Confirmation that Chaves jumped ahead of Contador and into third place with his attack. The Colombian finished the stage in ninth place, 3:17 down on Latour but almost one and a half minutes ahead of the Spaniard. Chaves holds a 13-second lead over Contador now, so that third place on the podium looks to be his baring any disaster.
Benidorm - Alto de Aitana
Vuelta a España - 10 September 2016
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 11:18 on 10 September 2016. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Quintana finished two seconds ahead of Froome to increase his overall lead over his rival to 1:23 ahead of tomorrow's processional stage into Madrid.
Quintana has a little dig at the finish to steal a few seconds off Froome, who claps his rival as he crosses the line. Nairo Quintana has won the Vuelta a Espana!
Stalemate for Froome and Quintana, who will ride this one in together... Chaves crosses the line, chapeau to him.
Meanwhile, Chaves approaches the summit and it looks like he will be back on the podium tonight...
A final attack for Froome, who has a dig ahead of the flamme rouge but cannot shake Quintana off his wheel.
Victory for Frenchman Pierre Latour (Ag2R-La Mondiale). He cracked Atapuma on the final few hundred metres...
Now Latour comes through to the front as the road flattens out...
Atapuma crests the summit and has just 300m remaining... Latour is still hanging on, though!
It's all Pierre Latour but Atapuma is ready to pounce...
Latour out of the saddle as he leads Atapuma under the flamme rouge. Felline not out of is yet, either.
Felline has passed Frank and is closing in on Latour and Atapuma.
Meanwhile... Lopez has been dropped by Quintana and Froome again. The Briton is trying his best but he just cannot shake the Colombian.
Atapuma has a 1,000 yard stare and Latour is sweating a river. The Frenchman has put in numerous digs but to no avail. Behind, Frank rides a regular tempo and is not out of the picture just yet - especially with Fabio Felline riding back on...
Now Latour attacks! He takes Atapuma with him but Frank looks to have cracked...
What a finale this is... Atapuma still leads but Frank accelerates and closes the gap with Latour on his wheel.
Another big dig from Froome! Lopez cannot keep up with his team leader so it's just Quintana and Froome - the riders in red and white - out ahead. Lopez manages to ride back after a lull, so the Spaniard will be able to do some more pacing...
Frank and Latour have not given up - they're only 10 metres behind Atapuma. It's anyone's stage now.
Now Froome attacks! Quintana goes with him. They catch Lopez, who will pace his leader for a while. Contador, Konig and Brambilla cannot keep up.
Quintana attacks! Contador, Froome and Brambilla close it. Konig is caught and passed, and Lopez is dropping back for Sky.
Sanchez has popped. Atapuma now has Latour and Frank in pursuit.
Sanchez has been caught by Atapuma. Latour and Frank are behind. And back with the favourites Konig has attacked. Contador follows. Then Quintana - and only then, Froome and Brambilla. It's all happening.
The pace Valverde is putting on now is preventing an attack from Sky. Konig and Froome can follow him but do nothing more - and they're pulling along Quintana in the process. Superb stuff from Movistar.
Elissonde has been caught by Chaves. The little Frenchman will be handing over his polka dot jersey to Fraile today.
Just 20 seconds now for Sanchez, who looked pretty cooked. The pendulum has swung and Atapuma is on the rise. He has Frank - not Chevrier - with him now in pursuit.
Conti has been caught by the others and Atapuma attacks! Chevrier cannot keep up with him.
Valverde and Quintana lead the main pack with Konig and Froome just behind, followed by Contador.
Sanchez still has 33 seconds over Conti, with the other escapees a bit further back. Chaves is at 3:30 and the main pack at 5:30.
Back with the main pack and Michele Scarponi has been dropped - so his place in the top 10 is in jeopardy. Contador still leads the chase and has compatriot Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) alongside him, oddly.
When will the attack come from Chris Froome? Perhaps the triple Tour de France winner doesn't have anything left in the tank and is content to become a triple Vuelta a Espana runner-up...
Conti has a second wind. He's caught Molard while staving off the attacks behind him. Chaves is just 1km behind and trails Chaves by 3:45 and leads the pack by 5:30.
