Thursday September 7th, 2017

Stage 18Suances / Santo Toribio de Liébana

Start 13h14 (Local time)

Key moments

Stage 18 of La Vuelta 2017 favoured the attackers and Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) made the most of it. The Belgian dominated his breakaway companions to claim his first professional victory at Santo Toribio de Liebana, at 31yo. He got rid of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) in the last climb to the finish, where Chris Froome (Team Sky) gained 21” on Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). The British leader of La Vuelta was able to match the many attacks from his rivals, mostly from Alberto Contador...

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Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo): “The legs were quite good. I didn't think about attacking but the truth is some other riders went on the move and I got excited. I went for Fabio (Aru) but when he kept going, I thought we were not going anaywhere just the two of us. What would be nice would be to win after a longe range attack, but we're not going to be too greedy. The things that are duo to come will come. In the end (Chris) Froome had good change of rhythm. On Saturday (the Angliru)...

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Chris Froome (Team Sky), overall leader: “Today worked out perfectly in my favour. It was a really tough stage, a lot of GC guys tried to attack on the penultimate climb. Once we got to that final climb, the team did a really strong pace at the bottom and I think some guys paid for their efforts from yesterday and their attacks earlier on today. Fabio (Aru) is one of the GC guys but still over 5 minutes on the classification. For us, he's not really a big threat for the overall title so I...

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Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), stage winner: “That's fantastic. It's the best place to win a race. This is already my eight year as a pro rider. I had to wait quite a long time to win a race. I came close a couple of times, I did my work for the team… but at this Vuelta I get the chance to put myself in a free role and do my own race. It was the third time I was in the breakaway, I felt better and better during the stage and I just went full gas on the last climb. On the second climb I...

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Newsflashes (Local time)

17:47Froome wins 21" on Nibali

Fabio Aru (Astana) made it to the finish with a delay of 8'58" over the stage winner.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) acelerated in the final climb and finished at 10'08" with Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo). Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) dropped 21".

17:40Top 5

Results at Santo Toribio de Liebana:

1. Sander Armée (Lotto-Soudal)

2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), +31"

3. Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), +46"

4. Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), +1'02"

5. José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar Team), +1'06"

17:35Armée claims the victory

Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) got rid of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) with 500m to go to solo away to the victory!

17:31Last kilometre!

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) are together for the final kilometre to the finish...

17:27Alahilippe distanced

Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) accelerates on the way to the final climb of the day. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) follows him but it's too hard for Julian Alaphilippe.

The leaders are about to tackle the alto de Santo Toridio de Liebana (3.2km, 6.4%).

17:19Alaphilippe, Lutsenko and Armée

Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) have attacked from the front group. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) joined them.

Fabio Aru (Astana) is now 1'10" ahead of the bunch.

17:138 riders at the front

Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) make it back to the front group with 15km to go.

17:06Froome summits Collado de la Hoz

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) accelerated again in the last kilometre but Chris Froome (Team Sky) has resisted all the attacks. David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) is slightly ahead in the downhill. Fabio Aru (Astana) still enjoys a 50" gap.

17:01Soler was 1st at the summit, Alaphilippe gets back

Results atop Collado de la Hoz:

1. Marc Soler (Movistar)

2. Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale)

3. Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal)

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) have joined them.

16:583 riders at the front, Contador goes again!

Marc Soler (Movistar) has joined Gougeard and Armée at the summit.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) accelerates again in the bunch! Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) follows him. They get back to David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), who had previously attacked.

16:51Gougeard and Armée get away

Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) open a gap with the rest of the attackers in the climb.

Fabio Aru (Astana) maintains his effort, 9'17" behind the front of the race. He has a 33" lead over the Froome group.

16:45Collada de La Hoz!

The front group tackles the cat-2 Collada de La Hoz, where Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) tore the race apart in 2012.

