Froome strengthens grip on Vuelta a España

Team Sky’s Chris Froome, aboard his fi’zi:k Antares R1 saddle, delivered an experienced and controlled performance on Sunday’s 15th stage of the Vuelta a Espana to extend his overall lead to 1:01min over Italian Vincenzo Nibali. The 32-year-old Briton came home fifth on the day, 47 seconds behind stage winner, Miguel Lopez.

‘It’s an amazing feeling to finish off today and still be the leader of three competitions – the red, white and green jersey as well,’ Froome said at the finish. ‘To have survived a day like today… I can’t thank my team-mates enough.’

Survival was on many of the riders’ minds as they lined up in the starting city of Alcalá la Real. Though the stage measured a relatively short 129.4km, the riders faced 3,305 vertical metres with the finish atop Alto Hoya de la Mora after a 28.4km climb.

After several futile attempts to forge a break, a breakaway trio formed after around the 30km mark. This included two Cofidis riders and Movistar’s Nelson Oliveira (fi’zi:k saddles) which soon grew to eight as a quintet including Tom Van Asbroeck (Cannondale-Drapac and fi’zi:k saddles) upped the tempo.

The group’s advantage peaked at over 2 minutes but, with all three of the day’s major climbs in the last 70km, the leading pack soon fell apart. Dangerous moves from both Alberto Contador and Nibali were then reeled in by Team Sky duo Mikel Nieve (fi’zi:k Antares R1) and Wout Poels (fi’zi:k Antares VS), ensuring Froome’s rivals simply couldn’t chip away at the Brit’s lead. It leaves Froome in a commanding position going into Monday’s rest day. And with Tuesday featuring a Froome-friendly 42km individual time trial, could this be the year he finally wins the Tour-Vuelta double?

Elsewhere, Caleb Ewan edged out Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data and fi’zi:k Antares VS) to win stage one of the Tour of Britain. Elia Viviani (Team Sky and fi’zi:k Arione 00) came third in the opening 190km stage from Edinburgh to Kelso. The eight-stage race now winds its way south before finishing in Cardiff next Sunday.