Race leader of the Vuelta a Espana Chris Froome of Team Sky lost some time from the stage during the previous day but looked like a fresh rider on stage 18 which was held on Thursday.
Froome wasn’t prepared to wait for his rivals from the GC to move on to the final ascent to Santo de Liebana but instead launched an attack by himself during the final kilometre. The scene was different from the one seen 24 hours earlier when Froome was struggling and was watching his rivals disappear on the mountain.
The attack by Froome brought trouble for Nibali who faced critical concerns. Nibali was the rider most likely to topple Froome as the current runner-up from the general classification. However, the position he held appeared to be ebbing away after Nibali conceded 21 seconds on what is considered as a minor climb in the race this year.
Alberto Contador from Trek-Segafredo and Michael Woods from Cannondale-Drapac II were the only two riders that will match the pace set by Froome towards the final line leaving everyone wondering the position Contador would finally hold if he hadn’t gone through a bad day during stage III.
Nibali is presently led by Froome by a large margin of one minute and 37 seconds after Wilco Kelderman from Team SunWeb also lost some seconds to Froome tailing him by two minutes and 17 seconds.
Vuelta latest news confirms that Astana has also been having a mixed outcome after he displayed a wild mixture of tactics during the 18th stage possibly giving an indication of the ongoing battle for team leadership.
Miguel Angel Lopez began the day at the highest placed rider for Astana in the sixth place and positioned at four minutes 39 seconds behind the leader of the race, Froome. At that stage, Fabio Aru was placed in ninth position six minutes and 44 seconds behind Froome.
Fabio should have supported Lopez into the finale of the stage but instead, he launched an attack by himself over the top of the penultimate Hill of Colada De La Hoz with another 37 km still remaining. He made a tremendous effort to get away from the peloton but was left behind during the final climb to complete the stage just 12 seconds ahead of Froome, Contador and Woods with the latter convincing everyone that he is the revelation of the Vuelta a Espana which is ongoing presently in 2017.
Lopez also has been distanced after the split up of the GC group when Contador, Froome and Woods decided to go up the road and lost 21 seconds to Froome. The end result is that Lopez and Fabio are presently moving close to each other within the general classification and are positioned at sixth and eighth after this stage respectively.
At this stage, the riders have just one mountaintop overcome in this year’s Vuelta a Espana but many viewers are already commenting that the best has perhaps been saved for the last. Regardless of the result, one thing is certain that the Vuelta a Espana will be etched in the memory of people for quite some time.