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0km - Simon Geschke of Skil-Shimano leads the peloton over the line 7:42 down on winner Francesco Gavazzi. With all the GC riders arriving safely, there's no change in the standings.
0km - The peloton still have 4km left to ride and are being driven by Omega Pharma-Lotto.
0km - Paulinho rolls over the line in 11th place, 1:09 down. He came close...
0km - Geniez takes third on the front of the chasing group, nine seconds down.
0km - Vandevalle is on the front, but then Gavazzi goes early and takes an easy win!
0.5km - The leaders had seven seconds on Kiserlovski at the flamme rouge... looks like they will hold on now.
1km - This pair have a decent gap as they approach the 1km-to-go banner. Suddenly there's a big counter attack by Kiserlovski!
1.5km - Vandevalle is caught by Gavazzi.
2km - It's over for Paulinho! Geniez does the honours as Vandevalle jumps clear!
3km - The sun is back out now they're on the coast. Paulinho only has 30m on his chasers, who keep on easing up.
4km - But although he's in their sights, still the chasers cannot reel in the lone Portuguese... yet.
5km - The chasers have Paulinho in their sights now...
6km - Still Paulinho rides on alone - but he only has 11 seconds now despite the total ineptitude of the 10 chasing riders to combine.
8km - Complete turmoil in the chasing group, with both Kiserlovski and Rodriguez stopping on the front and gesticulating behind for people to come through.
9km - Still riders in the breakaway are having a go at Montaguti for not contributing... They should just get over it and get on with it. It's not as if the Italian is going to win the stage...
10km - The gap is down to 28 seconds under the 10-to-go banner. The carrots looked fairly cooked for Paulinho.
10km - Lampre's Gavazzi ups the pace in the chasing group after a little dig from Sijmens.
11km - The chasing 10 riders are not very well organised, but the gap still looks a little precarious for Montaguti: 36 at the latest check.
13km - If Paulinho holds on it will be a formidable win at just the right time: the Portuguese rider is out of contract at the end of the season and is not part of the plans for the new RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team.
15km - Paulinho passes the 15-to-go banner with a lead of 39 seconds.
16km - Further behind, the six riders in pursuit of the chasing group have split into two: Jufre, Kohler and Timmer in one group ahead of Sanchez, Malacarne and Haussler in the other.
17km - Paulinho is still 50 seconds ahead.
18km - The riders have been in the saddle for four hours now. The 10 chasers combine in the chase of Paulinho, with the exception of Montaguti, who appears entirely disinterested. Kiserlovski shouts at him.
20km - Euskaltel still set the pace on the front of the peloton. The boys in orange will be in their element over the next two days when the Vuelta returns to the Basque country for the first time since 1978.
24km - Paulinho had about 45 seconds over the summit.
26km - Green jersey Bauke Mollema needs a bike change and is paced back by two Rabobank team-mates.
27km - Paulinho crosses the summit of the final climb. This seems pretty unlikely to succeed, given the long descent to the finish. Once again, Sijmens pips Montaguti to the line, so the Itailan will only add one more point to his tally today. He's seven points down on KOM rival David Moncoutie now.
28km - Meanwhile, back with the bunch, the riders pass over the summit of the last Cat.3 climb, 11:47 down on the leaders.
29km - ATTACK: Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack) jumps off the front.
29km - And the six chasers, riding at 1:20: Sanchez (Rabobank), Jufre (Astana), Malacarne (QuickStep), Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo), Kohler (BMC) and Timmer (Skil-Shimano).
29km - A reminder of the 11 leaders: Kiserlovski (Astana), Rodriguez (Katusha), De Greef (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Gavazzi (Lampre), Oroz (Euskaltel), Montaguti (Ag2R), Gustov (Saxo Bank), Simens (Cofidis), Paulinho (RadioShack), Van de Walle (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Geniez (Skil-Shimano).
30km - After another zippy downhill, the leaders are onto the final climb of the day, the Cat.3 Puerto de Fuente les Veras. The gap is still almost 12 minutes.
34km - Roche and Poels are caught by the peloton, which is being led by Euskaltel now. The Basque boys clearly saw Poels as a threat to their man Mikel Nieve's 10th place in the GC.
36km - Once again, Sijmens jumps clear of Montaguti to take the points at the top of the climb. Still, that's two points which will take him a bit closer to Sijmens' team-mate Moncoutie in the standings. He's now eight points behind, with three more still on the road - plus a few more minor climbs tomorrow and Saturday.
37km - Montaguti on the front of the group now, so the others will have to stop complaining...
39km - The 11 leaders are onto the Cat.3 Puerto de la Cruz Usano. A group of six are in pursuit, 24 seconds down.
40km - Rodriguez takes the points at the second intermediate sprint - he's now just three points behind Bauke Mollema in the green jersey competition.
