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Froome moves a minute clear in La Vuelta as Lopez wins mountainous stage

Credit: PA

Chris Froome extended his overall lead in La Vuelta after Colombian rider Miguel Angel Lopez won the mountainous 129-kilometre 15th stage from Alcala la Real to Sierra Nevada.

Team Sky rider Froome, who is bidding to become only the third rider to win La Vuelta and the Tour de France in the same year, produced a late surge to stretch his advantage over Vincenzo Nibali by six more seconds.

Froome now has a 61-second cushion over his Italian rival. Lopez finished the stage in three hours, 34 minutes and 51 seconds, overtaking Briton Adam Yates on the final climb to reach the 2,510-metre summit of Alto Hoya de la Mora first for his second win of the race.

Russia's Ilnur Zakarin came second, 36 seconds behind, with Dutchman Wilco Kelderman third and Froome coming in fifth. Zakarin and Kelderman are third and fourth in the general classification but trail Froome by more than two minutes.

Chris Froome's Vuelta lead cut after a mechanical and a crash

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Chris Froome survived a mechanical and a crash to keep hold of his red jersey but his lead at La Vuelta was cut to 59 seconds.

The Team Sky leader dropped 20 seconds to closest challenger Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who finished in the main group of general classification contenders on stage 12.

Trek-Segafredo's Alberto Contador, who is ninth in the GC standings, gained 22 seconds on Nibali and the rest of the general classification contenders.

Lotto Soudal's Tomasz Marczynski attacked on the final descent to take stage victory ahead of Omar Fraile (Team Dimension Data) and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar) as the break stayed away.

But down the road, the GC battle was springing to life.

Contador and Nicholas Roche (BMC) attacked on the final climb, with the Spaniard surging clear and enjoying an advantage of 20 seconds from the Team Sky-led peloton.

But on the descent into Antequera, Froome suffered a mechanical and, after switching bikes, quickly took a tumble as he attempted to take a corner.

Sky dropped Wout Poels and Mikel Nieve back to try to help him limit his losses and the pair managed to keep the Briton in red.

They trailed Contador by over a minute at one point but recovered time in the final kilometres as Froome remained on course to become the first rider to win the Tour de France and La Vuelta in the same year since 1978.

Aqua Blue sport team bus damaged overnight ahead of 12th stage of La Vuelta

Irish team Aqua Blue Sport had their bus damaged by an alleged arsonist overnight ahead of Thursday's 12th stage of La Vuelta.

The team posted photos on social media showing the rear of the bus was gutted by the fire in Almeria.

Aqua Blue Sport wrote on Twitter: "Our team bus has been completely damaged in a cowardly arson attack over night. No one was injured. Police have arrested a suspect."

Aqua Blue Sport were staying at the Tryp Indalo Hotel in Almeria overnight and the bus was parked outside.

Cycling teams use their buses as their base for riders to change and to hold team meetings, as well as transport.

The Cork-registered team are making their Grand Tour debut in the Tour of Spain and remain committed to the race.

Race organisers have provided Aqua Blue Sport with a 52-seater coach for use on Thursday's 12th stage from Motril to Antequera Los Dolmenes. The race finishes in Madrid on September 10.

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Froome wins stage nine of La Vuelta to extend lead in red jersey

Credit: PA

Great Britain's Chris Froome extended his La Vuelta lead by winning stage nine ahead of nearest rival Esteban Chaves at Cumbre del Sol.

Froome attacked with 500 metres to go of the steeply uphill finish and looked to have built a decisive gap, only for Chaves to dig deep and get back onto Froome's back wheel.

However, Froome (Team Sky) was able to accelerate again and pulled clear to win by four seconds and extend his lead over Chaves (Orica-Scott) in the general classification to 36 seconds.

After the last survivor of an initial 10-man breakaway was finally caught by the peloton with six kilometres remaining, Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) twice tried to escape from the bunch on the final climb.

But Froome refused to panic and sat calmly behind team-mate Mikel Nieve at the front of the group containing the title contenders, none of whom were able to overtake.

The four-time Tour de France winner eventually hit the front with 500m remaining and was able to respond when Chaves briefly caught him with 200m to go to maintain a firm grip on the leader's red jersey.

"I put everything I had into that last couple of hundred metres," Froome said after his first stage win of 2017. "I was determined that they weren't going to catch me.

"I'm really, really happy to get the victory. The team did a brilliant job on that final climb and set such a good tempo.

"After a week we couldn't have asked to be in a better position. It's been a fantastic start to the Vuelta. The legs are feeling great. I've been to the Vuelta so many times, trying to target this race, and so far it feels like everything is going really well."

Monday is a rest day before stage 10 sees the riders tackle the 164.8km from Caravaca to El Pozo.

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