Sander Armee claims stage 18 as Froome extends Vuelta lead

Sander Armee vuelta 2017 stage 18

Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) claimed stage 18 of La Vuelta. 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.

Over 10 minutes back on Armee, Froome staved off a series of attacks in the chasing group with the help of his Sky teammates before accelerating himself in the final 600m to leave Nibali trailing.

The Briton picked up 21 seconds on the Italian to stretch his overall lead with just two competitive days of racing to go before Sunday’s parade around central Madrid.

Froome is now a huge favourite to become just the third rider ever to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year, and the first since the Vuelta was moved to after the Tour in the cycling calendar back in 1995.

The four-time Tour winner had lost 42 seconds to Nibali on Wednesday as he paid for his efforts in winning the only individual time trial of the race a day earlier.

However, Froome made amends as only Alberto Contador and Michael Woods could stay with his attack on a category three climb to the finish.

In his final race before retirement, Contador remains fifth overall but edged four seconds closer to a place on the podium, 1min 17sec behind Wilco Kelderman.

Fabio Aru, the 2015 Vuelta champion, gained 12 seconds on the Froome group to move up to eighth overall.

Another undulating route awaits in Friday’s 149.7km 19th stage from Caso to Gijon before Saturday’s decisive mountainous queen stage that finishes with a climb up the Alto de l’Angliru.

Vuelta a Espana 2017 – stage 18 results (Suances – Santo Toribio de Liébana):

1 Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal)


2 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)


3 Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain Merida)


4 Alexis Gougeard (AG2R)


5 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar)


6 Alessandro De Marchi (BMC)


7 Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors)


8 Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA)


9 Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNl-Jumbo)


10 Anthony Roux (FDJ)


11 Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe)


12 Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon)


13 Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)


14 Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates)


15 Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis)


16 Marc Soler (Movistar)


17 Toms Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac)


18 Jeremy Maison (FDJ)


19 Clement Chevrier (AG2R)


20 Fabio Aru (Astana)



General classification after stage 18:

1 Chris Froome (Team Sky)


2 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida)


3 Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)


4 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)


5 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo)


6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)


7 Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac)


8 Fabio Aru (Astana)


9 Wout Poels (Team Sky)


10 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo)


11 David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors)


12 Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott)


13 Tejay Van Garderen (BMC)


14 Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates)


15 Sergio Padilla (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA)


16 Mikel Nieve (Team Sky)


17 Nicolas Roche (BMC)


18 Daniel Moreno (Movistar)


19 Romain Bardet (AG2R)


20 Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates)



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