Third week of the Vuelta – Breathless, nail-biting , down-to-the-wire excitement.
Stage 15: Sabiñánigo to Formigal
Just as we recovered from yesterday, the Vuelta served up maybe it’s BEST STAGE EVER. Gianluca Brambilla attacked as the flag dropped. Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana and their teammates joined in. SKY were caught napping, the chasing group, including an isolated Chris Froome, never saw them again. Brambilla won the stage and Quintana gained a truckload of time on his Sky rival. Oh, and over 90 riders finished over the time limit, but were let back in…controversy! Don’t think I’ve missed anything but our review is here.
Stage 16: Alcañiz to Peñíscola
The peloton dropped down form the mountains and rolled to the coast. We got another maiden victory and BMC’s Jempy Drucker played it smart and out-sprinted Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) and Giant’s Nikias Arndt. Our review is here.
Stage 17: Castellón to Alto Mas de la Costa
In Vuelta full of tough climbs, the race organisers managed to find one that had never been raced before. The start of climb was signed as the Gateway to Hell and it only got worse – it was brutal. Toughest on the day was crazy IAM cat Mathias Frank who paced it perfectly to keep Leopold Konig (SKY) and a resurgent Robert Gesink in second and third respectively. Quintana, Contador and Chaves sparkled the GC battle, but could neither distance each other or Froome. Our review is here.
Stage 18: Requena to Gandía
The stage today was like a hot-furnaced blast-from-the-past from Vuelta’s of yore. Endless heat-shimmered roads with a doomed break of the day. But my-oh-my what a finish! Magnus Cort (ORICA-BikeExchange) produced a long powerful sprint that saw off Nikias Arndt and Jempy Drucker and netted him his first, and the team’s third Vuelta victory. The first GT win for a Dane since Michael Mørkøv caught Tony Martin on the line in Vuelta 2013. Our review is here.
Stage 19: Xàbia to Calp
Time trial, the race of truth. One to suit the power men. One to suit Chris Froome more than Quintana or Chaves. They were right. Froome took the stage and clawed back over two mins on Quintana. Contador jumped onto the podium ahead of Chaves. The Vuelta was set for a spicier than spicy finish. Our review is here.
Stage 20: Benidorm to Alto de Aitana
No words can really sum up this stage. A marvellous win for another young, talented Frenchman Pierre Latour. ORICA-BikeExchange pull off another tactical masterpiece to put Chaves back on the podium. Quintana wraps up red ad is applauded by Froome. Fabio Felline and Omar Fraile take the points and mountains in a last gasp finish. Suffice to say if you missed it, find the highlights and ENJOY. Our review is here.
Header image: UP…Jose Manuel Alvarez Rey/NurPhoto via Getty Images