David Gaudu took the honours on stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana as he triumphed at the summit of the Alto de La Farrapona.

The Groupama-FDJ rider claimed his first Grand Tour stage win at the end of Saturday's 170-kilometre route from Villaviciosa.

Frenchman Gaudu held off General Classification contender Marc Soler, with the Movistar rider still looking up at Primoz Roglic, Richard Carapaz and Dan Martin in the top three of the standings.

Cofidis' Guillaume Martin and Team Sunweb duo Mark Donovan and Michael Storer rounded out the top five on the day, having gone in the breakaway and stayed clear of the peloton.

Soler's move, which saw him climb from 10th to sixth in the GC, was not considered enough of a threat for the key Vuelta contenders to waste the energy reeling him in.

The home hope is now two minutes and 44 seconds back as he seeks to improve on last year's ninth-place finish.

It proved a profitable day for Martin, too, as he strengthened his grip in the King of the Mountains classification.

STAGE RESULT

1. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) 04:54:13
2. Marc Soler (Movistar) +00:04
3. Michael Storer (Team Sunweb) +00:52
4. Mark Donovan (Team Sunweb) +00:52
5. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +00:55

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 45:20:31
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) same time
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:25

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 135
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 91
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 90

King of the Mountains

1. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) 50
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 24
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 24

What's next?

More mountains await on stage 12, with three category-one climbs on Sunday's 109km slog from La Pola Llaviana to a summit finish at Alto de l'Angliru.

Defending champion Primoz Roglic surged clear to claim victory on stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana and take the red jersey back off Richard Carapaz.

The Jumbo-Visma rider dominated the uphill finish in Friday's predominantly flat 185-kilometre stage from Castro Urdiales to Suances for his third stage victory.

Roglic moved up in Andrea Bagioli's slipstream and took 10 bonus seconds to move level with erstwhile General Classification leader Carapaz, who lost three seconds.

He takes the race jersey by virtue of his superior placings in the first 10 stages and is the favourite to retain the title he won last year.

"It's beautiful. What can I say? I'm super happy," Roglic said. "It's never easy to win but I had the legs, and it's really, really nice.

"I'm one year older and stronger. Like a wine, the older the better. I'm again in red, but it doesn't really change much for our team.

"We need to keep the momentum and the focus. A weekend in the mountains is coming, so we will do our best."

Sam Bennett was the pre-stage favourite but was dropped with 27km to go, a day after being denied victory on stage nine for barging into Emils Liepins.

Bora-Hansgrohe's Felix Grossschartner had greater success, finishing second to Roglic, while Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was third.

Dan Martin was one of seven other riders to be given the same time as the stage winner, meaning he is within 25 seconds of the overall race lead.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:14:11
2. Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
3. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) same time
4. Alex Aranburu (Astana) same time
5. Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-Scott) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 40:25:15
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) same time
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:25

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 129
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 83
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 82

King of the Mountains

1. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) 27
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 24
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 24

What's next?

The race moves to the mountains on Saturday as the riders make the 170km journey from Villaviciosa to Alto de la Farrapona - a stage containing four category one climbs, including the Colladona mountain pass.

Pascal Ackermann claimed victory on stage nine of the Vuelta a Espana after Sam Bennett was relegated for a shove in the final kilometre.

Tour de France points classification winner Bennett lived up to his favourite tag by seemingly powering to victory in Thursday's 157.7km leg from Castrillo del Val to Aguilar de Campoo.

However, his celebrations at what would have been the Irishman's second stage win of this year's event, were cut short as race organisers ruled Bennett was overly aggressive in the way he shoulder charged Emils Liepins.

Bora-Hansgrohe rider Ackermann started his sprint at the same time as Bennett but ultimately had less power and speed than his opponent, though in the end it was he who came out on top following a post-race review of the Liepins incident.

Jasper Philipsen tried to find a way between the pair but could not do so, the UAE Team Emirates rider finishing fifth behind Gerben Thijssen and Max Kanter, only to be pushed up by Bennett's disqualification.

"When I saw the video, it wasn't a fair action from him," Ackermann said. "I think, after all the crashes in the last week, we have to take care of the other guys. 

"If there is no hole, we have to stop. I feel sorry for Sam, but they took me out in Scheldeprijs and now we have to ride more fair. 

"I'm really happy about this victory and also for my team - they did an awesome job today, all from the front and I'm happy to give something back to them."

There was no substantial movement in terms of the General Classification as Richard Carapaz finished safely in the peloton, despite needing a bicycle change with 13km to go.

