CHRIS Froome has extended his lead in the Vuelta a Espana after Wednesday’s stage five; chasing his ambition to be the third cyclist to win the crown in the same year as the Tour de France.
Spain’s famous cyclist tour comes to the Costa Blanca on Sunday (29th September), when stage nine takes the athletes from Orihuela to the finish line at the summit of mountain Alto de Puig Llorenco in Benitachell – close to the Cumbre del Sol urbanisation.
Team Sky’s Froome is the favourite to win the race which ends with the final procession of stage 21 into Madrid on Sunday 10th September.
In stage five, and helped by team mates, the British cyclist attacked on the final climb to extend his lead to 10 seconds over his nearest rival, finishing behind stage winner Alexey Lutsenko’s breakaway finish.
Afterwards, a confident Froome said he had learned a lot about his rivals and was surprised they had lost a bit of time. However, he added: “It’s a long race and I imagine it will be a different race once we get in the high mountains.”
Stage nine is 174km ‘flat’ section but the riders will claim the Benitachell mountain twice in a gruelling test at the end of the day – and are expected to be watched by 50,000 people in the Benitachell area alone.
The Vuelta visited the summit of Alto de Puig Llorenco in 2015, when Tom Dumoulin edged Froome out at the finish.
The approximate times through the stage are: 13.00 start, Orihuela; 13.30, Alicante; 14.50, El Campello; 15.27, Benidorm; 15.45, Altea; 16.00,
Calpe; 16.21, Moraira; 16.30, Cumbre del Sol; 16.36, Benitachell; 16.41, Teulada; 16.53, Gata de Gorgos; 17.07, Javea; 17.20, Benitachell; and the finish is expected on the mountain summit at around 17.28.