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11/09/15 - 12:02
Medina del Campo - Ávila
Vuelta a España • Stage19

Medina del Campo - Ávila

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Yes, it's been confirmed that Dumoulin took three seconds off Aru there and so his lead has doubled to six seconds at the top of the general classification. What drama.


Dumoulin crosses the line and Aru crosses two or maybe three seconds later... that's a psychological blow dealt to the Italian from the Dutch race leader.


Dumoulin will time trial to the line now. Valverde was caught and passed on that climb.


Aru has been distanced on the cobbles. Dumoulin has ridden clear with Moreno and Aru is two seconds back.


Dumoulin has two Giant-Alpecin riders with him and they are riding this one aggressively. Aru is in trouble...


The Spanish national champion is approaching the cobbles section and he still has that small lead over his rivals.


Valverde is now out alone with seven seconds to play with. He hit 99km/h on the long, straight downhill just then.


Valverde continues to pile on the pressure with another dig. He opens up a small gap and has Astana's Diego Rosa on his wheel. It will all come back together - although that cobbled climb could still be key.


The main pack of favourites still have 12km left to ride and Alejandro Valverde has opened up another small gap on the descent. He's joined by the likes of Joaquim Rodriguez before it comes back together. It's going to be quite nervous till the end but Dumoulin seems to have it covered.


Portugal's Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) passed the chasing quartet on that climb and he takes second place 39 seconds down on Gougeard. The others pass over - led by Tosh van der Sande - a couple of seconds later.


That's a first pro win for the 22-year-old in his maiden Grand Tour.


Victory for Alexis Gougeard of Ag2R-La Mondiale!


Under the flamme rouge for Gougeard and he's come to the to of the climb and finished the cobbles. What a ride for the youngster. The chasing quartet have no answers to this.


But first, three's a cobblestone ramp on the outskirts of the city. The crowds are huge as the Frenchman rides towards what will be a superb win.


Avila is like a bigger, larger Carcassonne - and this lone leader is about to enter the ramparts.


Gougeard has 31 seconds and must be starting to believe in this. He's approaching the city walls of Avila now.


Valverde has been reeled in as Europcar's Fabrice Jeandesboz had a pop - for no apparent reason.


It's over 20 seconds now for Gougeard. And back with the main pack, Alejandro Valverde has attacked! There's no response from the other main favourites....


Gougeard still has 18 seconds but there is that final little ramp to the line. It's touch and go. Back with the chasing quartet and Machado is doing nothing - he's completely cooked after his earlier attack.


The four chasers are letting Gougeard dangle out there tantalisingly close. He has 10 seconds but is bound to be caught soon...


CRASH: Two riders go down hard in the pack - FDJ's Arnaud Corteille and Cofidis' Stephane Rossetto. That looked nasty - an uphill crash but at speed.


In a role reversal from yesterday, Aru is very much sticking in Dumoulin's wheel.


Now Movistar come to the front after Giant burn many of their matches. The pace is high but the gap to the lone leader is 17 minutes still.


Giant-Alpecin are able to pace their man Tom Dumoulin up this climb - it's not so steep and so they're very much in control. In fact, so much so that the pack has been blown apart - riders all over the place.


Gougeard crests the summit 30 seconds ahead of the chasing quartet - it's bound to come back on the descent ahead of the ramped finish.


There's been a shake up in the chasing group with Machado joined by Moinard (BMC), Montfort (Lotto) and Amador (Movistar).


Gougeard drops Machado and rides clear on his own. He still has 35 seconds on the main body of the break, with the peloton now a huge 17:30 back. This is the 22-year-old's first Grand Tour and he's been quite impressive so far, frequently in the breaks.


Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) and Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) have jumped out of the chasing group and joined Duque ahead of the break.


They're onto the Cat.2 Alto de la Paramera (8.7km at 4.7%) and Duque has been dropped by Machado and Gougeard.


Machado is struggling to keep up with Duque and Gougeard as the road edges up towards the intermediate sprint at El Barraco. It's the Ag2R-La Mondiale rider, Gougeard, who passes through first ahead of Duque, with Machado a few bike lengths further back. They have 50 seconds over the other escapees now.


Machado has been joined by Gougeard and one of the Team Colombia riders, Duque I think, with more of the escapees in pursuit.


There's a fair bit of action in the break now as numerous riders have a dig in an effort to bound clear. The group splits on the downhill segment but then comes back together. Machado is still 30 seconds ahead as he continues his ride towards the intermediate sprint and then the final climb. And over a narrow, concrete reservoir they go...


The pack is negotiating a tricky cobbled section through a town centre - they're quite coarse and jagged. Cancellara would have lapped this up.


Irizar is back with the other escapees so it's just the lone Portuguese up the road now. Giant-Alpecin continue leading the chase in the peloton, which trails by 16:25 now.


Markel Irizar (Trek Factory) is trying to close the gap on Machado, who has a 30-second gap on the other escapees.


Katusha also have two useful numbers in Vorganov and Machado. And they have send one of those riders ahead now as Portuguese all-rounder edges ahead of the break on a small rise. Perhaps he just got a little bored - it's very uneventful at the moment.


Movistar have two interesting cards to play in Amador and Ventoso today - both previous Grand Tour stage winners. Ventoso has two Giro scalps to his name, plus a Vuelta win from 2006, while Amador won a stage in the Giro in 2012.


