Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 18 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Lampre’s Francesco Gavazzi salvaged his team’s poor Vuelta a Espana by outsprinting Quick Step’s Kristoff Van de Walle in Noja this afternoon.

Gavazzi, a stage winner in this year’s Tour of the Basque Country, broke clear with Van de Walle 1.5km from the finish having both been a part of a 17-man breakaway group which dominated the stage.

Race leader Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) and Team Sky’s Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins finished within the peloton 7-42 after Gavazzi; the GC remains unchanged with Froome just 13 seconds behind Cobo.

A day for the breakaway

The escapees attacked 10km into the 174.6km stage, which took in five categorised climbs, including the first category Puerto de Alisas.

With none of the leaders a threat on GC, the main field were happy to let the group have a lead which was around the 10 minute mark throughout.

After a flurry of unsuccessful attacks, RadioShack’s Sergio Paulinho jumped clear on the Puerto de Fuente las Varas with 28.5km remaining, and gallantly held off a chase group of 10 riders until the final two-and-a-half kilometres.

Almost immediately Gavazzi and Van de Walle countered, and while Astana’s Robert Kiserlovski tried bridging the gap, the finale came down to a two-man showdown.

Gavazzi hit the front early, but the Belgian Van de Walle had no answer for his acceleration.

Skil-Shimano’s Alexandre Geniez led home the chasers to take third, 10 seconds down.

Results

Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 18: Solares to Noja, 174.6km

1. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre – ISD in 4-24-42

2. Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto


3. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Skil-Shimano
 at 10 sec

4. Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne


5. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale

6. Vladimir Gustov (Ukr) Saxo Bank-Sungard

7. Juan José Oroz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha

9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana all at st

10. Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 15 sec

Overall classification after stage 18

1. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox-TMC in 74-04-05

2. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 13 secs

3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at 1-41

4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 2-05

5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 3-48

6. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek at 4-13

7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 4-31

8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 4-45

9. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 5-20

10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5-33 

Francesco Gavazzi wins, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 18



Francesco Gavazzi wins the stage

Juan Jose Cobo, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 18



Juan Jose Cobo safely stayed in the hot seat overall

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Stage 17: Chris Froome wins but can’t unseat Cobo from race lead



Stage 16: Haedo wins confusing stage 16 finish in Vuelta



Stage 15: Wiggins loses race lead as Cobo stakes claim for overall on Angliru



Stage 14: Taaramae takes stage as Wiggins puts time into rivals



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Stage 12: Sagan takes second 2011 Vuelta stage win



Stage 11: Wiggins takes overall lead as Moncoutie wins stage



Stage 10: Brit Froome moves into overall Vuelta lead after time trial



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Stage eight: Rodriguez wins again to take overall lead



Stage seven: Kittel wins chaotic bunch sprint



Stage six: Sagan takes Vuelta stage win in controversial circumstances



Stage five: Rodriguez takes second win for Katusha but Chavanel holds on



Stage four: Moreno wins first mountain skirmish at Sierra Nevada



Stage three: Lastras solos to stage and takes red jersey



Stage two: Sutton grabs stage win to set things right for Sky



Stage one: Leopard-Trek win opening TTT to put Fuglsang in front




Vuelta a Espana 2011: Photo galleries

By Graham Watson

Stage 17 photo gallery

Stage 16 photo gallery

Stage 15 photo gallery

Stage 14 photo gallery

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

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