Conti looked really strong but it was misleading because he's about to be caught by the chasing group, who are being led by Pierre Latour (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo). 10km to go now.
Could Sanchez deliver a first win to Astana? What a ride that would be. He's dropped Molard, who will be soon caught by Chevrier and Kochetkov. Conti then rides solo in pursuit and ahead of the remaining 10 escapees, including Elissonde and Gesink. Chaves is at 3:35 and the Contador-Quintana-Froome pack at 5:40.
Big acceleration from Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana - and Rudy Molard has no answer. Sanchez now leads this stage...
Talansky has Yates' number and the both of them are reabsorbed by the pack, Movistar come back to the front and Froome is still waiting patiently in the wheel of team-mate Leopold Konig.
ATTACK: Simon Yates has attacked from the main pack - and has sparked a response from Andrew Talansky! Remember, Yates dropped off the top five yesterday thanks to the American...
Just 45 seconds now for Molard and Sanchez, who have Kochetkov and Chevrier (not Frank!) in pursuit. Meanwhile, Valerio Conti - a stage winner last week - has attacked the other chasers and is riding back on.
CLOSE SHAVE: Chaves touches Howson's wheel and almost hits the deck. Not soon after, Howson completely hits the wall. He's dug deeper than ever before and he comes to an actual standstill after flicking his elbow one final time to Chaves... bravo, mate.
The main pack is down to about 20 riders now as Trofimov continues the chase. And still Howson is doing a quite sterling job for Chaves, who is pulling off an almighty coup here today.
Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) and Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha) countered after that initial dig from Atapuma and they are riding ahead of the other chasers, but only just.
Contador now has some help of his own after Tinkoff's Trofimov has dropped back from the break to help lead the chase for his team-mate. In his wheel are five Movistar riders - including Quintana and Valverde - while Froome, isolated with just one Sky team-mate, is a bit further back. Froome does have Lopez further up the road, mind. So that's worth remembering...
Wonderful stuff from Howson and Chaves - they're 5:20 down on the leaders but 7:35 ahead of the main pack, so the Colombian is back on the virtual podium. For now.
ATTACK: Darwin Atapuma (BMC) attacks from the break. He knows there's quality here and wants to get in on the act. Remember, the Colombian finished second to Lilian Calmejane in stage four the day he took the red jersey. Now he wants that stage win.
Right, here we go, the two leaders are approaching the final climb of the day - and indeed of this climb-heavy Vuelta. The HC Alto di Aitana is 21km long with an average gradient of 5.9% and a maximum gradient of 13%. It's not a beast, but its length and consistent gradient means it could produce some big gaps...
It's now Mathias Frank - who won the other day atop the Alto Mas de la Costa - who leads the chase from the chasing group. They are still 1:45 down on Molard and Sanchez. Chaves and Howson trail by 6:35 and the pack is at 8:05.
Contador is no longer leading the chase as Chaves stretches his lead out to 1:15 over the main pack. Perhaps the Spaniard reckons he's better off staying fresh ahead of the final climb. There's still a very long way to go.
The Chaves-Howson duo has a minute on the other GC favourites now - huge motivation for the Colombian, who dropped off the podium yesterday at the expense of Alberto Contador. They're 1:11 apart on GC so this tees things up nicely for the final climb.
Interestingly, the riders will be coming back up this climb as part of the ascent of the Aitana once they've done a southerly loop. Even more interestingly, Chaves has been picked up by Orica-BikeExchange team-mate Damien Howson, who had been in that chasing group. Superb teamwork once again from the Australian team.
This descent is going to be integral to proceedings. Sanchez and Molard have 1:45 over the Elissonde/Gesink chasing group, 7:55 over Chaves, and 8:20 over the main pack of favourites, which includes Quintana, Froome and Contador.
It's Contador leading the chase now in a bid to reel in Chaves, who has a 30-second gap over the streamlined pack going over the summit.
CRASH: Clement Chevrier (IAM Cycling) hits the deck after a stupid fan steps out from the side of the road to wave to the TV cameras... that happened just before Elissonde launched for the final KOM point. What utter stupidity from the supporter there...
