La Vuelta 9: The Big Breakaway

The winner Anacona
31 riders: Adam Hansen, Anacona, Arndt, Arredondo, Berhane, Bewley,  Bilbao, Boonen, Bouet, Cataldo, Coppel, Cousin, Cunego, Felline, Hesjedal, Jungels, Lang, Lutsenko, Martens, Martinez, Mas, Moreno, Nerz, Nocentini, Teklehaimanot, Thomson, Vansummeren, Verona, Vorganov, Wyss and Zingle.
It was a big break-away. Rain at the finish and some serious climbsCat. 2 alto de San Rafael (11.5km, 4.2%),and Cat. 1 summit finish at Valdelinares (8km, 6.6%). 34 km to go the gap was 7'. 
The decisive move came 25 km to go, when Sam Bewley went clean and a few riders bridged. The new front group included also Team Lampre's Anacona, virtual Red Jersey. 20 km to go they met the pourring rain and there three riders set an attack: Anacona, Jungels and J. Moreno. They got a gap. Behind Team Sky was leading the chase. 
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Pic by Antoin Plouvin
6 km to go Anacona went solo The gap still was about 4’. In the main peloton the fight for the GC had started with a move by Uran and Dan Martintrying to anticipate before the last climb. It didn't work but induced a selection: the duo was caught by a reduced peloton including Froome, Contador, Quintana and Rodriguez. 
In front Anacona won solo. Behind Contador attacked, dropped all but was joined on the line by Rodriguez and Quintana. Froome lost some seconds, like other main contenders.
Quite some stage. Really.

Winner Anacona:
“It was a great victory for me. I had tears in my eyes when I crossed the line,” admitted Anacona. “It’s a great day for me, for my team and for my country.
It’s the most important moment of my career. This is my third season and I haven’t managed to win up to now. The red jersey would have been nice, but a victory is a victory. If I had had to choose between the stage win and the race lead, then I would have preferred the stage, which is how things turned out.

Perhaps I will pay for this effort but for the moment I want to savour this victory and the knowledge that I am right in the GC battle gives me motivation to keep fighting and finish in the top 10 in this Vuelta."

Chris Froome
"Conditions were really tough out there. I think we can take a lot of good away from that stage in terms of how we rode as a team. I'm so so proud of how the guys rode today, they did such a good job. They kept me at the front throughout the stage.
In the final I didn't have the legs to follow the top guys when they went. But I think given where I've come from on the back of the Tour and the build-up into the race I'm really happy with how things have gone so far. I can definitely feel I'm starting to pick up that race rhythm back into my legs and I'm looking forward to the second half of this race."
I'm going to go and see the time trial course tomorrow and see what we're up against. It's relatively short compared to time trials elsewhere. But I enjoy time trialling and I'm hoping to make the most of it.
I think we've come to see that Contador is going extremely well. He's got over his injuries pretty quickly and he's going well, as are Nairo Quintana and Rodriguez. The usual guys we expected for the general classification. It's a huge fight here and it's going to be a big race all the way to the end. Every second here or there is going to count."

Team Tinkoff-Saxo DS Steven De Jongh:
“It was a very good day for Alberto and I think everyone saw a very strong Contador in the final. It was a bit of a nightmare in the rainy finale and we saw a lot of riders standing completely still. The first hour was very hard, we did over 47 km/h. It was never easy today, it was fast and they kept going full gas but we can be satisfied with today's result and now it's time to recover for the time trial Tuesday." 
Alberto Contador:
"I noticed that some of my rivals were in difficulties and I wanted to use the opportunity. I still lack condition to keep the pace at maximum intensity, but I'm very happy. I don't know exactly how much time I took on some of my opponents, but the important thing now is not to catch a cold and to get some rest", says Alberto Contador after crossing the finish line. 
Whenever I have the legs, I have to try. I haven’t been able to prepare properly for the Vuelta to ride for the GC as a goal. I hope to improve day-by-day, but I'm aware that there are other riders, who have been training meticulously ahead of this race. Perhaps today they didn’t have a good day, but the Vuelta has just begun", adds Alberto Contador.
It's always important to be ahead and if it’s because you’ve left your opponents further down the mountain, better, but I don’t think it’s important yet. We aren’t even halfway through the Vuelta and we still have many mountains to climb. 

