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Team Sky leader Chris Froome made a major statement during Sunday’s Stage 9 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, taking the win to strengthen his position at the top of the general classification.
Sky rode the perfect stage as a team and set the Tour de France winner up to drop his rivals on the final ascent.
Here’s a look at the stage results, via CyclingHub:
TOP 10 – Stage 9 #LV2017🇪🇸 https://t.co/mIx9kP80ey
Sunday’s stage was the last before the first rest day, and predictably, the organisers went for another tricky finish. The ascent of the Cumbre del Sol was expected to shake things up, per Quick-Step’s official Twitter account:
Quick-Step Cycling @quickstepteam
Stage 9 of #LV2017 takes the peloton from Orihuela to Cumbre del Sol, a 4km-climb averaging 9.1%. Expect more fireworks! https://t.co/sriiLQLHN1
The profile was similar to Saturday’s entertaining stage, although the lead-in to the finale was flat. The break of the day included Movistar’s Marc Soler and Marco Haller of Katusha.
Cannondale-Drapac were active, trying to ride themselves into the spotlight a day after VeloNews reported they may fold:
Quite suddenly, Cannondale-Drapac is on the brink of collapse. The team is facing a $7m shortfall for next season. https://t.co/7GsKn388wL
The group of leaders imploded on the first climb, with just four surviving the onslaught of attacks. Soler and FDJ’s Tobias Ludvigsson eventually dropped their companions as well, while in the background, AG2R’s Romain Bardet shocked everyone with an attack from a long way out.
Per InsideThePeloton, it was not a good sign for the Frenchman:
That’s an attack of desperation by Bardet. #LV2017🇪🇸🇪🇸
The peloton caught Bardet soon after and could see the two leaders ride as the final climb approached. Soler was the last man standing, but the Movistar man was caught before the tricky part of the climb, leaving everything to play for.
Team Sky set the pace with three kilometers to race, while Bardet remained active in search of a stage win. Froome was patient, as Sky dropped one contender after the other, and he eventually placed a double attack that gave him the edge in the sprint.
Esteban Chaves of Orica recovered well from Saturday’s setback but still came up short, as Froome appears untouchable heading into the first rest day.
The riders will enjoy a rest day on Monday, before the race resumes on Tuesday in Murcia.