Pierre Latour (ag2r) took the biggest win of his career on the final mountain stage of the 2016 La Vuelta a Espana. But it is Nairo Quintana who will win this year's 2016 La Vuelta a Espana restraining a determined Christoper Froome. Esteban Chaves capitalised on the work of Damian Howson and the rest of Orica-BikeExchange to jump ahead of Alberto Contador to secure third place on the podium. 

The Frenchman jumped around an exhausted Darwin Atapuma (BMC) to take his first Grand Tour win and the biggest victory of his career. The pair led the race in the closing kilometres of the Alto de Aitana. 

"In the last climb, I started to believe I can win but I wasn’t totally confident," Latour said.

"Gesink was pushing hard but I kept close. I was really motivated because I hadn’t any victory this season. The last kilometres were a hard fight.

"I am very happy. I ride to live such moments. I am satisfied with my first Grand Tour. There was a good atmosphere in the team and I learnt a lot."

After several attacks early on and reeled back in Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis) pulled clear after the Alto de Vall de Ebo climb, around 130 kilometres from the finish. The duo dangled out the front with around a two minute lead over a large chasing group of 15 riders which included Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Damien Howson (OBE), Mathias Frank (IAM) Latour, Atapuma and Gesink. 

The gap back to the peloton remained at around 13 minutes until OBE drove things back in the bunch before the Puerto de Tudons climb. 

Sanchez dropped Molard 12 kilometres from the finish. Atapuma put the foot on the gas to catch and drop Sanchez with Latour and Frank, the IAM cycling ultimately leaving the pair to fight it out for line honours. 

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Full stage 20 replay

Sunday 11 Sep 2016

Froome v Quintana

With one minute and 21 seconds still to make up on race leader Quintana, Froome never gave up. On the final climb, the lanky Tour de France champion launched attack after attack but was unable to shake the Colombian, conceding in the final metres atop the summit, losing another two seconds.  

All that was left for Froome to do was gentlemanly applause the man in red. 

Reaction from Nairo Quintana

“Obviously, I was going quite strong into that final climb, but it wasn’t easy for me only because it looked so on TV when I was alongside Froome. It was easy because my team made things easy for me all day.

They brought me into Aitana fully safe and confident, defended me from all attacks from all teams, especially Sky in the beginning of the stage - they were all phenomenal, from first to last, a marvellous Vuelta from the whole group which I can’t thank them enough for.

“Froome started attacking from very early into the stage, as he already did on the downhill of the Coll de Rates. However, we always kept full focus, and at that final climb I did not find any troubles to defend myself from all his moves.

"He’s a strong contender, rode an impressive TT yesterday, made me struggle - he’s my biggest rival, and I thank him for making my victory more valuable.”

 

 

Movistar v Sky

With it all to ride for, Sky laid it all out on the line early on in the stage. 

On the descent of the first Coll de Rates climb, Michal Golas pushed the pace with Froome. They managed to gap the bunch but eight riders followed including Chaves, Quintana, Valverde and most of the Movistar team. 

Veteran grand tour rider Valverde rallied and settled down his men for Quintana. 

David Lopez made the day's main break dropping back to guide Froome in the closing kilometres along with Leopold Konig. 

 

 

With three strong tactical displays already securing three victories at this year's Vuelta, Orica-BikeExchange (OBE) needed another to put Chaves back on the podium after losing time to Contador in yesterday's time trial. 

And implement and execute a plan OBE did.  

Damien Howson worked hard to make it into the day's breakaway to offer Chaves support later in the stage. 

Back in the bunch, OBE tore off the elastic several times to shell riders and set up Chaves for an attack on the penultimate Puerto de Tudons climb. 

On the descent, Damien Howson waited for the Colombian and the pair rode to a two minute advantage on the chasers by the time they reached the final ascent. Howson was visibly spent, practically stopping before Chaves rode past for his final assault. 

Chaves finished one minute and 24 seconds ahead of Contador, securing his third spot on the podium by 13 seconds. Simon Yates will finish the Vuelta sixth overall. 

“We said in the beginning that the goal for the team was the general classification and we kept fighting for it right until the end,” Chaves said.

“Today was a beautiful stage and all of my life I dreamt of riding an epic stage like today and to do it with this team is unbelievable.”

“Thank you very much to all of the guys, especially Damien Howson for what they gave today. I’m really happy and proud to be part of this team and the future looks really bright for ORICA-BikeExchange.”

Magnus Cort grabs another Vuelta win for Orica-BikeExchange
Magnus Cort (Orica-BikeExchange) lit the afterburners and out sprinted the pack to claim his first ever Grand Tour stage win on the 200 kilometre 18th stage of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana.
Keukeleire wins Vuelta stage for the domestiques & Orica-BikeExchange
Jens Keukeleire (OBE) sprinted to his first Grand Tour win after a punishing 197km stage 12 of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana.
Yates wins Vuelta stage with perfectly timed solo attack
Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) soloed to his first WorldTour and grand tour victory in a late, perfectly timed attack on stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana. The win means Yates moves into 10th overall with Darwin Atapuma (BMC) still in red.

After Chaves pulled clear with Howson to rattle Contador from the third step on the podium, Yuri Trofimov dropped back from the break to work hard for the Spaniard. Contador stayed with the GC favourites until Froome attacked Quintana again and again. Contador then set about pacing himself up the climb to limit his losses. 

He crossed the line just 13 seconds behind Chaves on the overall classification. 

Contador's reaction

"I would be happier if I were on the podium, even more if I had won the Vuelta. We missed the podium by very little - it's a pity.

"Our goal when we started the Vuelta was to win. The team gave its best to help me but on the final climbs I was alone so maybe I would have needed stronger teammates there.

"I thought that Movistar would give us a hand today to return the favour we did them on Formigal, but at the end the team has its own tactics and you cannot depend on other teams.

"It's simpler if you have a strong block, like Sky had at the Tour de France, but when you don't have this, you have to work in a different way. 

"I'd like to congratulate Nairo Quintana on his victory, Froome for his good race, and Orica for good tactics."

Jose Joaquin Rojas v Road

Movistar confirmed Rojas suffered a broken tibia and fibula in the crash. You do not want to see the photo he posted on Twitter. 

Nairo Quintana dedicated his victory to the Rojas and the team.

"This is a tribute to them, and also to José Joaquín Rojas. We want him to recover to 100% and get on his bike again as quickly as possible.

 

Clément Chevrier v Spectator 

Chevrier confirmed he is fine. 

LottoNL-Jumbo's George Bennett rode into 10th overall after stage 20, making him the first New Zealander to finish in the top 10 of a grand tour. 

His performance impressed LottoNL-Jumbo director Jan Boven.

"Bennett always rode in the group of favorites with Froome, Quintana and Contador, and saw a competitor to be eliminated.

"George fought his way in the top ten today. Scarponi was dropped in the beginning but came back. In the final, he dropped off again and George climbed into the top ten of the rankings and that's great.”

Reaction from Omar Fraile

"Today was a hard day. I was able to get into the early break. Elissonde attacked 3km from the first KOM but I was able to counter his move and get the points there.

"I had an issue with my bike after the climb when the other break went and couldn’t get in there, so I was nervous until the end of the stage."

"Now I’m just really happy. To get this jersey was a big motivation for me."