Miguel Lopez wins Queen Stage as Froome Hangs onto Red Jersey

Miguel Lopez attacked his breakaway companions and over hauled Adam Yates to secure a second stage win. Froome retained the Red Jersey as Team Sky delivered him to the front of the race in closing kilometres

The first queen stage in this year’s Vuelta turned out to be the expected leg breaker. 

After a hard mountain stage finishing in the Siera de la Pandera yesterday, today the Sierra Nevada awaited the peloton. A short, but brutal stage 15, covering just 129.4 kilometers from the start in Alcalá la Real to the Sierra. Two first category climbs and a fearsome final ascent, special category, almost 20k long and finishing at 2510 m above sea level – the first queen stage in this year’s La Vuelta.

With a short stage, easier to control, the GC riders were expected to set their mark. 

Right from the start, attacks were flying again and after 30k of racing a group of 8 riders went away from the bunch. With no real climber up front, still the peloton held them on a short leash before the start of the first KOM of the day. 

Already on the first KOM of the day a hard fight started as Adam Yates, Romain Bardet and Steven Kruijswijk attacked from the bunch. Also Rafal Majka tried to follow this move, but had to accept, that now he had to pay for yesterday’s efforts, falling back to the main bunch. On the foot of the second climb of the day, Bardet, Yates, Kruijswijk and Armée were the new head of the race, about 1m 30s ahead of the main bunch. There, Alberto Contador and Miguel Lopez decided to give it a go, while Rafal Majka was also dropped from this group and rode home his own rhythm.

In the end, Lopez did catch and drop everybody to take an impressive second stage win, while Chris Froome remained his overall lead.

So, now it is time for the second well deserved rest day, as the peloton heads to the north of Spain again.

How It Happened

It was a brutal stage with over 3,200 metres. Several attacks took place from the gun and none succeeded.

After around 35 kms, 8 riders establish a breakaway after 41 kms; Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Trentin (Quick Step), Tom Van Asbroeck (Cannoondale-Drapac), Sander Armée (Lotto-Soudal) and Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) join Anthony Perez, Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Nelson Oliveira (Movistar).

After 50 kms, the breakaway's gap has increased to 2m 30 secs.

The breakaway reached the Category 1 Alto de Hazallanas, a 16.3km climb at an average of 5.5% with a  m 30 secs lead. Both the breakaway and the peloton imploded on the steep 16% slopes of the Alto de Hazallanas. 

Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) soloed to the top of this first climb. Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) were just over 1m behind. 

The reduced peloton crested the Alto de Hazallanas, over 3 minutes behind. 

Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) chased Sander Armée (Cofidis) on the descent.

On the penultimate climb Contador attacked and Lopez followed, Team Sky lead the peloton, setting a high pace, no reaction to Contador's attack.

Adam Yates soloed away on his own ahead of Bardet and Kruijswijk,as Contador and Lopez chased.

The main peloton was shredded, it only contained around 20 riders as Team Sky continued to set a high pace, and Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) was caught.

Adam Yates pressed on and increased his lead to 1m 10 secs over the main peloton (Froome group).

Nibali attacks out of the Froome group, there was no reaction from Team Sky.

With 7.5 kms to go, Adam Yates led, behind Lopez and Contador, Bardet, Kruijswijk and De Gendt  were 1 min behind, the main peloton is 1m 36 secs behind including Froome.

5.8 kms to go and Lopez attacked Contador and Bardet.

Lopez caught Yates with 4 kms to go with 1 minute advantage over the Froome group. Yates couldn't match Lopez's pace.

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) crossed the line to secure the stage victory, ahead of Ilnur Zakarin, who attacked out the main peloton, with Wilco Kelderman third on the line.

Esteban Chaves finished just ahead of Froom who finished the stage in fifth, retaining the red jersey and taking a few seconds from Nibali who finished in sixth place.

Froome now leads by 1m 1sec ahead of Nibali as the race takes a rest tomorrow ahead of Tuesday's Individual Time Trial.

2017 Vuelta a Espana Stage 15 Top Ten

1 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 3:34:51 
2 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:36 
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:45 
4 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:47 
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky   
6 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:50 
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:53 
8 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky   
9 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates   
10 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:02

2017 Vuelta a Espana GC after Stage 15

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 62:06:25 
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:01 
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:08 
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:11 
5 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:02:39 
6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:02:51 
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:24 
8 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:03:26 
9 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:59 
10 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:05:22

VIDEO: 2017 2017 Vuelta a Espana Stage 15 Highlights

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