• Aru's attacks were fruitless on Stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana, but all it takes is one to crack race leader Tom Dumoulin. (AAP)Source: AAP
Fabio Aru's repeated attacks may have come to naught on the Vuelta's 18th stage, but he will continue to try and crack race leader Tom Dumoulin until Madrid.
Cycling Central

11 Sep 2015 - 6:47 AM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2015 - 8:51 AM

Aru and his Astana team made multiple efforts to shake Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) over the 204km stage from Roa to Riaza, but the flying Dutchman covered all Aru's surges - even putting in a small attack of his own.

Aru said he had "tried his best" after the stage.

"I wanted to isolate Dumoulin and put him in difficulties. The team collectively rode very well today," Aru added.

Aru hinted that Saturday could be the best day to overhaul Dumoulin's slim three-second lead:

"The third of these mountain stages [on Saturday] is the hardest. Three seconds is nothing.”

Roche takes the win as Dumoulin marks Aru's attacks
There were plenty of attacks on Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España, but the only one that counted on an active day of racing was won by Nicholas Roche ahead of Haimar Zubeldia.

Friday's cobbled ascent into the stage finish Avila could also be a launchpad for an attack, but large time gaps are unlikely. Instead, time bonuses may play a more significant role.

Astana directeur sportif Stefano Zanini admitted that opportunities to put Dumoulin, who looked in control today, are running out.

"It’s going to be hard to pull back those three seconds,” Astana sports director Stefano Zanini told Cyclingnews. “Dumoulin is still in fantastic shape and he responded every time. But we still have two days left to try."

How Roche bounced back to boost Sky's Vuelta
Nicolas Roche made a perfectly-judged sprint at the end of the 18th stage of the Vuelta a Espana to take the stage victory - just over a week after a major crash.
Dumoulin in control through Vuelta mountains
Tom Dumoulin's grip on the Vuelta a Espana race lead tightened on Stage 18 as he successfully defended against all assaults.