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by Shane Stokes
September 9, 2017
De Gendt wins stage 19 of the Vuelta a España; Ewan wins stage 6 of the Tour of Britain; In a big shake-up, Anouska Koster takes final stage win and overall in Lotto Belgium Tour; Contador: The podium is really far away; Armstrong’s trial delayed until 2018; Bike Channel UK confirms closure after failing to find a buyer; Race to the Rock: Hammond leads but Carlsson on the charge; Video: Stage 17 & 18 backstage pass, Vuelta a España; Video: Cycling Motivation – Greatness; Video: Warren Barguil – Emotions; Video: My Red Hook Crit Barcelona 2017 Disaster
Striking out hard with teammate Koen de Kort on the final climb of stage 19, the Alto de San Martín de Huerces, Alberto Contador then pushed on alone and gained a minute on the group of GC riders. With a breakaway group far up the road, the chances of a stage win were non-existent, but that was not his goal: instead, Contador wanted to continue his push for a final podium finish in Madrid.
However hard chasing by the Sky team behind saw him hauled back close to the finish, ending his escapade.
“I didn’t expect less,” he said, referring to the chase by Sky and Team Sunweb. “It was a difficult finish to make it but we had two teammates ahead and we thought one could give me a hand. There was a lot of headwind. I asked for a 55 tooth chainring, thinking of the downhill but even then it was impossible. When I saw how windy it was and that they were chasing, I just stayed in the wheel with (Edward) Theuns.”
He remains fifth overall, three minutes 34 seconds back. With no change expected on the final stage, he knows that everything relies on Saturday’s penultimate stage to the top of the Angliru. However he is one minute 17 seconds off the third place of Wilco Kelderman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), and knows he has a lot to do.
“If it rains tomorrow, that’s pretty good for me. I’m good for the end of La Vuelta,” he said. “The podium is really far away. There are many rivals who are doing good, let’s see how I recover.
“This year I’m feeling less pressure and it looks like I’m finishing stronger than I began. If I can win a stage, it will be a success. It’s a short stage, something crazy, everything can happen.”