Chris Froome on verge of capturing first Vuelta-Tour double since 1978

Sean Kelly La Vuelta is far from over thanks to L'Angliru

Chris Froome on verge of capturing first Vuelta-Tour double since 1978

"Froome winning the Vuelta a Espana, especially after winning the Tour de France, is a major, major achievement in modern cycling and I think he deserves not only to win Sports Personality of the Year, but he deserves a knighthood", Kelly told Eurosport.

Saturday's stage features three categorised climbs, but it is the final ascent of the Angliru which captures everyone's attention as the gradient averages 9.8 per cent over 12.5km, with ramps of 18 per cent.

After losing several minutes on the race's second stage, Contador dedicated the rest of his final event to attacking whenever possible.

"I wanted to go out like this, and there is no better place than here to say goodbye".

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Chris Froome is poised to win this year's Vuelta a Espana with only tomorrow's largely ceremonial sprint stage to go. Froome is now contemplating going on to the world time trial championship in Bergen on 20 September - he will decide in the next few days depending on how he recovers from one of the hardest Vueltas in recent years.

The seven-time Grand Tour victor lead by over one minute at six kilometres to go but saw his advantage reduced by Froome and his Dutch team-mate Wout Poels.

Froome's closest rival Vincenzo Nibali suffered an early crash and he struggled on the final climb, while Contador launched a bold attack. The move shed all but the hardiest riders from Froome's group heading up the category-one Alto del Cordal, only for Nibali to fall on the descent down the wet road and needing help from a teammate to make up the lost time.

"We did everything to catch Contador in the final but he was just too strong for us, it's an unbelievable way for him to finish his career with such a big victory like that, so congratulations to him".

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Riding his final Grand Tour, the Spaniard has been attacking nearly relentlessly since losing several minutes in the first week due to illness. The Madrid-born rider didn't disappoint with another daring attack to claim his second career win at the demanding Alto de l'Angliru in 3:31:33.

However, whilst Contador sealed a dream send-off on his final race before retirement with the stage win, Froome controlled his lead in the chasing pack and eased away from Nibali to extend his commanding advantage by a further 34 seconds. Many questioned that effort, just one day before the brutally steep slopes of l'Angliru. For three weeks the main GC contenders had taken each other on at every opportunity, fighting for every last second, day after day.

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), starting the day fourth, distanced his nearest rival Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) to take his place on the podium, with Contador moving up to fourth.

Under race tradition, the top riders do not challenge each other in the final stage, so Froome is all set to emulate previous same year Vuelta-Tour winners Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978).

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