In the TT I don’t know how I'll perform in the time trial. It will be a moment, where we will see which shape everybody is in. On a normal stage you’re able to hide a little more, but in the time trial, it’s just you and your shape. Let's see, I hope to do a good race, although I think there will be better riders than me”

Rigoberto Uran:
"Today I felt better compared with the first uphill finish of a few days ago. The weather was a bit crazy, we started with the hot temperature and we finished under the rain. The team today rode really well. We were present in the front with Tom and Carlos, and in the peloton the guys did a great job for me. For example, when Tony led me in the last descent to avoid risks. In general I'm OK and I feel that I'm improving. In the GC we are more or less where we were supposed to be at this time of the race. Now we have a well deserved day of rest and then the TT, where I have good expectations. I trained a lot with the my Specialized Shiv before La Vuelta and I'm looking forward to this race."

TFR DS - Josu Larrazabal
“For us in one way it was a really good day. The goal was to try and be in the break with Julian, Bob and Felline, and it was nice to see all three in the break. Even before the real break went there was another break with Bob and Julian again, so they did a good job from the beginning. 
Julian was still not looking in top shape so we asked him to work a little bit more, and then we ask Felline to try to follow the moves from afar since he is not as strong as Bob is on the climbs. On the second to last climb Bob followed the move from Anacona and Moreno from Movistar  - who was the whole day staying in the wheel since his team has the leader’s jersey – and they had 40 seconds on the last climb. From there everyone did his pace, and did his best. Bob could not hold their pace, but it was still good with two of our young guys doing 10th and 11th on the stage.  It was really good to see the team working like this.
On the other side we lost our status in the GC with Haimar when he was dropped on the second last climb. In the last days his feeling has not been so good, mostly with his respiratory system, he is coughing, and he is just not at his best. We need to see how he is going the next days and how he is feeling – especially on the next mountain.  But for the rest of the team we will continue to look for breakaways and focus on stage wins.”

BMC Samule Sanchez:
"Today I was missing a little bit to get to the finish line with Alejandro Valverde, who was the race leade. We have finished the first nine stages and have to be happy with what we have done up to now. We are close to the top 10 with a nearly two-minute gap from the leader. But our team has done a really good job in the first part of the race."

1 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 4:34:14
2 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:45
3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:50
4 Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:04
5 Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 0:01:12
6 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:21
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 0:01:33
8 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 0:01:45
9 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing 0:01:49
10 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:08
1 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 35:58:05
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:03
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:08
4 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 0:00:09
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:28
6 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:30
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:06
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:19
9 Rigoberto Urán (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:26
10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 87 pts

1 Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 20 pts

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 15 pts

1 Movistar Team 107:27:19

La Vuelta 8: Crosswind, Echelons and Unorthodox Sprint

Embedded image permalinkEventuful day yesterday in La Vuelta. A break-away of course:
Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida) and Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). 
But a two riders break-away is hardly successful because they can hardly oppose to the strong interests in the peloton, different maybe but convergent in chasing. 
Moreover yesterday when crosswind was espected and dreaded. Team Sky had built his stage strategy on it: they went in front and willingly split the peloton 26kms to go. Panic rose and the where-is-who game: Boonen and Uran in the 1st group, Quintana and Degenkolb not. Valverde will say he didn't know... A 15” gap, a lot of work to close it, all together again 5kms to go. 
A frantic rearranging for the sprint. A sprint. Michael Matthew ready to jump out Bouhanni's wheel... Bouhanni switch on Matthews, who had to stop pedaling. Bouhanni wins. ORICA-GE protests but finally the Jury convalidates the result. Bitter taste.
To remarke that Bouahnni lost the Points Jersey dued to Degenkolb's victorious intermediate sprint. Valverde still leader but for just 1'.

