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Beating Castroviejo by 44 seconds, Froome crushed the opposition in the time trial on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana; Quintana lost 2.16 in 11th but retained the leader’s jersey

Photo: A.S.O.

CHRIS FROOME

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JONATHAN CASTROVIEJO

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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TEAM SKY

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TOBIAS LUDVIGSSON

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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09.09.2016 @ 18:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Chris Froome (Sky) showed that he is not content with second place at the Vuelta a Espana when he crushed the opposition with a dominant ride in the time trial on stage 19 of the Spanish race. Blasting through the flat 37km course in 46.33, he beat Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) by 44 seconds and Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) by 1.24 to take a convincing win. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lost 2.16 in 11th place but retained the lead with an advantage of 1.21.

 

Since the start of the race, Chris Froome made it clear that he had one plan at the Vuelta a Espana: to ride a defensive race and make the difference in the final time trial. He seemed to be on track to just that when he matched Nairo Quintana in the queen stage.

 

However, everything unraveled one day later when he and the rest of the Sky team was caught off-guard on the roads to Alto de Formigal and on a rare off-day, he lost a massive amount of time. Suddenly, he found himself 3.37 behind the Colombian and victory seemed to be out of the reach.

 

Nonetheless, Froome stuck to his plan, refusing to make any big, crazy attacks on the mountainous stage 17 and counting on his time trial skills to bring him back in contention. Today he showed that this was the right strategy as he delivered one of the best time trials of his live to take a dominant victory in the stage 19 race against the clock.

 

Froome was clearly in a determined mood when he rolled out on the flat 37km course and he knew that he had to make a gamble. This time there was no slow start as he usually has and instead he sprinted down the ramp. Already after a few kilometres, he had gained 15 seconds on Quintana and it was evident that he was on a good day.

 

The big question was whether he could maintain the speed but there were no such issues. Froome never showed any sign of fatigue and just increased his advantage throughout the entire course. In the end, he stopped the clock in 46.33 to beat pre-race favourite Jonathan Castroviejo who had been in a class of his own until that point, by no less than 44 seconds, and Tobias Ludvigsson by a massive 1.24.

 

Froome now just had to wait for Quintana to arrive. The Colombian started fast, posting the sixth best time at the first check, but he couldn’t maintain the speed. In the end, he lost 2.16 in 11th place and so saw his advantage getting more than halved.

 

Alberto Contador was another winner. The Spaniard was just as motivated as Froome and started incredibly fast. At the first time check, he was just 3 seconds behind Castroviejo but unlike the Brit, he couldn’t maintain his speed. In the end, he had to settle for 8th, 1.57 behind Froome.

 

However, the result was enough to move him into third as he gain no less than 1.16 on Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) who could only manage 24th. The Australian team had a bad day as Simon Yates did even worse and dropped to sixth behind Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) who posted the seventh best time.

 

The biggest loser was Samuel Sanchez (BMC). The Spaniard was on track for a top 10 finish when he crashed in the final part of the stage. Instead of moving up in the GC, he lost more than six minutes and dropped out of the top 10. Another loser was Damide Formolo (Cannondale) who slipped to 10th after having failed to finish in the top 10.

 

Quintana still leads Froome by 1.21 and so the scene is set for a thrilling battle in the final mountain stage. Tomorrow the riders will tackle four category 2 climbs on a day full of ups and downs but it is the final climb of Alto de Aitana that will decide the race. It averages 5.95% over 21km and will crown the winner of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana.

 

A flat course

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was time for the next big GC battle in stage 19, the 37km time trial from Xabia to Calp. The course was mostly flat as it had just two smaller climbs. The first past was made up of long, straight sections while the second part was very technical.

 

It was another very hot day when Svein Tuft (Orica-Bike Exchange) rolled down the ramp as the first rider a 13.46 local time. The Canadian time triallist reached the finish in a time of 52.27 as the first rider but he was already beaten by third man on course, Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) who was 1.34 faster in 50.53.

 

Campenaerts crushes the opposition

Nicolas Dougall (Dimension Data) posted a time of 53.01 which was good enough for third place before Julien Morice (Direct Energie) sprinted to the finish in 51.47, the second best time. Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ) was not much slower as he reached the finish 52.03 to move onto the provisional podium.

 

Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) was expected to set an early mark and the Italian lived up to expectations as he stopped the clock in 50.03 to beat Riblon by 50 seconds. However, he had barely stopped his bike before Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo) blasted down the finishing straight, stopping the clock in 48.20 to almost beat the Italian by 2 minutes.

