Barguil Wins Stage 16 of Vuelta; Nibali Fights to Keep Red Jersey
At the start, the racing was aggressive. A series of attacks occurred in the first hour. One of them included Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pieter Serry (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Danilo Wyss (BMC), but Movistar shut down the move after it gained 0:42 on the peloton.
At about 65 km, another break formed. This one included Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Flecha, Dominik Nerz and Martin Kohler (both from BMC), Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), Huzarski, and Uran. Movistar chased and sent Benat Ixtausti and Sylvester Szmyd to bridge up to the move, which led the peloton by 1:20 on the Category 2 Puerto de Contefablo.
Astana unsuccessfully attempted to reel in the break. Barguil, Christian Meier (GreenEdge), Vladimir Gusev and Dmitriy Kozontchuk (both from Katusha), Jose Herrada (Movistar), Nicki Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), Maciej Paterski (Cannondale), Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis), Andre Cardoso (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale), Maciej Paterski (Cannondale), Mikael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Juan Manuel Garate (Belkin) joined the move, which led the field by 2:30 with 27 km left. One km later, the advantage had grown to 3:10.
Euskaltel-Euskadi joined Astana at the front. Ahead, the 23-man break, whose members had different goals, began to disintegrate as riders attacked.
With 20 km left, Barguil, Nerz, Txurruka, Uran, and Garate attacked, but Szmyd and Ixtausti brought them back. Four km later, Garate took another dig, and several others followed, but the rest of the break reeled them in.
At the beginning of the Category 1 ascent to the finish, Sorensen went down, but no one else crashed with him.
The attacks were shelling riders, whom the Euskaltel-Euskadi-led peloton reeled in. With 13 km left, Garate tried again, and Barguil and Cherel went with him. What remained of the break snared the trio, however.
With nine km to go, Barguil made his move. He led his erstwhile companions by 0:22 one km later, and he led Nerz, Cardoso, Cherel, and Herrada by 0:34 two km later. Uran chased from a group that was further back and trailed by 0:30 with four km left.
Nerz joined Uran, and the pair attempted to catch Barguil. With two km to go, they had closed to within 0:20 of the Argos-Shimano man.
Uran dropped Nerz and caught Barguil at the one-km banner. The Colombian attacked immediately, but Barguil took his wheel. Nerz joined forces with Huzarski, and the duo closed in on the two leaders. Uran led out the sprint, but Barguil came around around him to win by no more than a few centimeters.
Behind, the battle for the red jersey began. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked, but Nibali’s teammate Kanel Tangert brought him back. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) followed and rode up to Gusev, his teammate. Rodriguez dropped Gusev and proceeded on his own.
Horner put in an attack, and not long after, Valverde got clear of the red jersey group. Thibaut Pinot (Francaise des Jeux) joined him, and Nibali could not respond. Valverde and Pinot reached Horner, and the Movistar man outsprinted the pair. Rodriguez finished 0:03 ahead of Valverde and 0:06 ahead of Horner and Pinot.
Barguil won the stage despite not feeling well during its first half. "What a day again," he said. "This morning we decided to take it easy as I did not feel very good yesterday, but my legs started feeling really good during the stage and I moved into position to go with the break. Then on the final climb I decided to give it a try alone.
"Actually, I was not sure that the break was going to make it to the finish, so I attacked and on the way, with less than one kilometre to go, Uran joined me. He tried to attack me but I was still strong enough for the sprint and I knew I could have a chance to beat him in the sprint. It is great to beat such a strong rider. I am surprised and again over the moon with my second victory."
Tomorrow will be the 2013 Vuelta a Espana’s second rest day. Bodies wearied by two weeks of racing will get a respite, and team managers will plot strategy for the race’s final week. Stage 17 will not change the status quo. The rolling, 189-km ride from Calahorra to Burgos will feature two Category 3 climbs between 115 and 139 km. A break could take this stage, but a bunch sprint is more likely. Who will win it? Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp)? Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
If you're located in the USA you can watch video highlights from all stages of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana in our videos section.
Follow Roadcycling.com on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ - and consider subscribing to the premium version of our Training Tracker service p/b TrainingPeaks, which lets you track and analyze your training and nutrition using the exact same tools as pro riders on WorldTour teams such as Sky, Saxo-Tinkoff and GreenEdge.