Vuelta a España - Noja - Bilbao

Live Comments

  1. 0km - No change at the top: Juan Jose Cobo leads Chris Froome by 13 seconds on the top of the GC.

  2. 0km - Nerz and Zubeldia have caught Sorensen, but the peloton is hot on their heels... Nerz takes the third place ahead of Zubeldia, Sorensen and then the pack.

  3. 0km - Marzio Bruseghin crosses the line to take second, 41 seconds down.

  4. 0km - A shake of the hand with his directeur sportif, and a kiss of the orange shirt... what a win for Igor Anton - and the Basque crowds are going crazy.

  5. 0.5km - The celebrations start early for Anton... He knows, they know...

  6. 1km - Under the kite for Anton - the victory is his.

  7. 1.5km - Nerz and Zubeldia close in on Bruseghin...

  8. 2km - Across the red bridge and past the Guggenheim goes Anton, the local hero and soon-to-be stage winner.

  9. 2.5km - Anton looks exhausted as he enters Bilbao for the final time today. The victory is almost his.

  10. 3km - Haimer Zubeldia (RadioShack) breaks clear of the peloton. He's joined by Dominique Nerz of Liquigas. Not sure why. Anton now has 39 seconds.

  11. 4km - Anton is anxious and pointing at his wrist - he wants to know how many seconds he has. Relax Igor, you're going to do it...

  12. 5km - Five to go now, and Anton still has 33 seconds - surely this is in the bag now.

  13. 6km - It was always scripted that Anton was going to win today - that looks likely now. Although stronger at time trialling, Bruseghin cannot close the gap...

  14. 8km - This would be a superb victory for Anton. He's 31 seconds clear of Bruseghin.

  15. 9km - Froome and Cobo are caught by the chasing riders. They'll have another go tomorrow, but it looks like Sky won't be able to turn things round at the top.

  16. 10km - Igor Anton continues his descent towards teh finish in Bilbao. The local rider has 32 seconds on Marzio Bruseghin.

  17. 11km - Of course, if Anton wins ahead of Bruseghin, there will still be eight bonus seconds available for third place... that would theoretically put Froome at five seconds from Cobo - although they are bound to be caught by the pack first.

  18. 12km - Froome crosses the summit with Cobo right in his wheel. It was a brave effort, but a question of too little too late. Anton has 1:40 over these two.

  19. 13km - Froome and Cobo catch the three chasing riders, Perget, Sorensen and Rohregger. Nieve is there too.

  20. 14km - Now Froome attacks! The Briton jumps clear of the peloton! Only Cobo can follow!

  21. 14km - Anton crosses the summit of the Cat.2 Alto del Vivero.

  22. 15km - Anton has 27 seconds over Bruseghin. The fans are here in their tens of thousands. Finally Wiggins is out of his saddle and giving it a bit of beef on the front. Rodriguez is dropped.

  23. 15km - Green jersey Rodriguez is caught by the chasing pack. Anton has to fight his way through the throngs of fans decked out in his team Euskaltel's orange.

  24. 16km - Anton has to swing wide to avoid a spectator trying to paint something on the road. He'll love the home support, but he'll be anxious at getting to the top of the summit in one piece, that's for sure.

  25. 16km - Anton is actually opening up a bigger lead: 2:22 now. Sky will have to do something soon if they want to upgrade Froome's position in the GC...

  26. 17km - Sastre has popped! Cobo will have one less man to help him on this climb. Wiggins is on the front, but Cobo is right there. Bruseghin is about 20 seconds down on Anton, with Sorensen, Perget and Rohregger in pursuit. Then we have Rodriguez, who has caught and passed Verdugo.

  27. 18km - Anton still has 1:34 over the main chasing group - it's looking good for him if he can just press on and believe.

  28. 19km - Rodriguez has been caught and passed by three riders - Perget, Rohregger and Sorensen. Anton is all alone and being mobbed by the home Basque fans.

  29. 20km - ATTACK: Anton pulls clear of Bruseghin, while from the chasing group, gereen jersey Rodriguez breaks clear.

  30. 21km - The two leaders are onto the final ascent of the Cat.2 Alto del Vivero.

