Vuelta: Stage 15

Miguel Lopez wins again, jumping four places on the overall classification as the Vuelta’s GC is shook up on stage 15

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Vuelta: Stage 15

Miguel Lopez jumped four places in the general classification by climbing to his second win of this year’s Vuelta a España on Stage 15 as Chris Froome extended his overall lead.

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Lopez (Astana Pro Team) attacked out of the peloton with 26km to go to the summit finish on Alto Hoya de la Mora and went on to win by 36 seconds from runner-up Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha-Alpecin) and by 45 seconds from third-placed Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb).

Froome (Team Sky) finished another two seconds later in fifth, six seconds ahead of his closest challenger for the red jersey, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida).

The result means Froome’s overall lead over Nibali is now 1’01”, while Zakarin climbs one place to third, 2’08” down. Lopez is up to sixth overall, 2’51” adrift of the race lead.

Lopez initially attacked alongside Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), but he dropped the Spaniard with 6km to and then moved into a solo lead by catching and passing Adam Yates (ORICA-SCOTT), the last surviving member of an earlier breakaway, 4km from home.
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Back down the road, Nibali attacked Froome with about 13km of the 19.3km final climb remaining, but the race leader’s Team Sky team-mates slowly reeled him back in.

Miguel López: “It has been incredible – said Lopez after the stage – I’ve followed Contador when he attacked at more than 20 km to go and I couldn’t know if it was too early to go but my legs were ok so I said to myself ‘let’s try!’ it went well…. I have to thank all my team mates because I think we have ridden very well as a Team” continued Lopez.

Fabio Aru “We did the race for Miguel and I’m happy he was won, congrats to him! It was another tough day, for sure I’m not at my 100% of the condition, but I keep fighting even because this is the first time in my career I’m racing in two grand tour consequently and, at least, this would be a very important experience for me even if it’s not easy: I’m taking confidence with this and I’m satisfied the way I’m managing myself.”

Chris Froome (Team Sky) “It’s an amazing feeling to finish off today and to lead three competitions – the red [overall], the green [points], the white [combined] – and to have survived a stage like today. I can’t thank my teammates enough. First of all, there was the attack from Contador and Lopez. When they went, that was really the danger moment for us to try and control things. My team-mates were incredible”.

“I feel incredible. If anyone had told me this would be the situation going into the second rest day, I’d have definitely taken it. I’m very happy with that and now I’m looking forward to the time trial [Stage 16].”

Adam Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) “I tried by best so can’t really be disappointed with that. I’m pretty tried now, but we have a rest day tomorrow, so I will rest up and try again in a few days. I slowed down a little bit because I knew when he [Lopez] came past me, he was going to come past me with speed, but to be honest I was pedalling squares for the last 6km. We gave it a shot. It didn’t work out today, but in the future it’s going to work out and hopefully I can get that stage victory.”

Alberto Contador: The Spanish rider threw caution to the wind, making a trade-mark long attack 27 kilometers from the end of a grueling stage 15. An incredibly strong Miguel López (Astana) saw an opportunity and jumped with Contador; they would go on to catch Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and later Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) giving, at least on paper, enough firepower to the move.

But it was too early to go on such a relentless climb, and after two weeks into a three-week Grand Tour, the legs were questionable.

“I wanted to be brave and see what would happen behind me, but Sky has a very powerful team, and that made it complicated,” said Contador. “I knew it was a risk, but I preferred to take it.”

With just over five kilometers to go, Kruijswijk fell off the pace, and moments later, López made his winning attack. Contador and Bardet, their fatigue evident, had nothing left to match the Colombian who clearly had found some great form in the Vuelta’s second week.

López powered away and quickly caught and disposed of Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), the final remnant of the earlier attackers, who had been out front in a solo brave haul for glory. “It was very long, and that caught up with me in the end, and I struggled to finish, but I do not regret what I did,” Contador continued.

“It is my way of racing. It was difficult to keep up with the pace at the end because we went at a very fast pace ahead, and in the middle part of the climb, it was more comfortable to be in the group. That made me pay at the end, but you have to run the way you want, and I enjoy this.”

When Contador crossed the line, he had lost well over 30 seconds to his rivals and dropped from 8th to 9th GC. “Today I lost time, but nothing changes for the last week. I tried. Now I want to recover and think about the time trial on Tuesday,” ended Contador, who may have lost a battle today, but has not left the war.

Wilco Kelderman: “Today was a short, hard and really fast stage. We had already planned upfront for the team to put me in a good position up front and the team did a great jo there. My legs were good throughout the stage, when there were attacks I decided to follow as the group had a good pace. In the last kilometre I gave everything I had straight through to the line and still had it in me to sprint to 3rd.”
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Vincenzo Nibali “On a climb like that it was difficult to try to attack, because the pace was high and it was not a steep slope” commented the Shark, who with 13 km remaining accelerated and opened a gap over the red jersey group

“When I tried, my hope was that someone moved on behind me, but when I realized that no one could join me, I thought that the ascent was still very long to climb it on alone and above all that Froome was still supported by three of his men, so I relented and they caught me”.

“Froome could stay always on the wheels, because he had three teammates with him that controlled the race until the end. They did great team work, bringing him to the final 500 meters, where he had just to sprint” added Nibali, who came to the line 6 seconds down on the red jersey.

“As I already said, Froome is favoured in Tuesday Time Trial and it is difficult to imagine what can happen next week”.

The Vuelta pauses on Monday for its second rest day but resumes on Tuesday with a 40.2km individual time trial from Circuito de Navarra to Logroño.

Stage 15
1. Miguel López Astana Pro Team
2. Ilnur Zakarin Team Katusha – Alpecin
3. Wilco Kelderman Team Sunweb 0:45
4. Esteban Chaves ORICA-Scott 0:47
5. Chris Froome Team Sky
6. Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac 0:50
7. Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain Merida 0:53
8. Wout Poels Team Sky
9. Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates
10. Pello Bilbao Astana Pro Team 1:02
11. Fabio Aru Astana Pro Team
12. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale 1:23
13. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo 1:27
14. Darwin Atapuma UAE Team Emirates 1:46
15. Steven Kruijswijk Team LottoNL-Jumbo 2:17
17. Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team 3:19
21. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott 4:37
22. Adam Yates ORICA-Scott
54. Nicolas Roche BMC Racing Team 16:18

1 Chris Froome Team Sky
2 Vincenzo Nibali, Bahrain Merida 1:01
3 Ilnur Zakarin Team Katusha – Alpecin 2:08
4 Wilco Kelderman Team Sunweb 2:11
5 Esteban Chaves ORICA-Scott 2:39
6 Miguel López Astana Pro Team 2:51
7 Fabio Aru Astana Pro Team 3:24
8 Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac 3:26
9 Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo 3:59
10 Wout Poels Team Sky 5:22
11 David de la Cruz Quick-Step Floors 7:47
12 Steven Kruijswijk Team LottoNL-Jumbo 8:08
13 Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team 8:16
14 Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates 9:02
15 Mikel Nieve Team Sky 18:45
16 Sergio Pardilla Caja Rural – Seguros RGA 19:12
17 Nicolas Roche BMC Racing Team 21:40
18 Daniel Moreno Movistar Team 27:42
19 Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale 30:41
20 Darwin Atapuma UAE Team Emirates 34:47



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