 

Good rider by Bagdonas

Sven Erik Bystrøm (Katusha) had a great ride to slot into fourth with 51.29 and Jempy Drucker (BMC) could also make it into the top 10 with 52.43, just like Loic Chetout (Cofidis) who was just 24 seconds slower. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r) was posting consistently good times at the time checks and with his time of 50.09 he was less than 10 seconds from taking second place. Ryan Anderson (Direct Energie) used his slipstream to move into tenth.

 

Jerome Cousin (Cofidis) briefly made it into the top 10 with 52.13 before Salvatore Puccio and Michal Golas (both Sky) posted the exact same time of 51.07 to slot into 8th and 7th respectively. Koen Bouwman (LottoNl-Jumbo) also had a good ride as he made it into 9th.

 

Lampaert takes the lead

Dmitry Gruzdev (Astana) was posting good intermediate time checks and so it was no surprise that he reached the finish in 49.37 to move into second. However, it was Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) that everybody was waiting for as he had been faster than Campenaerts at both time checks and he maintained the speed to post a time in 47.59 to beat Campenaerts by 21 seconds.

 

Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) confirmed his great form as he posted the sixth best time of 50.52 and Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) also had a good time as he posted a time of 50.58 to slot into 8th. However, it was Dries Devenyns (IAM) who was the first threat to Lampaert and he made it three Belgians on the podium when he stopped the clock in the third best time of 49.29.

 

Top 3 for Dillier

Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) did a surprisingly good time trial to take seventh with 50.30 before Tiago Machado (Katusha) sprinted to the line in 50.17 to move into fifth. Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM) was even faster with 49.40 which saw him move into the top 5.

 

Silvan Dillier (BMC) had been a slow starter but the BMC rider paced himself perfectly and stopped the clock in 49.13 to move into third. Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin) wasn’t much slower as his time of 49.24 was good enough for fourth.

 

Ludvigsson takes the lead

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) showed that he is not tired yet when he stopped the clock in 49.06 to again make it three Belgians in the top 3 but he could match Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) who did even better. The Austrian did one of his best time trials in recent years with 49.03 which was good enough for third.

 

Everybody was now waiting for Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) who had been a few seconds behind at both time checks. The Swede finished extremely strongly and with a time of 47.31, he moved into the lead, beating Lampaert by 2 seconds.

 

Dominant performance by Castroviejo

Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) narrowly missed out on the top 10 before Dario Cataldo (Astana) slotted into sixth with 49.11. Larry Warbasse (IAM) was also on a good day as 49.20 saw him move into 8th.

 

All eyes now were on Castroviejo who had been in a class of his own at all time checks. The Spaniard lived up to expectations as he stopped the lock in 47.17 to beat Ludvigsson by 40 seconds.

 

Good day for Felline

Fabio Felline (Trek) confirmed his good form by posting the fifth best time of 48.31 but he was quickly passed by Leopold König (Sky) who was seven seconds faster. There was disappointment for Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) as he had to settle for seventh with 48.34.

 

A tired Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) reached the finish in the 13th best time before the battle for the top 10 started. Daniel Moreno (Movistar) posted a time of 49.53 and so gained 15 seconds on David De La Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) who reached the finish in the 24th best time. Michele Scarponi (Astana) did slightly worse with 50.22.

 

Disaster for Sanchez

Davide Formolo (Cannondale) was the big loser as he could only manage 50th with 53.02 before his teammate Andrew Talansky reached the finish in the 6th best time of 48.37. The American had paced himself well, constantly moving up from time check to check.

 

Samuel Sanchez was on track for a great ride as he was sitting sixth at the final time check but he crashed hard in the finale and rolled to the finish in 53.02, dropping out of the top 10. As expected, Yates had a hard time, crossing the line in 50.28 in 28th and so was passed by Talansky on GC.

 

Froome in a class of his own

Contador had started very fast but he was unable to maintain the pace. The Spaniard was third at the first time check but at the finish he was only seventh with a time of 48.30.

 

Froome had crushed his rivals at every time check, blasting past Chaves after just a few kilometres, and when he arrived on the finishing straight, it was evident that he was going to win. He sprinted through the final turns before stopping the clock in 46.33 to beat Castroviejo by 43 seconds.

 

Chaves fought all the way to the finish but 49.46 was only good enough for 19th. Froome then just had to wait for Quintana to arrive and as the Colombian had to settle for 11th with 48.49, he could step onto the podium as the stage winner.

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