Alberto Contador attacked from far out and Nibali attacked closer to the finish but the result was the same. They both lost time.
The Spaniard, who simply hates being pack fodder even if it’s in the group of the race leader, launched his attack with 26 kilometers to go. An aggressive Miguel Lopez (Astana) went with Contador and for a while there was hope. They carved out a minute and a half on Froome and the Trek Segafredo captain was riding himself up to 5th on GC.
Then, he simply ran out of gas, like a man quickly headed to retirement in a week.
Lopez powered ahead, climbing up to 2,510 meters in altitude to the Sierra Nevada ski resort. The Colombian nicknamed Superman would win his second stage of this Vuelta a Espana. Contador paid for his long-shot roll of the dice, as first he was caught by Froome and then passed. He’d roll in another 1:25 behind.
Nibali, fresh off his gain of 10 seconds Saturday on La Pendara, tried his own attack but his solo effort never created more than a 30 gap at most. It was vintage (and boring) Sky upping the pace with Mikel Nieve and Wout Poels until the Italian gave up and faded back. Shark then began orient puppy dog trailing behind Froome.
That was it for Nibali and he’d lose those six seconds as Froome sprinted ahead of him for the finish line. For those thinking that Nibali was getting stronger and stronger as the race went on, the answer on Sunday was, no, not really.
Froome thanked his teammates once again and really, it would be so refreshing if he’s simply say, “wow, we bought another win today.” He was never isolated and had at least three Sky domestiques with him at all times.
So it’s on to the rest day and then the time trial where Froome is heavily favored to put more time into his rivals. He came to this Vuelta a Espana with unfinished business. And yes, it feels just like that — steady, power-metered, business.
Sky has turned the usually unpredictable and unruly Vuelta into the Tour de France. C’est dull.