Lampaert leads Vuelta as riders face winds, passing train

Annette Crawford
August 22, 2017

Four-time Grand Tour victor Nibali took the mountainous 158.5km ride from Prades to Andorra la Vella in 4hrs 01mins 22secs ahead of Spaniard David de la Cruz with Tour de France champion Froome in third.

The Italian crossed the line a couple of bike lengths ahead of the rest of the group, who were led home by De la Cruz and Froome, who took more bonus seconds to move into the race lead.

Those eight riders were kept on a relatively close leash by Quick-Step Floors, working for the red jersey of Yves Lampaert, with the action only starting with 55km remaining.

"It's a great surprise, but I think it's the result of a lot of hard work today from my team-mates as well", Froome told reporters at the finish. "Just before the roundabout, they shouted at me, 'Go, go, go!' I knew I could ride one kilometre very fast and it worked out".

"I don't expect to keep it all the way until the end but I'm certainly going to fight for it".

Ireland's Nicolas Roche was the first person to charge for the line, but the BMC Racing team member was caught by Nibali with 400 metres to go.

The Briton now has a two second advantage over De La Cruz in the general classification standings with a combined time of 8:53:44. Tejay van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing Team); 5. "Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy / AG2R La Mondiale) +43"; 10. "Esteban Chaves (Colombia / Orica-Scott) +11"; 7.

Looking to assert his status as favourite early in this year's Vuelta.

If successful, Froome, riding for Team Sky, will become the third man along with France's Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault to win the Vuelta and Tour de France in the same year.

Three-time Vuelta victor Alberto Contador, who is retiring from cycling after this year's race, had another disappointing performance.

Contador couldn't spur his team to fight for the Stage 1 crown, however, and they ended up 11th overall, 35 seconds off the pace set by BMC.

Dennis is the first Australian since Michael Matthews in 2014 to take the leader's red jersey in the Spanish contest.

Marc Fournier of France became the fifth rider to retire.

Anass Ait El Abdia of Team Emirates and Javier Moreno of team Bahrain-Merida had to withdraw from the Vuelta after crashes.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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