Fabio Aru explains how team-work on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España netted him the lead

Fabio Aru‘s face may often be one of pain and suffering, but inside there is a drive to win. He and team Astana launched their attacks today on the last mountain stage of the Vuelta a España to drop Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and run away with the race lead.

The overall victory should be secured tomorrow when the 25-year-old Sardinian finishes the flat sprinters’ stage to Madrid.

Aru crashed yesterday, lost three seconds to Dumoulin and shutdown at the finish line. He refused to talk and rushed off to his hotel. It may not have looked good, but he found motivation overnight.

>>> Fabio Aru upset after crash and time loss in Vuelta a España

“I learnt in the under-23 ranks that a race is never over or never locked in,” Aru said after stepping off the podium in the red leader’s jersey.

“I tried to keep my head straight. Yesterday, Alessandro Vanotti took a bad hit, and he started today regardless. Paolo Tiralongo fell in stage two, had 18 stitches on his face, and wanted to race on. That showed me to keep on fighting.”

Fabio Aru on the podium after securing the Leaders Jersey Stage 20 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana

Fabio Aru on the podium after securing the leader’s jersey on stage 20 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

Aru turned a six-second deficient to a 1-17-minute lead over Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha). Dumoulin slipped from first to sixth overall at 3-46.

Astana pulled off a masterstroke in stage racing with two men, Luis León Sánchez and Andrey Zeits, in the early escape and with a power surge on the penultimate climb. Once Aru moved free, Mikel Landa jumped from Dumoulin’s group to join his team-mate. Their efforts were reinforced when Sánchez and Zeits dropped back to drill more time into a fading Dumoulin.

>>> Fabio Aru snatches Vuelta a España lead in thrilling mountain showdown

“My teammates were motivated even with the hit we took yesterday. We were motivated. It wasn’t going to be easy, though,” added Aru.

Mikel Landa on stage twenty of the 2015 Tour of Spain

Mikel Landa working for Aru as they distance race leader Tom Dumoulin (Watson)

“I went clear with Mikel Landa, he did a big about of work and always made himself available, he was very good. The gap was not big at the bottom of the descent, I had 15 seconds, but then I had Zeits and Sánchez, they did a great amount of work

“Landa showed that he can battle and be at the front of the grand tours. I won’t hide it, I’m upset that he’s going to another team next year [possibly Sky – ed.], we have a good relationship. I don’t think he’d think differently. He gave up his chances both in the Giro and in the Vuelta.”

Aru, after placing third last year and second overall this year in the Giro d’Italia, secured his first grand tour today in the Vuelta. It came at a good time, too.

Astana had problems through the last 12 months with doping cases, licences woes and cheating. As a super team, General Manager Alexandre Vinokourov explained that his team needed to win a grand tour. Aru, after some doubts, succeeded.

  • Bob

    never give up spirit? what rubbish? surely he’s a great climber and a better than average tester, but with a team as weak as Tom’s I doubt he’s have been top 10, even if he did finish.

  • David Sundheim

    For the record I wanted Dumoulin to win, but everyone was expecting him to falter day after day. Yet somehow he was able to persevere against all odds… Until the very last day that it mattered that is. There is nothing here to say his bad day was the result of Astana cheating. It’s not Astana’s fault Giant Alpecin sent a sprint train for Degenkolb and no one to help out this surprise performance… So much so his own team was surprised.

    Astana made the 2015 Vuelta and Giro races! By comparison the Tour should be blushing beside the other 2 superior Grand Tours.

  • Mark Webster

    The general manager says Astana needs a win and it happens, just like Nibali’s miraculous recovery after being told he’s off the team if he doesn’t improve during the Tour. Through crashes and cheating Astana had a reduced team but still had 3 riders on the final climb, while other teams are dropping domestics. Time will show if Aru gets to keep this victory, even if Aru is clean, with team history and attitude shown in the race I have doubts over the whole team. Their licence should have been revoked for 2015 to show a clear message that doping has consequences. Agree is a shame to see Astana win.

  • FPCyclist

    I agree. Freeze the A and B samples…..when the test is ready in 2-3 years we’ll find out how Astana really did it. I find no joy in this Vuelta. None. Something about this has a funny smell. Remember this post.

  • RobTM

    Meanwhile in the real world, Dumoulin spoke with dignity of his disappointment very shortly after the finish

  • Phil Hall

    And did Dumoulin spit his out today or are you just being childish?

  • Rob

    Guy spits his dummy out over losing a few seconds yesterday and now is the voice of calmness today, there are winners and there are worthy winners

  • Dabber

    Nothing personal against Aru but such a shame to see an Astana rider win.

  • arcidiavolo

    Honestly today Astana, as in Giro d’Italia, was incredibly strong. The poor Dumoulin was totally alone versus six riders.
    I don’t want to be suspicious, but remebering Astana shady past, I hope that It has been just and only an excellent general and perfect phisical condition due to natural reasons…