Contador Wins Stage 16 of Vuelta a Espana, Extends Lead

News & Results

09/9/2014| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Alberto Contador gets flowers and kisses on the Vuelta a Espana podium Fotoreporter Sirotti

Contador Wins Stage 16 of Vuelta a Espana, Extends Lead

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) has tightened his grip on the Vuelta a Espana.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) has tightened his grip on the Vuelta a Espana 2014. The Spaniard surged away from Chris Froome (Team Sky) to win Stage 16, the queen stage of this year’s race. The Tinkoff-Saxo Bank man took the mountainous, 160.5-km ride from San MartĂ­n del Rey Aurelio to La Farrapona, Lagos de Somiedo in 4:53:35. Froome finished second at 0:15, and Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) took third at 0:50. Contador has extended his overall lead in the race.

The action started early. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) attacked in the first km, and 12 riders accompanied him. The escapees were Dennis, his teammate Philippe Gilbert, Luis Leon Sanchez and Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Johan Le Bon (, Romain Sicard (Europcar), Adriano Malori (Movistar), Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin-Linksys), Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Peter Kennaugh (Sky), De Marchi, and Gianluca Brambilla and Wout Poels (both from Omega Pharma-Quick Step). On the day’s first ascent, the Category 1 Alto de la Colladona, the break split, and Kennaugh, Rovny, Sanchez, Malori, and Clement led the field, with Tinkoff-Saxo Bank leading the pursuit at 0:33. Contador, Froome, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked from the peloton. At the summit, the two parts of the break had come back together. At this point, the red jersey group was at 0:20.

One noticeable absentee from the red jersey group was Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). Contador’s attack had caught him and his teammates by surprise, and the Russian squad had to chase for 15 km to catch the red jersey group. Katusha then took over at the front of the peloton and let the break go. The fugitives led the field by 8:20 at 48 km.

On the Category 2 Alto del Cordal, Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who was sixth overall at 2:57 but suffered from bronchitis, was dropped. Teammate Carlos Verona paced him back to the bunch on the descent. The pair repeated the exercise on the Category 1 Alto de la Cobertoria.

At the summit of the Alto del Cordal, the bunch was at 5:20. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) attacked on the Cobertoria. The fugitives reached the summit 3:50 ahead of Cancellara and 4:15 ahead of the bunch. On the descent, the break’s advantage stretched out to three minutes over Cancellara and 4:40 over the bunch.

At the base of the Category 1 Puerto de San Lorenzo, Sky took over at the front. The British squad caught Cancellara. The peloton trailed the break by 2:48.

Ahead, fireworks of a different kind occurred. Brambilla and Rovny came to blows, apparently over Rovny’s interference with the pacemaking. The commissaire saw the hostilities and discussed the consequences with the race jury.

Sanchez attacked, and De Marchi and Brambilla countered. Uran was dropped, this time for good, as was Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida). At the top of the climb, De Marchi and Brambilla led the peloton by three minutes. Poels joined the pair on the descent.

On the descent, Contador punctured, changed bikes, and rejoined the peloton. On the ascent to the finish, the race jury informed Brambilla and Rovny that they were disqualified for their scuffle. With 11.7 km left, De Marchi attacked his companions. At this point, he was 1:06 ahead of the peloton.

Sky continued to make the pace. With 4.5 km to go, the Briton attacked, and only Contador could follow. The pair caught and dropped De Marchi. At the one-km banner, they led Valverde and Rodriguez by 0:45. Contador attacked with 800 m left, and Froome could not follow. The Spaniard had time to make his trademark pistol firing sign as he crossed the finish line.

Contador noted that both he and Froome had recovered from their Tour de France injuries and implied that he had developed the fitness and the confidence to follow the Briton’s move on the day’s last climb. “It was a very good day for us,” the Spaniard said. “I was able to distance all my opponents and took important seconds in the fight for the GC. I finished 15 seconds in front of Froome, who seems to have recovered well and rides with an incredible pace right now. I felt good today and followed Froome until I saw my chance to attack, and I took the opportunity.

“I noticed that Sky was in the front of the peloton keeping a very high pace. When Froome makes a change of pace like today it’s difficult to follow him. But I felt confident in following his move, and the next thing I did was to observe that Joaquim and Alejandro were dropped. I felt that I could respond to Froome’s pace and I searched for my moment.”

In the overall, Contador leads Valverde by 1:36 and Froome by 1:39. Tomorrow will be the Vuelta’s second rest day. Stage 17 will be a flat, 190.7-km ride from Ortigueira to A Coruna. This stage will be the last chance for the sprinters in this Vuelta. Who will win? John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano)? Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)? Check in at and find out!

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