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Vuelta a Espana 2018: Stage 15

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

 

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Preview: Vuelta a Espana's triple-whammy summit finishes could decide GC

Vuelta a España race hub

Start list

Stage 14: Simon Yates wins on Les Praeres

 

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

On Monday they can enjoy the second rest day but first they have to climb to the finish at Lagos de Covadonga. 

 

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. 

Click here to read our full stage report and see our huge photo gallery of the all the action.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

178km remaining from 178km

Here we go! the race is about to begin.

 

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. 

There are numerous races within the race today.

 

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

 

Simon Yates leads Alejandro Valverde by just 20 seconds, with Nairo Quintana third at 25 seconds. 

 


1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 59:11:18
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 59:11:38
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 59:11:43
4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 59:12:05
5 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 59:12:41
6 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 59:12:46
7 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 59:12:58
8 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 59:13:05
9 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 59:13:13
10 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 59:13:26

 

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

 

Now Mike Teunissen (Team Sunweb) tries his hand.

 

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. 

 

It is 6.1km long and climbs at 4.7%, so perhaps will be a better launch pad for attacks.

 

 

 

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

 

He blasted away on the steep climb to win alone. 

 

Now Contador is a TV commentator and knows the secrets of today's stage.

 

 

Contador describes Covadonga as "a really tough one".


"It's more than 11 kilometres long with an average of over seven per cent and some really hard slopes. It's got a really fearsome reputation, and it's a climb that is good for making some important time differences," Contador said.


Contador does not buy into the urban legend in the Vuelta that whoever leads in Covadonga will automatically still be leading in Madrid.


"That, I think, is a theory, and theories are there to be broken," he said. "There's still a long way to go after that, with the third-week time trial [stage 16], the Monte Oiz [also known as the Balcon de Bizkaia, on stage 17], and, above all, Andorra afterwards [on stages 19 and 20].”

 

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.


"That, I think, is a theory, and theories are there to be broken," he said. "There's still a long way to go after that, with the third-week time trial [stage 16], the Monte Oiz [also known as the Balcon de Bizkaia, on stage 17], and, above all, Andorra afterwards [on stages 19 and 20].”


Covadonga comes at the end of three difficult climbing stages as well. Contador argues the timing will benefit those riders who can recover from one day to another and are consistently good.


"In that sense, Quintana is a clear favourite," Contador said. "He knows what it means to win the Giro, he knows what it means to win the Vuelta and he's in great form.


“But we can't rule out riders like Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First-Drapac) either. Simon Yates lost some seconds on the Covatilla but it was only one day and he should be fighting right the way through to the finish," said Contador.


"Kelderman's going to be good in the time trial, too, and Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) should benefit from that as well. But Ion's got to get through the climbs first. and that'll be his big test."

 

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

He's opened a small gap to the bunch with Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe).

 

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

 

This could get serious. 

 

158km remaining from 178km

The trio lead by 15 seconds.

 

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

The descent is also a chance to attack. 22 open a gap but the peloton closes them down. 

 

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

The riders now face a rolling 50km of roads before the next major climb. 

 

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).

 

That looks like a quality move.

 

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! 

It is: Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain-Merida), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Ben King (Dimension Data), Pierre Rolland (Education First-Drapac), George Bennett, Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky), Bauke Mollema, Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo), Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Nick Schultz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), and Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing Team).

That group got away at about 35 km.

 

133km remaining from 178km

Yup, it looks like this is "the" group. The peloton has relaxed and the gap is up to 3:08. George Bennett is the highest ranked in the group, 21st in GC, but 10:03 down.

 

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

With 126 km to go, the gap is just under 4 minutes. 

 

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

After an intense 55km of racing the break now leads the peloton by 3:40. 

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.

 

George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) is the main threat for the red jersey in the break but the Kiwi rider lost almost 8 minutes yesterday at Les Praeres. He is now 21st on GC at 10:03.

 

111km remaining from 178km

There are some interesting names in the break of the day. The likes of George Bennett, Ben King, Nico Roche, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Bauke Mollema could all win the stage if the peloton lets them open a gap. 

 

 

 

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

Mitchelton-Scott is setting a steady but not aggressive chase. The break is now at 4:40. 