 Michael Matthew:
“The final worked out the way I wanted it to up until about 15-25metres to go. Mitch (Docker)  ave me a good lead out to string the bunch so I didn’t get swamped, then Bouhanni hit out from about 200m and I got on his wheel.  I went to come around him but unfortunately a small movement in the final when you are going that speed washes off a lot of speed. I had to stop pedaling when he gave the little flick but that’s racing. We wanted to see what the commissaires said. We thought it was a bit touch and go but it’s their opinion that counts and we can only try. Unfortunately they made the decision, I was second place and we have to go with that.”
ORICA-GE DS Neil Stephens:
“The race organisers had already asked the commissaires to review the finish when I arrived. I reviewed it with them and in my mind it confirmed our doubts. They were split two against two as to what the decision should be.  In the end they said it was a difficult decision but that they would award the stage to Bouhanni. That’s racing, it’s a difficult decision and we just have to respect the commissaires. We will just fight to win a stage another day.
As in everyday, the main objective was to look after Esteban in his general classification hopes. Albecete is famous for its crosswinds and it played up to that. It was a tricky day and for someone like Esteban it is really quite difficult.  But as he said with the full commitment of the guys around him, it made a tough job easy.”

Nacer Bouhanni:
“Everyone expected crosswinds today and that meant everyone wanted to be at the front. I stayed with Geoffroy Soupe in the final kilometres, but I was quite a way back down the line coming up the straight.
I started my sprint from 300 metres out despite the headwind because I didn't want to get boxed in. Usually, that’s too far out for me but I had good legs today. Yesterday I wasn’t far off abandoning because I had a bit of sunstroke.”

Chris Froome:
"Everyone was up front and in a good position," said Froome after the stage. "We were definitely more on the offensive today than having to react to other people. That's what we wanted. 
Everyone did a massive job out there. I'm just glad to get through that one and into the mountains tomorrow. I think it will be more about following the other favourites at the moment. We've still got a lot of racing to come and a lot of climbing to do. It's going to be a full-on race."

Team Tinkoff-Saxo DS Steven De Jongh:
"Well, to be honest - the first part of the stage was a little less than exciting but when the wind finally picked up and we started going, it turned into a rather thrilling finale. The boys were riding another fantastic stage in terms of staying in the front, being very alert and simply supporting Alberto. I'm in awe of Michael Valgren's performance. Considering this is his first pro season and his first Grand Tour, he's riding unbelievably well but all the boys worked hard and well out there. Now, we're looking forward to tomorrow's mountain challenge and we're hoping that Alberto can hang on to the favorites of the race."
Alberto Contador:
"Benna is a life insurance on a day like this. He kept me well placed at all times and I can only thank him. He’s a priceless ‘workhorse’; he almost takes you into his pocket. It’s important to stay focused and communicate with him because being apart in the peloton is useless.
These days are full of wear, stress and danger. Nothing has happened and I'm happy because I feel pretty well. I was nervous in the last 50 k of the stage. I don’t know why, but I thought I had a flat and considered that if I had to stop to change the wheel, it would have been very bad. But everything worked to perfection and the team was great. We’ve completed another stage and now we have to rest because tomorrow will also be important. 
Tomorrow is just another day, it’s not significantly hard and it’s without tough climbs. I hope to spend it in the best way possible while being able to recover and prepare for the time trial. For now I have to go day-by-day, see how I’m recovering and nothing else. For now, I'm very happy, I didn’t imagine to be third overall after eight stages, but we still have a long way to go."

BMC DS Valerio Piva:
"We were prepared for it, so all day we stayed quiet. Then I asked the guys to pull full gas. Cadel was fantastic and strong, as was Manuel Quinziato and Steve Morabito. And Philippe Gilbert did a good job in bringing Samuel Sánchez up since he was not in a good position in the beginning. Some of the GC (general classification) riders were in trouble and we tried to make them more in trouble. In the end, it was just four of us who were pulling, so the second group came back. But we tried."
Danilo Wyss:
"I fought really hard for everybody. The objective was to keep Samuel in the first group and we pulled really hard. I went for the sprint at the end, but I didn't have much energy left. I gave everything before to pull for Samuel. Tomorrow will be hard. I am hearing the final will be with rain and 16 degrees (Celsius) temperatures, compared to the 40 degrees of the past few days."

