Vuelta a España - Bilbao - Vitoria

Live Comments

  1. 0km - Spain's Juan Jose Cobo finishes the stage safely and he's now all but assured the overall win: there are two bonus sprints tomorrow, but each worth just six seconds. Accidents apart, he should win.

  2. 0km - And that's a very simple win for Daniele Bennati ahead of Astata's Enrico Gasparotto and Liquigas's Damiano Caruso.

  3. 0.5km - They're all safely through a last tight left-hander. Bennati has a great lead out here...

  4. 1km - Under the kite they go: it's game on for the bunch sprint.

  5. 1.5km - The speed is really high as Leopard move back to the front.

  6. 2km - A tight right hand 90 degree bend after the 2km-to-go banner. It's QuickStep now on the front.

  7. 3km - It's all over for Sastre - but at least his man Cobo is safely inside the last 3km. Now they just have to negotiate the bonus seconds at the finish.

  8. 4km - Sastre is really suffering - if he looks over his shoulders, he'll see the bunch breathing down his neck.

  9. 4.5km - Leopard back on the front as Sastre rides with just 10 seconds to play with. It's curtains for Carlos.

  10. 5km - Cobo is right on the wheel of Froome - the red jersey cannot let his rival pick up any bonus seconds.

  11. 5.5km - The gap is just 14 seconds now as Barredo is swept up. It's going to be a big bunch sprint - with no doubt Bennati or Sagan picking up the spoils.

  12. 6km - This would be an extraordinary result were Sastre to hold on here - but it's going to be hard. This isn't his type of terrain and he's no spring chicken.

  13. 7km - Carlos Sastre attacks! The veteran Geox man breaks drops his namesake and goes for a long one.

  14. 8km - The riders enter the outskirts of Vitoria, capital of the Basque Country. The two leaders have 23 seconds now.

  15. 10km - Now Astana are coming to the front, which seems odd given their lack of sprinter. Well, they have Enrico Gasparotto, but he's hardly a Sagan now is he? That said, if JJ Haedo can win a stage on the Vuelta...

  16. 12km - News just in: the second intermediate sprint point was changed during the stage. That will explain all the commotion. Spanish duo Barredo and Sastre have 40 seconds on the bunch.

  17. 14km - Barredo has now been caught by that lone Geox rider, who is Carlos Sastre. They have 24 seconds on the chasing pack, whose pace has dropped considerably.

  18. 16km - Ah, that makes sense now: it seems that the second intermediate sprint had changed its position from the race pack and profiles. It was meant to be at the bottom of the penultimate Cat.3 climb, but instead it appears here on this plateau. Perhaps Froome broke clear earlier thinking it was closer than it really was? Anyway, Barredo takes the six seconds, the lone Geox rider the four, and Bradley Wiggins takes third and recoups two seconds.

  19. 18km - Perhaps Froome was just testing Cobo to see if he could find a chink in his armour? Anyway, it's all back together now. Barredo is still out in front by 31 seconds.

  20. 19km - Froome was sat right behind the Leopard Trek riders and then jumped off the front, prompting an immediate reply from Cobo. They call a truce, but one Geox man rides on up the road just in case Froome gets any more ideas. They don't want the Brit to get any bonus seconds at the finish...

  21. 20km - ATTACK: Chris Froome breaks clear!

  22. 23km - Barredo won't give up. He's had some energy gels and a quick sticky bidon from his team car, and he's still 40 seconds clear of the bunch. Leopard Trek clearly want this one for Daniele Bennati.

  23. 26km - Barredo won stage 15 of last year's Vuelta a Espana - he's also won in the Basque County too, taking the 2009 Clasica de San Sebastian.

  24. 28km - The chasers have now been caught so we just have Spaniard Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) out in front. He has 40 seconds on the bunch.

  25. 30km - The peloton is really strung out from this work by Leopard Trek. It's all going to come back together soon - both Barredo and the chasers are tiring fast.

  26. 34km - Jan Bakelants is in the chasing group of seven riders, who will catch Barredo soon. It's Stuart O'Grady setting the pace on the front of the pack.

  27. 36km - Barredo only has 28 seconds on the chasers and 1:20 on the pack now. It's coming back together. Leopard Trek are now on the front - they want a win for their man Daniele Bennati.

  28. 38km - Geox are on the front, being paced by Carlos Sastre. Froome is a few back behind Wiggins and with red jersey Cobo right in his wheel.

  29. 39km - CRASH: It's not any of the riders - a motorbike has gone down and the rider is motionless on the road. That looks nasty. Let's hope it's all ok.

  30. 40km - Damiano Caruso joins the chasing group. They're 45 seconds behind Barredo and one minute ahead of the peloton.

  31. 42km - There are five riders between Barredo and the pack: Roche, Kiserlovski, Txurruka, Le Mevel and Kruijswijk. There's a short downhill before a flat plateau all the way to the finish. Sky will hope there are some cross winds - that's their only hope now.