The overall race leader retains a 13-second gap on reigning champion Primoz Roglic, who dragged himself back into contention with an impressive victory on stage eight.

STAGE RESULT

1. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 03:39:55
2. Gerben Thijssen (Lotto–Soudal) same time
3. Max Kanter (Team Sunweb) same time
4. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) same time
5. Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 36:11:01
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:28

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 104
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 81
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 73

King of the Mountains

1. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) 27
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 24
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 24

What's next?

Friday sees the riders make the 185km journey from Castro Urdiales to Suances, a predominantly flat stage that includes a category three climb towards the end.

Reigning champion Primoz Roglic claimed his second stage victory of the 2020 Vuelta a Espana to close to gap on overall race leader Richard Carapaz. 

The Jumbo-Visma rider was involved in a tense battle with Carapaz over the final stretch of Wednesday's stage, which took the riders from Logrono to Alto de Moncalvillo. 

Roglic countered his rival with a fine late counterpunch and finished 13 seconds quicker, as well as earning 10 bonus seconds, compared to Carapaz's six. 

He is now up to second in the General Classification, 13 seconds behind the pacesetter after his remarkable stage eight win. He had begun the day 30 seconds behind. 

"It was quite a boring, slow start and the pace went up and it was super fast and harder after the second to last climb," Roglic said.

"I always like to win, so if there is a small opportunity I will take it. It was super hard today and, luckily, I had the legs and I'm happy to win the stage.  

"It's nice to get some time back but most of all it's nice to win the race." 

Israel Start-Up Nation's Daniel Martin slumped to the ground as he crossed the line in third, tightening his grip on the same position in the GC, with Hugh Carthy slipping to fourth. 


STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:07:08
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:13
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:19
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) +00:25
5. Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) +00:33

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 32:31:06
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:28

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 104
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 81
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 73

King of the Mountains

1. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) 27
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 24
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 24

What's next?

Thursday sees the riders travel 157.7 kilometres from Castrillo del Val to Aguilar de Campoo - a flat stage that points to a sprint finish.

Michael Woods won stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana after a thrilling tussle over the closing kilometres in Villanueva de Valdegovia. 

The Canadian, who was second in Monday's sixth stage, timed his kick superbly to open a gap to Omar Fraile with just 1,000 metres left of a gripping finish. 

Astana rider Fraile had pulled clear late on as part of a cat-and-mouse chase for the line that also involved Alejandro Valverde, who finished third, and Nans Peters. 

It was Woods who emerged triumphant after proving too strong for his rivals, as he claimed a second stage win at the Vuelta at the end of a somewhat messy race from Vitoria-Gasteiz in which he led a decisive breakaway approaching the summit of the final climb. 

"That was a special day," said Woods, who won stage 17 two years ago. "I got away with those four guys, they ride super strong. I was able to sit in a bit, had a bit of luck, had the legs and managed to get the win. 

"Initially, I wasn't supposed to get in the breakaway, however, the race just got so crazy. I'm going to savour this one." 

Woods' EF Pro Cycling team-mate Hugh Carthy remains second in the General Classification, behind Richard Carapaz, who is also second in the points standings.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) 03:48:16
2. Omar Fraile (Astana) +00:04
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) same time
4. Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) +00:08
5. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 28:23:51
2. Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) +00:18
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:20

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 79
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 61
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57

King of the Mountains

1. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) 27
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 24
3. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 19

What's next?

Wednesday sees the riders depart Logrono, the Rioja region's capital, and set out on a 164km route through the mountains towards a gruelling final climb up to Alto de Moncalvillo.

Ion Izagirre claimed victory in a rain-soaked stage six of the Vuelta a Espana on a day that saw Richard Carapaz replace Primoz Roglic as the overall race leader.

Astana Pro Team rider Izagirre made his move in the final 3km of Sunday's climb to Formigal to finish 25 seconds ahead of Michael Woods and Rui Costa.

The 31-year-old timed his attack well, something brother and team-mate Gorka failed to do earlier in the race, as he added a fourth Grand Tour stage victory.

An eventful final climb also saw overnight leader Roglic lose pace with Carapaz, who finished 55 seconds behind Izagirre but still did enough to take the General Classification lead and the red jersey.

Roglic was visibly struggling with around 2km to go and Carapaz took full advantage with a late attack, although he did not have the legs to keep up with Hugh Carthy in the final stretch.

EF Pro Cycling's Carthy bridged the gap to the other contenders and moved into second place, with Roglic slipping to fourth behind Dan Martin.

