Froome on the verge of historic Tour-Vuelta double

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Madrid, Sep 10 (IANS) Chris Froome is on the verge of making cycling history after the penultimate stage of the Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race.

The Team Sky rider, who won the Tour de France in July ended the stage with a lead of 2 minutes and 15 seconds over the Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who is in second place in the overall classification, with Russian climber Ilnur Zakarin in third on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Froome now needs to merely finish in the main peloton in Sunday’s short 117 kilometer stage into Madrid to become the first man to win the Tour de France and the Vuelta de Espana in the same year since the date of the Vuelta was changed from April to late August 22 years ago.

Sunday’s stage is a virtual procession into Madrid before several circuits of the capital, that are likely to produce a sprint finish and no changes to the overall positions

Only two other riders in history, Bernard Hinault in 1978 and Jaques Anquetil in 1963, have managed a Tour-Vuelta double, but the two French riders achieved their feat when the Vuelta was raced in the spring.

Saturday’s penultimate stage ended on the almost mythical Alto del L’Angliru, a brutal 14-km climb with sections approaching a gradient of 25 percent.

It was won by Alberto Contador who broke away on his penultimate day as a professional cyclist, but Froome finished in third place after receiving the help of Sky team-mate Wout Pools, who finished in second place in the stage.

–IANS

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