Chris Froome extended his lead in La Vuelta while Sander Armee spoiled Alexey Lutsenko’s birthday by beating him to victory on stage 18 to Santo Toribio de Liebana.
A day after losing 42 seconds to Italian Vincenzo Nibali on the imposing ramps of Los Machucos, Britain’s Froome broke clear of the depleted peloton 600 metres from yesterday’s summit finish, with only Spaniard Alberto Contador and Canadian Michael Woods able to stick with him.
The Team Sky man took 21 seconds out of Bahrain-Merida’s Nibali, moving his lead out to one minute 37 seconds with two tests to come before Sunday’s parade into Madrid.
Dutchman Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) sits third, two minutes 17 seconds down, 12 seconds ahead of Russian Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) in fourth. Trek-Segafredo’s three-time Vuelta winner Contador, in his final professional race, is fifth, three minutes and 34 seconds down.
Froome is bidding to become the first rider to win the Tour de France and La Vuelta in the same year since 1978. Today’s 149.7km stage will go from the Parque Natural de Redes to Gijon.
Holland’s Lars Boom moved to the top of the Tour of Britain general classification as he claimed victory in yesterday’s individual time trial stage in Essex’s Clacton-on-Sea.
Boom (Lotto NL-Jumbo), who won this race in 2011, went around the 16-kilometre fifth stage in 19 minutes and two seconds.
Team-mate Victor Campenaerts of Belgium came second, posting a time six seconds slower, and is eight behind Boom overall in second place. The highest-placed Briton is Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is ninth overall.