Wednesday 18 October 2017

Ireland's Aqua Blue Sport record historic stage win on the gruelling climb to Los Machucos at La Vuelta

Cycling: 72nd Tour of Spain 2017 / Stage 17 Arrival / Stefan DENIFL (AUT)/ Villadiego - Los Machucos. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cycling: 72nd Tour of Spain 2017 / Stage 17 Arrival / Stefan DENIFL (AUT)/ Villadiego - Los Machucos. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Austria's Stefan Denifl boosted Irish wildcard entrants Aqua Blue Sport with their first stage victory in a contest already beset by controversy for the Irish outfit.

An alleged arson attack destroyed their team bus after the 11th stage of the race, but Denifl put all that to one side to sweep to victory here.

Denfil crossed with a time of 4:48:52 to claim Stage 17 as Aqua Blue Sport claimed their maiden stage win.

Meanwhile leader Chris Froome lost 42 seconds on chief rival Vincenzo Nibali with his lead on the Sicilian cut to one minute 16 seconds on the gruelling climb to Los Machucos in La Vuelta's 17th stage.

The Team Sky star was forced onto the defensive and could not stop Nibali cutting his lead, with the Bahrain Merida man finishing fourth.

Britain's Froome appeared well-set to complete his mission to land the demanding La Vuelta and Tour de France double ahead of Wednesday's action, only to see his sizeable lead hauled back somewhat.

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