Froome stretches Vuelta lead over a minute, as Lopez ascends to stunning stage win
Miguel Angel Lopez displayed his prowess in the mountains once again as he timed an attack brilliantly to win stage 15 at the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday, while Chris Froome increased his lead to over a minute.
Astana rider Lopez won a gruelling 11th stage but a late push on Saturday saw him fail to catch Rafal Majka. He got his strategy spot on 24 hours later, though, claiming his second win of the tour.
Victory for the Colombian sent him up to sixth in the general classification and into contention for a podium position, sitting two minutes and 39 seconds adrift of leader Froome.
The Tour de France champion will be delighted to have come through back-to-back mountainous stages with his advantage over Vincenzo Nibali now standing at one minute and one second.
Lopez set out from the bunch alongside Trek-Segafredo rider Alberto Contador with 26 kilometres remaining - near the start of a top-category climb to the finish line in the Sierra Nevada.
The duo caught Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), who had been dropped by Adam Yates (Orica-Scott).
Lopez stepped up a gear with six kilometres remaining and there was no response as the 23-year-old claimed a convincing victory.
Nibali attempted to get away from Froome with 13.5km remaining, but with no riders providing support he was unable to make it stick and was swiftly reeled back in.
Froome responded with a late kick that the Bahrain-Merida rider was unable to match, gaining him what could be six valuable seconds in the GC.
GOOD DAY/BAD DAY
Nibali will be immensely frustrated to have ended up losing time to Froome after attempting to catch him out on the final ascent, the Team Sky rider showing stunning endurance to eke out a few more important seconds.
After leading for much of the race and holding a one-minute lead with seven kilometres to go, Yates ended up finishing over four minutes behind stage-winner Lopez in a disappointing capitulation.
1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) 3:34:51
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Katsuha-Alpecin) +00:36
3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +00:45
4. Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) +00:47
5. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +00:47
1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 62:06:25
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +01:01
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +02:08
1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 110 pts
2. Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) 107 pts
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) 88 pts
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
1. Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) 49 pts
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) 41 pts
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 29 pts
After a gruelling couple of days in the mountains, the riders will surely enjoy a rest day before action resumes with an individual time trial on Tuesday.