QUINTANA EXTENDS VUELTA LEAD

Movistar’s Nairo Quintana (fi’zi:k Antares 00) took a giant step toward winning the 2016 Vuelta a Espana on Sunday after the 26-year-old Colombian put 2:37mins into Team Sky’s Chris Froome in finishing second behind Gianluca Brambilla. The result means Quintana sits in GC 3:37mins ahead of second-placed Froome after stage 15.

The 118km stage from Sabinanigo to Formigal was dictated during the opening kilometers after Alberto Contador attacked, the Spaniard soon joined by 13 other riders. The 14-man group included Quintana and teammates Jonathan Castroviejo (fi’zi:k Arione) and Rubén Fernández but, crucially, not Froome. Froome and six of his teammates, including domestiques Ian Boswell (fi’zi:k Aliante R1) and Leopold Konig (fi’zi:k Antares R1), were caught out and hovered around 2 minutes back until the biggest climb of the day, the first-category Alto de Formigal.

The final ascent of Alto de Formigal could prove pivotal as Quintana, joined by Contador and Brambilla, jumped away from the pack while Froome was unable to respond when other world-class riders attacked. They included Esteban Chaves (fi’zi:k Antares and Orica-BikeExchange), who put 47 seconds into Froome and is now just 20 seconds behind the Brit in third. On a memorable day in Spain, special mention must also go to the Frenchman Kenny Elissonde (FDJ and fi’zi:k Arione) who finished a superb fourth.

Monday’s 156.4km stage from Alcaniz to Peniscola is expected to be a sprint finish before Tuesday’s rest day. Wednesday and Thursday aren’t predicted to shake things up, with Froome’s best chance of reversing the deficit coming with Friday’s 37km time-trial and Saturday’s mountain-top finish.

Meanwhile, the 13th Tour of Britain kicked off in Castle Douglas with victory for Andre Greipel. However, the big German was pushed hard by a flying Caleb Ewan (fi’zi:k Arione) in second. The eight-stage now heads through the Lake District, Wales and the South West before finishing in London on Sunday September 11.

Riders to look out for include Sir Bradley Wiggins (fi’zi:k Arione) and Dylan Van Baarle (fi’zi:k R3B Uomo shoes) who won in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Sprinters Elia Viviani and Mark Cavendish – despite both crashing on the run-in to the opening day’s sprint – are also sure to challenge for stage victories.