Relentless Froome wraps up Vuelta title

Alberto Contador enjoys one final day in the sun as Froome seals Tour-Vuelta double

Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador celebrates as he crosses the finish line winning the 20th stage of the  Vuelta in his final race before retirement. Chris Froome virtually secured overall victory in the Vuelta a Espana today by extending his lead over Vincenzo Nibali. Photograph: Jose Jordan/Getty Images

Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador celebrates as he crosses the finish line winning the 20th stage of the Vuelta in his final race before retirement. Chris Froome virtually secured overall victory in the Vuelta a Espana today by extending his lead over Vincenzo Nibali. Photograph: Jose Jordan/Getty Images

 

Chris Froome is set to become the first man to win the Tour de France and La Vuelta in the same year since 1978 after defending the red jersey in Saturday’s penultimate stage.

Froome finished behind stage winner Alberto Contador on Alto de l’Angliru to extend his advantage at the top of the general classification with just Sunday’s processional stage into Madrid to come.

Froome will become the first Briton to win La Vuelta and only the third man to complete the Tour-Vuelta double — and first since the race switched from April to its present post-Tour position in 1995.

Contador took a sensational and emotional solo victory in his final grand tour before retirement but came 20 seconds short of a place on the podium.

Behind him, Froome and Team Sky lieutenant Wout Poels crossed the line 17 seconds later, extending Froome’s lead to two minutes 15 seconds in the general classification after closest rival Vincenzo Nibali struggled on the final climb following an earlier crash.

Froome has finished second on three occasions at La Vuelta, but will finally get his hands on a second of the three grand tours providing he safely crosses the line in Sunday’s processional final stage into Madrid.

Ireland’s Nicolas Roche finished in 27th on the stage, seven minutes down on Contador, and is set to finish in 14th place overall.

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