Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins lost the overall lead of the Vuelta a Espana this afternoon as the Angliru proved a climb too far for the Brit.
Juan Cose Cobo (Geox-TMC), who started the day in fourth overall 55 seconds behind Wiggins, took the stage and the leader’s red jersey after a brilliant performance on the mountains slopes that ramp up to 24%.
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The Spaniard attacked with 6km to go, and crossed the line 48 seconds ahead of Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM), Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) and Britain’s Chris Froome.
Wiggins finished 1-21 behind, so by virtue of his time gains Cobo now leads Froome by 20 seconds, with Wiggins at 48 seconds.
Even before Cobo broke clear, Froome once again worked tirelessly for Wiggins, and it wasn’t long before defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) were dropped from the GC group.
However, the Sky duo could not respond when Cobo attacked, and their pace visibly slowed on the steeper sections.
At the same time, Cobo was putting more seconds into the chasers, although at 4km from the summit he only lead the Wiggins group by half a minute.
By now Wiggins was looking uncomfortable, and it was no surprise when he lost touch with Froome, Poels and Menchov towards the summit.
With a week until Madrid, there could still be a British winner, but Team Sky may be forced to reassess their GC options now that Froome – once again – is their best
Vuelta a Espana 2011: stage 15, Aviles to Angliru, 144km
1.Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox-TMC in 4-01-55
2. Wout Poels (Ned)Vacansoleil-DCM at 48 sec
3. Denis Menchov (Rus)Geox-TMC
4. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky all at st
5. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 1-21
6. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek all at st
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa)Katusha at 1-35
9. Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank all at st
General classification after stage 15
1. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC in 59-57-16
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 20 sec
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 46 sec
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 1-36
5. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek at 2-37
Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 3-01
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard-Trek at 3-06
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 3-27
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 3-58
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 4-13
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Related links
Vuelta a Espana 2011
: Stage reports
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Photo galleries
By Graham Watson
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