  32. 46km - Carlos Barredo crosses the summit of the Urkiola, the final climb in this year's Vuelta. The crowds are huge - they're really doing the Basque Country proud. The Geox-led pack cross the line 1:37 down. Geox have two Grand Tour winners - Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov - setting the pace. With no more climbs left, David Moncoutie is assured his fourth successive KOM title.

  33. 47km - Geox are controlling the chasing pack: Sky and Froome have no chance. With two on the front, and the roads so narrow because of the spectators, no-one's going to get past this Geox wall.

  34. 47km - Barredo jumps out of the saddle and riders though a sea of orange and under a plethora of Basque flags as he tries to tame this 13% section near the summit.

  35. 48km - Barredo is wearing very high white socks today. They're working wonders: he has 1:07 over the bunch now, and the gap's growing.

  36. 48km - Lone leader Carlos Barredo has 50 seconds on the peloton. This is, of course, the last chance for Sky to attack Geox and try and see their man Froome take the red jersey from Cobo.

  37. 49km - Just seven in the leading group now: Roche, Le Mevel, Barredo, Kruijswijk and a few others. Further back, yesterday's winner Igor Anton (Eusktaltel) drops of the bunch, but is fighting back. Barredo is now out ahead alone.

  38. 50km - The leaders are onto the 11% section of this climb and they have been blown apart by the gradient. Quite a few of the escapees have now been swept up by the bunch, as Roche leads the remaining riders in the break.

  39. 52km - 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

  40. 55km - Good news for Katusha fans: Russian youngster Denis Galimzyanov has just won Paris-Bruxelles. Meanwhile, back with the Vuelta, we're almost onto the final climb of the day, the Cat.1 Puerto de Urkiola (5.5km at 9.1%).

  41. 60km - The gap is down to just under a minute with the final climb approaching.

  42. 65km - Jan Bakelants tries to break clear of his fellow escapees after the second intermediate sprint, but the Belgian is not let off the leash. Results of that sprint: coming up.

  43. 70km - The leaders are approaching the second intermediate sprint. /// "kjellerikselen" thinks that Amets Txurruka is the man to watch today - what a story that would make: two wins in two for Euskaltel over the Basque roads.

  44. 75km - Order over the Alto de Kanpazar: 1. Manuele Mori, 2. Keon de Kort, 3. Amets Txurruka. So, that's a clean sweep so far for Lampre's Mori - the Italian has clearly set himself some targets today. Although it won't be enough for him to feature in the KOM competition: unless something rather drastic happens over the next 30km, Frenchman David Moncoutie is assured a fourth consecutive KOM title.

  45. 80km - The 26 leaders are onto the Cat.3 Alto de Kanpazar with a lead of 2:05 and in stiffling temperatures of 35 degrees.

  46. 85km - Chris Froome spoke out of his admiration for the Basque fans yesterday: "I love the support and the passion in the Basque Country. It is very good for cycling and it would be nice to see more races here." Regarding his hopes of taking the red jersey, he didn't seem to confident: "I'll try not to have any problems and see if there is a chance to win, but I doubt it."

  47. 90km - The riders pass through the feeding zone. The gap is still around two minutes.

  48. 95km - Juan Jose Cobo is in touching distance of winning this Vuelta, but there's still a lot to be done. "Froome is my big rival," the Spaniard said, "but he's not the only one. And 13 seconds is hardly a huge margin. A technical problem at the wrong moment could cause everything to go wrong. We'll have to see how Sky plan the last two stages, I imagine they will go on fighting. The [Cat.1] Urkiola is very tough and I am sure that will be a key moment. I won't breathe easy till Madrid."

  49. 100km - So, who do you think will win today's stage? Will this break stick? Will there be a counter attack? Do Sky have any chance whatsoever of getting their man Chris Froome into the red jersey? Have your say below in the comment box...

  50. 105km - The lead has dropped below the two-minute mark. HTC's Leigh Howard is struggling to keep up with the other escapees on this long uphill drag towards the feeding zone. RadioShack have joined Omega Pharma-Lotto on the front of the bunch: both teams are without a win in this year's race, although Lotto do have one rider in the break - Jan Bakelants.

  51. 110km - The second hour of racing today had an average speed of 40.7km/h. If you thought yesterday's crowds in Bilbao were extraordinary, just wait until tonight, when the stage finishes in the Basque capital of Vitoria. The Vuelta hasn't come here since 1972... the same year as the Watergate Scandal in the USA!

  52. 115km - Lastras and Carrera pull out a little gap on the front during the descent - the Movistar veteran has no fear whatsoever on this type of terrain. The gap is up to 4:10 as Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan (Liquigas) picks up a puncture in the peloton.

  53. 120km - It's hard to imagine just how stage 19 of the Vuelta could have gone any better for the Basque Country on its return to the race after a 33-year exile. Save Miguel Indurain coming out of retirement to take second-place in front of a traditional txistu ensemble fronted by Iban Mayo, Joseba Beloki and David Etxeberria, while Vuelta director Abraham Olano performed a dance wearing nothing but a black Basque-style beret on hearing news of the quashing of all on-going cases against Igor Astarloa... Blazin' Saddles: Back to Basque

  54. 125km - Order over the top of the Aldo de Elosua: 1. Mori, 2. Righu, 3. Lastras, 4. Barredo, 5. Txurruka. So, it's a Lampre one-two over the top, with the peloton 3:30 down on the leaders. It's getting hotter too: almost 34 degrees now.

