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Vuelta Stage 20: Victory in Vitoria for Bennati, Cobo maintains advantage over Froome

Italian trio contest the sprint, Froome and Wiggins remain 2nd and 3rd on General Classification

Daniele Bennati of Leopard Trek, denied victory in Haro on Tuesday as his leadout man Robert Wagner took a wrong turn on the run-in, finally got a deserved stage win in Vitoria on today's penultiate stage of the race. Italian sprinters dominated the finale, with Astana's Enrico Gasperotto second and Damiano Caruso of Liquigas-Cannondale third. Team Sky's Chris Froome was unable to reduce his 13 second deficit on race leader Juan Jose Cobo and remains second, and with just tomorrow's stage in Madrid to come, the Geox-TMC rider is set to clinch the overall title - but two British riders will complete the podium.

While it’s not a mathematical impossibility for Froome to win the Vuelta tomorrow – winning tomorrow’s stage with Cobo out of the top three is one permutation that would give him the necessary time to overhaul the Spaniard – the likelihood is that he will finish the race in second place on GC, with the final stage typically seeing no attacks on the leader.

Nevertheless, that would put Froome alongside Robert Millar, twice second in the Vuelta and once in the Giro d’Italia, as the only Britons to have finished as runner-up in one of cycling’s three Grand Tours.

With Bradley Wiggins poised to join his Team Sky colleague on the podium by finishing third, moreover, the 66th edition of the Vuelta is poised to become Great Britain’s most successful ever by having two riders in the top three.

With a relatively flat 45 kilometre run-in to the line today meaning that either a break would stay away or the race would finish with a bunch sprint, the closely-marked Froome’s best hope of getting any time back on Cobo lay in trying to pick up seconds at the two intermediate sprints.

A 27-man breakaway group had got away early on in the race’s second day in the Basque Country, meaning there would be no opportunity for the Team Sky rider to go for the time bonuses on offer to the first threee riders across the first intermediate sprint point on the stage.

However, race organisers decided to move the position of the second intermediate sprint until after the day’s final climb, perhaps in an effort to keep the fight for the GC alive until the last possible moment.

With only Carlos Barredo of Rabobank, winner of Stage 15 of last year’s Vuelta, still out from that earlier break, Froome could have made up 4 seconds on Cobo, and spotting what he thought was the banner to mark the sprint, jumped off up the road to try and beat the race leader to the line.

Unfortunately for Froome, the banner he had spotted was the one marking 20 kilometres to go, with the actual sprint point a couple of kilometres further ahead.

By the time the main group reached it, Cobo’s team mate Carlos Sastre had ridden off the front of the main bunch to clinch the seconds on offer to the second man over, and thereby deny them to the Team Sky man, while Wiggins led the bunch over to claim the final 2 seconds remaining.

Sastre, the 2008 Tour de France winner who has done some sterling work for Cobo in this year’s Vuelta, bridged across to Barredo and managed to drop his compatriot with 8 kilometres to go.

By now, however, the peloton, with Astana and Leopard Trek driving things along on behalf of their respective sprinters Bennati and Gasperotto, had Sastre in their sights and he was caught with 2 kilometres left to race ahead of those riders contesting the bunch sprint.

The destination of one jersey was settled today, with Cofidis rider David Moncoutié sealing victory in the mountains competiton for a remarkable fourth year in a row, as his closest challenger, Matteo Montaguti of AG2R, failed to get into today’s break.

The points classificaton is set to go to the wire, however, with Bauke Mollema of Rabobank finishing two places ahead of Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez to draw level with the Spaniard in the fight for the green jersey. Rodriguez will wear the green jersey on tomorrow's stage by virtue of having won two stages, but should Mollema get more points than him again tomorrow, it will be the Dutchman who will win the classification.

All that remains now is what should, according to the script, be a processional stage into Madrid tomorrow ahead of ten laps of the traditional closing circuit in the centre of the Spanish capital.


Vuelta Stage 20 Result


1  BENNATI, Daniele         Leopard Trek          4h 39' 20''
2  GASPAROTTO, Enrico       Astana             All at same time
3  CARUSO, Damiano          Liquigas-Cannondale
4  VANMARCKE, Sep           Garmin-Cervelo
5  DE KORT, Koen            Skil-Shimano
6  MORI, Manuele            Lampre-ISD
7  MALACARNE, Davide        Quick Step
8  VANDEWALLE, Kristof      Quick Step
9  MOLLEMA, Bauke           Rabobank
10 CAPECCHI, Eros           Liquigas-Cannondale
11 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin       Katusha
12 MORENO, Daniel           Katusha
13 ISASI, Iñaki             Euskaltel-Euskadi
14 SÖRENSEN, Nicki          Saxo Bank-SunGard
15 NERZ, Dominik            Liquigas-Cannondale
16 POELS, Wouter            Vacansoleil-DCM
17 MATE, Luis Ángel         Cofidis
18 ERVITI, Imanol           Movistar
19 FUGLSANG, Jakob          Leopard Trek
20 NIBALI, Vincenzo         Liquigas-Cannondale

Vuelta Overall Standings after Stage 20 
1  COBO, Juan José          Geox-TMC             82h 38' 32''
2  FROOME, Christopher      Team Sky                   + 13''
3  WIGGINS, Bradley         Team Sky                + 1' 39''
4  MOLLEMA, Bauke           Rabobank                + 2' 03''
5  MENCHOV, Denis           Geox-TMC                + 3' 48''
6  MONFORT, Maxime          Leopard Trek            + 4' 13''
7  NIBALI, Vincenzo         Liquigas-Cannondale     + 4' 31''
8  VAN DEN BROECK, Jurgen   Omega Pharma-Lotto      + 4' 45''
9  MORENO, Daniel           Katusha                 + 5' 20''
10 NIEVE, Mikel             Euskaltel-Euskadi       + 5' 33''


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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