Piepoli Wins Stage 9 of Vuelta; Menchov Leads Overall
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) has taken Stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Italian climber took a sprint that his companion, Denis Menchov (Rabobank), did not contest to win the 167-km ride from Huesca to Cerler in 4:28:21. Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin) outsprinted Carlos Sastre (CSC) for third at 0:17. Menchov has taken the overall lead from Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel).
From the start, the racing was aggressive. After a number of abortive sallies, 13 riders escaped at 22 km. They were Stephane Goubert (Ag2r), Jose Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval), Igor Anton (Euskaltel), Sylvester Szmyd and Morris Possoni (both from Lampre), David Lopez Garcia and Jose Vicente Acosta (both from Caisse d'Epargne), Wim Van Huffel (Predictor), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole), Christian Vande Velde (CSC), Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas), and Serafin Martinez (Karpin). The baker's dozen led by 1:25 at 25 km.
The peloton rode tempo to keep the break from getting too big a lead. At 71 km, the break led the bunch by 2:20, but the peloton reduced the lead gradually. Kern was dropped on the Category 3 Puerto de Foradada (112 km).
With 21 km left, the bunch was within 0:30 of the break. Vanotti attacked his companions and forged a 45-second lead on the peloton. It was all for nought, however, as the peloton reeled him in with 11 km remaining.
CSC and Saunier Duval took command. Devolder was dropped. Carlos Castano (Karpin) attacked but was brought back. With eight km remaining, Daniel Moreno (Relax) attacked but was reeled in two km later.
Piepoli and Menchov began to drive the lead group. Sastre was dropped, as was Cadel Evans (Predictor). The leading pair collaborated well, and the Russian did not challenge the Italian's move for the finish line.
In the overall, Menchov leads Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) by 2:01 and Evans by 2:27. Stage 10 should shake up the standings again. The 214-km ride from Benasque to Arcalis, Andorra will feature two Category 2 climbs, one Category 1 ascent, and the hors categorie finishing climb. Who will shine? Who will fade? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!