Cancellara Takes ITT; Nibali Retakes Red Jersey
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) has shown that he is ready for the world championships later this month. The four-time world time trial champion won Stage 11, the 2013 Vuelta’s only individual time trial, powering over the 38.8-km course in Tarazona in 51:00. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), the reigning world time trial champion, finished second at 0:37, and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) finished third at 1:24. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished fourth at 1:25 and reclaimed the red jersey.
Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida) was the first finisher, but his time—1:13—did not raise any eyebrows. The first time of consequence was that of Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), the Dutch time trial champion. Westra posted a 54:22, which put him in the lead for 40 minutes, until Andriy Grivko (Astana) stopped the clock in 54:12. Six minutes later, Martin obliterated Grivko’s time with his 51:37.
Cancellara started 40 minutes after Martin. The man called Spartacus was 0:14 faster than the German at the 11.5-km checkpoint and 0:34 faster at the 26-km time check. The Swiss superstar might choose not to ride the time trial at the world championships in Varese, Italy, but his performance clearly threw down the gauntlet and posed the question, “Are you ready to race?”, answering it with “I am.”
With the question of the stage win seemingly settled, all eyes shifted to the GC contenders. Pozzovivo began the day in 10th place at 3:28 but rode what he referred to as “the time trial of my life.” The Italian climber gained time on everyone ahead of him, leapfrogging to sixth at 2:44. While Pozzovivo is still not in prime position, he is someone whom the other contenders must watch.
Nicolas Roche (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) finished sixth at 1:48 and moved from third to second overall. His time trial has put him at 0:33.
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard), who started the day as the red jersey, might have been the biggest loser among the heads of state. The American finished 20th at 2:54. At the end of Stage 10, he led Nibali by 0:43 on GC, but he lost all of that lead and 1:30 more to fall to fourth place at 0:46.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) jumped from fourth to third overall, although he lost 0:04 to Roche. The Spaniard did move 0:16 closer to the red jersey than he was at the end of Stage 10.
Nibali posted a 52:25, an accomplishment that was all the more remarkable because a wasp stung him during the rest day and caused his face to swell. The Italian lost 0:01 to Pozzovivo but took 0:23 out of Roche, 0:27 out of Valverde, 1:18 out of Ivan Basso (Cannondale), 1:30 out of Horner, and 1:36 out of Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha). The Shark, as Nibali is nicknamed, has reduced the race to four contenders: himself, Roche at 0:33, and Valverde and Horner, both of whom are at 0:46. After those four riders, the nearest challenger is Rodriguez at 2:33.
Cancellara said that he was satisfied with his effort and with the result of today’s ride. “I know that I gave the maximum today,” he said. “This was a good test for myself that had nothing to do with my competitors and more about seeing how I’m feeling. It was both uphill and then downhill and required a good workout. I’m happy with my performance. I think I got the best out of myself today.”
Stage 12 will not change the standings. The flat, 164.2-km run from Maella to Tarragona will allow the GC riders to relax and allow the sprinters to fight for the day’s honors. Who will win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!