Sander Armee wins 18th stage at Vuelta a España, Chris Froome keeps GC lead
Sep 07 2017 05:47 pm CET

Sander Armee wins 18th stage at Vuelta a España, Chris Froome keeps GC lead

Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal) has taken the victory at the 18th stage of the Vuelta a España. The Belgian was one of the two survivors of the day's escape and arrived to the finish line on his own after leaving Alexey Lutsenko behind in the last metres.

The 18th stage of the Spanish Grand Tour was 169 kilometres long between Suances and Santo Toribio de Liebana. The day featured three third-category climbs and one of the second category.

The stage started with a breakaway of 20 men including riders like Julian Alaphillippe and Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott), and Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirated). This escape group created a gap of more than 13 minutes with the peloton, which seemed to have no interest in the stage victory.

At the second climb of the day, a small group that included Fabio Aru and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) tried to break free from the pack, but the pace of the rest didn't allow them to do so. At the end only the Italian champion could maintain a gap with the rest.

During the third ascent of the stage, Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked from the front group and quickly gained time on their fellow escapees.

In the favourites' group, Contador tried his luck again with the hope of repeating the feat he accomplished in the same spot back in 2012, where a strong move allowed him to take the Red Jersey from Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez and eventually win his second Vuelta a España title. Even though he was followed by riders like David de la Cruz (Quick-Step), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Sky increased the pace and caught them all, except de la Cruz.

Moments later, Contador tried again and this time Chris Froome (Sky) himself went to hunt him down successfully.

Meanwhile, Marc Soler (Movistar), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Alaphilippe rejoined the front group to face the last 15 kilometres of the stage together. With 10 kilometres to go, only Alaphillipe, Armee and Lutsenko held on to the pace and left the others behind.

In the last three kilometres, Alaphilippe couldn't stay at the wheel of his fellow escapees and was dropped. During the last metres, Armee accelerated and left Lutsenko struggling behind him.

This is the Belgian's first victory in a Grand Tour and the third for Lotto-Soudal in the current edition of the Spanish race.

On the last climb for the favourites, Sky set a high pace and dropped riders like Chaves and Lopez. Froome made sure to go in front himself to avoid any surprise attacks.

Aru was almost caught by the favourites, but crossed the finish line just ahead of them. Froome remains at the top of the general classification.
Photo of Sander Armee by CyclingPub / Mary Cardenas





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