Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 17 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Briton Chris Froome (Sky) underlined his newly-found grand tour credentials by winning the 2011 Vuelta a Espana’s final mountain-top finish on Pena Cabarga on Wednesday.

Froome started the day in second place in the overall classification behind local man Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) with a deficit of just 22 seconds. Froome launched a last-ditch attempt to overthrow Cobo with an attack in the stage’s final kilometre.

Although he couldn’t distance the Spaniard, Froome surged to the line to take his first grand tour stage win. Thanks to the winner’s time bonus, he now lies a tantalising 13 seconds behind Cobo overall with just four stages of the race remaining.

Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) came over the line in third at 21 seconds to consolidate his fourth place overall.

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) came 12th, 39 seconds adrift of Froome and held on to his third place overall setting up the prospect of two British riders on the podium in Madrid on Sunday.

Final mountain top finish
Several escape groups had gone clear earlier in the stage, but all had been reeled in by the time the race reached the long, winding downhill from the top of Portillo de Lunada, the second of two categorised climbs included in the stage.

Cobo’s Geox-TMC team rode aggressively at the front, ensuring that the pace was kept sufficiently high in an attempt to dissuade any further attackers. At the base of the final climb, it was Katusha that hit the front of the bunch.

Stage nine winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) attacked with 5km to go as the contenders group was whittled down behind. Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar) rode up to join him, followed by Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank) in the final three kilometres.

Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) then attacked the bunch to climb past the three escapees but all were caught by the chasing bunch as the road reared up.

Just as they hit the final kilometre mark, Cobo hit out followed by Froome. The Brit then immediately attacked and dropped Cobo.

The Spaniard didn’t panic, and rode back up to Froome in an attempt to win the stage. But Froome put everything into the final few metres to pass Cobo and take a well-deserved win.

On Thursday, the race runs from Solares to Noja on another mountainous day. However, the stage’s final peak is too far from the finish to give Froome any chance of gaining time on his rival for the overall win.

Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 17: Faustino V to Pena Cabarga, 211km
1. Chris Froome (GB) Sky

2. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox-TMC at 1 sec
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 21 secs
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 24 secs
5. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 27 secs
6. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 27 secs
7. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar at 29 secs
8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 31 secs
9. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 31 secs
10. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 35 secs
12. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky at 39 secs

Overall classification after stage 17
1. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox-TMC

2. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 13 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky at 1-41
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 2-05
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 3-48
6. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek at 4-13
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 4-31
8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 4-45
9. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 5-20
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5-33

Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 17

Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome

Chris Froome wins, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 17

Chris Froome wins the stage

Juan Jose Cobo in lead, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 17

Juan Jose Cobo leads the GC by just 13 seconds over Froome

Related links

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Latest news

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Wiggins upbeat despite losing Vuelta lead on Angliru

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Wiggins says he will give it 100 per cent to defend Vuelta lead

Vuelta tackles unknown mountain top finish today

Froome: “This lead is a big milestone”

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Vuelta a Espana 2011: Teams, riders, start list
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Who’s riding?
Vuelta a Espana 2011 team list

Vuelta a Espana 2011
: Stage reports

Stage 16: Haedo wins confusing stage 16 finish in Vuelta

Stage 15: Wiggins loses race lead as Cobo stakes claim for overall on Angliru

Stage 14: Taaramae takes stage as Wiggins puts time into rivals

Stage 13: Albasini wins Vuelta stage 13 as Wiggins hangs on to lead

Stage 12: Sagan takes second 2011 Vuelta stage win

Stage 11: Wiggins takes overall lead as Moncoutie wins stage

Stage 10: Brit Froome moves into overall Vuelta lead after time trial

Stage nine: Martin wins as Wiggins moves further up GC

Stage eight: Rodriguez wins again to take overall lead

Stage seven: Kittel wins chaotic bunch sprint

Stage six: Sagan takes Vuelta stage win in controversial circumstances

Stage five: Rodriguez takes second win for Katusha but Chavanel holds on

Stage four: Moreno wins first mountain skirmish at Sierra Nevada

Stage three: Lastras solos to stage and takes red jersey

Stage two: Sutton grabs stage win to set things right for Sky

Stage one: Leopard-Trek win opening TTT to put Fuglsang in front

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Photo galleries
By Graham Watson
Stage 16 photo gallery
Stage 15 photo gallery
Stage 14 photo gallery
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery

Vuelta a Espana 2011: TV guide

Vuelta a Espana 2011: ITV4 TV schedule

Vuelta a Espana 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule

ITV to show 2011 Vuelta

  • Phil Riley

    Aled, good point about the Tour. I thought 6 riders would have been enough to get Wiggins back into the peleton and let Geraint and Edvald carry on.

  • Brendan Power

    Tremendous ride by Wiggins, throughout the Vuelta, following a broken collar bone and six weeks away from racing, but … I have to agree with Aled Williams that Sky have got blinkers on, and not for the first time. Initially, they were shamed into giving Russ Downing a contract after his Tour Of Ireland success – then he went on to be one of their most successful riders in 2010 so they had no choice but to renew it, This year he has again shown his worth (including a top ten finish during the last week of the Giro) but, has he got a contract for 2012? Now, Chris Froome, who would be leading the Vuelta if the right decisions had been made, is, apparently, also without a contract for 2012!. Unbelieveably poor judgement and vision at the top.

  • Aled Williams

    Although Sky have 2 riders currently on the GC podium, questions should be asked of the team’s decision to direct Froome to do all the work in the mountains in the early part of the race. Following the individual TT it was obvious Froome was in top form, and Sky were too slow to realise in the following days that Froome was stronger than Wiggins. To ask Froome, who was in the red jersey, to sacrifice himself for Wiggins the day after the TT – and in doing so losing around 30s to the main contenders was a big mistake. Surely the main objective should have been to win a first Grand Tour, with whichever rider, and not rigidly stick to the pre race tactics of protecting Wiggins at all costs. It seemed obvious to me that Wiggins was weakening whilst Froome remained strong – did Sky just not realise this, or did they feel obliged to sacrifice everything and everyone for Wiggins? A golden opportunity to have a British Grand Tour winner may have been lost. As we saw in the TdF, when G and Boasson Haagen stopped unneccessarily after Wiggins’ fall, Sky seem bent on Plan A, and lack the tactical nous to adapt in race situations, and consider a Plan B.Questions should be asked at the highest level of the management’s tactics. As a Welshman, I’m obviously a great fan of Geraint Thomas, but am concerned that his obvious talent will not be given the appropriate opportunity in the coming years in a team which seems so deferential to one man, talented as he is. In addition, hiring Cavendish will further constrain Sky’s tactics for overall hoonours in a Grand Tour. Froome, Thomas, Dowsett – are your best interests really with SKY??

  • alex

    Bad decision after the time trial by sky management – they would have won their first grand tour with froome as leader

  • Sam Hudson

    Don’t think you quite do justice to Froome’s epic effort here. He did indeed distance Cobo, who managed to fight back only for Froome to dig deep into his reserves and surge for the line to take the stage. Awesome!