TOUR DE FRANCE champion Chris Froome waited until he passed through the Costa Blanca to win his first stage of this year’s Vuelta de España.
The man from Team SKY’s success allowed him to extend his overall lead in the race and retain the coveted red jersey.
Froome pulled away from his rivals on the Puig Llorenca climb to win the stage by four seconds, and by adding bonus seconds he led by 36 seconds overall at that point.
Thousands of residents and tourists flocked the streets and carriageways all along the route of the ninth stage that stretched from the start on the Orihuela Costa to watch the cycling spectacular. The route of the Vuelta religiously followed the N-332 passing through Torrevieja – although on the bypass and not through the town itself due to policing issues – La Mata, Guardamar, La Marina, Santa Pola, El Altet, Alicante, Campello, Villajoyosa, Benidorm and on to the gruelling finish in the Cumbre del Sol in Benitatxell.
At the time of going to press, Chris Froome is still leading the pack after he finished second on the 11th stage, 187.5km route from Lorca to Observatorio de Calar Alto. The second-place finish gained Froome six bonus seconds and took his overall advantage over his rivals to one minute 19 seconds.
The three-time Tour de France winner is looking to add his name to the cycling history books by becoming over the third person to win the France and Spain challenges in the same year; if he’s successful, it will be the first time since 1978.
The 2017 Vuelta de España finishes in Madrid on September 10.