Froome extends Vuelta lead

Chris Froome (Team Sky and fi’zi:k Antares R1 saddle) stamped his authority on the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday, winning stage nine to extend his overall lead over Esteban Chaves to 36 seconds as the race hits its second week. BMC Racing’s Nicolas Roche (fi’zi:k Arione R1 saddle) is in third on GC, a further 29 seconds back.

Four-time Tour de France winner Froome displayed a huge show of strength, leaving his rivals for dead over the steep final kilometre ramp of the Alto de Puig Llorenca. Froome finished 4 seconds ahead of Chaves with an impressive Michael Woods (Cannnondale-Drapac and fi’zi:k Arione VSX Carbon saddle) in third.

Two years earlier, Froome missed out on stage victory over the same stretch of parcours but not this time. ‘The finish [two years ago] was on my mind this morning,’ Froome said. ‘I saw Chaves coming in the last 300m and I thought it was going to happen again, like Tom Dumoulin two years ago. I just thought I can’t let it happen again so I put everything I had into the last few hundred metres. I’m really happy to get the victory.’

The 174km began in Orihuela and finished in Cumbre del Sol. The first 130km were relatively flat before a final circuit took the riders over the Alto de Puig Llorenca before returning to it for the summit finish.

Come the final climb – only 4km long but reaching a maximum 21% gradient – Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale and fi’zi:k Arione 00 saddle) attacked but many of the field reeled him on a flatter section. It left the door open for Froome to attack and take the win. He now goes into Monday’s rest day full of confidence after his first Grand Tour stage win of the year.