Chris Froome of Sky did what everyone, including his chief rival Nairo Quintana of Movistar, said Froome would do on the Vuelta a España individual time trial, taking chunks of time away from the GC contenders and winning the stage outright, dispatching Movistar's Jonathan Castroviejo by 44 seconds for the stage and lopping 2.16 off his deficit to the Red Jersey. But the question remains... was it enough?
The early scuttlebutt on this Vuelta was that Froome's advantage in this stage would have to be counteracted by someone's -- probably Quintana's -- advantage on the climbs. But what few foresaw was that Quintana would come into this stage with 3.37 in hand, free to coast home and save his energy for the final mountain stage on Saturday. Quintana dug deep just to finish 11th today, 2.16 behind Froome. But on Thursday Quintana stated to his home nation's press, El Tiempo, that if he held more than a minute heading into the final stage he would feel good. He holds an advantage of 1.21, with one major battle left to fight.
Other results of note: Samuel Sanchez of BMC crashed in the latter phase of the stage, pushing him out of the top ten on what may be his last chance to achieve such a ranking, given his age (37). Davide Formolo is now tenth as Sanchez slipped to 12th place, and rumors immediately began to circulate that he might miss the start tomorrow. Meanwhile Esteban Chaves of Orica-Bike Exchange saw his podium chances slip through his fingers with a (somewhat customary) poor performance against the watch, as Alberto Contador of Tinkoff -- who was an early split leader in the stage before fading a bit -- grabbed eighth on the stage and moves into third overall, more than a minute ahead of Chaves. With a 2-plus minute gap to Froome Contador is likely not a threat to move up any further, and based on his climbing performances so far he will do well just to hang on to the spot he has, as Chaves will be anxious to recoup that missing 1.11 on tomorrow's final climb. But for now, Contador's position looks set to add to his burgeoning legacy in the three week events.
Xàbia - Calp 39 km Timetrial
Can Froome use today to make the Aitana stage a fight for the win or is Don Nairo safe and this will be a scramble for the podium and the top 10 placings?
Calper of the Day: Chris Froome
Not a whole lot of other TT machines here.