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Froome up to second, Ireland's Dan Martin stays sixth at the Vuelta

Stage 18 was another tough day in the saddle

Chris Froome made up some time today at the Vuelta.
Chris Froome made up some time today at the Vuelta.
Image: Sirotti

ITALY’S FABIO ARU sprinted to victory on today’s stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana with Spaniard Alberto Contador holding off Chris Froome to keep the overall race lead.

Astana rider Aru was already a winner at altitude on the 11th stage at San Miguel de Aralar and benefited on the final sprint from the company of Team Sky leader Froome, who clawed back a few seconds on Contador to take second place in the overall standings from Alejandro Valverde.

However, the 2013 Tour de France winner is still 1:19 down on Contador with just three stages remaining.

Ireland’s Dan Martin finished 48 seconds down on Aru in 12th to keep sixth place overall in the final Grand Tour of 2014.

However, the Garmin Sharp rider is just six seconds ahead of Spain’s Samuel Sanchez who finished sixth today, 31 seconds ahead of Martin.

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Dutchman Robert Gesink (Belkin) and Belgian Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma) all pulled out of the race before the 157km stage from A Estrada.

Gesink, who had been seventh in the overall standings before the stage, withdrew for family reasons while Boonen and former Olympic time-trial champion Cancellara left to prepare for the world road race championships in Ponferrada, Spain later this month.

Tomorrow’s stage 19 is another one for the climbers with two first category climbs on the 180km between Salvaterra Do Miño and Cangas do Morrazo.

Additional reporting from AFP.

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Steve O'Rourke

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