"We have been working very well this week, we have been performing well, and today we had a go," said Carapaz, whose INEOS team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d'Italia on Sunday. 

"We have done very well, and this is the reward for the whole team. We had more than one scare and that encouraged Movistar to pull in the end. 

"I knew the end of the stage and, to begin with, I let others who were interested do a bit. There were many attacks. 

"I had calculated the distance and I attacked at the right time. There is still a lot of the Vuelta to go and we are going to defend it - it is a luxury to be able to defend it."
 

STAGE RESULT

1. Ion Izaguirre (Astana Pro Team) 03:41:00
2. Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) +00:25
3. Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) +00:25
4. Rob Power (Team Sunweb) +00:27
5. Michael Valgren (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:27

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 24:34:39
2. Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) +00:18
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:20

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 79
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 61
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57

King of the Mountains

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 19
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 18
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16

What's next?

After a rest day on Monday, the riders return on Tuesday with stage seven and have two climbs to navigate of the Alto de Orduna, involving an inclination of 14 per cent. The final climb takes place 18km from the finish line in what could be a decisive stretch.

Tao Geoghegan Hart claimed a remarkable victory at the Giro d'Italia on a sublime final Sunday for INEOS Grenadiers. 

Geoghegan Hart had been set to play a supporting role to Geraint Thomas in Italy until the 2018 Tour de France champion suffered a fractured pelvis early in the race. 

INEOS were without a number of their other big names amid a packed Grand Tour schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Last year's Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and defending Giro champ Richard Carapaz targeted the Paris event, while the departing Chris Froome - a seven-time winner across all three elite events - entered the Vuelta a Espana. 

That left Geoghegan Hart to take centre stage, but he thrived at the Giro to seize a share of the lead with Australia's Jai Hindley heading into the 21st and final stage. 

It was the first time in Giro history two riders had been tied heading into the time trial, a 15.7-kilometre ride in Milan. 

But Geoghegan Hart ultimately rode to a comfortable victory, finishing 39 seconds clear of his direct rival with a time of 18 minutes and 14 seconds.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine this would be possible when we started out in Sicily almost a month ago," said Geoghegan Hart, who became the fifth British Grand Tour winner. 

"All my career I've dreamt of trying to be top 10, top five maybe, in a race of this stature, so this is something completely and utterly different to that. 

"I think it's going to take a long time for this to sink in." 

INEOS' success did not end there, though, as heavy favourite and time trial world champion Filippo Ganna won the stage in 17:16. 

Ganna, making his Grand Tour debut, claimed his fourth stage victory of the Giro after blowing away Victor Campenaerts' early benchmark of 17:48, which remained enough for second place. 


STAGE RESULT 

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 17:16
2. Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:32
3. Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:32
4. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:41
5. Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ) +00:41

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 85:40:21
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:39
3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +01:29

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 233
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 108

King of the Mountains

1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 157
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122

Tim Wellens powered to victory on stage five of the Vuelta a Espana as he emerged as the strongman from a three-way battle for supremacy in Sabinanigo. 

The 29-year-old Belgian, twice a stage winner on the Giro d'Italia in seasons gone by, is making his Vuelta debut this year and ensured it would be one to remember. 

He was locked in a scrap for first place with Frenchman Guillaume Martin and Dutch youngster Thymen Arensman, but the Lotto Soudal rider would not be denied, victory carrying him to the top of the early King of the Mountains standings. 

Wellens resisted a charge from Arensman at the flamme rouge and pushed clear on the uphill finale of the 184.4-kilometre ride from Huesca, with Martin taking second place, four seconds back. 

"It feels super good," Wellens said. "It was the goal of the team to have minimum one victory in the Vuelta and it's super nice it's come so early. 

"Now in the next weeks we don't stress, so I'm super happy with the victory." 

Assessing the race in the closing stages, he said: "We rode super good together. All three of us were a little bit at the same level but I had the kick at the end that brought me to victory." 

A hilly second half of the stage had split the field, with Wellens part of a mid-race breakaway of a dozen riders that was gradually whittled down to the trio that entered the last kilometre with the spoils up for grabs. 

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) led the sprint from the peloton to cross the line in fourth, remaining the General Classification leader as the race heads to the Pyrenees on Sunday. 

Roglic's closest rival overall in the red jersey stakes, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), crashed in the closing metres, along with David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), but the Irish rider was able to get back on his bike and complete the stage. 