 

98km remaining from 178km

The break passes the 100km to go sign and their leads is now over 5:00. But they surely know they face a terrible three hours in the saddle if they want to win the stage.

 

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. 

 

Later the GP Cycliste de Montreal will also get underway as some of the best classics riders fight for victory in the one-day WorldTour race. 

 

The downhill events are also being contested today at the mountain bike world championships. 

 

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

Of course there is also another battle going on at the back of the peloton. The sprinters and their teammates are all fighting to survive today's stage, finish inside the time limit so they can enjoy the rest day and then hopefully reach Madrid next weekend. 

 

85km remaining from 178km

The peloton passes through the feed zone and riders grab musettes containing food and fresh bidons.  

 

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

 

Next up is 7.1km Mirador del Fito climb. It kicks up at 7.7% and so will hurt. The Mirador del Fito is the last climb covered by Miguel Indurain before he surprisingly climbed off and ended his career.

 

The riders then face a rolling loop to the coast and then climb Mirador del Fito again before blasting to the Lagos del Covadonga climb and the finish.     

 

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

The Mitchelton-Scott team has been leading the chase so far but Astana has also put a rider on the front to help bring the gap down. 

 

It is a clear sign that Lopez is keen to try to win the stage.  

 

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

There's a real sense that we'll see fight for overall victory today.   

 

80km remaining from 178km

The break is still together on the Mirador del Fito. This side appears easier than the other side the riders tackle later in the race.

 

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

The break is close to the summit of Fito now. Who will sprint for the KOM points? 

 

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

 

Their lead is down to 3:40 now.

 

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. 

 

However the high pace has spat Sagan out of the back.  

 

75km remaining from 178km

Mollema has changed his mind and is attacking the descent. He's alone but who will join him on the attack? 

 

71km remaining from 178km

Astana clearly mean business. They have five riders on the front now, making the peloton suffer with their speed on the rolling descent and country roads after the Fito.  

 

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.

 

Dario Cataldo is doing the work on the front at the moment. The Italian is one of the most respected climbers and team players in the peloton. 

 

65km remaining from 178km

A steep climb hurts the break and the peloton but it is one of the many non-categorised climbs of today's 178km stage. 

The break's lead is at 3:20 now. Mollema wisely decided to ease up and wait for the other in the 12- rider break.

 

 

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.

 

There is hardly a flat section of road until the finish.  

 

Breaking news: 

 

As the Vuelta a Espana heads towards a big mountain finish, there is some breaking news from the Tour of Britain. 

 

Before the start of the final stage in London, Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas confirmed he has extended his contract with Team Sky for a further three years. 

 

 

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....."  

"Long may it continue and here's to more success." 

 

 

55km remaining from 178km

Mitchelton-Scott seem happy for Astana to do the chasing and lead the peloton. 

 

However as the race hits the stunning coastline, the break of 12 still leads by 4:00. 

 

Astana will have to chase hard if Lopez still wants to win the stage. The 12 will not give up easily.  

 

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

 

The Dutch sprinters will suffer on the climb to the finish but is giving his all to help teammate George Bennett today by driving the break along on the rolling roads.

 

50km remaining from 178km

It's time for the second climb of the Mirador del Fito. 

 

This time it will be a vital climb. 

 

45km remaining from 178km

Simon Yates is tucked in the slipstream of his teammates and Astana. 

 

He's getting an armchair ride to the final climb today.

 

43km remaining from 178km

Van Poppel has finally cracked and so Felline has now upped the pace, riding for Mollema no doubt.

 

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

The hills of northern Spain are stunning today, with misty peaks and stunning roads.

 

 

35km remaining from 178km

Astana is making a huge effort to chase down the break but the gap remains at 3:00 as the kilometres tick down.

The chase will surely last until the climb up to the finish of Lagos de Covadonga. 

 

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.

Then its up to the Lagos de Covodonga for the 20th finish in the history of the Vuelta. 

 

 

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

riders are starting to reveal their cards in the big game of poker of the final 30km. 

 

 

28km remaining from 178km

Crash in the peloton!