TFR DS Adriano Baffi:
“We knew the parcours today, and after yesterday where we did a lot of work and had nothing to show at the end for it, today we worked for Jasper and almost the whole team was on the front when the winds began. We recovered well after yesterday. When we have such a strong Classics’ team here we knew we could give a good hand to Jasper.
It was not a great finish for Jasper because it was a long straight and he does much better if he has some corners. Tenth is not a result for Jasper, and we hoped for more, and we know that he is capable of better. But that is what we have. Without victories you are never completely happy but at the end we are very satisfied with how Jasper is doing.
The overall GC remained unchanged at the top, and Haimar Zubeldia also maintained his 24th place despite arriving with the second peloton and losing 53 seconds. The wind was not his friend today, but tomorrow he returns to more favorable terrain with the Vuleta’s first high mountain finish.
Monday sees the first rest day of the three-week Grand Tour, a time to reflect on the opening nine days, which, has not gone as hoped explained Baffi, but there is a lot of racing to come and the team is in good morale.
What is important is that today showed all the team is good. We believe we end our first week with confidence that everything will come back to normal. Now we look to the mountain stage tomorrow and then the first rest day and after the time trial. There is a lot of racing left, and a lot of opportunities for us.”

1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr 4:29:00  
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale  
4 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano  
5 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol  
6 Robert Wagner (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
7 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka  
8 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
10 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
11 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
12 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) IAM Cycling  
13 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale  
14 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
15 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ.fr  
16 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka  
17 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky  
18 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha  
19 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
20 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 31:21:20  
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:15  
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:18  
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:20  
5 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:41  
6 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:45  
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:55  
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:58  
9 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:01:02  
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:06  
11 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:09  
12 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:11  
13 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:01:12  
14 Rigoberto Urán (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:18  
15 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:01:34  
16 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka 0:02:12  
17 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:02:19  
18 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:25  
19 Andre Fernando S Martins Cardoso (Por) Garmin Sharp 0:02:30  
20 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:02:46
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 87 pts
1 Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 18
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
1 Belkin Pro Cycling Team


Robert Kiserlovski goes Tinkoff-Saxo

...on a two years deal.  He said:

“I'm really happy to join a team that has so many prominent athletes. I like the teamwork and I'm looking forward to the next two seasons. I’ll be ready every time a great champion like Alberto Contador needs my help


La Vuelta 7: Dedicated To Alfredo Martini

Incorporato permalink immagine
A finger up, toward the sky,toward the Cyclists Heaven from where for sure Alfredo Martini was watching the race... and telling a story.
Great rider, DS and man, Alfredo Martini, died  94 few days ago. And a great sign of respect by another great rider, Alessandro De Marchi ,at the end of a great stage.
At the begining it was break-away:  Tschopp and Hesjedal ahead the peloton. They had 33'' at km 37. Dupont and  De Marchi trying to bridge while Movistar and Saxo Tinkoff were leading the chase.
Then a crash.  No clear info but Chris Froome was told dropped at the start of a climb, 1 'from the head of the race. Then it became evident that he wasn't the only one in trouble:  Orica GreenEdge reported that Ivan Santaromita had been involved in a crash, had brocken his finger and was heading to the hospital. John Degenkolb had been also involved and was back to the medical car.Then the news came that Saramotins and NAULEAU had abandoned.
Meanwhile Dupont and De Marchi had joined Hesjedal and Tschopp, the peloton was at 1 ', but the gap quickly increased till 07:18. Ryder Hesjedal was now closer to the virtual red jersey. Then  De Marchi turn the gas on... and won solo ... as he uses to do.
Froome had joined the peloton before the top of the climb and even if crashed he looked perfectly well: he  attacked in the finale and gained 3 '' on his main opponents.
Instead Warren Barguil crashed hard on the right side of his head. He was able to cross the line but still... 