STAGE RESULT

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 04:19:25
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +00:04
3. Thymen Arensman (Team Sunweb) +00:12
4. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +02:13
5. Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) +02:13

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 20:52:31
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0:05
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:13

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 79
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 57

King of the Mountains

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 19
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 18
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16

WHAT'S NEXT?

The riders have tackled moderate hills so far but Sunday takes them into the Pyrenees, albeit not on the route that was planned initially. French coronavirus restrictions have forced Vuelta organisers to cancel the scheduled Tourmalet summit finish, with the stage instead ending with the category one Aramon Formigal climb.

Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley will look to make every second count in Sunday's decisive individual time trial after a gripping penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia. 

The battle for General Classification glory looks to have come down to a two-man test of speed and nerve over 15.7 kilometres on a flat road from Cernusco sul Naviglio to Milan, after previous leader Wilco Kelderman drifted off the pace on stage 20. 

At the end of Saturday's 190-kilometre ride from Alba, INEOS Grenadiers rider Geoghegan Hart and Team Sunweb's Hindley scaled the climb to Sestriere for a third time and finished almost neck and neck. 

Englishman Geoghegan Hart pulled narrowly clear over the final metres, but Australian rival Hindley will start in the maglia rosa on Sunday, albeit with both riders on the same cumulative time - 85 hours, 22 minutes and seven seconds. 

Kelderman, a team-mate of Hindley, finished a minute and 35 seconds off the pace set by the front two, who broke free on the final ascent. 

The stage concluded with the unusual triple climb to Sestriere after French authorities earlier in the week insisted the race should be rerouted to avoid entering the country, amid concerns over roadside gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It meant the daunting Colle dell'Agnello, with a peak of 2,744 metres, was removed from the equation, along with the Col d'Izoard. 

A 21-rider breakaway held a seven-minute lead over the peloton at the halfway mark, but they were reeled in, with Geoghegan Hart's team-mate Rohan Dennis leading the assault. 

Kelderman could not find a response and would need an extraordinary performance on Sunday to get back in contention. 

Neither Hindley nor Geoghegan Hart has won a Grand Tour before, and this is their big chance. 

STAGE RESULT 

1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 04:52:45
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:00
3. Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:25
4. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +01:01
5. Andrea Vendrame (AG2R La Mondiale) +01:34

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) 85:22:07
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:00
3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +01:32

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 233
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 101

King of the Mountains

1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 157
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122

WHAT'S NEXT?

They think it's all over, and it will be after Sunday's pancake-flat time trial from Cernusco sul Naviglio to Milan, with all eyes on the clock.

Sam Bennett sprinted to victory at stage four of the Vuelta a Espana as Primoz Roglic retained his lead in the General Classification.

The Irish rider, who claimed the green jersey at this year's Tour de France, surged past Jasper Philipsen around 25 metres from the summit finish in Ejea de los Caballeros.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step had him well positioned towards the end of the mostly flat 191.7 kilometre ride from Garray, the peloton bunching after Willie Smit had been caught following a breakaway with around 14km left.

Philipsen moved to upset those plans but Bennett timed his finish to perfection, edging out the UAE Team Emirates rider into second, with Jakub Mareczko third.

"It was so fast in the run-in, [I was] a bit nervous, fast all day but I was just nervous, it was a bit sketchy, and in the final, we weren't all together yet," Bennett said afterwards.

"It was mad how we said we needed to be together at one point and, at that point, the team was all there. They did their job perfectly, came together when we needed to. We only asked a few guys to be there and the whole team was there to support."

He admitted Philipsen's move left him fearing he had left a push too late, adding: "I actually really didn't think I was going to catch him, but, in the end, I started getting more and more speed and still accelerating to the line, so I had the power.

"But when he initially went, he was so explosive."

Roglic finished down in 19th but remains at the top of the GC with a five-second gap over Daniel Martin.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 03:53:29
2. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) same time
3. Jakob Marezco (CCC) same time
4. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
5. Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 16:30:53
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0:05
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:13

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 65
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 50

King of the Mountains

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 18
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16
3. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 14

WHAT'S NEXT?

Saturday sees a succession of tricky climbs in the closing 60km during a total ride of 185.5km from Huesca up to Sabinanigo.

Josef Cerny won stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia after Friday's leg was shortened by more than 50 per cent following a protest from the peloton. 

The riders were set to contest the longest stage of the race following back-to-back mountain sections but after health concerns were raised they were transported from Morbegno to Abbiategrasso on buses, reducing the distance from 258 kilometres to 124km. 

