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Vuelta a Espana: Everything That’s Happened So Far

It has been an action-packed first week in the Vuelta with Chris Froome gaining time ahead of his rivals. Froome entered the Vuelta as the leading runner-up, vying to go one further than the previous year by securing the Tour/Vuelta double – a feat which has been achieved just twice in history. As the race takes a break, we look back at everything that’s happened so far:

Froome doesn’t make the same mistakes twice

In the Tour de France, it was a steep mountain climb finish where Chris Froome lost time to his general classification rivals, so there were worries for how he would fare at stage 5 of the Vuelta which offered a similar finish. But there were no scares as it was Froome who extended his lead and held the red jersey.

Froome did not allow the mishaps of 2015 to get the better of him on stage 9 either. It was there when he attacked too early and was eventually picked off by Tom Dumoulin of Sunweb. But this time round, Froome timed it to perfection and once again gained time on his rivals.

Illness puts podium position in doubt for Contador

Within the first few days, retiring rider Alberto Contador had lost three minutes on the overall leader which was put down to illness. After it passed, Contador clawed back time mid-way through the first week of the Vuelta but going into the first rest day, he is even further behind by three and half minutes. Baring a miracle, there does not seem to be any fairytale ending for Alberto Contador, who has had a phenomenal career winning the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France twice, and the Vuelta a Espana three times.

Chaves is Froome’s main rival

The Orica-Scott man currently sits in second place, 36 seconds down on Chris Froome, and has looked like the only rider capable of keeping up with the unstoppable pace of the four-time Tour de France winner. Whilst Chaves remains in front of the other main contenders, it requires a huge task to overtake Chris Froome who appears to be in the form of his life, gaining time on his rivals without showing any signs of slowing down.

Barguil sent home early

The winner of the King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour de France, Warren Barguil, was expelled from the Vuelta for refusing to follow team orders. He was 13th overall, and one place ahead of his teammate, Wilco Kelderman, who was the designated team leader.

It is understood that he ignored instructions from his team to drop back and help out leader Kelderman, however Barguil opted to ride his own race. Barguil was already departing Team Sunweb, transferring over to Fortuneo-Oscaro for the 2018 season. It seemed to be a peculiar dismissal given that situations like these are normally overlooked, but this wasn’t his first time and as a result will not be returning.

Froome on course for Tour/Vuelta double

Chris Froome came into the Vuelta having only worn the red leaders jersey once before in 2011. This year he has held it since becoming the overall leader on stage 3. He continues to gain time as the race progresses and he further asserted his authority with his win on stage 9. The only thing likely to stop Froome winning the Vuelta and doing the Tour/Vuelta double is a crash or a mechanical error. Froome is set to brush shoulders with Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault as the only riders to have won the double, something which hasn’t happened for 39 years.

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