Alessandro De Marchi:
“I came into this race without too much pressure on me,” said the Italian. “I was just looking to get some form and hoping for some opportunities. But my legs felt good today. This is the best memory of my career. After so many top fives, this is a great result, an almost perfect day for me.”
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Chris Froome:
"I'm feeling okay but you definitely get the feeling that when bad luck comes it comes more than once. But all things considered I'm feeling all right and I think I got off relatively unscathed. It's good to have another day behind us now.
When the crash happened a Giant-Shimano rider went down in front of me just to my left. I swerved to try and avoid that and went down. Then the guys paced me back. It took us a good 15km before we got back into the peloton.
The rest of the guys did a great job looking after me, pacing me back into the race and keeping me in a good position for the rest of the day.
After a testing day Froome admitted that taking a couple of seconds on the line was a nice bonus.
I'll definitely take that after a stage like today," he added. "At the end of the race you might need all the seconds you can to defend your place. I'll keep chipping away and get closer to the time trial."

Team Tinkoff-Saxo DS Steven De Jongh:

"The stage was actually harder than the profile suggested it would be in terms of climbing. It was relentlessly up and down and even though it was slightly cooler than the previous few days, it was still hot for out there. But the boys did a fantastic job for Alberto during the stage without having to do the hard work in front of the peloton and we're ready for a similar stage and similar tactics tomorrow before Sunday's mountain top finish."

Team Giant-Shimano DS Christian Guiberteau:
“We didn’t have much luck today with both John and Warren coming down but both seem OK and we will see how they are feeling in the morning. It is not ideal coming the day before a good stage for John. 
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Adam Yates looking for... his bike?
The plan was for a couple of guys to try for the breaks early on as it was 50/50 today as to whether a break would survive or it would be controlled. We didn’t want to spend too much energy in this though and we still needed to protect Warren and John. In the end we weren’t in the move, but the guys looked after each other in the peloton.
After a week of racing now we are in a good position. The young guys are tired yes, but not overly so and they aren’t suffering like lots of riders are here with the heat we have had and the hard racing. With John’s wins and Warren’s strong result yesterday the morale is good and everyone is really motivated to keep working towards our goals."

Robert Gesink:
“In the sprint, I wanted to follow Dan Martin, but unfortunately I couldn’t. It went up and down all day, and I think that many guys suffered. The profile appeared to be flat, but I’ve learnt that you can never trust the Spanish profiles. I have miscalculated before and seriously suffered. As a GC rider you need to stay focused every day.”

Samuel  Sánchez: 
"The crash was luckily avoidable. Today's stage was made harder by the wind and crashes and I think everybody can't wait for the rest day. After seven stages, the GC (general classification) is decided a bit. But the hard part is still to come and everything is possible." 

Philippe Gilbert (5th)
"I had been suffering in the warm weather conditions like a lot of riders. Now the heat is a little less and I am feeling better. Even if it is only fifth place, it gives me confidence for next week."

ORICA-GEDS Neil Stephens:
“It was a really demanding day. The heat and the fatigue at this year’s Vuelta is starting to take its toll. Right from the start it was very difficult for all the riders and once again our main priority was Esteban in the general classification with a view to seeing how the race panned out.
It’s already a difficult race but things are going to be even more difficult with the absence of a really important man in the mountains in Ivan."

