Contador Takes Final Victory on Angliru
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) had one last shot and he used it on the Alto de l'Angliru, winning stage 20 of La Vuelta 2017 on the mythical climb where he secured his first overall win on the Spanish event, in 2008.
The stage from Corvera de Asturias to Alto de l'Angliru was cleverly used by the Spanish climber to attack ahead of the Angliru and he held off a power duo from Team Sky, Wout Poels and Chris Froome, to bring his country a first stage victory in this 72nd edition.
Froome all but secured the red jersey on the eve of the final stage at Madrid. He is set to become the first British winner of La Vuelta ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin).
160 riders started today's stage, which was one of the most dreaded stages of the 2017 La Vuelta a Espana. Many riders were interested in getting ahead of the peloton on the way to the mighty Alto de l'Angliru. It took 25 kilometers of hard racing for a group of 18 riders to establish an early breakaway: Julian Alaphilippe, Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), Nicolas Roche (BMC), Adam Yates, Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), Nelson Oliveira, Marc Soler (Movistar), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Rui Costa, Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal), Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ), Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Lluis Mas, Jaime Roson (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport).
They couldn't enjoy much of a lead as Alberto Contador's Trek Segafredo immediately led the chase in the peloton and stabilized the gap around 1'10” on the way to the first climb of the day, the Alto de la Cobertoria. Enric Mas set the pace in the climb and the gap with the peloton was up to 1'40” at the summit, with 38km to go, while Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and Bernardo Suaza (Manza Postobon) were chasing in between.
Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida accelerated in the downhill and the peloton split. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) quickly got back but Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez and Fabio Aru were not able to do so. Marc Soler accelerated in the alto del Cordal but he crashed in the downhill and let Tomasz Marcznyski lead the way to the Angliru. David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) suffered a nasty crash in the same downhill.
Alberto Contador jumped ahead of the bunch ahead of the Angliru and steadily got back to the early attackers. He caught Marczynski 7.5km away from the summit and set a pace only Marc Soler was able to match. Contador eventually soloed away from everyone with 5.4km to go. Wout Poels and Chris Froome (Team Sky) accelerated together in the final 2.5 kilometers to secure Froome's overall victory, while Ilnur Zakarin was advancing to the third spot of the podium ahead of Wilco Kelderman.
"The truth is it has been a very, very special day. I think it's very difficult to say good bye in a better way than this, in this place, in this event," stage winner Contador told Roadcycling.com.
"In the end, it's a full stop at the end of a career in which I have done everything I wanted. I think it's been a beautiful Vuelta even though I am not on the podium. But perhaps if I had been in contention for the overall podium I would have ridden in a different way, more conservative, and instead I have ridden the race I have ridden - I look at the photos, and almost every day there are pictures of me alone because I have been on the attack."
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