The 42-kilometer individual time trial is a flat run through vineyards and past wineries. It is a route for true specialists that will make big differences to the general classification. The stage is also twice as dangerous as it is being held straight after a rest day.
Vuelta time trial: Froome is flawless
As anticipated, Chris Froome rode a flawless time trial in stage 16 of the Vuelta a España, winning the day and extending his overall lead. Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman was second to Sky’s four-time Tour de France champion in the 40.2km test. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) ended up third on the day in Logroño, Spain.
“It’s a really big relief. Obviously super, super happy to be in this position,” Froome said.
Kelderman’s impressive performance moved him up to third-place overall. Conversely, Orica-Scott’s Esteban Chaves had a dismal day. The Colombian was four minutes behind Froome. He fell from third- to ninth-place overall.
Stage 16, top 10
1. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky), in 47min 0sec
2. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN), at 0:29
3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH), 0:57
4. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT), 0:59
5. Alberto Contador (ESP/TRE), 0:59
6. Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE/FDJ), 1:07
7. Wouter Poels (NED/SKY), 1:11
8. Lennard Kamina (GER/SUN), 1:30
9. Daniel Oss (ITA/BMC), 01:49
10. Alexis Gougeard (FRA/ALM), 01:50
1. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky), in 62h53:25
2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH), at 1:58
3. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN), 2:40
4. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT), 3:07
5. Alberto Contador (ESP/TRE), 4:58
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST), 5:25
7. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST), 6:27
8. Wouter Poels (NED/SKY), 6:33
9. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI), 6:40
10. Michael Woods (CAN/CAN), 7:06
Trek-Segafredo’s Alberto Contador also had a strong showing in Tuesday’s time trial. He beat the fastest early time, which was set by FDJ’s Swedish time trial champion, Tobias Ludvigsson.
“I’ve had a good time trial and the most important thing is I think I have good legs for what remains of the Vuelta,” said Contador. “Although the podium is a long way off, we’ll keep trying day-by-day to see if we can achieve it.”
However, the Spaniard’s time would not stand. First, Kelderman came home faster. Then, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) slotted into second place, a fraction of a second faster.
Although Nibali put in a strong effort, he and the rest of the field were no match for Froome. The Brit rode a conservative race, gradually winding up the pace. He didn’t beat Kelderman’s fast split at the first time check, but by the 27.9km checkpoint, Froome was clearly in control.
“I was just riding it at the speed that I felt best. I wasn’t getting that many time checks from the car so I didn’t really know where I was,” Froome said.
“I presumed it was bad news because I wasn’t getting any time checks. I was a little bit worried.”
This was Froome’s second stage win in the 2017 Vuelta. After stage 16, he led Nibali by 1:58. Kelderman held third-place overall, 2:40 behind. Then, Zakarin was 3:07 down in fourth, and Contador, with his strong time trial finish, moved up to fifth overall, 4:58 behind, continuing his gradual move up the standings.
The Vuelta returns to the climbs Wednesday with a 180.5km stage to Los Machucos. After two categorized climbs, stage 17 finishes with a hors categorie summit finish at 880 meters.
“Tomorrow’s going to be absolutely brutal,” Froome added. “Los Machucos from what I can see is a wall. Big GC battle for sure.”