Hesjedal Wins Stage 14 of Vuelta a Espana; Contador Extends Lead
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp-POC) has won Stage 14 of La Vuelta a Espana 2014. The Canadian surged past Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) in the last 200 m to win the mountainous, 200.8-km ride from Santander to La Camperona, Valle de Sabero in 5:18:10. Zaugg finished second at 0:10, and Imanol Erviti (Movistar) took third at 0:30. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) has extended his overall lead.
The hostilities took some time to break out. The break of the day did not form until after the first intermediate sprint at 35.7 km. Twenty-three riders sallied off of the front. They were Przemyslaw Niemiec and Jose Serpa (both from Lampre-Merida); Robert Wagner (Belkin); Luis Leon Sanchez and David Arroyo (both from Caja Rural-Seguros RGA); Guillaume Levarlet (Cofidis); Romain Sicard and Yannick Martinez (both from Europcar); Hesjedal; Koen de Kort (Giant-Shimano); Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha); Bart de Clercq and Adam Hansen (both from Lotto-Belisol); Erviti; Louis Meintjes, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, and Jacobus Ventner (all from MTN-Qhubeka); Tom Boonen and Carlos Verona (both from Omega Pharma-Quick Step); Luke Rowe (Sky); Sergio Paulinho and Zaugg (both from Tinkoff-Saxo Bank); and Fabio Felline (Trek). The gaggle ran up a seven-and-a-half-minute lead, while Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which was unrepresented in the break, led the pursuit.
Sanchez and Arroyo attacked their companions on the Category 1 Puerto de San Glorio. The remnants of the break reeled in the two Caja Rural-Seguros RGA men near the summit. Seventy km remained. Twelve riders formed the lead group that made the descent.
With 56 km left, the break led the bunch by four minutes. Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s pursuit lost momentum, and the gap widened to more than six minutes with 32 km left. Tinkoff-Saxo Bank took over at the front. At the base of the ascent to the finish, the escapees led the peloton by 5:45, and one of them would obviously win the stage.
Hansen went to the front on behalf of de Clercq. Halfway up the climb, the break was down to seven riders. With two km left, Hesjedal made the first serious move. Zaugg countered and passed the Canadian. For a time, Zaugg looked like a winner, but Hesjedal made one last attempt. The Garmin-Sharp-POC man overtook the Swiss with fewer than 200 m remaining. He had time to zip up his jersey and pump his fist as he crossed the finish line.
Behind, the contenders fought for the red jersey. Valverde paced the red jersey group up the early km of the climb. Chris Froome (Sky) was dropped. Halfway up the climb, Contador attacked and took Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Fabio Aru (Astana) with him. Froome got back on and attacked, dropping Aru and putting Rodriguez and Contador in difficulty.
The final climb produced a minor shakeup of the standings. Contador extended his lead over runnerup Valverde by 0:22, while Froome moved from fourth at 1:20 to third at 1:13. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) dropped from third at 1:08 to fourth at 2:07. Rodriguez moved from fourth at 1:35 to third at 1:29.
In the overall, Contador leads Valverde by 0:42 and Froome at 1:13. Stage 14 will be another standing shaker. The 152.2-km ride from Oviedo to Lagos de Covadonga will end with a special category ascent. Another fight for the red jersey will take place. Who will win the stage? Contador? Rodriguez? Froome? Who will wear the red jersey? Contador? Froome? Valverde? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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