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Contador Embellishes Dominant Vuelta; Froome Moving Up

Jaime Reina, AFP/Getty

Alberto Contador stormed away from Chris Froome of Team Sky in the final kilometer, after the two had decimated the rest of the field, to win the Vuelta a España's 16th stage and last penultimate major mountain challenge atop the Farrapona. [Stage 20 is the last major climb.] Following a long day in the Picos de Europa on the race's hardest overall stage, inside 5km Froome launched the stage-defining attack but Contador stuck to his wheel with the ease of an apparent champion-in-waiting. The two seemed equally matched until about 2km to go, at which point Froome labored a bit and Contador began looking itchy. By any measure the were the superior to Fabio Aru of Astana, Alejandro Valverde of Movistar and Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha -- the second tier of the race -- who were left to fight for the scraps. In making his move, Froome nearly moved up from third overall to second, just three seconds shy of Valverde, and with a time  with no major climbs one major climb remaining in stage 20 he seems destined to get there. Valverde seems to have a lock on third, if he can't hold off Froome, with over 50 seconds ahead of Rodriguez.

Cannondale's Alessandro De Marchi, winner of stage 7, was the last to survive from the day's breakaway, dropping OPQS's Wout Poels with 11km remaining, and saying goodbye to Poels' teammate Gianluca Brambilla, who along with Tinkoff-Saxo's Ivan Rovny was thrown out of the Vuelta in mid-race after a fist-swinging altercation earlier in the race. It was a brief moment of drama as the commisaire's car approached each rider individually, only to see them get the message and stop pedaling. All of which went straight to YouTube, of course:


Anyhow, De Marchi held on for third on the stage, just ahead of Valverde, Rodriguez and Aru, while Robert Gesink of Belkin capped his comeback from a heart ailment with an impressive sixth on the day. Contador, the leader since stage 10, gets a stage victory to further legitimize his dominating Vuelta performance, on the race's Queen Stage. For all but the two pugilists, it can be said that today provided some fitting closure.

Results:

1. ESPCONTADOR, Alberto 201 Tinkoff - Saxo 4h 53' 35''
2. GBRFROOME, Christopher 191 Team SKY 4h 53' 50'' + 15''
3. ITADE MARCHI, Alessandro 66 Cannondale Pro Cycling 4h 54' 25'' + 50''
4. ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro 151 Movistar Team 4h 54' 30'' + 55''
5. ESPRODRIGUEZ, Joaquin 131 Team Katusha 4h 54' 34'' + 59''
6. ITAARU, Fabio 21 Astana Pro Team 4h 54' 41'' + 1' 06''
7. IRLMARTIN, Daniel 102 Garmin Sharp 4h 54' 47'' + 1' 12''
8. NEDGESINK, Robert 34 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 4h 54' 57'' + 1' 22''
9. ESPSÁNCHEZ, Samuel 41 BMC Racing Team 4h 55' 18'' + 1' 43''
10. CANHESJEDAL, Ryder 101 Garmin Sharp 4h 55' 23'' + 1' 48''


GC:

1. ESPCONTADOR, Alberto 201 Tinkoff - Saxo 63h 25' 00''
2. ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro 151 Movistar Team 63h 26' 36'' + 1' 36''
3. GBRFROOME, Christopher 191 Team SKY 63h 26' 39'' + 1' 39''
4. ESPRODRIGUEZ, Joaquin 131 Team Katusha 63h 27' 29'' + 2' 29''
5. ITAARU, Fabio 21 Astana Pro Team 63h 28' 38'' + 3' 38''
6. IRLMARTIN, Daniel 102 Garmin Sharp 63h 31' 17'' + 6' 17''
7. NEDGESINK, Robert 34 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 63h 31' 43'' + 6' 43''
8. ESPSÁNCHEZ, Samuel 41 BMC Racing Team 63h 31' 55'' + 6' 55''
9. FRABARGUIL, Warren 111 Team Giant - Shimano 63h 33' 37'' + 8' 37''
10. ITACARUSO, Damiano 65 Cannondale Pro Cycling 63h 34' 12'' + 9' 12''