More to come

1 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale 04:01:52  
2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 00:01:34  
3 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:35  
4 Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling  
5 della squadra Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing 00:02:17  
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp  
7 Christopher Froome (GBR) Team Sky 00:02:18  
8 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 00:02:20  
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte Team (Spa) Movistar  
10 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo  
11 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
12 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar della squadra  
13 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale  
14 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha  
15 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
16 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
17 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka  
18 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
19 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA  
20 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar team 26:52:20  
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar team 00:00:15  
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:00:18  
4 Christopher Froome (GBR) Team Sky 00:00:20  
5 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica GreenEdge 00:00:41  
6 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 00:00:45  
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 00:00:55  
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:58  
9 Warren Barguil (Fra) del Team Giant-Shimano 00:01:02  
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 00:01:06  
11 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 00:01:09  
12 Squadra Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing 00:01:11  
13 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 00:01:12  
14 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 00:01:18  
15 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka 00:01:19  
16 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Soluzioni Credits 00:01:26  
17 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 00:01:34  
18 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:01:47  
19 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 00:01:57  
20 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 00:02:06  
21 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 00:02:25  
22 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 00:02:29  
23 Andre S Fernando Cardoso Martins (Por) Garmin Sharp 00:02:30  
24 Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre Racing (Spa) Trek fabbrica 00:02:35  
25 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 00:02:44  
26 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Belisol 00:02:46  
27 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:02:52  
28 Squadra Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing 00:03:10  
29 Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 00:03:47  
30 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha 00:04:47  
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) del Team Giant-Shimano 

1 Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte Team (Spa) Movistar
1 Belkin Pro Cycling Team

Andy Schleck - Ice Bucket Challenge

In Short: The Afghan Women Riding Team

There is a wonderful article here (with video):

In Short:
1 Shannon Galpin and her nonprofit, Mountain 2 Mountain: "She became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan in 2009, discovered the women’s Afghan cycling team in 2012 and immediately began working to raise awareness and support for their efforts. She's now an ambassador for Liv, which has supplied the team with bikes, clothing, and gear."
2. Afghan Cycles: Liv and Let Media released new footage from the upcoming documentary
3. A cyclist named Miriam. “Miriam believes that this is her right, that no one can take it away from her. So when she gets on the bike and rides, knowing that she’s pushing the boundaries, she’s doing it because she loves the freedom the bike gives her. And she comes back to that all the time: the freedom that the bike gives her."
4. Get Involved! "August 30th marks the first ever Global Solidarity Ride. People around the world will take to the streets on organized rides in honor of the women cyclists in Afghanistan"

Good News: ORICA-GE Daryl Impey cleared to race (and my opinion)

vuelta_previewFrom Daryl's site:

"On Thursday 28th August 2014, I finally got the chance to prove my case against the allegation: That I had committed an anti-doping violation for a diuretic called Probenecid. 
Whilst I never disputed the lab results and the finding, I was put in a very tough position of defending my case due to strict liability. That being said, and after already having to go back 5 months to try find out how this could have happened, I finally was able to prove that this was a case of cross-contamination and I was also cleared of any fault or negligence on my part.  
It has been definitely the hardest two months of my life, it has been a huge financial loss and has been tough on my whole family. But I was determined to show that I am clean and that I would never cheat to try get an advantage over my competitors.  I am so relieved that this has now been proven.  
While I can now put this behind me and move on, I would like to thank my wife, my family, my team ORICA-GreenEDGE, friends and fans who sent me such kind messages during this tough time and I am thrilled that I could prove my innocence for all of you who stood by me. I would also like to thank my legal team Christopher Kok (Webber Wentzel), Ivan Miltz, Justin Bitter, Mike Morgan (Morgan Sports Law) and Chris Hattingh for their amazing help in resolving the matter. 
I am hoping to return back to racing now, and hopefully compete before the World Championships in September. I re-iterate my stance against doping and I will continue to race clean throughout my career. Right now, I am just really happy that I can be a bike rider again and do what I love the most."

According to Cycletips
"The Star newspaper in South Africa reports that Impey had visited the chemist to buy empty capsules to fill with bicarbonate of soda for use in the South African road race championships. Impey was reportedly told that the pharmacist had no capsules but later received a call saying that some capsules had been found. Impey went back to the chemist to buy the capsules that afternoon.

According to The Star, the pharmacist had dispensed Probenicid to another customer just before servig Impey, and that “his hands had contaminated Impey’s capsules”. At Thursday’s hearing, the pharmacy produced cash register receipts showing time and purchase information to confirm the story.