  31. 22km - Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez puts in a big dig on the front, which decimates the chasing group. They're just about 25 riders now.

  32. 23km - Verdugo is tiring now and has been dropped by Anton and Bruseghin.

  33. 25km - The gap is now just 1:30 for the three leaders. The peloton is now just 30-odd riders - in fact, it's really a select chasing group, with the peloton proper riding a few minutes further back.

  34. 26km - Sky's Lovkvist leads the peloton ahead of RadioShack's Haimer Zubeldia and Geox's Carlos Sastre.

  35. 26km - Dyachenko has been dropped by the leaders - no surprise there, the Kazakh has been visibly tiring for quite some time now.

  36. 27km - Attack from the pack by Katusha's Alberto Losada!

  37. 28km - A sterling effort by Verdugo to get back with the leaders. Sean Kelly says something about the possibility of a "magic spanner".

  38. 30km - The peloton, which is only about 50-strong, is 1:45 behind the leaders as Euskaltel's Gorka Verdugo needs to stop for a rear wheel change. Terrible time to get a puncture - and it doesn't help with a very slow change by his mechanics.

  39. 32km - The leaders pass over the big red bridge into the centre of Blibao, right past the Guggenheim museum. Back in the peloton, which is quite small following that Cat.2 climb, Wiggins is off the back to pick up water bottles. Bruseghin takes the intermediate 'sprint' ahead of Anton and Verdugo.

  40. 33km - We're back in Bilbao now for the second intermediate sprint - which will be uncontested seeing that the pack has yet to catch the four leaders.

  41. 34km - Red jersey Cobo is right in the wheel of white combined jersey Froome.

  42. 35km - The peloton has strung out on this very fast descent. It's a great road surface though, so no danger. The gap is down to 2:12 so it's going to be hard for Anton to get his win - but not impossible.

  43. 40km - Sky are keeping the pressure up on the descent: the next 40km will probably decide who wins the Vuelta this year.

  44. 42km - Sky lead the peloton over the summit 2:36 down on the leading quartet.

  45. 43km - Order over the top of the Cat.2 Alto del Vivero: 1. Vergugo, 2. Bruseghin, 3. Anton, 4. Dyachenko.

  46. 44km - Anton now comes to the front - much to the delight of the fans. Back with the pack, it's Sky's Thomas Lovkvist setting the pace, with Wiggins two back behind Omega Pharma-Lotto's van den Broeck.

  47. 45km - Dyachenko is on the back now as the Euskaltel pair start to contribute more. Bruseghin has been on the front of this climb from start to finish. He deserves a win in this Vuelta - he's been riding very aggressively.

  48. 46km - The Euskaltel boys happy to sit on the back. The gap is about 3:45 at the moment. It's a testing climb, this, with many steep ramps - and lots of it is under a roof of trees. Anton looks slightly disconcerted by the Basque fans, which are getting very close. Either that, or he's shouting back at them for fun.

  49. 47km - Back on the front of the peloton, it's Sky who have come to the fore. They will want to put as much pressure on Cobo as possible.

  50. 47km - Loads of fans line the Alto del Vivero - the Basques love cycling. But it's their boys in orange who are on the back of this leading group, as both Bruseghin and Dyachenko set the pace on the 11% early part of this climb.

  51. 48km - The leaders are onto the first ascent of the Cat.2 Alto del Vivero. Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) seems to be in some difficulties and is off the back of the peloton. He's been ill for a couple of days.

  52. 50km - Katusha's Yuri Trofimov, who has had a quiet race, finds himself on the wrong side of a dual carriageway and is forced to jump over the small ramp in the middle of the two roads while riding at top speed. Nicely done, sir.

  53. 55km - The lead has dropped to 4:40 and the four escapees will probably be looking forward to getting the next two climbs underway - that's more their style of terrain.

  54. 58km - It's time for Dave and Sean! 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

  55. 59km - Pass the famous shiny and angular Guggenheim museum go the four leaders. No time to take it in though - they have work to do.

  56. 60km - The leaders are passing through Bilbao for the first time - they'll now go on that loop to the east of the city, which will include two ascents of the Cat.2 Alto el Vivero.

