Alberto Contador Wins Vuelta Stage to Angliru
Contador captures golden jersey; Leipheimer 2nd overall; Bruyneel predicts two Astana riders on podium in Madrid.
In a convincing manner Team Astana's Alberto Contador won the 2008 Tour of Spain’s 13th stage - a mountain rich ride featuring Spain’s most feared climb, the Alto de l’Angliru (12.2 k long with regions of 23 percent gradients).
With his win Contador captured the golden leader’s jersey and now leads the race by 1 minute and 7 seconds over teammate Levi Leipheimer. With an attack at less than 5 K from the finish, only Levi Leipheimer, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquín Rodriguez (both Caisse d’Epargne) were able to follow. In the Curva de Los Picones, Contador accelerated and only Rodriguez was able to follow the winner of this year’s Tour of Italy. A third acceleration was fatal for Rodriguez, and Contador crossed the finish line 42 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde. Joaquín Rodriguez finished third, 58 seconds behind, and Levi Leipheimer fourth 1.05 down. Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre finished the stage in fifth place and now is third overall, three minutes and one second behind Contador.
Contador is the fourth pro cyclist to win on Angliru, Spain’s most mythical climb. “Our entire Team came into this race prepared to win at Angliru”, commented Alberto Contador. “This stage has been a target of our team since early in the season and it’s a very gratifying experience to have our hard work and preparation pay off. The team was extremely strong and the atmosphere was amazing with Team Astana fans and people from my hometown of Pinto, as well as from my family’s region Extremadura, lining the climb. The atmosphere made it all easier. We are certainly excited, but the race is not over and we will remain focused on defending the jersey (all the way) to Madrid.”
Sports Director Alain Gallopin was a key brain in orchestrating the strategy. “We had a plan, and it worked perfectly. The order of pulling the peloton was followed very strictly and even Levi Leipheimer, who is in the GC hunt himself, worked for Alberto – A total team effort!”
General Manager Johan Bruyneel also had praise for Leipheimer. “Levi is a champion and true professional. He knows that Alberto is more explosive on these climbs and sacrificed his own placing for his teammate. Right now, we’ll focus on defending the jersey, but it will certainly be nice for Levi to stand next to Alberto in Madrid.” Bruyneel added that “ Because of the steepness of the climb, the time differences were not so great, making the next eight days a challenge. On the other hand, this has been a major goal of this team and I know we will work extremely hard to keep the jersey with Alberto and Team Astana.”
Tomorrow’s stage features six climbs and ends uphill at the ski station of Fuentes de Invierno.