Kiryienka Wins Stage 19 of Vuelta; Nibali Barely Keeps Red Jersey
The peloton reeled in two early breaks before 15 men got clear at 18 km. They were Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Simon Clarke (GreenEdge), Caleb Fairly (Garmin-Sharp), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Hansen, Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Mikael Cherel and Ben Gastauer (both from Ag2r-La Mondiale), Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano), Kiryienka, Tiziano Dell’Antonia (Cannondale), Martin Kohler (BMC), Sorensen, Grega Bole (Vacansoleil-DCM), and Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida). Movistar and Cofidis missed the break and chased for a time but then backed off. The escapees led by 8:50 at 76 km and 9:14 at 78 km. Thirteen km later, the gap maxed out at more than 10 minutes.
The peloton then woke up. Katusha and Movistar took command of the peloton. At the summit of the Category 3 Puerto de Braguia (128.1 km), the break led the bunch by 4:48.
On the next climb, the Category 2 Alto del Caracol, attrition took its toll. Bono was dropped, and not long after, Dall’Antonia, Bole, Gastauer, and Fairly fell off of the pace. Kiryienka, Clarke, and Hansen then attacked, and another move by the Sky man put him alone in the lead. He led the chase group by 0:25 with 39.6 km remaining.
Sorensen, Martinez, and Vicioso set out after Kiryienka, but the Belorusian extended his lead. With 16 km to go, Van Rensburg, Kohler, and Txurruka joined Sorensen, Martinez, and Vicioso. At this point, the Sky man led the chase group by 1:09. With 10 km left, he led the pursuit by 1:28.
With 5.9 km remaining, at the base of the Category 1 ascent to the finish, Kiryienka led the chase group by 1:48. Sorensen set out after him. Behind, RadioShack-Leopard and Movistar led the field. The Luxembourger squad led the peloton onto the climb. With five km left, the 20-strong peloton was 4:27 behind Kiryienka.
Movistar took over from RadioShack-Leopard. With two km to go, the red jersey group was at 3:45, but Sorensen was making inroads into Kiryienka’s lead. The Belorusian held off the Dane, however.
Behind, the contenders battled for the red jersey. With three km left, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff took over at the front. One km later, Daniel Moreno (Katusha) attacked, and teammate Joaquin Rodriguez followed. Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) and Nibali bridged up to the move, and then Horner attacked. The American’s surge dropped Nibali, and Horner attempted to take the red jersey. He fell 0:03 short, while Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) overtook Nibali and finished 0:05 ahead of him.
Kiryienka’s victory was a fillip for the morale of the Sky men, whose GC hopes were not met by Sergio Henao. The Belorusian said that he won by rationing his effort. “Once I’d gone away I knew I had to keep calm on the straight bits of the descent and then try to build time by sprinting out of the corners. I’ve got an aerodynamic position and can descend pretty well, and I was pleased to see how big the gap had got once I’d made it on to the flats.
“Then it was a matter of taking food on board, controlling my effort, and making sure I had enough left in the tank for that final climb.
“Once the road ramped up again it was a matter of riding just below threshold and then judging my efforts over the steeper sections of the climb. It was hard to concentrate at times because the crowds were so loud and they really spurred me on.
“It was an incredible feeling when I wrapped up the victory and I was so pleased to be able to pay the team back for all the faith they have shown in me this year, and all the work they’ve put in.
“It’s a perfect result for the team because we’ve been working so hard to get that elusive win in this last week or so. Our morale has always stayed high but this will have boosted the mood even further. We’ve come close in the sprints, in the mountains, and now we’ve won from a breakaway, so we’re all really happy.”
In the overall, Nibali leads Horner by 0:03 and Valverde by 1:14. Stage 19 will be yet another challenge for the GC contenders. The 181-km ride from San Vicente Barquera to Oviedo will feature two Category 3 ascents, and it will end on the Category 2 Alto Naranco. A breakaway will provide the winner of the stage. Who will it be? Will the red jersey change backs? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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