  57. 65km - The Kazakh Dyachenko drives on the peloton, with Breseghin on his wheel and the Euskaltel pair bringing up the rear. The gap is now down to 5:22 thanks to the pace setting by Liquigas and Garmin. Perhaps Peter Sagan is confident of a third victory today?

  58. 70km - The leaders pass through the feeding zone. Verdugo stays on his bike - the Euskaltel man has form at falling when trying to grapple with a musette. Just ask Lance Armstrong... Garmin, Liquigas and Geox are on the front of the bunch - the first two presumably to keep the break in check, with a view to winning the stage, while Geox in order to keep their man JJ Cobo out of trouble.

  59. 72km - The average speed for the first hour today was 42.7 km/h and for the second hour 40 km/h. The temperature is up to 39 degrees as the leaders approach the lunch drive-through.

  60. 75km - The gap is up to six minutes. Of these four riders, only Anton knows what it's like to win a stage on the Vuelta - and the 28-year-old has three of them (one in 2006 and two in 2010).

  61. 80km - The temperature has apparently risen to a sweltering 36 degrees - the Euskaltel boys will like that.

  62. 85km - You'd have to make Anton the favourite today - at least the sentimental favourite. The Spanaird has had a pretty torrid Vuelta and has only recently shown glimpses of the form that took him to the red jersey twice last year. He grew up in a small village called Galdakao near the base of the Cat.2 Vivero climb which the riders cross twice today. Anton also has his team-mate Verdugo to help guide him to the finish in pole position at Bilbao.

  63. 90km - The five leaders have 5:50 over the bunch as they make their way to the feeding zone. Movistar's Marzio Brusegkin, riding his third Vuelta, has never won a road stage of a Grand Tour - although he has two ITT wins in the Giro back in 2007 and 2008. He's the best-placed rider in this break, just under 10 minutes behind leader Cobo. The Italian has had a very busy second half to the race, and attacked on numerous occasions in the mountains and hills.

  64. 95km - The fourth rider in this group, the Kazakh Alexsandr Dyachenko, is a former national time trial champion but has one minor UCI win in the 2007 Tour of Bulgaria. The 27-year-old is riding his second Vuelta after making his debut last year.

  65. 98km - It's no surprise to see the two Euskaltel riders cross the summit ahead of the others: for the first time since 1978, the Vuelta returns to the Basque Country. This is a historic moment in the history of cycling. Report: Vuelta returns to Basque Country

  66. 99km - Order over the Cat.3 Puerto de las Munecas: 1. Anton, 2. Verdugo, 3. Dyachenko.

  67. 100km - Igor Anton is the best-known of these four escapees - the Spainard won a stage in the Giro this year, plus was wearing the red jersey in last year's Vuelta before crashing out on the way to Pena Cabarga. His team-mate, Gorka Verdugo is yet to win any professional races and has a reputation for being a bad bike handler - just ask Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, who says he's still scared riding anywhere near the 32-year-old after an incident in the 2008 Tour.

  68. 105km - The leaders are onto the Cat.3 Puerto de las Munecas - once they cross the summit, they'll be in the Basque Country for the first time since 1978.

  69. 110km - The lead of the four escapees is up to 5:35 on this zippy descent to the foot of the next Cat.3 climb.

  70. 114km - Incidentally, it's Bruseghin who takes maximum points atop the Cat.3 Puerto de la Granja ahead of Euskaltel pair Verdugo and Anton. One rider's happy about this break, for sure: David Moncoutie will not have to worry too much about losing any valuable KOM points.

  71. 115km - It's great to see Marzio Bruseghin in this break: the Italian was one of two Movistar riders unaffected by a recent bout of food poisoning which caused the withdrawal of four of their team in the past 48 hours. Bruseghin and Pablo Lastras, the stage three winner, have avoided the illness but yesterday both Imanol Erviti and Benat Intxausti rode near the back while suffering a few symptoms. Madrado pulled out following previous abandonments of Konovalovas, Lopez and Pardilla.

  72. 120km - The four leaders are onto the first climb of the day, the Cat.3 Puerto de la Granja. Their lead is up to 3:22 so this one is here to stick - and it's no surprise there are two Euskaltel boys in there. The chasing peloton is back together as one, although Joaquim Rodriguez has just sought out some medical assistance.