Asti was expected to host a sprint finish at the end of a flat stage but maglia ciclamino contender Peter Sagan called off the chase of a 14-man breakaway after no one appeared willing to share the workload at the front of the peloton with his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates. 

Victor Campenaerts forced a split at the front but Cerny pushed again with around 22km remaining and quickly established a lead of around 40 seconds. 

Cerny, who finished fifth in the time trial last Saturday, was able to go solo to secure a first Grand Tour stage win, with Campenaerts unable to close the gap late on. 

"The stage was definitely not [what I expected]. We were standing at the start line and the organiser said we can rest a little bit, it's very nice of him because we had the last three days really heavy, and it was a really hard day also today with the rain," said Cerny. 

"But I'm really happy. I was lucky in the breakaway and we were working together. And then in the final it was just who had better legs. I'm very happy. I still cannot believe it because it was so quick. It was incredible. I cannot describe it." 

Wilco Kelderman retained his grip on the maglia rosa with none of the General Classification contenders able to make in-roads on the short, flat route. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart tried to gain some valuable seconds in the final kilometre but was unable to force a split at the front of the peloton and remains 15 seconds adrift in third.

 

STAGE RESULT 

1. Josef Cerny (CCC Team) 02:30:40
2. Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:18
3. Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo) +00:26
4. Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling) +00:26
5. Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:26 

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification    

1. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) 80:29:19
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:12
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:15 

Points Classification    

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 94 

King of the Mountains    

1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 115 

WHAT'S NEXT? 

The penultimate stage is a 190km ride across the Alps including 3,500 metres of vertical altitude gain, meaning there could be plenty of drama in the GC. 

Dan Martin won an uphill charge to the finish line as he took a "really special" stage three victory in the Vuelta a Espana.

The Irish rider, competing for Israel Start-Up Nation, fended off Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz after a tight finish in the town of Vinuesa, dedicating the success to his team and family.

A five-rider break with just under 50 kilometres to go always looked unconvincing, and although the gap reached a minute and a half at one point, it had been trimmed significantly by the time the final climb arrived.

The 166.1-kilometre drag from Lodosa to La Laguna Negra – the Black Lagoon – had been building towards the final 8.6km ascent, and Martin had the legs to hold off his rivals in a sprint over the final 500 metres.

Martin told Spanish broadcaster TDP: "I've come so close this year to winning and I just wanted to win a stage for this team because they've been so good to me."

He praised the support he and team-mates had received amid the COVID-19 crisis, saying: "There were no salary cuts or anything like that and the team was really motivated for the whole of lockdown because of that to train harder."

Martin competed at the Tour de France, but fracturing a bone at the base of his spine just weeks before that race hindered his competitiveness.

Married to British athlete Jess Martin, with whom he had twin daughters two years ago, the latest Vuelta stage winner dedicated the success to his family.

Tearfully, he said: "It's part for me and part for my wife as well, because it's the first time I've won a race since my kids were born and it's really special."

Martin sits second in the General Classification, with Roglic remaining the overall race leader by five seconds.


STAGE RESULT

1. Dan Martin (Israel State-Up Nation) 4:27:49
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers)
4. Wouter Poels (Bahrain-McLaren) +0:04
5. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana Pro) +0:07

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 12:37:24
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0:05
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:13

Points Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 65
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 57
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 50

King of the Mountains

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 18
2. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16
3. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 14

WHAT'S NEXT?

Friday's stage four sees the riders head off from Garray for the 191.7km journey to Ejea de los Caballeros. With next to no climbing, expect a congested sprint for the finish line.

Wilco Kelderman seized the maglia rosa from Joao Almeida after a memorable 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia was won by Jai Hindley to blow the race wide open.

The 207-kilometre route from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano provided drama aplenty, ending with a new race leader and a stage win for Hindley, who sits second in the General Classification, 12 seconds back from fellow Team Sunweb rider Kelderman.

The daunting Passo dello Stelvio was where the cracks showed for Almeida, the 25km climb to an altitude of 2,758 metres all but ending his hopes of glory as his 17-second advantage gave way to a deficit of over two minutes.

Almeida had described the slog up to the Giro's highest point as "great" before Thursday's stage, but he may take a different view after he was dropped with just under 50km to go, losing the virtual lead to Kelderman.

But the Dutchman was facing a battle to keep up with a leading group featuring Tao Geoghegan Hart, himself now firmly in the shake-up at 15 seconds off the GC leader.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was joined at the front by Hindley and team-mate Rohan Dennis, who was in eye-catching form as he ascended the Cima Coppi.