In ORICA-GS Press Release:
Daryl Impey:
“I’m thrilled to have been given the notification that I’m 100% OK to race again and no sanction whatsoever will be applied. I was confident in my defense and I’m thankful that I was given the chance clear my name beyond any type of doubt. It’s been a tough period to get through, but I’d like to thank my team for giving me the possibility to focus solely on getting this process done properly. All I can think of now is that I get to join my team and race my bike again as soon as possible,” said Impey.
General Manager Shayne Bannan:
“We are extremely happy with the fact that Daryl has been 100% cleared to race and we all look forward to having him back riding for us. Daryl is a key rider for the team and we very pleased with how he has handled his case and the process around it. We will reinstate Daryl in our racing roster as soon as possible.”

My Opinion
I'm happy too!! Doping news about Daryl Impey had really surprised me and reactions of people deprecating him and the sport had deeply bittered me. They talked a bit too early and it's maybe a good think: so now evrybody can judge about friends loyalty and press professionalism. Amen.


La Vuelta 6: Up La Zubia

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Last day in red for Matthew

Sometimes a race is all in climb. Usually the last one, not always. Today it was La Zubia
Other climbs before and a break-away of course: Pim Ligthart again - Most Combactive yesterday - and Más Bonet, collecting points for his blue dot jersey. They got a good gap, almost 10' and 3 to go, already on the ramps of La Zubia, Pim Ligthart was solo. Only few seconds but only few road.
Hellish heat again. Plenty of water bottles on the head and down the throat. Plenty of public. A messy crowd even too close in Cumbres Verdes. The valley slowly apearing at the back of the race.
Embedded image permalinkThey were not going slow. Ligthart caught, a very selected group remained. Dropped one by one team leaders and gc contenders. Nobody able to attack, everybody expecting Purito. Indead Rodriguez attacked but it didn't work. Still together, hellish pace, screaming and pushing amongh the crowd, people running beside, more water on the head and finally a slow motion uphill sprint
Movistar TeamValverde and Quintana had done the split, Movistar secured the stage with relative easiness. Froome looked good but saving energy, at the back of the small group but able to respond better than AlbertoContador, on the short gear.
La Vuelta is still long but maybe on La Zubia somebody has already lost it.

Alejandro Valverde:
"This victory means a lot to me. Though it's harder to feel great with these temperatures, my legs were really good today, I felt well all over the course and I was able to win. It was a climb that really suited me and we couldn't miss such an opportunity had we got it - still, I think everyone saw clearly I was working for Nairo. There was a tailwind into the climb and it was hard for anyone into the main group to go away, they had to stay on our wheel. I was setting a strong pace to take some rivals out of contention, but saving an extra bit of energy in case anyone attacked, as it happened with both Purito and Froome. I never looked back: as well Nairo as the team car were telling me to keep the pace: 'Only ten or twelve riders behind you.' 
When Purito jumped away, I didn't think about it for a second - I went after him. He's someone we can't let take a single meter. I still had strength to counter and go for the win, so, at the end of the day, we couldn't do better: we took some rivals out of contention, though gaps weren't really huge - we also took some bonus seconds and the result is fantastic for the whole team. For me, the main leader of the squad is still Nairo, though I don't rule out my own chances. I keep really clear in my mind he'll be doing better and better, and he showed today he's up for the fight. Many mountains will come for him to do great. We get on really well with each other and I worked my heart out for him today. If I keep feeling well, I'll try and go for some more stage wins, though I keep faith GC-wise. The important thing is that one of us Blues can win the race."

Nairo Quintana: 
"I'm extremely happy for Alejandro. He's a great rider. He did a great work for me in the finale and still was able to win the stage - that's something not many riders can do. I'm still lacking some pace, you could see in the final kilometer I'm not still in my top condition, but I hope to keep progressing in the next stages. The important thing for us is to keep the win within the team, no matter if it's him or me, and for the time being, that goal is being fulfilled".

