Team Astana is again the subject of controversy as Fabio Aru takes a late-race push from a teammate while Tom Dumoulin was attacking.
Gougeard wins the day, and red jersey Tom Dumoulin asserts himself on final cobbled climb, attacking to gain more time on GC.
Alexis Gougeard earns his first grand tour stage victory, while Tom Dumoulin extends his GC lead with fierce acceleration on final hill.
Though American Joey Rosskopf is struggling through the final days of the Vuelta, he hopes the experience will pay off in future seasons.
Tom Dumoulin brings a small lead into the final three days of racing in the Spanish grand tour.
The Astana rider remains 3 seconds out of first place at the Spanish grand tour entering Friday's stage 19.
Joaquim Rodríguez has a hard fight to keep his podium spot in the Vuelta a España, as another grand tour win slips through his grasp.
In a Vuelta that saw Sky lose GC leader Froome to a crash, Nicolas Roche shined in stage 18 with a much-needed stage win.
Nicholas Roche celebrates his first win of the season while the GC riders launch attacks on final climb, failing to dislodge Dumoulin.
Nicholas Roche wins a two-up sprint to claim his first win of 2015, while Tom Dumoulin defends his overall lead by a thin margin.