Meanwhile, back in the chasing group it's Elissonde who takes the final point over the summit to slash the deficit to just one point now to Fraile. Earlier, it was Molard who crested ahead of Sanchez for the maximum 5pts.
It's all happening with the main favourites as Estaban Chaves launches an attack after a prolonged period of pacing by his Orica team-mates. The pack is really whittling down, with Chris Froome left with just one Sky team-mate now, it appears. Still, it's better than Contador's situation - he has no Tinkoff team-mates anymore...
Now Gesink comes to the front alongside his friend and trusty sidekick Elissonde. They trail the two leaders by 1:30 now so they won't catch them before the summit...
Still it's Orica-BikeExchange lead the chase as the gap comes down to 11:45. It's something, but it still looks like we'll have two races today: one for the win, and a second for the final GC places and the red jersey.
Elissonde has found an ally in Atapuma and they have managed to slash the lead of the two leaders to 1:40. But only 3km of this climb to go...
Mindful of the situation, Elissonde takes up the pace setting in the chasing group, with Cannondale's King on his back wheel. The leaders are on a short downhill segment through a small down ahead of the final rise to the summit.
The leaders are onto the Cat.2 Puerto de Tudons (7.1km at 5.3%) and their gap is still 2:10. They're taking it in turns on the front and combining well - meaning Elissonde may have to settle for just the one point, leaving him one point adrift of Fraile atop the KOM standings...
Orica-BikeExchange have come to the front once again to up the tempo and pile on the pressure. It's still the calm before the storm, mind. The gap is up to 14:35 for Molard and Sanchez, with the chasers 2:15 down.
Movistar are controlling the tempo on the front of the pack through Rory Sutherland. The road is heading up again for the preliminaries to this penultimate climb. The big question is when and where Chris Froome will attack - or will Nairo Quintana pre-empt it with an attack of his own. The last climb is over 20km long so Froome won't have to make his move too early - but to recoup 1:21 he'll need to leave enough time to do what he has not yet managed to do, and drop Quintana on a climb in this Vuelta.
Both Astana and Cofidis are without a stage win in this Vuelta so there's a fair bit of pressure on this leading duo. Sanchez appears to be doing more of the pace-setting - and he's by far the better climber of the two. Molard has just picked up some gels from his team car. They have two minutes over the chasers and 11:45 over the pack now, as they head downhill towards the foot of the next climb.
There's been another hiatus back in the pack after a collective comfort break. As such, the gap has grown back out to 10:15 for the two leaders, Rudy Molard (Cofidis) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana). They've passed through the intermediate sprint at Alcoi and are on an uncategorised climb before a fast descent to the next Cat.2 climb. Their lead to the 15 chasers is down to 2:15.
Elissonde is now deep in conversation with Gesink in cycling's equivalent of Little and Large. Perhaps they will form another alliance on the road today...
Orica have slashed the gap to 8:30 but the break still trails the two leaders by 2:30. It's nicely poised ahead of the next climb, with that man Elissonde needing two points to draw back level with Fraile in the battle for polka dots. There's just the one points available for third place at the top of the next Cat.2 climb and so the Frenchman needs to catch Molard and Sanchez if he wants to be assured of the KOM competition instead of leaving it all to the final climb...
Orica-BikeExchange have come to the front to increase the tempo and drive the chase. They have had a brilliant Vuelta with three stage wins and two riders in the top five for quite some time. That said, they had an off day yesterday with Esteban Chaves losing his podium place to Alberto Contador and Simon Yates dropping to fifth to the benefit of Andrew 'Stealth' Talansky of Cannondale.
Reports coming in that Rojas has fractured his ankle in that fall. That will be the end of his season - very sad, he was so close to reaching Madrid and completing his second Vuelta (he also DNF'ed in 2012, his maiden Vuelta).
The gap back to the peloton has now ballooned to almost 10 minutes as the two leaders - Molard and Sanchez - combine well on the front. They have 2:45 over the chasing group of 15 riders. It's tempting to say that the winner will come from these 17 riders ahead of the pack - but the final climb is 21km long and it could, and should, all blow up there on the Alto di Aitana once the favourites do battle.
