Taaramae Climbs to Stage 14 Victory in 2011 Vuelta a Espana

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09/3/2011| 0 comments
by Reuters and Roadcycling.com
Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins and Christopher Froome arrive closely followed by Team Rabobank's Bauke Mollema and Denis Menchov (Team Geox-TMC). Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins and Christopher Froome arrive closely followed by Team Rabobank's Bauke Mollema and Denis Menchov (Team Geox-TMC). Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Taaramae Climbs to Stage 14 Victory in 2011 Vuelta a Espana

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky strengthened his Vuelta a Espana lead after Saturday's fourth major mountain-top finish, won by Estonia's Rein Taaramaee of Team Cofidis.

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky strengthened his Vuelta a Espana lead after Saturday's fourth major mountain-top finish, won by Estonia's Rein Taaramaee of Team Cofidis.

Wiggins and Sky team mate Chris Froome, now second overall, set a relentless pace at the head of the pack on the final 16-km ascent to La Farrapona, shedding holder Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and double mountain-stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain.

The Sky duo finished fifth and sixth respectively, 45 seconds behind Taaramaee, while Nibali had lost one minute 21 seconds overall on Wiggins by the end of the 175.8-km 14th stage.

Wiggins leads Froome by seven seconds. Dutchman Bauke Mollema is third, 36 seconds back, while Nibali has dropped from second to seventh.

"It was a great job. We wanted to go full gas on the final climb because it was a perfect day to get some time gaps," Sky sports director Servais Knaven told Reuters.

"The four-second lead we previously had on Nibali was not much so we knew we had to try something. It was not a huge surprise what Bradley managed to do after the way he's been climbing.

"On that last climb if you crack [like Nibali did] you lose a lot of time because it's really steep."

Sky's dominance comes exactly a year after team assistant Txema Gonzalez died during the Tour of Spain from a bacterial infection.

Knaven said it was important for the team to race strongly to honour his memory.

"It's a good day for us but I take it as it comes. I wanted to make the top ten today. I feel good but it still hurts my body. Everybody can have a bad day in a Grand Tour. I'm not surprised that rider like Nibali got dropped. It can be me tomorrow. There's nothing to be excited about. In a race like this, anyone can be at the top one day and at the back the next day," Vuelta leader Wiggins commented after the stage.

Taaramaee celebrated his first stage win in a Grand Tour after breaking away in a group of 17 riders in the first hour.

He went clear of his most persistent pursuer, David De la Fuente of Spain, 2-km from the finish to claim a second Tour of Spain win for his Cofidis team.

In second place behind the 24-year-old was Spain's Juan Jose Cobo, 25 seconds back. De La Fuente came third at 29 seconds.

"This is a huge moment for me," Taaramaee told reporters. "Only two days ago I was thinking of abandoning because I had a really bad fever.

"I got dropped on the previous mountain stage 35-km from the finish, even before the sprinters had started falling back. Today I felt better and I got in the break early on," Taaramaee added.

"After two years without any wins this is a little miracle for me."

The biggest challenge remaining for Wiggins now is the 12.8-km Angliru. It is considered the most difficult climb and the riders will tackle it at the end of Sunday's 142-km

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