16:40Contador on the move... Sky get back, Aru keeps going

The pace settles and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) gets back... But Fabio Aru (Astana) accelerates with Luis Leon Sanchez and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segadfredo) follows that move. Team Sky catch them but Fabio Aru goes again.

16:363 more KOM points for Rojas

Results atop Collado de Ozalba:

1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), 3 pts

2. Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), 2 pts

3. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), 1 pt

16:32Chaves distanced

Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) can't keep up with the brutal pace set by Katusha. Carlos Verona and Adam Yates pace him.

16:30Strong push from Katusha

Marco Haller (Katusha-Alepcin) sets a brutal pace and creates a split with his leader Ilnur Zakarin and two more teammates in the climb. Bahrain-Merida react to bring back Vincenzo Nibali and the rest of the leaders.

16:27Third hour

The average speed is down to 39.4km/h as the attackers faced the first climbs of the day in the third hour of racing.

16:23Hernandez: "It's the farewell Alberto's always dreamed of"

Jesus Hernandez (Trek-Segafredo), one of Alberto Contador's main lieutenants through his career, was also part of the Fuente Dé stage. He spoke to lavuelta.com this morning: “I remember it as a day that got really hard because it took a long time for the break to go. And once the break was made, Garmin didn't want to let it go. We faced two climbs after already riding full gas all day long and that was perfect ground for the race to be torn into pieces. It was very hard, but it was a...

16:16Second climb of the day

First Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and now Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis): everyone gets back to the front group at the bottom fo the collada de Ozalba.

The peloton summits the first climb with a delay of 12'15".

16:11Maison accelerates in the downhill

Jérémy Maison (FDJ) has accelerated in the downhill. Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) is distanced and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) also has to chase.

16:07Rojas goes for the KOM points

Results atop la Collada de Carmona (km 109.5):

1. Jose Joaquín Rojas (Movistar), 3pts

2. Toms Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), 2pts

3. Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), 1pt

15:5713 minutes

The 20 man breakaway collobarates to extend the gap to 12'55". With 61km left, they are set to battle it out for the stage victory.

15:49Into the climbs

The front group tackles the cat-3 Collada de Carmona (4.8km, 7.2%) with a 12'40" lead. From now on, it is up and down until the finish atop the alto de Santo Toribio de Liebana.

15:41Froome: “Contador can always create dangerous situations”

Chris Froome (Team Sky) suffered a great deal during stage 17 of La Vuelta 2012, eventually losing 4'58” to Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) on a similar route: “It was one of the hardest stages I can ever remember at La Vuelta. On paper, it didn't look like anything too significant but I remember how hard it was. The second last climb (Collada de la Hoz) is the same where Alberto attacked but the final is different. It was an easier final. I think we can expect fireworks. Let's see...

15:3312 minutes

The peloton makes it to the feeding zone with a delay of 11'55". Tat's the biggest gap opened by a breakaway during La Vuelta 2017.

15:27Second hour

Julian Alaphilippe, Matteo Trentin (Quick Step), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott), Nelson Oliveira, Marc Soler (Movistar), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Clément Chevrier, Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Toms Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Sander Armée (Lotto-Soudal), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Jérémy Maison, Anthony Roux (FDJ), Stéphane Rossetto...

15:238 La Vuelta stage winners at the front

A hard battle led to a very strong breakaway. Four of the attackers already won a stage at La Vuelta 2017 and four others did so in the previous years:

- Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), 1 win in 2017

- Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), 3 wins in 2017

- Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), 2 wins in 2014 and 2015

- Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott), 2 wins in 2016

- Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), 1 win in 2015

- Matej Mohoric (UAE Team...

15:15Sky take it easy

Team Sky set an easy pace in the peloton. The attackers are 87km away from the finish and their lead is up to 10'.

Sergio Pardilla (Caja-Rural Seguros RGA) is the best classified rider on GC in the front group: 16th with a delay of 24'28".

15:11Rojas at the front

Correction: Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) is in the front group instead of his teammate Nelson Oliveira.

