coverage, the riders re lined up for the start in Corvera for the 117.5km stage to the legendary summit of the Angliru. 

It is raining at the start and the rain is expected to fall for all the stage and the steep climb up to the finish.  


The riders have rolled out from the start and face a neutralised sector before the official start.


Of course today's stage is the decisive stage of the race. The Angliru will decide the final overall winner of the red jersey before Sunday's parade stage into Madrid. 


Chris Froome (Team Sky) is leading the peloton in the red jersey.


He leads Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) by just 1:37. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) is third at 2:17. 


With the GC so close, anything could happen today on the Angliru.


We'll have full coverage of all the action during the stage and reaction and photos after the finish.  


The riders are still in the neutralised sector, tucked in behind the red race car.

The skies are still dark and heavy, with the roads wet. 


The riders are wrapped up against the rain.


This is the general classification before stage 20. 


1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 75:51:51
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:37
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:17
4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:29
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:34
6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:05:16
7 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:06:33
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:06:47
10 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:10:26



Here we go!  The flag drops for the start of the 117.5km stage. 


The riders are nervous for the stage and because many want to get in the early break of the day that will form on the climb that begins after just 12km. 


We have the first attacks. Several riders are trying to get away. 


Igor Anton of Dimension Data is the first rider to move. Both others are going after him.


111km remaining from 117km

The early attacks are being brought back despite the heavy rain. 


The GC contenders are staying safely in the peloton for now, as other attacks go off the front. 


As the early climb starts, we have another attack. Denifl is dragging a move away. 


The attack group has grown in number and in its lead. There are at least 12 riders in there. 


Crash! The first of the day sees David Arroyo goes down.  


11 riders are confirmed in the break. But others are chasing them. 


We have several groups spread across the climb.


104km remaining from 117km

The early climb is over and the riders down down the 10km descent. This will help the break get away.


The sun is now out by the roads are wet. 


The sun is now out by the roads are wet. Riders are still nervous about the conditions.


We have a total of 18 riders in the break now with Marco Haller of Katusha trying to get across. 


93km remaining from 117km

But the peloton is only 20 seconds behind. It could be all together soon.


The riders are in a lush, green valley at the moment. The finish at the Angliru is so much different, so very rugged and exposed.


Enric Mas (Quick Step), Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal), Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ), Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) are amongst those in the break.


The Trek-Segafredo team is helping to chase the attack or at least keep it under control, probably in the hope to set up Alberto Contador a final, goodbye attack on the Angliru. 


88km remaining from 117km

The gap is 55 seconds but the break does not seem convinced it will stay away. Trek has all its team on the front of the peloton on the flat road.  


The road ramps up after 54km and then the Alto de Cobertoria tops out after 79.5km. 


We can see both Adam and Simon Yates in the attack today.  They're chasing a stage victory.  


Aslo in the attack are Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Nico Roche (BMC).  


Trek-Segafredo are keeping the gap to 55 seconds. 


Their work for Contador is helping Froome for now.


Six years ago, it was the time loss on the Alto de l'Angliru that ultimately undid Chris Froome's hopes of winning the Vuelta a Espana, a race that made his name as a Grand Tour contender.


Today the Team Sky rider will be hoping to cement his first overall victory at the Spanish race.


A win on the mythic climb would be a fitting end to an overall triumph, but Froome wants to ensure that he's got the red jersey nailed down first.


"It would be amazing to win the toughest climb of this race, the Angliru but the biggest objective for us is to keep the red jersey," Froome said after making it safely through stage 19 into Gijon.


"I am really taking this one day at a time and counting down the kilometres until Madrid at this point. Obviously, if I can finish in the red jersey then that would be incredible. If the opportunity to win the stage is there then I'll go for it, but at this point I'm purely thinking about getting to Madrid in red."


To read the full article on what Froome said before the Angliru, click here. 




The break has pushed out its lead to 1:10 but Trek is still chasing them. 


78km remaining from 117km

Meanwhile at the summit of the Angliru the weather is still tough with wet roads and high winds. 


