Froome extends Vuelta lead over Nibali

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Stage winner Sander Armee rides for the Lotto-Soudal team

Chris Froome extended his lead over Vincenzo Nibali as Belgium’s Sander Armee claimed a solo victory on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Team Sky rider Froome, 32, whose overall advantage was cut on Wednesday, attacked late on the 169km stage to pick up 21 seconds on Italy’s Nibali and lead him by one minute 37 seconds.

Armee finished 31 seconds ahead of Alexey Lutsenko and Giovanni Visconti.

There are two stages left before Sunday’s parade into Madrid.

Froome broke clear of the peloton 600m from the summit finish at Santo Toribio de Liebana, with only Spain’s Alberto Contador and Canadian Michael Woods able to stay with him.

The four-time Tour de France champion is bidding to become only the third man to complete the Vuelta and Tour de France double in the same year.

Lotto-Soudal’s Armee and Astana’s Lutsenko were the final survivors of a 20-man breakaway as they came to the final climb at the end of the stage from Suances.

Armee rode clear of Kazakh rider Lutsenko, who turned 25 on Thursday, with 700m left for a healthy win.

Friday’s 149.7km stage will take the riders from the Parque Natural de Redes to Gijon.

Stage 18 result

1. Sander Armee (Bel/Lotto-Soudal) 4hrs 09min 39secs

2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana Pro Team) +31secs

3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +46secs

4. Alexis Gougeard (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +1mins 02secs

5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Movistar Team) +1mins 06 secs

6. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita/BMC Racing Team) +1mins 19secs

7. Matteo Trentin (Ita/Quick-Step Floors) +1mins 21secs

8. Sergio Pardilla (Spa/Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) Same time

9. Antwan Tolhoek (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +1mins 38secs

10. Anthony Roux (Fra/FDJ) +1mins 42secs

General classification

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 72hrs 03mins 50secs

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +1mins 37secs

3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2min 17secs

4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +2mins 29secs

5. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +3mins 34secs

6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +5mins 16secs

7. Michael Woods (Can/Cannondale-Drapac) +6mins 33secs

8. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana Pro Team) Same time

9. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +6mins 47secs

10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +10min 26secs

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