  55. 128km - Cataldo was swept up by the peloton just before this Cat.1 climb. The lead has dropped to 2:30.

  56. 130km - After a quick descent, the leaders are now onto the next climb: the Cat.1 Alto de Elosua (7.3km at 7.6%). Omega Pharma-Lotto are on the front of the bunch, with the gap standing at 3:10.

  57. 135km - Dario Cataldo is dropped on the Cat.2 climb and trails the leading 26-man group by 50 seconds over the summit of the climb, which is crossed by Manuele Mori, Koen de Kort and Amets Txurruka in that order. The peloton is three minutes down and the temperature is up to 31 degrees.

  58. 140km - The leading group of 27 riders has a gap of 1:40 as they start the first climb of the day, the Cat.2 Alto de Karabieta.

  59. 145km - At the first intermediate sprint, Nicolas Roche picks up maximum points ahead of Lastras and Txurukka. It's largely uncontested though.

  60. 150km - A reminder that Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) leads the green jersey competition by a slender two points ahead of Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Rabobank). While in the KOM standings, David Moncoutie (Cofidis) leads Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R) by seven points. There are 28 points up for grabs today, but with that group out ahead, things look good for the veteran Frenchman, who should win a fourth successive polka dot jersey in Madrid now.

  61. 155km - Irish rider Nicolas Roche (Ag2R) is the best-placed rider of the group, 10:31 down on red jersey Juan Jose Cobo in the GC.

  62. 160km - The break has opened up a gap of more than a minute on the peloton.

  63. 165km - The 27 riders are: Roche and Mondory (Ag2R), Kiserlovski (Astana), Txurruka and Isasi (Euskaltel), Bakelants and Van de Walle (Omega), Le Mevel (Garmin), Kruijswijk and Barredo (Rabobank), Karpets, Paolini and Vorganov (Katusha), Lastras (Movistar), Marzano, Righi and Mori (Lampre), de Kort (Skil), Caruso (Liquigas), van Avermaet (BMC), Bennati (Leopard), Cataldo (QuickStep), Toribio (Andalucia), Carrara (Vacansoleil), Marycz and Nuyens (Saxo), Howard (HTC).

  64. 170km - BREAK: 27 riders have pinged off the front, including Leopard Trek sprinter Daniele Bennati, Ag2R all-rounder Nicolas Roche, stage three winner Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Rabobank pair Carlos Barredo and Steven Kruikswijk, Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank), BMC's Greg Avermaet and Basque rider Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel). They have about 50 seconds on the bunch.

  65. 175km - Matteo Carrara of Vacansoleil has a solo pop, but he's reeled in. There must be some nails on the road: three riders - Heinrich Haussler (Garmin), Chris Sorensen (Saxo Bank) and Fabio Duarte (Geox) - all pick up punctures. A large split then forms in the peloton, with around 40 riders in the first group. It comes back together under the work of Geox, before Martin Kohler (BMC) and Sylvain Chavanel (QuickStep) have a short-lived turn off the front.

  66. 180km - A typically active start to today's stage sees 11 riders ping off the front early on only for the peloton to regroup. Geox will be keen for a controlled group to get ahead before that intermediate sprint - provided, of course, it doesn't contain either Froome or Wiggins.

  67. 185km - The remaining 167 riders get the penultimate stage of the 66th Vuelta a Espana underway!

  68. 12:05 - So, what's on the agenda today? First up we have what could be a decisive intermediate sprint after 40km. With those bonus seconds up for grabs, perhaps Sky will try and spring a trap? Then we have a series of four climbs, including the final Cat.1 Puerto de Urkiola. It's a tough climb, but comes 50km from the end of the stage, which culminates in long, flat and largely straight roads. Presuming Froome does manage to get away, it will be hard to stay out in front till the finish.

  69. 12:00 - It's a hot day in the Basque Country, with temperatures in the high 20s at the start in Bilbao. Bilbao weather report

  70. 11:55 - Spain's Juan Jose Cobo (Geox) maintains his 13-second lead over Britain's Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the GC, with Bradley Wiggins sitting in third, 1:41 down. It looks like this will be the podium in Madrid - but there's still time for one final twist in the Basque Country... Vuelta standings and results

  71. 11:50 - Yesterday, local favourite Igor Anton of Euskaltel-Euskadi won stage 19 of the Vuelta in Bilbao as the race returned to the Basque Country for the first time in 33 years. Anton, who grew up in a small village outside the Basque capital, soloed to the most symbolic victory of his career after attacking from a small breakaway on the final climb of the day, 20km from the finish. Report: Anton wins on historic Basque return

  72. - Welcome to live coverage of stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana - a second day in the Basque Country with a 185km lumpy ride from Bilbao to Vitoria.