Another day, another victory from a break, another maiden WorldTour victory this time for Sander Armee who clinically despatched his break-mates to solo across the finish line atop Alto de Santo – chapeau! Meanwhile, 10 minutes down the road, numerous outbreaks of attackiness only resulted in race leader Chris Froome further consolidating his advantage.
Rider of the Race
Today’s Rider of the Race is an easy pick. Sander Armee, the stage winner, is yet another rider taking his first WorldTour (and grand tour!) victory from a break, when he crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of the GC contenders. The 31-year-old Belgian was part of the early 20-man mass break-out that easily built an advantage of over 12 minutes on the peloton. Armee remained at the head of affairs as the break fractured on the penultimate climb of Collada de la Hoz, going clear on the descent with two former stage winners from this Vuelta, Alexey Lutsenko and Julian Alaphilippe. He rode a smart race working with Lutsenko to burn off Angryphilippe, before dispensing with the Kazakh in the final 500 metres to take the biggest victory of his professional career. Too exhausted to even zip up his jersey as he crossed the line, he later explained:
This is already my eighth year as a pro rider, so I had to wait quite a long time to win a race. I was a couple of times close, and I did my work for the team, but in this Vuelta, I got a chance to put myself in a free role and do my own race. This was the third time I am in a breakaway and I felt really good. I felt better and better during the stage, and then in the end I knew I would be close and I went full gas to the finish line. I tried to just do my own pace the last few minutes and I never came off the big chain-ring, so I knew if I could do that I could win the race.
At VeloVoices, we love riders with never say die attitudes.
Alberto Contador, having drawn blood yesterday, was (thankfully) up to his old tricks again today. Like a matador, seeking to exploit any weakness, he continued to prod, dig and taunt race leader Chris Froome from almost 30km out. But the Skytrain merely massed around its leader, providing a protective, impenetrable shield.
Fabio Aru (Astana) took advantage of Contador’s strategy to nip off the front of the bunch and seize back 12 secs of the time he lost yesterday, which moved him back into eighth place overall. As the bunch approached the line, Contador and Froome went mano a mano. Only Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) was able to hold their wheels and Froome put another 21 seconds into second-placed Vincenzo Nibali but just four seconds into third-placed Wilco Kelderman. I can hear the fat lady doing some voice limbering up exercises.
Top 5 stage
1 Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) 4:09:39
2 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) +o:31
3 Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) +0:46
4 Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale) +1:02
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) +1:06
Top 5 GC
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 73:03:50
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +1:37
3 Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +2:17
4 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +2:29
5 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +3:34
All the jerseys
Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points: Chris Froome (Sky)
KOM: Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac)
Combined: Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)
Team Classification: Astana
Most Aggressive Rider: Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar)
Header image: Sander Armee ©GETTY/AFP/Jose Jordan