AG2R's Alexis Gougeard has won Stage 19 of the 2015 Vuelta in the walled city of Avila this afternoon, riding more than 20 kilometres solo after attacking from what had been a big breakaway group of 24 riders. Meanwhile race leader Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin gained a few seconds over his nearest rival, Fabio Aru of Astana.
Second place on the 185.8 kilometre stage from Medina del Campo went to Nelson Oliveira of Lampre-Merida, with Maxime Montfort of Lotto-Soudal third.
Ahead of tomorrow's decisive stage in the mountains outside Madrid, where the race will finish in Sunday with a stage for the sprinters, the riders contesting the overall victory gave the break plenty of leeway today and finished more than a quarter of an hour behind the winner.
But with a twisting, partly cobbled drag up towards the line, Dumoulin seized the initiative to go on the attack, and managed to gap Aru, who was 3 seconds behind him on the General Classification this morning.
Dumoulin now leads by 6 seconds, which may not be enough for him to defend the lead successfully tomorrow - although what remains to be seen is the effect a crash today will have on Aru, who needed attention from the race doctor.
The race organisers, however, will be satisfied that this year's route has provided a 70th edition of the Vuelta that is going right down to the wire.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.