Movistar have just lead the peloton past that corner where their team-mate Rojas is being treated. Valverde has had a word with Froome but there's not much they can do. It looks 99% that Rojas will not continue because an ambulance has arrived and he's still being attended to. He was sitting up and talking to the doctor, but is now prone while being looked at. Fingers crossed - but it looks to be the second withdrawal for a Spanish veteran in less than 24 hours after Sammy Sanchez (BMC) withdrew yesterday after dislocating his shoulder in a crash 9km from the finish of the time trial.
Rojas was at the back of the break when that incident happened. He appeared to lose his front wheel and go down heavily on his right shoulder before skidding under the barriers and into the ditch. Thankfully he didn't collide with a vertical post on the barrier - sneaking in between two posts. But his ankle clipped the top of the barrier and he's being attended to now. It looks like his race is over.
So, four stage winners from this race in the break: Gesink, Frank, Conti and Calmejane. Oh, and CRASH! Jose Joaquim Rojas (Movistar) goes down hard on a right-hand bend - skidding under the barriers and down a rocky ditch. Not nice.
Chapeau, Kenny! Elissonde has joined the chase group. They are: Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Yuri Trofimov (Tinkoff), David Lopez (Team Sky), Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Damien Howson (Orica-BikeExchange), Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo), Pierre Latour (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal), Ben King (Cannondale-Drapac), Mathias Frank and Clément Chevrier (IAM Cycling), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie). And now Elissonde...
Here are those two leaders - Molard and Sanchez - from earlier on the last climb.
CORRECTION: The Cofidis rider with Luis Leon Sanchez is not Romain Hardy, but Rudy Molard. There must be some confusion with the official Vuelta website and the TV graphics, because he's been referred to as Hardy but it is indeed Molard. We're sorry about that mishap.
There's a long descent now, which pitches up hald way through, before the road rises again towards the intermediate sprint ahead of the next climb. The two leaders - Hardy and Sanchez - have 2:15 over the 15-man chase group, and 5:15 over the main pack, which includes Quintana, Froome, Contador et al.
Hardy crests the summit ahead of Sanchez to take maximum points over the climb. Behind, Gesink leads the chasers with Atapuma in his wheel. They go over 1:45 in arrears with poor Elissonde riding solo in pursuit. He's made a right hash of things today, attacking early, popping on the climb, and letting Faile take the points that could well see him wrest the jersey from the Frenchman's shoulders. Meanwhile, the pack go over the summit 4:35 behind.
We're onto the Cat.2 Alto de Tollos (4.1km at 5.9%) and Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) has attacked from the peloton. He surely won't catch the leaders before the summit, but he's maybe playing a long game. He needs to take 3 points somewhere today to overturn Omar Fraile at the top of the KOM standings.
So, the two leaders have 1:20 over the chase group and 2:15 over the Movistar-led pack. Things have finally quietened down a bit after a really frantic opening two hours. That said, Valverde doesn't seem too happy - he's remonstrating with team-mates Rory Sutherland and Imanol Erviti on the front of the pack, oddly enough.
Valverde must have been getting some grief in the chasing group - either that or Movistar decided his work would be better done back with his leader, Nairo Quintana. For the green jersey is now right back there, alongside the red jersey on the front of the main pack.
Confirmation of the chase group: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff), Yury Trofimov (Tinkoff), David Lopez (Sky), Salvatore Puccio (Sky), Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Damien Howson (Orica-BikeExchange), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo), Pierre-Roger Latour (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Benjamin King (Cannondale-Drapac), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), Daniel Moreno (Movistar), Bart De Clerq (Lotto Soudal).
So, it's nicely poised with three Movistar riders and two Sky and two Tinkoff riders in this 19-man chase group. It still may come back together, mind - the gap isn't growing very fast and the main pack is alert to the dangers.
