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2010 Vuelta a España – Stage 14 News and Notes

| by Sports Nickel
Stage 14 – Burgos to Peña Cabarga – 178 km (110.4 mi)

Saturday/11 September 2010


It might just be the worst way possible to take over the lead on the general classification — a crash that takes out the previous leader and renders him unable to continue. The “What if…?” questions pop up inevitably — questions about what might’ve happened in the stage had the leader not crashed, questions about whether the new leader would be where he is without being the beneficiary of his rival’s misfortune. The stigma is worse when it comes well into a race where the pecking order has clearly been established.

It was tough enough watching Dave Zabriskie crash in the team time trial at the Tour de France five years ago, left behind to ride in to the finish line in his tattered all-yellow aerodynamic skinsuit. At least then Zabriskie was able to finish the stage (though he would later pull out of the race). The next day new leader Lance Armstrong tried to start the stage in his team kit instead of the maillot jaune; the race officials gave Lance an ultimatum to either change or be expelled. Armstrong, of course, donned the yellow and went on to win his seventh consecutive Tour two and a half weeks later in Paris. For him there was less stigma, as they were just four stages in and he was the defending champ…

One of the last photos taken of Igor Anton in race action before his Vuelta-ending crash...

… now another cyclist (and one who has never previously won a grand tour) must grapple with the weight of that stigma. With less than ten kilometers to go before the finish at the top of the Peña Cabarga, at the base of the climb where the road began to narrow, Vuelta leader Igor Anton touched wheels with teammate Egoi Martinez (perhaps due to hitting a pothole) and both riders hit the pavement. A broken collarbone for Martinez and likely broken elbow for Anton ended both their Vuelta rides. The two men who gained the most from Anton’s losses were near the performance level of Igor Anton in the mountains this year, but the questions will abound nonetheless.

Joaquin Rodriguez — the man with whom Anton had been engaged in the battle for the leadership during most of the first fortnight of racing — animated the finish most, punching up the pace on the ramp and pulling clear to win the stage by 20 seconds over Vincenzo Nibali. The Spaniard was hoping to take back the red jersey after wearing it just one day earlier in the week. Pounding the pedals in the final kilometers, one hand on the bars as the other held his swelling right eye that had just been stung by a wasp, he crossed the line alone to celebrate his good fortune.

However, his bid for the top of the leaderboard fell just four seconds short of fruition. Having initiated the decisive attack and then being dropped by Rodriguez, Liquigas leader Nibali stuck to his own pace rather than putting himself in a deficit and trying to keep on the Spaniard’s wheel. It was a shrewd tactic, one that allowed him to claim his first lead in this Vuelta. He needed not to win the race here, only to make sure he didn’t lose by too much time.

His expert pacing up the climb doomed the Italian to being the one facing all the questions about the legitimacy of his leadership and might just have been the “luckiest” four-second gap Rodriguez has ever had to endure. With more mountains still to come, Joaquin “Purito” Rodriguez has proven he’s the better pure climber with his ride in the past few stages, and unless Nibali can continue to counter and limit his losses prior to the time trial later in the week (where the roles will be reversed and he will be the more experienced, stronger grand-tour rider who knows what he’ll need to do in the TT) he will be too far back to overtake the lead. Just like earlier in the race, when Rodriguez was tied with Anton on time but the latter got to wear the jersey based on his stage-finish placements, he is tactically in the best position possible.

He can pounce quickly, striking to take out more time — and since he’s so close, he is in position to take the lead no matter how much time can be gained in any one move. He can sit back and force Liquigas to do the chasing down of breakaways that threaten their lead, conserving his energy and his team’s energy for the pivotal moments. As much as Rodriguez might envy Nibali for taking the jersey, I’m sure there is some part of Nibali that envies Purito for his spot right on his back wheel, lying in wait like the sprinter in second position in a two-up finish, drafting along and waiting for the final few moments when he can slingshot out of the slipstream and snag the title.

It was a misfortune for which nobody would wish, seeing Anton tattered and the new-design leader’s jersey shredded around his frame. But the way Anton was riding, he was potentially poised to make it a rather uninteresting final week with his budding dominance. Crashing is a part of cycling, and when something goes well for one cyclist it unfortunately comes more often than not at the expense of another. May Anton heal well and return stronger next year to contest his home tour once again, and may the remaining week of racing provide enough drama to allow whoever emerges to shuck that stigma and prevail as a legitimate champion in the eyes of all…


1 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 4:26:43  
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:20  
3 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:22  
4 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne 0:00:33  
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:00:34  
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:35  
7 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:00:39  
8 David Garcia Dapena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:43  
9 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:45  
10 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:01:29


1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 60:55:39  
2 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:04  
3 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:50  
4 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team    
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:02:11  
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:12  
7 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:02:29  
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:03:29  
9 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:03:41  
10 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:03:52


1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-Columbia 111  pts
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions 90  
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 74  
4 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 73  
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 67  
6 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne 67  
7 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo Test Team 57  
8 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 53  
9 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 53  
10 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ 47


1 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne 45  pts
2 Serafin Martinez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 36  
3 Gonzalo Rabunal (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 25  
4 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 16  
5 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 15  
6 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram 14  
7 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 11  
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 11  
9 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) FDJ 10  
10 Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 10


1 Caisse D’Epargne 182:19:55  
2 Team Katusha 0:02:28  
3 Cervelo Test Team 0:07:50  
4 Xacobeo Galicia 0:11:05  
5 Omega Pharma – Lotto 0:12:34  
6 AG2R – La Mondiale 0:12:41  
7 Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:28:22  
8 Liquigas – Doimo 0:28:43  
9 Astana 0:40:26  
10 Team HTC – Columbia 0:41:35

2010 Vuelta a España – Stage 14 News and Notes is a post originally from: SportsNickel.com - In Sports We Trust

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