Froome cedes ground to Nibali in hard stage

Sep 04, 2017, 11:37
Froome cedes ground to Nibali in hard stage

Polish rider Rafal Majka took the stage by an impressive margin of 27 seconds, picking up his first win at La Vuelta to go with three stage victories at the Tour de France, where he was King of the Mountains in 2014 and past year.

"There was a lot of big attacks today and the team stayed with me", said Froome.

Lopez, riding for Astana, arrived alone at the 2,510 metres summit of the Alto Hoya de la Mora after overtaking Briton Adam Yates in the final kilometres.

The Italian, a revelation this season, tried his best, but Mateo Trentin was too powerful, as he has been three times in this race, and took a fifth stage for Quick-Step.

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Claiming day-to-day as the main rival of the British, Nibali has whittled away 4 seconds bonus that will allow him to come back at 55 seconds of the red jersey in the general classification.

If stage 16 is all down to Froome, stage 15 was as much about his supporting cast, with Team Sky's domestiques giving their leader unstinting support on the short but punishing 129.5km stage from Alcala la Real. "And if we see an opportunity then we'll go for it". I think it was the right decision, we've kept the energy for the stage tomorrow [Sunday], " responded Froome.

"I want to enjoy myself, just like I've been enjoying myself up to now", he continued.

The three-time Tour de France victor is looking to add his name to the cycling history books by becoming over the third person to win the France and Spain challenges in the same year; if he's successful, it will be the first time since 1978.

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Russia's Ilnur Zakarin was second behind Lopez, 36 seconds off the pace, with Wilco Kelderman third.

The riders of the 2017 Vuelta will now enjoy their second rest day before the race continues on Tuesday.

"Anything can happen", warned the Spanish (8th in 3 minutes and 19 seconds), at which it remains, "seven days of cycling in the legs" before retiring on the evening of the final stage, the 10 September in Madrid.

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