43km - Up with the leaders, Rodriguez and Montaguti are now having heated words. To be fair, Montaguti is well within his rights to compete for the mountain points seeing that it's a competition he wants to win. For the Italian, it's more important for him that the stage win...
44km - Poels and Roche reach the summit 10:39 down on the leaders. The peloton are another minute back...
45km - Vacansoleil's Wout Poels has jumped clear of the peloton in pursuit of Roche. Currently 11th, the young Dutchman will hope to get a top ten finish in Madrid.
46km - Movistar's Imanol Erviti is now off the back... my word, what's happened with the Spanish team these last two days? It's a question of Basque Belly before they've even reached the Basque region...
47km - Seemingly futile solo attack by Nicolas Roche of Ag2R. The Irish rider pings off the front of the bunch, which is still on that Cat.2 climb.
48km - Movistar's Benat Intxausti is off the back of the peloton. There must have been some food poisoning in the Movistar camp: they lost three riders yesterday, while today Madrazo has also abandoned - and Intxausti doesn't look too hot either.
50km - It's very cloudy in these hills - the sun may come out at the finish though, by the coast. Weather forecast for Noja
52km - Sijmens leads out the sprint for the points - and Montaguti doesn't have an answer. Sijmens takes maximum points ahead of Montaguti, with Paulinho leading the others over 14 seconds later. Confirmation coming up.
53km - Kiserlovski is angry with Montaguti and Sijmens for not helping out enough - especially seeing that those two will be the ones sprinting for mountain points. The out-of-contract Paulinho is cross too. There's lots of gesticulating going on.
54km - De Greef is driving the four leaders on. He's not a bad climber, the Belgian. They have all of a sudden been joined by two more riders - Paulinho and Rodriguez, with more returning.
55km - De Greef catches the leaders so we have four on the road up front - and lots of movement behind. Lampre's Francesco Gavazzi is the latest rider to jump off the front of the chasers in pursuit.
56km - Kiserlovski, Montaguti and Sijmens have about 30 seconds over the other escapees, who are being led by Sanchez, Haussler and Rodriguez. Omega Pharma Lotto's De Greef has jumped clear and is riding back to the three leaders.
57km - Matteo Montaguti manages to get on the wheel of Kiserlovski and he's followed - surprise, surprise - by Nico Sijmens. The Belgian wants to help protect his Cofidis team-mate David Moncoutie's lead in the KOM standings, which is under threat from Montaguti.
58km - ATTACK: Haussler tries to ping off the front of the break, but he's pulled back by Astana's Josep Jufre before the Spainard's team-mate Robert Kiserlovski goes clear.
60km - The leaders are onto the major test of the day, the Cat.1 Puerto de Alisas. Nine minutes or so back, the peloton is being led by the Geox team of red jersey Juan Jose Cobo.
65km - The gap is still hovering around the nine-and-a-half-minutes mark with three more climbs on the horizon. Who do you think will win today's stage? Will Chris Froome ever get the chance to take back those 13 seconds in the GC? Have your say below... Meanwhile, the race is LIVE NOW on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin Media 521) and is also available on your PC via the Eurosport Player: click here to subscribe
70km - Result of the intermediate sprint at Hermosa: 1. Rodriguez (4pts), 2. Kiserlovski (2pts), 3. Timmer (1pt). Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez is clearly keen to get the green jersey back on his shoulders. He dropped to third in the standings yesterday but is now above Juanjo Cobo and into second place, seven points shy of young Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Rabobank). Points in the next intermediate sprint, plus a high finish today, should see the Spaniard back in green.
75km - The 17 leaders pass through the feeding zone with a gap of 9:28 over the bunch.
80km - At the start today, red jersey Juan Jose Cobo spoke of the boost he got from his home support yesterday. "I am very excited duo to the warmth of the specators," he said. "Yesterday I was flagging, but the encouragement of the people inspired me to go on." Cobo nevertheless lost out to Christ Froome, who said his win was "unthinkable". The Brit has promised to fight to the end, but knows that those 13 seconds will be "very difficult" to overturn before Madrid.
85km - The leaders continue their descent towards teh feeding zone with a gap of 9:35 over the peloton. The average speed for the second hour of racing today was 37.3 km/h.
90km - CORRECTION: The race officials have decided that it was Sijmens and not Montaguti who picked up the maximum five points at the top of the last Cat.2 climb. That means the Italian drops to 16 points adrift of Moncoutie in the KOM standings. Great spoil tactics by the Belgian Sijmens there.
95km - Spain's Angel Madrazo (Movistar) has pulled out of the race. The youngster was suffering with illness yesterday and had to see the medical car at least once.
100km - Italian Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R) reduces the gap further at the top of the KOM standings by crossing the summit of the Cat.2 Alto del Caracol in pole position. Sijmens takes second and De Greef third. Montaguti is now just 14 points down on his French rival.