This photo from Katusha press officer Philippe Maertens shows how tents at the finish/podium are have been flattened. 





Trek are setting a furious pace and so holding the break at 1:00.

Contador clearly wants a shot at a final victory. His win would also end Spain's drought in this year's race.  


Despite the early climb, the riders covered a rapid 43.3km/h in the first hour. 


68km remaining from 117km

The valley road has started to climb now. The weather is dry for now but more rain is expected as the race heads deep into the Asturias hills.


Alasdair Fotheringham and Sadhbh O'Shea are on the ground for Cyclingnews at the Vuelta a Espana.


Alasdair wrote an excellent preview piece on Froome and the Angliru, pointing out how his six-year battle for Vuelta hits crunch time on the Angliru. 


He described the Cueña les Cabres (the goats track) sector of the Angliru as by far the hardest part of the climb and with an average of 18 percent.


"This is where the massed lines of fans are thickest, where car clutches burn out, riders suddenly reach the end of their strength - and the Vuelta may well be won or lost," he wrote. 



Sadhbh is already at the summit of the Angliru and sent this shot of the finish. 



The Trek team is still working on the front of the peloton with help from Astana, as Miguel Angel Lopez also eyes a stage victory and a chance to win the climber's jersey.


55km remaining from 117km

This is the quiet before the storm as the race heads deep into the valley before the Alto de Colbertoria. After the summit, there are 37km to go but they are either on testing descents or terrible climbs.



The descent of the Cordal - the second major climb, is especially difficult. 


The narrow, single-track road up to the Angliru was used originally for herding cattle. It has been resurfaced but there have been no other changes. There are still no buildings at the top: this is cycling'’s ultimate road to nowhere - barring victory in the Vuelta.


The first 5.5 kilometres of the climb are not so hard, but from that point onwards, on ramps known as the Viapará, the road rears upwards more much steeply, and the average gradient shifts to a painful 10 percent.


The Cuesta les Cabanes ramp, at 21.5 percent, comes at around km 7 of the 12.5km total. There is a brief respite of sorts at km 8.5, where the ramps percentage points drop to a mere 14.5 percent and then as the race swings right for another kilometre long straightaway, we’re back up to a much harsher 20 percent.




The section of the Angliru that really leaves a lasting impression is the big left-hander known as Cobayos, at km 10.


Just 2.5 kilometres are left to go, but Cobayos 19 percent gradients lead directly onto the 1.3 kilometres long segment called Cueña les Cabres (the goats track).


By far the hardest part of the climb and with an average of 18 percent, this is where the massed lines of fans are thickest, where car clutches burn out, riders suddenly reach the end of their strength - and the Vuelta may well be won or lost.



The last part of the climb maintains the pain, with the final hard segment of El Aviru which has slopes of 21 percent with 1.5 kilometres to go, very likely to extend any gains made by an attack on the Cabres ‘ramp’.


Finally, after a short descent and quick kick back up in the final kilometre to the Picu del Puerto finish, the ascent is over: 1266m metres of vertical climbing in 12.5km to 1573 metres above sea level.


49km remaining from 117km

The break is still working together but the peloton refuses to let the elastic go. The gap remains at 1:20.


The roads are dry in the valley but very different up at the summit of the Angliru. The temperature is down to 6C, with wet low clouds.  



Other GC teams are moving up to the front of the peloton now. We can see Katusha positioning Zakarin. 


Alto de la Cobertoria begins.


It is 8km long with several steep sections. It should give us a sign of what is to come later on the Angliru. 


43km remaining from 117km

5km to the summit but the break is pushing on, trying to stay away.


Here comes the rain, adding an extra dimension and extra danger to the stage.


The break is falling apart on the climb now.


The rain is heavy and cold now. It is going a big factor on the 10km descent coming up in 3km.


The break has split into several groups, with the peloton at 1:45.


Bahrain-Merida is also helping with the pace setting in the peloton. We could see Nibali try to force things on the descent.


Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) was one of the rider setting a hard pace at the front on the climb. He has been joined by Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Marc Soler (Movistar), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb).



39km remaining from 117km

The break is reforming, with the Yates brothers coming back up to the move. 


Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) is doing lots of work on the front of the break.


Some riders are grabbing bidons and capes as team cars go up to the peloton.  


The break is on the rain-soaked descent. Everyone is being very careful.



The peloton is now on the wet descent. It's a key moment in the race. 


30km remaining from 117km

Nibali is trying to push clear but Team Sky and Froome are close behind. 


Froome goes wide on a curve but seems in control. 

The peloton is lined out on the fast descent. 


26km remaining from 117km

The descent ends but the road will soon rise again. 


25km remaining from 117km

The break is pushing on the climb but the peloton is only 1:20 back. 


There are only 20 or so riders left in the peloton. 


The riders are on the Alto de la Cordal now. It is short but steep, with a terrible descent to the foot of the Angliru. 


Some of the break are being swept up as Bahrain lead the peloton.


Several big names are missing from the peloton. 


Zakarin is behind and Aru has been suffering too. Pantano has been setting a fast pace for Contador. 


Zakarin and Aru could lose their GC placings today. 


23km remaining from 117km

Froome is tucked safely behind Nibali and Bahrain. He has several teammates behind him. 


Michael Woods is at the back of the peloton, hanging not his GC spot. 


22km remaining from 117km

The sun is out but the roads are wet. Pantano continues to push the pace. The break is only 30 ahead. 


The stage victory should be up for grabs for Contador. 


Ilnur Zakarin and David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) make it back to the peloton but that was a scare for their GC placing.


21km remaining from 117km

The break goes over the summit of the climb but the peloton is on their tails. 


Soler of Movistar is first to the top as the rider push into a head wind. 


With the break taking the points, it means that Davide Vilella of Cannondale-Drapac is sure of winning the climber's competition.


That's a good achievement for the talented Italian and the Cannondale team. 


The Cannondale team confirmed that it has found a a new sponsor and new majority owner for 2018 today, with EF International taking over the title sponsor.


Click here to read all the details.    


Crash! Soler goes down on the descent. 


He slid out but does not seem hurt. He as pushing it a little too much. 


The 8km descent is covered in leaves, with sun and shadows making it difficult to judge speed. 


17km remaining from 117km

Nibali has crashed according to race radio! 


He's up and chasing but is 20 seconds behind Froome's group.


Nibali should get back on just in time for the Angliru. 


De la Curz also crashes ands goes off the road. He does not seem hurt but will need time to get going. 


That's De la Cruz of Quick-Step Floors. He was 11th overall. 


The remains of the break are still out front but we can see that Contador is chasing behind. 


He has Pantano with him but is 30 seconds back on the peloton.


His chance of a farewell victory could have gone.


Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) is up front and alone. He's pushing on trying to win another stage.

Bardet is just behind him.


We stand corrected, Contador is upfront!!!


He's going for it with Pantano.




In the confusion on the descent, with crash going on, few noticed that Contador attacked early on the start of the Angliru. 


10km remaining from 117km

Sunweb is trying to chase Contador to protect Kelderman's GC third place. 


They face a tough task. Contador leads by 40 seconds as Pantano moves off the front.   


Only Enrico Mas (Quick-Step) is with Contador now. 


This is the Angliru! 



Contador is on the easier middle section no but the gradient will soon kick up again. 


Contador catches Bardet and others. They only 20 seconds down on Tomasz Marczynski.  


The Froome peloton is 45 seconds back. 


Froome has four teammates to help him. 


8km remaining from 117km

Contador catches Tomasz Marczynski and so has the empty road and nobody ahead of him.


Marczynski, Bardet, Mas and Soler are with Contador. 


There are dozen riders in the Froome group, including Michael Woods.


There is a strong side/head wind on some parts of the climb. This will help Team Sky chase.



Klderman and Nibali are in the Froome group. Zakarin seems to be there too. 


