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Vuelta a Espana 2018: Stage 15

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Hola and welcome to the live coverage of stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana.

 

As the CN blimp gains height, the riders are gathering for the start of the third consecutive mountain stage in northern Spain. 

The stage profile reveals the tough day out the riders face today. The 178km is up and down on some nasty country roads and steep climbs before the final climb to the finish at Lagos de Covadonga.

As the riders roll out from the start, it's been confirmed that Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) is a non-starter but Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data) has recovered from his crash yesterday and is back in the saddle. 

The South African climber under went a medical check this morning and was given the okay to continue in the Vuelta. 

This was the scene at the start, with local authorities sending off the riders. 

Britain's Simon Yates is back in the leader's red jersey after winning stage 14 yesterday. 

The riders face 11km of neutralised riding today before the flag drops and stage begins.

178km remaining from 178km

As expected, there are a lot of attacks as riders try to get in the break of the day.

Riders want to go on the attack to perhaps target the stage victory, while others will be placed in the break to perhaps later support their team leaders. 

The overall classification is still tight despite 14 stages being raced. 

The opening 10km have been super fast with attacks chased down and other quickly going up the road.

Teunissen tired hard but was quickly pulled back and other attacks go clear. 

The race hits the first categorised climb of Alto de Santo Emiliano. 

Today marks the anniversary of Alberto Contador's final win of his career on the Alto de L'Angliru. 

Contador describes Covadonga as "a really tough one".

Contador does not buy into the urban legend in the Vuelta that whoever leads in Covadonga will automatically still be leading in Madrid. But he does pick Quintana to win.

Back to the racing and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) has attacked again.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) have joined them as he chases mountain points. 

158km remaining from 178km

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) is also on the move. He attacks and joins the trio near the top of the climb.

De Gendt is first to the top and so takes a few more points in the mountains classification. He is closing on on Luis Angel Mate of Cofidis. 

153km remaining from 178km

De Gendt scored 3 pots on the Cat 3 climb. He is now only 17 points behind Mate's total of 64 points. 

Thanks to the earlier attack, we have a group of 7 riders forming up front. 

150km remaining from 178km

In the new move are Alexandre Geniez (AG2R-La Mondiale), Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Simon Clarke (Education First-Drapac), Jonathan Castroviejo, Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).

They open a 20-second gap but the peloton is chasing them.

Gruppo compatto. The peloton has caught the attack.  

 A group of 30 just charged off the front, but that was a real no-go for the peloton. Caught! 

One gets the impression that a third of the peloton wants to be in the break, another third wants to prevent a break from forming, and the final third just wishes there were no mountains.

The pace is so high, or "brutal" as lavuelta calls it, that we already have a group off the back. About 50 riders, mainly sprinters and including Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) are about 30 seconds down.

Speaking of mountains – and we will be doing a lot of that today – here is how the mountain ranking stacked up coming into today’s stage. Luis Mate (Cofidis) leads things with 64 points, followed by Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Ben King (Dimension Data). De Gendt already won the first climb today so he has picked up 3 points, but is still 17 points down.

We have a break group, with 1:32 on the field! 

That group got away at about 35 km.

133km remaining from 178km

Mitchelton-Scott is of course at the head of the peloton. They will be trying to be careful that the gap doesn't explode, as it has in earlier stages, and grow up to those vital 10 minutes. 

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) leads the points ranking and the combined classification, and Bahrain-Merida tops the team rankings.

126km remaining from 178km

Simon Yates is leading the race, and of course happy to be doing so, but says he doesn't feel like he is dominating the race. And he realizes, there is still a long way to go.

115km remaining from 178km

The Mitchelton-Scott team is leading the chase at the head of the peloton. It will be interesting to see if Movistar and other teams help them to also target the stage victory.

111km remaining from 178km

The likes of Felline (Trek), van Poppel (LottoNL), Erviti (Movistar), Conti (UAE) and Cortina (Bahrain) are perhaps there to support teammates in the break or GC contenders who may come across later in the stage. 

It should be a fascinating finale as the climb up to the finish at Lagos de Covadonga approaches.

103km remaining from 178km

98km remaining from 178km

It's a busy day of racing. Along side the Vuelta we will soon have live coverage of the final stage of the Tour of Britain in central London as Julian Alaphilippe looks set to win the British stage race. 

This is the view at the finish from British cycling fan Alan Collins. It was his Union Jack flag flying near the finish yesterday when Simon Yates won the stage. 

86km remaining from 178km

85km remaining from 178km

The feed zone marks the start of the finale of the stage.

This is a TV screen grab of the break of the day and shows their 5:30 lead on the peloton. 

82km remaining from 178km

It's misty in the hills of northern Spain but that is only adding to the mood of the race.

80km remaining from 178km

We can see world champion Peter Sagan at the back of the peloton. He's fighting to stay on the third day in the mountains. 

79km remaining from 178km

Danny van Poppel is doing the hard work on the front, for the teammate George Bennett and the winner benefit of the break. 

Mollema attacks to take the 10 KOM points. King is second but both sit up to wait for the rest of the break.   

Bora and Astana are now helping with the chase behind as they ride for their leaders. 

75km remaining from 178km

71km remaining from 178km

Fortunately the road is dry today, otherwise the twisting road would have caused some problems.