It was a blistering pace that put paid to any chance Vincenzo Nibali had of triumphing as the veteran fell out of contention, even before the 21 hairpins heading towards the finish line at Laghi di Cancano.

With Dennis' race run, Geoghegan Hart and Hindley contested the sprint on an uphill finish and it was the Australian who crossed the line first to earn a time bonus that put him ahead of his British rival in riveting race now led by Kelderman.

STAGE RESULT

1. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) 06:03:03
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:00
3. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) +00:46
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) +01:25
5. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +02:18

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification  
1. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) 77:46:56
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +00:12
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:15

Points Classification  
1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 94

King of the Mountains  
1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 234
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 122
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) 115

WHAT'S NEXT?

Stage 19 largely spares the riders any further punishment on the climbing front, but they must still cover 258km from Morbegno to Asti. With a flat final 5km, this is one for the sprinters.

Defending champion Primoz Roglic extended his early lead at the Vuelta a Espana to nine seconds as he finished second behind Marc Soler on stage two.

Roglic appears especially determined to retain his red jersey in Spain, having been dramatically denied at September's Tour de France.

And his bid for a second General Classification title is going to plan so far.

Roglic was 19 seconds shy of Soler on Wednesday but led the chasing pack - including several other GC contenders - pipping Daniel Martin to claim the six-second bonus for second place.

Martin finished third for the second day running, while Richard Carapaz - second on Tuesday - was fourth, the pair switching places in the overall standings.

Victory was Spaniard Soler's reward for a late solo attack, pulling clear on the descent of the final summit for a first Grand Tour stage win.

"I'm very happy because we're racing on home roads," he said. "This was a stage we really wanted to win and we'd studied the roads this week.

"This is my first win in a Grand Tour and I'm very happy about that.

"It pays us back for all the hard work done during what has been a very difficult year. It's great for all the team and I can only thank them for their support."

Meanwhile, Chris Froome is now almost half an hour back after another poor showing in his final Grand Tour with INEOS Grenadiers.


STAGE RESULT

1. Marc Soler (Movistar Team) 3:47:04
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +00:19
3. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:19
4. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:19
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +00:19

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:22:24
2. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +00:09
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:11

Points Classification  

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 45
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 34
3. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 32

King of the Mountains

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 14
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 14
3. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 6 

WHAT'S NEXT?

Thursday's stage three takes in the tough 166.1km ride from Lodosa to La Laguna Negra de Vinuesa, consisting almost solely of climbs.

Ben O’Connor made up for his near miss the previous day with victory on Stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia, while Joao Almeida maintained his lead in the General Classification. 

O'Connor had finished second on Tuesday, unable to haul in Jan Tratnik in the closing stages of the journey from Udine to San Daniele del Friuli. 

However, the Australian would not be denied 24 hours later, leaving the rest of the breakaway group behind with just eight kilometres to go and impressively staying clear through to the finish line. 

"Yesterday it was so close and to pull off today in the mountains, I dreamed about. It means a lot," O'Connor said after the biggest stage win of his career to date. 

On the timing of the attack, he added: "I could see everyone was struggling at the time, there was no real pace between the guys and everyone was looking at each other, I felt good again and I thought, 'Why not?'.  

"The aim was just to win and I can't believe I've done it."

Herman Pernsteiner claimed second place, 31 seconds back of the winner, while Thomas De Gendt held off the challenge of Ilnur Zakarin to take third. 

As for the maglia rosa, Almeida remains 17 seconds clear of nearest rival Wilco Kelderman after neutralising the solitary attack from Team Sunweb during the course of the 203km-ride from Bassano del Grappa to Madonna di Campiglio, a journey that included four categorised climbs.

"Today they tried, but my feeling was good," Almeida said. "I was feeling good again. But tomorrow is another day, I can have a bad one and lose everything."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Ben O'Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) +00:07
2. Herman Pernsteiner (Bahrain-McLaren) +00:31
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) +01:10
4. Ilnur Zakarin (CCC Team) +01:13
5. Kilian Frankiny (Groupama-FDJ) +01:55

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification  
1. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 71:41:18
2. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +00:17
3. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +02:58

Points Classification  
1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 221
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 184
3. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 90

King of the Mountains  
1. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) 198
2. Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabu-KTM) 148
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 82

WHAT'S NEXT?

Stage 18 is the penultimate mountain day of this year's delayed Giro. The 207km from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano includes a trip up the daunting Passo dello Stelvio, while an uphill finish littered with hairpins could provide late drama.

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