6km remaining from 117km

Contador is dancing on the pedals.


For now the roads are dry below the cloud level. 


Nibali and Pelizzotti are on the front of the peloton now. They are 40 seconds back.  


5km remaining from 117km

Wow! A fan has slowed Contador.  


He gets going again and has gone clear alone.

He's trying to win the stage.


The problem with the fan does not seem to have affected Contador. He's powering away. 


5km remaining from 117km

Behind, Froome only has Poels to help him.


Contador is fighting the double-digit gradient. He dances on the pedals for a spell and then sits down to push from the saddle. 


The roads is wet in the shadows and so grip is a problem. 


Behind the Froome group is down to just eight riders.


Woods is hanging tough.  


4km remaining from 117km

Zakarin ups the pace as he tries to crack Kelderman. 


Zak is only 12 seconds down on the Dutchman and so even the time bonuses for second and third could play a part in the final result of the Vuelta.


Poels takes up the pace as Contador opens his lead to 1:20.


Contador is on the steepest part of the climb. He's on his lowest gear as he fights to win the stage. 


The Spanish fans are cheering him on, with the police trying to hold them back.  


Pelizotti is again pushing the pace ahead of Nibali. 


Froome is now on the defensive. 


Contador has such a gap that he close to taking a place on the podium. Zak is back in the Froome group. 


Kruiswijk is in the middle, trying to chase Contador but he is 55 seconds back. 


Contador is getting a running police escort on the packed climb. He needs it, the fans are going crazy.


2km remaining from 117km

Contador has finished the steepest part of the Angliru, he leads the Froome group by 1:15.


He's going to win the stage!


Contador needs a magic number of 1:17 to take a podium spot and he's set to gain that time. He also has a ten second time bonus if he wins the stage.   


Contador is grinding his gear into the ground. He's suffering like probably never before in his career. 


Behind Nibali is suffering and losing ground. 


Froome is 20m ahead of him now, with Zak and others. 


Nibali could lose his second place if he is not careful.


1km remaining from 117km

Froome kicks ahead. He's alone.


Poels joins him and they benefit from a tailwind section.

Zakarin is close to them. 


Pelizzotti is trying to pace Nibali back up. 


The GC riders are scattered across the road.


It is everyone for themselves. 


Zakarin has a gap on Kelderman too. 


1km remaining from 117km

Contador begins the last climbing kilometre of his career. The stage ends with a slight downhill to the finish.  


Contador is heading to a great final stage victory. 


Behind Chris Froome is heading to overall victory in the Vuelta. 



Froome and Poels are only 30 seconds down on Contador.


Contador is suffering as he tries to stay clear.


What a finale!  


Zakarin is set to move up overall.



1km remaining from 117km

The road eases for Contador. He's about to descend to victory. 


Contador looks behind him and takes a big breath. 


The gap is 25 seconds to Froome and Poels.



But nobody can stop Contador winning on the Angliru.


Here he comes. 


As he hits the line Contador celebrates in style. What  final win for the Spaniard. 


Froome and Poels finish 16 seconds behind as they try to drag Poels up onto the poduim. 


Other riders come in. Nibali is in and so seems set to finish second behind Froome.  


Contador waved to the fans to cheer him and then fired off his Pistolero celebration. 




Results show that Poels and Froome finished at 17.


The provisional GC sees Froome lead Nibali by 2:15, with Zakarin moving up to third at 2:51 and Contador up to fourth at 3:11.  


Zakarin managed to distance Wilco Kelderman in the final kilometre of the Angliru and gain enough time to move past the Dutchman. 




Froome, Poels and the Team Sky staff celebrated their great day and Froome's Tour-Vuelta double just after the finish line, letting out lots of cheers and hugging each other. 


No rider in the modern era has ever won the Tour-Vuelta double before. It's a huge achievement. 


This is the top 10 stage result: 


1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 03:31:33
2 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:17
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:17
4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:35
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:51
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:51
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:51
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:01:11
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:25
10 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 00:01:36


It confirms that Michael Woods finished tenth, 1:36 down on Contador.


