La Vuelta a España 2017 is over and Froome has another grand tour trophy to add to his collection, but the real story of this years edition of la Vuelta was Alberto Contador’s solo win on the Angliru.
The penultimate stage of this year’s Vuelta was all about the Angliru, one of the most feared climbs in all of cycling, featuring gradients of up to 24 percent.
Conditions on the incredibly difficult ascent were awful on Saturday. In fact, the heavy winds and rain were so bad that the VIP tents had to be brought down, and even the podium took some minor damage.
The first break of the day came from Enric Mas Nicolau, along with Orica-Scott’s Adam and Simon Yates and Marc Soler of Movistar, among others. They never really got away though, as the Trek-Segafredo team kept the peloton in close pursuit.
The break completely fell apart on the days first big climb the Alto de la Cobertoria, with Mas attacking. They were as careful as possible in the descents, which became even more dangerous in the dreadful conditions.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) September 9, 2017
All the while conditions continued to deteriorate:
— The Cycling Podcast (@cycling_podcast) September 9, 2017
Astana’s Fabio Aru lost touch with his main rivals during the descent and was forced to chase on the Alto de la Cordal, the final ascent before the Angliru. The roads were sketchy, a motorbike from the organisation was the first to crash, and Soler hit the tarmac while leading the race. Even Vincenzo Nibali, arguably the best descender in the peloton, couldn’t keep himself on his bike.
Contador launched an attack as soon as the final climb up the Angliru started, and Sky let him go, knowing full well that the toughest parts of the ascent came near the summit. The Spaniard had help from team-mates Jarlinson Pantano, and Mas.
Froome had no less than four team-mates at his disposal in the chase group and a nice tailwind. With about five kilometers to go, Contador went solo, pushing his lead to over a minute outside the Froome group.
Nibali cracked, and Froome dropped his rivals with two kilometers to go. For a moment it looked like Froome and his team-mate Wout Poels would bridge the gap to Contador, but the 34-year-old veteran survived for a truly incredible bookend to his career. No matter what you think of Contador and his less than pristine history with pro-cycling, you have to hand it to the guy for finishing with true panache. An absolutely incredible climb.