Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 18 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>
Lampre's Francesco Gavazzi salvaged his team's poor Vuelta a Espana by outsprinting Quick Step's Kristoff Van de Walle in Noja this afternoon.
Gavazzi, a stage winner in this year's Tour of the Basque Country, broke clear with Van de Walle 1.5km from the finish having both been a part of a 17-man breakaway group which dominated the stage.
Race leader Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) and Team Sky's Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins finished within the peloton 7-42 after Gavazzi; the GC remains unchanged with Froome just 13 seconds behind Cobo.
A day for the breakaway
The escapees attacked 10km into the 174.6km stage, which took in five categorised climbs, including the first category Puerto de Alisas.
With none of the leaders a threat on GC, the main field were happy to let the group have a lead which was around the 10 minute mark throughout.
After a flurry of unsuccessful attacks, RadioShack's Sergio Paulinho jumped clear on the Puerto de Fuente las Varas with 28.5km remaining, and gallantly held off a chase group of 10 riders until the final two-and-a-half kilometres.
Almost immediately Gavazzi and Van de Walle countered, and while Astana's Robert Kiserlovski tried bridging the gap, the finale came down to a two-man showdown.
Gavazzi hit the front early, but the Belgian Van de Walle had no answer for his acceleration.
Skil-Shimano's Alexandre Geniez led home the chasers to take third, 10 seconds down.
Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 18: Solares to Noja, 174.6km
1. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD in 4-24-42
2. Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
3. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Skil-Shimano at 10 sec
4. Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
5. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
6. Vladimir Gustov (Ukr) Saxo Bank-Sungard
7. Juan José Oroz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana all at st
10. Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 15 sec
Overall classification after stage 18
1. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox-TMC in 74-04-05
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 13 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) 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
Francesco Gavazzi wins the stage
Juan Jose Cobo safely stayed in the hot seat overall
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Latest news
Froome narrows the gap on Cobo
Confusion reigns in Vuelta stage as riders tackle roundabout wrong way
Sky uses rest day to regroup before final leg of Vuelta
Wiggins upbeat despite losing Vuelta lead on Angliru
Crunch time for Wiggins and Froome in Vuelta
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"
Wiggins in Vuelta: "We're in an amazing position"
Dan Martin delighted with King of the Mountains jersey
Sky dominates in Vuelta a Espana
Martin delighted with first ever grand tour stage win
Wiggins: A fantastic finish
Interview: Wiggins looks ahead of crucial three days of Vuelta
Farrar taken to hospital after Vuelta crash
Arvesen quits Vuelta with crash injuries
Anton suffers again but Rodriguez becomes Spain's top contender
Wiggins pleased with strong ride in Spanish sierras
Cavendish abandons Vuelta a Espana
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 17: Chris Froome wins but can't unseat Cobo from race lead
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 17 photo gallery
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
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