 

 

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

For a moment Mollema, Bennett and Cortina were clear from the break and we can expect more attacks amongst the break very soon.  

 

25km remaining from 178km

This shot shows the Astana team leading the chase of the break. They are going all in for Lopez today.

 

 

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

They get to seem more attacks in the break. 

 

Cortina tries his hand.

 

 

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

 

The 'bar' closes very soon.  

 

19km remaining from 178km

Cortina is tucked in an aero position, trying to gain as much time as possible on his breakaway rivals and the peloton.

 

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. 

 

Does he have a problem or is he so strong he feels he can move up quickly?

 

We'll find out very soon.  

 

14km remaining from 178km

Cortina leads the 9 chasers by 45 seconds, with the peloton at 2:45. 

 

The final climb will decide if and who can stay away and win. 

 

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

Cortina, the chasers and the peloton is on the climb of Covadogna now.

 

This will hurt. Get ready for the attacks.  

 

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

 

The gap to Cortina is down to 1:50. 

 

10km remaining from 178km

Cortina has his jersey open as he tries to give his all on the double-digit slopes.

 

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. 

 

The 11km climb to the finish will spark some big time gaps, even in the top 10 on GC.

 

9km remaining from 178km

Rolland, Bennett and Conti are also caught. Only Cortina remains up the road.

 

 

 

8km remaining from 178km

There are 20 or so riders in the GC group after Astana's shake out. 

 

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

Cortina is caught and he generously offers a gel to teammate Izagirre. 

 

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

Lopez leads by 50m but he's not going away from his GC rivals.

 

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

 

Yates is quickly on him. 

 

6km remaining from 178km

Also there are Pinot, Mas, Valverde, Kruijswijk. Uran is distanced.

 

6km remaining from 178km

Uran crawls his way back but Pinot attacks. He's looking for the stage victory and is not a threat to the GC top 5.

 

Yates attacks!

 

Quintana hesitates  but finally Valverde leads the chase. 

 

It is still a mystery as to who leads Movistar and who has to sacrifice their chances for the other. 

 

5km remaining from 178km

Indeed Valverde soon fades and so Lopez picks up the chase of Pinot.

 

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

 

5km remaining from 178km

Pinot leads by 10 seconds as the chasers look at each other.

 

A flatter section helps Pinot as Mas tries to attack.  

 

4km remaining from 178km

They are into the clouds now. Pinot leads by 15 seconds. Has he given them the slip?

 

3km remaining from 178km

Mas kicks again and Valverde and Kruijswijk crack a little. 

 

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

Yates attacks again! He wants to distance Valverde and does it. 

 

Pinot gives it everything, dancing on the pedals.

 

2km remaining from 178km

Valverde is like a zombie. He's back up with Yates and Quintana. 

 

1km remaining from 178km

Lopez has a gap. Behind Yates waves his arm angrily at Quintana. 

 

The tension is showing as Pinot heads towards a well-deserved stage win.

 

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.

 

After his health problems at the end of the Giro, Pinot has fought back well. Chapeau!

 

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. 

 

Quintana is third at 33 seconds, with Lopez up to fourth at 43 seconds.  

 

This is the top ten for the stage. 

 

1 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 05:01:49
2 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:00:28
3 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:30
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:32
5 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
6 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:34
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 00:01:25
9 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:33
10 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:01:49

 

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. 

 


1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 64:13:33
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:26
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:33
4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:00:43
5 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:01:29
6 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 00:01:55
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 00:02:10
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 00:02:27
9 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:03:03
10 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:03:15.

 

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.

 

Click here to find out more on who won the stage. 

 

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

 

"Pinot attacked from behind with a lot of power and a lot of speed, so I can only congratulate him. It was a great attack," Yates said.  

 

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.   

 

"There was almost zero co-operation and so it was very difficult to do anything," Yates said.

 

"There was a little bit of a head wind too, so if you got a gap, it was hard to maintain. Not much really happened in the end..." 
 

 

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. 

 

"I feel good and if I can hold the same form and the same legs, then I’ll be very happy," he said.

 

"I’m looking forwards to the rest day and then we’ll prepare for the time trial and the rest of the race."
 

 

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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