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Vuelta a Espana

Froome’s Vuelta hopes crumble in Andorra

An early crash took the wind out of the sails of Chris Froome, and the Sky captain lost all hope of winning the 2015 Vuelta a España

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Chris Froome’s hopes of winning the Vuelta a España crumbled early in the brutal, six-climb stage across Andorra on Wednesday.

The Sky captain crashed early, rejoined the leaders, but lost contact for good on the day’s hardest climb at the “especial” rated summit at the Collada de la Gallina, about 4km from the summit.

The 2015 Tour de France winner couldn’t match the pace set by Astana at the front of the already reduced GC group. Several Sky teammates drifted back to help him, but Froome struggled to keep up. He was nearly three minutes behind over the top of the climb at 99km.

The Sky captain crashed just 3km into the 138km stage, smashing hard into a wooden guardrail as the main pack powered toward the first major climb. With his left elbow banged up, Froome did not panic, and rode at his own pace to eventually link up with the GC group by the day’s third climb at the category 1 Puerto de la Rabassa.

Under pressure from Astana, Froome began to struggle, and quickly lost minutes to the favorites. He chatted briefly with the medical car as well as the team car.

It appeared he would try to finish the stage. He took a feedbag, and was more than three minutes behind as the top GC favorites neared the final two climbs of the stage.

Froome was trying to become the first rider to win the Tour and Vuelta in succession. Only Jacques Anquetil and Bernhard Hinault have won the Vuelta and Tour in the same season, but that was when the Vuelta was held in April.

Froome’s GC hopes were revived Sunday when he was second at the Cumbre del Sol summit, climbing into the top-10 coming into Wednesday’s decisive mountain stage.

Check back after the stage for more information.