It's worth adding that Sky's Salvatore Puccio is in the Valverde group, which has been caught by Moreno, Rojas and Lopez. It also includes: Atapuma, Howson, Gesink, Rovny, Didier, KIng, Latour, Trofimov, Kudus, Conti, Frank, De Clercq, Sicard and Felline. So it includes many of that initial seven-man break from which leaders Hardy and Sanchez attacked near the summit of the last climb. The duo has almost a minute on the chasers, with the pack only about 15 seconds further back.
The road is heading uphill again but it's not officially part of the next Cat.2 climb. Sanchez and Hardy have about one minute over the chasing group. There's some beef in the main pack between Movistar, Sky and Tinkoff before David Lopez attacks for Sky, forcing Movistar duo Rojas and Moreno to follow. Sky clearly don't want that Valverde group to get too much of a gap - and Lopez manages to close the gap quickly.
Hardy and Sanchez stayed out ahead on the descent and now there's another group of around 16 riders chasing them down - including two Tinkoff riders and the green jersey, Alejandro Valverde. Team Sky lead the chase.
Roman Hardy (Cofidis) crests ahead of Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) to take 5pts to the Spaniard's 3pts. Leopold Konig (Team Sky) leads the main pack over to take the final point. The pace is high today and so it could all blow apart on the Aitana later on... if not before!
Elissonde has hit the wall and dropped back from his attack, gobbled up by the Movistar-led peloton. He's been really impressive in this Vuelta but today's all-important stage just hasn't started well for him and that attack reeked of panic. That said, the whole race appears to be coming back together as all but two of those escapees are caught before the summit.
The eight chasers have cut the gap to just 15 seconds for the seven leaders. Meanwhile, Leopold König (Team Sky) and Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) attack from the peloton, and are joined by Kenny Elissonde (FDJ). The Frenchman needs to pick up some points or he will lose his polka dot jersey to Omar Fraile today...
Pint-sized Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) attacks from the main pack to force several other riders to show their cards on this climb. Meintjes is joined by numerous riders, including: Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Michael Gogl (Tinkoff), Peter Kennaugh and Christian Knees (Team Sky), Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange), Pierre Latour (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Romain Hardy (Cofidis), Eduard Prades (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie).
So the seven riders who managed to stay out going onto the Cat.2 Alto de Vall de Ebo (8km at 5.4%) from that leading group are: Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo), Jan Bakelants (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Rudy Molard (Cofidis) and Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha).
Team Sky then rolled the dice on the downhill with an attack from the pack, which trailed the leaders by 30 seconds over the summit. Nairo Quintana's Movistar team were alert and managed to stay in control of the situation - with a little help from the Tinkoff team of Alberto Contador.
Eissonde attacked to open up a gap but he was joined by Fraile just ahead of the summit - and it was the Spaniard who took the 5pts going over the top with Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) and Laurent Didier (Trek) soon after. That meant Fraile moved two points ahead of Elissonde in the battle for the polka dot jersey...
On the Cat.2 Coll de Rates (13 km at 3%) the main favourites kept their powder dry as polka dot hopefuls Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) and Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) formed a nine-man chasing group in pursuit of Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal).
Here's the official profile of today's stage - a real monster, all things considered. Early attacks came from Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) and Sergi Paulinho (Tinkoff). It came to nothing with the pack riding as one after 10km before a few counter-attacks came in ahead of the first climb.
Right, we join this penultimate stage live with 140km remaining and the riders are on the second of four Cat.2 climbs ahead of the summit finish. There are all manner of attacks going in with a leading group of seven riders 45 seconds ahead of the main pack, and numerous riders counter attacking - around seven or eight in total.
Yesterday, Britain's Chris Froome cut Nairo Quintana's commanding lead by two minutes and 16 seconds with a blistering performance in Calpe to win the individual time trial in stage 19. Entering the all-important 37km race against the clock in the province of Alicante three minutes and 37 seconds down on the red jersey of Quintana, Team Sky's Froome cut the gap to 1:21 after notching his second win of the race.
Hola and welcome to live coverage of stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana - the all-important 193km ride from Benidorm to Alto Aitana, a lumpy affair that will decide who rolls into Madrid in the coveted red jersey...