105km - Remember JJ Haedo's win the other day after the mix-up on the final roundabout? Well, it inspired our other cycling blogger, pro cyclist Tom Southam, to pen a few words about his experiences of odd and underwhelming finishes in the peloton. Tom Southam blog: The strangeness of finish lines
110km - The leaders have reached the bottom of the descent and are onto the next climb, the Cat.2 Alto del Caracol. The gap is down to about 9:30.
115km - Order over the top of the Cat.3 Puerto de la Braguia: 1. Montaguti (3pts), 2. Sijmens (2pts), 3. De Greef (1pt). No surprises there are Matteo Montaguti took the points - although current polka dot jersey David Moncoutie's Cofidis team-mate Nico Sijmens did his best to spoil things. So, it's three down, 19 to go for the Italian, who now climbs above JJ Cobo in the KOM standings.
118km - Geox have come to the front to do the pace-setting for their man in red, JJ Cobo. The temperature is 26 degrees and the average speed for the first hour of racing today was 46.3 km/h.
120km - The 17 leaders are onto the Cat.3 Puerto de Braguia.
125km - The gap is now almost 11 minutes as we approach the first climb of the day.
130km - It's interesting to see Italian Matteo Montaguti in the break. The Ag2R rider is still clearly motivated for the king of the mountains jersey. After Cobo's strong finish yesterday, Montaguti dropped to third in the standings but if he picks up maximum points over these five climbs today, he'll slash the 22 point deficit leader David Moncoutie holds over him.
135km - Third-place Bradley Wiggins needs some mechanical assistance - looks like the Brit has picked up a puncture.
140km - The gap is growing fast: 9:20 at the latest check - and we're yet to hit the first mountain yet. Given his climbing skills, you'd have to fancy Rodriguez to make it a hat-trick of wins today. Although he did hurt himself in that crash two days ago - and he was far from convincing in yesterday's final summit finish.
145km - If you're a fan of cereal-themed puns, then the latest from our blogger Blazin' Saddles should be your cup of (English breakfast) tea. Here's a taster: Despite apparent death threats from the Nutty Clusters of Spanish fans, Chris Froome got it Just Right in the final kilometre of stage 17. On a day that Froomey moved within 13 seconds of the summit, it was a question of Cobo Pops and Brad Flakes in Calabria... Blazin' Saddles: Froome's Special K
150km - So, we have five climbs today - three Cat.3, one Cat.2 and one Cat.1 - before a flat run-in to Noja on the coast. There are also two intermediate sprints in the second half of the stage - and with this 17-man group working well, the Geox team of red jersey Juan Jose Cobo will be pleased for it eliminates the slim chances of Chris Froome pouncing to take any bonus seconds.
155km - The gap is 3:25 with this 17-man group combining well. Croatia's Robert Kiserlovski is the best-placed rider in the GC, but he's 17:16 down on red jersey Cobo. Interesting to see Sergio Paulinho in the group: the Portuguese rider has already won a stage in the Vuelta in Cantabria, back in 2006.
160km - The group in full: Kiserlovski (Astana), Rodriguez (Katusha), De Greef (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Sanchez (Rabobank), Jufre (Astana), Gavazzi (Lampre), Oroz (Euskaltel), Malacarne (QuickStep), Montaguti (Ag2R), Gustov (Saxo Bank), Simens (Cofidis), Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo), Paulinho (RadioShack), Kohler (BMC), Van de Walle (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Geniez and Timmer (both Skil-Shimano).
165km - ATTACK: 17 riders ping off the front, including Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez, fellow Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Garmin's Heinrich Haussler. 'Purito' is no longer wearing the green jersey - the double stage winner conceded it yesterday to Rabobank's Bauke Mollema.
170km - An early attack from Skil-Shimano's Albert Timmer is thwarted. It's been a pretty fast start.
175km - Just one withdrawal to report: Leopard Trek's Oliver Zaugg did not sign in this morning.
176km - They're off!
12:15 - It's a nice sunny day in Solares, with temperatures in the mid-20s and a fine blue sky. Weather report for Solares
12:10 - All the remaining 169 riders have singned on and they have entered the neutralized zone before the official start of today's stage. Chris Froome is wearing the white combined jersey today - a nice contrast with Juanjo Cobo's red jersey. Vuelta standings and results
12:05 - Yesterday, Britain's Chris Froome won a thrilling final summit finish of the Vuelta to move within 13 seconds of red jersey Juan José Cobo of Spain. Team Sky's Froome attacked on the steep climb to Peña Cabarga at the end of the 211km stage 17 into the region Cantabria in northern Spain to finish one second clear of Cobo - and take 20 vital bonus seconds. Froome now trails Geox's Cobo by just 13 seconds in the GC with four stages left to ride before the race's conclusion in Madrid on Sunday. Report: Froome pips Cobo for superb win
12:00 - Welcome to coverage of stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana, a 174.5km ride from Solares to Noja. There's no summit finish, but with five climbs on the agenda - and just 13 seconds separating Messrs Cobo and Froome - it should be quite exciting.