15:03The gap keeps increasing

The gap quickly increases: the attackers enjoy a 7'30" at km 74.

14:565 minutes

The gap is up to 5'30" as the attackers make it to km 69. Team Sky set the pace in the bunch.

14:53Terpstra remembers Fuente Dé 2012

So far, the day follows the same scenario as stage 17 of La Vuelta 2012, when Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) blew the race apart on similar roads on the way to Fuente Dé. Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) was at the front of the race on that day: “I was in the breakaway the last time the race came for these climbs. I remember it took a long until the breakaway went. It was a hard course along the coast. I was happy to have made it in the breakaway, but then Alberto Contador made his...

14:46Alaphilippe, Trentin, Mohoric, Lutsenko... The 20 leaders

Julian Alaphilippe, Matteo Trentin (Quick Step), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott), Nelson Oliveira, Marc Soler (Movistar), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Clément Chevrier, Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Toms Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Sander Armée (Lotto-Soudal), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Jérémy Maison, Anthony Roux (FDJ), Stéphane Rossetto...

14:3720 riders at the front

A 20 man group opens a 30" gap after 58km.

14:35Alaphilippe goes... unsuccessfully

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) tried to break away but he's been caught at km 56.

14:28Back together

Jérémy Maison (FDJ) has been caught. No break after 52km.

The bunch covered 46.5km in the first hour of racing.

14:26Maison leads the way

Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) has been caught and Jérémy Maison (FDJ) is now travelling slightly ahead of the peloton at km 50.

14:1511 seconds, 4 chasers

Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) has opened a 11" gap with a group of four chasers.

14:11Jungels at the front

At km 38, Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) is just ahead of a stretched peloton.

14:02Movistar want to be up there

The battle is still raging at the front of the bunch after 32km. Marc Soler said this morning Movistar riders would try to make the break: “The level is very high throughout La Vuelta. We're trying. We're not very lucky, with lots of crashes in the team. We'll keep fighting. There are four more opportunities and we'll be up there. (Chris) Froome is the main favourite for the GC but yesterday he showed some weakness. We'll see how the other contenders and their teams deal with this. Today...

13:54Many attacks, still no break

The bunch is still all together after 27km ridden at a very hard pace.

13:46Roche: "Today is a day I like and I will try"

No one has managed to break away after 17km. Nicolas Roche (BMC) is part of the riders willing to do so as he explained ahead of the stage: “Now I'm feeling better for the last week. There are only a few days left. Today is a day I like and I will try.”

13:3610km, no break

A very fast-paced peloton sticks together after 10km.

13:29First attacks

Richard Carapaz (Movistar) opens the road at km 5. Many riders try to break away from the bunch.

13:25It is on!

The start has been delayed after a crash in the parade but now the flag has been dropped and attacks are already flying!

13:10“There's more ground to challenge Sky today than in the mountains”

Jean-Marc Marino, race regulator, participated in 4 Tour de France and 2 La Vuelta. He talked about today's challenges with lavuelta.com: “We hope the leaders will go at war. If I were Trek or Bahrain, I would lit the race on fire all day long to try and put Sky in a difficult situation for the last part of the stage. These are beautiful roads but it will always goes up and down. If you have 15-20 man breakaway, it will be very hard to control. In the last 80km, there isn't a single...

13:01Monfort abandons

161 riders are about to tackle stage 18 of La Vuelta as Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) is a non-starter due to illness.

13:01Monfort abandons

161 riders are about to tackle stage 18 of La Vuelta as Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) is a non-starter due to illness.

12:57The bunch is on the way

The riders are on their way to the km 0.

12:51Welcome

Welcome to the official live of stage 18 of La Vuelta 2017. A 169km rollercoaster will lead the riders from Suances to another summit finish, at Santo Toribio de Liebana.

The neutral start is set at 12:55, the proper at 13:14.

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