 It is 39 years since Hinault won the Vuelta-Tour but that was when the Vuelta was held in April. 


It is a lot harder to achieve after riding the Tour de France. 

Only Anquetil and Hinault have won the Tour-Vuelta double before Froome. 


Alberto Contador spoke briefly after crossing the finish line and winning the stage. 


“There couldn’t be a better finish, winning on the Angliru, end of my career, no way for a better end," he said.


"I knew the Cordal has had a lot of history, lots of falls, and knew I had to go with Pantano on the descent to make the gap.”


This is the General Classification after stage 20:

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:00
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:02:15
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 00:02:51
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:03:11
5 Wilco Kelderman 00:03:15
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:06:45
7 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 00:07:56
8 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:08:59
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:11:04
10 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:15:36


Chris Froome also spoke briefly about his day and lining up his Tour-Vuelta double.



"It's an absolute incredible feeling, and what a way to end such a massive three weeks of racing, having completed the Tour-Vuelta double that’s an amazing feeling, thanks to everyone for all of the support for the last few weeks," Froome said, after congratulating Contador on his stage victory. 


"It was such a tough climb, we did everything we could to try and catch Alberto and my congratulations to him, to finish his career like this is beautiful."


The Trek-Segafredo team posted this shot of Contador and Froome together.



This is one of the first images of Contador celebrating his stage victory. 



To read our full stage report and see our photo gallery from the dramatic stage, click here. 



Due the strong winds blowing at the summit of the Angliru, the podium ceremony was held inside a tent. 


Fortunately Chris Froome, the other podium placed riders and Alberto Contador will be celebrated in style in Madrid on Sunday evening. 


It seems the Team Sky riders and staff are also celebrating. This is a photo posted by the team on Twitter.




However it was not an easy day for others. Vincenzo Nibali crashed on a descent and was unable to launch any attacks on Froome during the climb of the Angliru. He did manage to defend his second place but suffered doing so. 



Contador also flexed his muscles as he celebrated a very special and final stage victory. 




Chris Froome was also happy to have set up his Tour-Vuelta double.



Vincenzo Nibali prefered not to speak at the summit of the Angliru but has reassured people he is not too hurt, tweeting: 


"Ciao Ragazzi volevo rassicurarvi sulla mia condizione dopo la caduta.

The tweet was cut off. This is the full message from Nibali. 


"Ciao Ragazzi volevo rassicurarvi sulla mia condizione dopo la caduta.qualche escoriazione e male alle costole! Per domani stringo i denti." 


"Hi everyone, wanted to let you know about my condition after the crash. I've got some cuts and bruises and a rib hurts! But i'm going to dig in, suffer tomorrow (to make it to the finish in Madrid)."   



That's about it from today's live coverage.


This is the stage result, showing how Contador distanced all the GC riders in the climb of the Angliru and managed to hold off Froome to win the stage and move up to fourth overall.  


1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 03:31:33
2 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:17
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:17
4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:35
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:51
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:51
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:51
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:01:11
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:25
10 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 00:01:36




With Froome dropping Nibali and Zakarin distancing Kelderman, the overall classification changed, with The Russian up to third overall and Contador up to fifth. 


General Classification after stage 20:

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 79:23:37
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:02:15
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 00:02:51
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:03:11
5 Wilco Kelderman 00:03:15
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:06:45
7 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 00:07:56
8 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:08:59
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:11:04
10 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:15:36



Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) fought hard to finish seventh overall, while Tejay van Garderen (BMC) also fought to move up to tenth overall. 


Impressive performances by both North American riders. 




For our full stage report and photo gallery from the epic stage, click here. 



Join us tomorrow for live coverage of the final evening stage in Madrid, as Chris Froome is set to become the first tour-Vuelta winner of the modern era and Alberto Contador races for the very last time.


Well have full live coverage of all the action, with updates, photos and interviews. 


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