Lopez is wearing the best young rider's white jersey and so stands out next to the sky blue of the Astana jersey.

65km remaining from 178km

A series of smaller climbs follow before the second time up the Mirador del Fito. It is followed by other rollers and then the long, steep climb up to Lagos del Covadonga.

Breaking news: 

Click here to read more about Thomas' contract extension.

Thomas turned 32 in May but will race with Team Sky for three more years and so likely end his career with the British squad.

Thomas said: "I'm super happy, obviously, things have worked put pretty well....."  

55km remaining from 178km

The break can thank Danny van Poppel of LottoNL for their 4:00 lead.  

50km remaining from 178km

45km remaining from 178km

43km remaining from 178km

The break is close to the top of the climb now. Astana is hunting them down.  

This time Ben King sprints to the top first, beating Mollema.  

40km remaining from 178km

35km remaining from 178km

The descent of the Mirador del Fito is almost over but the road kicks up almost immediately. The intermediate sprint comes just after with Cangas de Onis 22km from the finish.

The 12-rider break has broken up under the efforts of the climbs. 

28km remaining from 178km

Geniez of AG2R an Kwiatkowski of Sky go down hard. 

They get up but Kwiato seems to have hit his ribs. 

26km remaining from 178km

25km remaining from 178km

The Sunday crowds are huge as the riders head towards Lagos de Covadonga.

He gets a gap and so other riders call their team cars for a final bidon and tactical talk. 

19km remaining from 178km

However the Astana-lead peloton is closing the gap. It's down to 2:30 now, they are within reach of a stage victory now.

Simon Yates is at the back of the 80-rider peloton. 

14km remaining from 178km

The climb of Lagos de Covadonga is 11.7km at an average of 7.2%. The hardest, constant gradient is in the first half. That is the best moment to attack.

This is the summit finish of the climb. Our reporters Sadhbh O'Shea and Alasdair Fotheringham are up there some where, ready to get exclusive interviews and news from the riders. 

11km remaining from 178km

Omar Fraile and Dario Cataldo are setting the pace for Lopez. Their speed is spitting out other riders behind. 

10km remaining from 178km

Gallopin is struggling behind. He could lose a lot of time today.

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky) is caught. the break is being swept up.

Kelderman is also suffering now. The Astana tempo has hurt a lot of riders today. 

9km remaining from 178km

8km remaining from 178km

Adam Yates is at the back of the group, while Simon is closer to the front, ready to follow any attacks. 

8km remaining from 178km

It's Gruppo Compatto but Astana continue to set a painful pace.

Attack! Lopez makes his move. 

Carapaz leads Quintana and Valverde in chase of Lopez. 

7km remaining from 178km

Attack from Quintana! He jumps across to Lopez but eases up and sits on the wheel. 

6km remaining from 178km

6km remaining from 178km

Yates attacks!

Quintana hesitates  but finally Valverde leads the chase. 

5km remaining from 178km

The gradient eases but is about to kick up to 13%!

5km remaining from 178km

A flatter section helps Pinot as Mas tries to attack.  

4km remaining from 178km

3km remaining from 178km

Pinot leads by 15 seconds, with Lopez, Yates, Mas and Quintana chasing him. Kruijswijk and Valverde are a further 15 seconds back.  

2km remaining from 178km

Pinot gives it everything, dancing on the pedals.

2km remaining from 178km

1km remaining from 178km

Yates was angry with Quintana because he refused to help chase Lopez.

Pinot hits the line alone and wins the stage to Lagos de Covadonga.

Lopez finishes 28 seconds back, with Yates just behind him.

Uran finishes 1:25 back, he suffered today. 

Pinot took his 23rd career win and third Grand Tour stage win.

Yates retains his overall race lead for Monday's rest day. However the overall classification is still wide open going into the third week.

Thanks to his third place on the stage and the 4-second time bonus, Yates extends his lead on Valverde to 26 seconds. 

This is the top ten for the stage. 

In the misty podium area, Yates is on the rollers as he tries to recover from his efforts. 

Quintana joins him but they have still to clarify their moment of tension during the stage. 

Pinot is naturally happy to have won such a prestigious stage, with the Lagos de Covadonga considered the L'Alpe d'Huez of Spain.

This screen grab shows the moment Pinot won the stage.

The Frenchman is now on the podium celebrating his stage victory.

This is the new top ten, with Pinot up to seventh overall. 

Simon Yates pulls on the red leader's jersey again. He will keep it during Monday's second rest day and so start last in Tuesday's 32km time trial in Torrelavega.

We also have live coverage and a full report from today's final stage of the Tour of Britain.

Simon Yates spoke briefly after the podium ceremony, praising Pinot for his attack and stage win.

He was not as complimentary with his fellow GC contenders after waving his arm at Quintana during the stage in a call for help when Lopez attacked.   

Yates blew up in the final stages of the Giro d'Italia but seems more confident and more determined not to make the same mistake at the Vuelta. 

Yates and Mitchelton-Scott again rode a smart stage, saving their energy for when it mattered and letting Astana lead the chase of the break.

To read our full report on the stage and see the full stage results and our photo gallery, click here.

Thanks for joining us for our full live coverage. We'll have more next week after Monday's rest day.

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