Giant-Alpecin are controlling the pace on the peloton, which trails the leaders by 15:50. They have all nine riders - including red jersey Dumoulin - on the front. It's one thing here on relatively flat roads, but don't expect them to be there tomorrow, where Dumoulin will have to fend for himself in the mountains.


This fast descent has kept the average speed for the day up above the 43 km/h mark. Still 15 minutes for the leaders, one of whom will win today.


TV pictures of Aru shortly after the crash show that he's not in too bad a state: a tear to his bib shorts and a small cut on his left elbow seems to be the sum of it.


It's worth mentioning that the best placed rider in this break is David Arroyo of Caja Rural, who is half an hour down on Tom Dumoulin on GC and so no huge threat. That said, Arroyo is currently riding himself into a place in the top 15 because the gap is still the best part of 16 minutes.


Even before that crash involving Aru, there was a sense that today's stage wouldn't be so crucial and the final battle for GC position would come down to tomorrow's stage - which features four Cat.1 climbs. Tristan Hoffman, directeur sportif of Tinkoff-Saxo, certainly thinks as much. His target is getting Rafal Majka onto the podium: "I don't think the GC guys will move today. We're going to go all out on Saturday, we're still hoping for a podium finish." The Pole is currently in fourth place at 2:22. That means he needs to take 53 seconds off Rodriguez, which may be a big ask.


The leaders crest the summit of this first climb and it's Maxime Bouet who picks up maximum points ahead of Christian Knees and Ricardo Vilela. It makes no different in the polka dot jersey standings, where Spanish Vuelta debutant Omar Fraile (Caja Rural) is the runaway leader on 82 points. His nearest rival is Frank Schleck of Trek, who has 30 points.


Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli has been impressed with the man in red. He told "Tom Dumoulin surprised me yesterday when he managed to hold Aru's wheel. If we can't beat him man to man, then it's going to have to be collective with the collaboration of Movistar and Majka. Last night Aru told me three seconds seems nothing but against him it's a lot."


Once again, it's the Movistar team who have come up with a great graphic to illustrate this break (for those of you reading this feed on a PC, laptop or tablet). Four teams are unrepresented - Orica-GreenEdge, Astana, Giant and LottoNL-Jumbo - while Movistar, Katusha, Caja Rural and Lotto Soudal have two riders and Team Colombia three.


The leaders have started the Cat.3 Alto de Valdavia (13km at a mild 3%). They have 16 minutes on the pack, which is still settling again after that crash. Fabio Aru's Astana team-mate Alessandro Vanotti is struggling to keep contact after his part in the fall.


News filtering through that the 2016 Vuelta a Espana will start with four stages in Galicia, the north-east region of Spain which was overlooked during this year's race.


The leaders pass through the finish line at Avila for the first time with a gap of 15:30 over the pack. They'll now go on a big 99km loop that includes today's two climbs before heading back for the second and last passing of the finish line.


The live feed has yet to start and so there have been no TV images of that incident involving Aru and Dumoulin. Apparently the Dutchman didn't come down in the crash, but he was caught up by it. Aru, on the other hand, has visited the medical car twice, so he didn't come out too well. We'll keep you posted.


It's no surprise that both Aru and Dumoulin both went down in the same incident - the two riders have been practically glued to one another since the time trial, such is the tiny time gap between them. As Dumoulin said yesterday, he only needs to ride at Aru's pace now - but it looked like he took that a bit literally.


The pace has slowed in the pack after that crash, with the gap increasing to 15:45 for the 24 leaders. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky) were also involved in the tumble but they're now back with the pack.


Dumoulin looks ok after that crash but Aru has needed to visit the medical car twice.


CRASH: A mini pile-up at the front of the pack sees Fabio Aru hit the deck alongside a cluster of Giant-Alpecin riders, including Tom Dumoulin. High drama in Spain!


Team Colombia have been active in the Vuelta but so far are empty handed, their best opportunity of a win coming a few days ago when Rodolfo Torres couldn't match Frank Schleck's pace on the final climb to Ermita de Alba in stage 16. They also missed out on their target of the polka dot jersey, so it's understandable to see three Team Colombia riders in this break - Duarte, Duque and Valencia.


So, after all that Europcar only have the one rider in the move - and it's veteran Jimmy Engoulvent for the third time in this race who has teamed up with Markel Irizar of Trek. Those two seemed joined at the hip.


The leaders are: Christian Knees (Sky), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Amael Moinard (BMC), David Arroyo and Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque and Juan Pablo Valencia (Team Colombia), Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling) Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Maxime Monfort and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Andrei Amador and Fran Ventoso (Movistar), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka), Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Tiago Machado and Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Markel Irizar (Trek).


We pick up the action after an hour or so of racing, with that 24-man group more than 13 minutes ahead of the pack. It's fair to say that today's winner will come from this break.


A large group of 24 riders forged away after just 6km after a particularly active start from Europcar, who are still without a Grand Tour stage win this season.


Just the one non-starter - Dutchman Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) - as the 161-strong peloton rolled out of Media del Campo this morning.


With three stages remaining Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) is three seconds to the better of the Sardinian Giro d’Italia runner-up Fabio Aru (Astana), with veteran Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) 1:15 in arrears in third place.


Yesterday Tom Dumoulin survived all the attacks that Aru et al threw at him on the final climb of the day as Irishman Nico Roche (Sky) outsprinted Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) for a second career win on the Vuelta.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana - a slowbuilding 186km ride from Medina del Campo to Avila which features two categorised climbs in a lumpy second half ahead of a ramped finish.