Ratto Climbs to Victory in Stage 15 of Vuelta; Nibali Keeps Red Jersey

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09/8/2013| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Daniele Ratto on the podium Fotoreporter Sirotti

Ratto Climbs to Victory in Stage 15 of Vuelta; Nibali Keeps Red Jersey

On a day that saw his team captain bow out of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana because of hypothermia, Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) salvaged the race for his team. The Italian was the sole survivor of a daylong break in the cold and rain, winning Stage 14, a mountainous, 155.7-km ride from Baga, Spain to Collada de la Gallina, Andorra in 4:24:00. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished second at 3:53, and Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) took third at 3:55. Nibali has tightened his grip on the red jersey.

cold into the descents , trembling, unable to pedal, I almost crashed. People were overtaking me all the time...I was feeling cold even when climbing - when that happens, everything becomes so difficult.

"I have to thank my team, because they gave everything for me and their work was phenomenal. Thanks to them, I could get over the day--due to them and the fans, who deserve the best, I could get over it. At the last climb, I recovered well, warmed up, got on a nice pace, and started overtaking riders. That's why I'm happy with the result.

"It was a hellish day for everything. Seeing how many riders withdrew, and thinking about tomorrow's stage, with 250 km including the neutral zone--should the weather develop like today, I don't really know what will happen. Surrendering? I never surrender. We're still in third place. Winning the Vuelta will be difficult, but getting a podium finish is always beautiful."

Ratto entered the break to assist Basso when the race caught up to the escapees , but the team captain’s misfortune became his opportunity to shine . “Usually my chance to win a race comes from a bunch sprint, not in a mountain stage,” the Cannondale man said. “I was in the breakaway to take advantage on the peloton and be able to help Ivan after the descents. Then the weather changed the development of the stage...I felt good and I tried. I rode on my own too early but I was confident to maintain the gap thanks to the descents. Sometimes I risked but I had to. The hardest moment was just before the final climb. I was tired and I also had cramps. Thanks also to my DS [Dario] Mariuzzo from the team car I was able to manage the last energies and to take this solo win. I’m really happy, but on the other hand, it’s just a cold comfort after Ivan’s withdrawal. I did not know that he had quit until after the finish. I haven’t seen him race so strongly in a long time.”

In the overall, Nibali leads Horner by 0:50 and Valverde at 1:42. Stage 15 will do more sorting out of the general classification. The 2013 Vuelta’s longest stage at 224.9 km, the ride from Andorra to Peyragudes, France will feature four Category 1 climbs, including the ascent to the finish. Expect another long breakaway. Who it stay away? Win Nibali further tighten his grip on the race? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!

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