  73. 125km - Four riders have pinged off the front: Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar), Igor Anton (Euskaltel), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel) and Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana). They have 24 seconds over the peloton, which appears to have split in two. Red jersey Cobo is in the first group.

  74. 130km - Some movement in the peloton ahead of this first Cat.3 climb. Unsurprisingly, it's David Moncoutie, the polka dot jersey, looking to edge clear with a break. Nothing sticks for the moment though.

  75. 135km - At the early first intermediate sprint, green jersey Joaquim Rodriguez consolidated his lead at the top of the standings, while the Geox team-mate of red jersey JJ Cobo, David de la Fuente, picked up second place in a bid to ensure Chris Froome didn't try and pick up any bonus seconds. Result: 1. Rodriguez, 2. De le Fuente, 3. Mollema. The Spanish climber from Katusha moves eight clear of young Dutchman Mollema in the standings.

  76. 140km - Whatever he did on Thursday stage 18, Italian Matteo Montaguti of Ag2R found himself thwarted and chastised by his fellow escapees. His primary target for the day was quite simple: pick up as many points over the summits as possible to keep Frenchman David Moncoutie under pressure in the KOM competition. But somehow he ended up being the poor boy bullied by everyone in the playground. Blazin' Saddles: Matteo Montagutted

  77. 145km - 18 riders ping off the front, but hard work from Team Sky on the front of the bunch ensures that their time out ahead is short lived.

  78. 150km - Garate and Irizar were reeled in, only for Dario Cataldo (QuickStep) and Manuel Quinziato (BMC) to have a pop. They too are swept up. Both Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) and Eros Capecchi (Liquigas) pick up early punctures.

  79. 155km - An early attack features Rabobank's Juan Manuel Garate and RadioShack's Markel Irizar. One withdrawal to report today: HTC's Tony Martin, who won the ITT in Salamanca, had pulled out of the race. The German no doubt feels it's time to focus on preparing for the world championships later this month.

  80. 159km - They're off! The remaining 167 riders get the stage underway...

  81. 12:45 - French veteran David Moncoutie (Cofidis) is in the blue polka dots - although yesterday Italian Matteo Montaguti cut his deficit from 22 points to just seven. There are still 34 points left to play for in these two days in the Basque Country, so prepare for fireworks on the hills.

  82. 12:40 - A reminder of the other jersey competitions: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) moved back into the green jersey yesterday with two intermediate sprint wins and a strong finish in the break. He's five points clear of Bauke Mollema (Rabobank).

  83. 12:35 - The sun is out for today's start at Noja in Cantabria, with temperatures in the mid-20s. Weather report for Noja

  84. 12:30 - The boys in orange from Euskaltel will be very motivated today: not only have they yet to pick up a stage win in the race so far, they're also racing a Vuelta in their own back garden for their first time in their history. Igor Anton, for instance, is from very near Bilbao - and after the disappointments he's had in the race, a stage win here would make it all worthwhile.

  85. 12:20 - A reminder of the overall standings: Spain's Juan Jose Cobo of Geox leads Chris Froome by a slender 13 seconds, with Froome's Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins in third at 1:41. The gap may seem small, but with no summit finishes or time trials left before Madrid, Froome is going to have to rely on bonus seconds or a split in the peloton if he wants to end Britain's long wait for a Grand Tour winner. Standings and results

  86. 12:15 - Yesterday, Italy's Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre) proved the strongest of an 11-man breakaway by winning stage 18 of the Vuelta a España on the Cantabrian coast in northern Spain. Twenty-seven-year-old Gavazzi out-sprinted Belgian Kristof Vandewalle (Quick Step) after the pair had broken clear from their fellow escapees inside the final two kilometres of the hilly 175km stage. Report: Gavazzi wins stage 18 from break

  87. 12:10 - This is the first time the Vuelta has visited the autonomous community in northern Spain since 1978 where political tensions saw the race brought into disarray when barricades were flung across the roads and stages cancelled. Vuelta seeks peaceful return to Basque Country

  88. 12:05 - Welcome to live coverage of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana, a 158.5km ride into the Basque Country from Noja to Bilbao that features two Cat.3 climbs and two ascensions of the Cat.2 Alto el Vivero.