Team Sky DS Dario Cioni:
"The guys did a really great job today. We talked about a strategy to use on the climb and Chris really stuck to that and finished well. He followed the early attacks and was there when it counted at the end.
The team rode really well. We were able to get all nine riders over the second-category climb which meant we had numbers coming into the finish. That was an advantage as everyone could do a bit of the work before the final climb.
Tomorrow is a stage which you could mistakenly look at and think it's an easy test. It could prove to be a lot more challenging than people think. You can lose time every day if you aren't careful and we certainly won't be looking to do that."

Tinkoff-Saxo DS Steven De Jongh:

“The goal was to put Alberto in a good position entering the foot of the climb and the boys did a very good job guiding him in the finale. From here, we didn’t really know what to expect after his crash during the Tour and the break from racing so I guess he took us all by surprise today and naturally I’m more than happy with this result. However, we still have to go easy and we take the race stage by stage and see how things are going. Tomorrow’s stage is probably going to be just as hot as today but I expect a bigger group battling it out between them and we obviously have to keep protecting Alberto”

Team Katusha Joaquim Rodriguez:
"It was a very hot day. The team did great job for me today. In general I didn’t feel bad during the day and I like climbs like this. But in the final climb I suffered a little from the heat. I tried to attack with 600 meters to go, but could not get enough gap. Maybe I had to go a little bit later, but in that moment I felt good and I decided to try. So it was first test in the mountains. Hopefully the next days will not be as hot."

Warren Barguil (11th):
“Today was really hard. The guys looked after me really well and they put me in second position at the foot of the final climb which was great. I gave it everything at the end. I had to let go of the group a bit but I then set my own tempo and ended up passing several others. I personally don’t feel like I am climbing my best yet but each day I am feeling better and this will hopefully play into my favour in the last week."

Sergio Pardilla (12th today, 15th GC)
"It was a really hard and hot day. It was the first mountain stage and the team worked really hard for me. When it came to the final, the top guys were really fast. The climb was a short climb and an explosive climb which doesn't suit me but at least i could still do a decent result. I will look for the stages where there is more climbing and longer climbs as well but for now i am happy."

Fabio Aru (6th):
“The team kept me at the front – they worked hard in the heat and that last climb was so tough"

Team Belkin 
Robert Gesink:
“I went all-in on the final climb. It was my best, so I’m happy with it. The climb was very hard, especially as it was a hot day again. The sprint to the final climb was very hectic because everyone wanted to be in the front and the roads aren’t very good in this area.” 
Laurens ten Dam
“It climbed for four kilometres and was straight uphill with an average gradient of 10 per cent. Valverde set the pace and really hurt me. I cursed him. I suffered a lot in the final three kilometres, but in the end, this is a great result. I did better than in the first mountain stage of the Tour.”

ORICA-GE DS Neil Stephens:
“We had plans for Adam Yates to try to get up for the stage win and also Esteban was also going to work to maintain his position in general classification. The team again did another fantastic job to lead the pair through the streets of Granada and position them at the front for the last climb. For the first two kilometers they were both there amongst the action, the heat and extreme velocity of the climb then got the better of Adam.   
Esteban did really well to maintain himself with the best climbers in the world until the final kilometre, losing a few seconds at the end. 
He is only 24 years old and coming back from a year out with an injury last year. It’s a bit early to tell how things will go from here, that was just one uphill finish and there are some very demanding mountain stages to come but so far so good.
It was really nice to see the boys riding through Granada at the front of the peloton with the leader of the bike race amongst them. We won a stage, we defended the lead for a few days and now we have other goals. We are trying to find other stages on the way and really look after Esteban. Holding the lead was one part of the Tour of Spain and we look forward to the next part.”

TFR DS Adriano Baffi:
“Julian is not in good shape at this moment. This week he has been in trouble, and he has suffered a lot in the [hot] temperatures. Our other card today was Haimar, but we know that this is not his finish. We always expected more for today, but it is what we have at the end, and we also expect Julian to be better in the second week. We just have to be patient to wait the best opportunity.
Tomorrow we can be more aggressive, because we start a stage where we can finally go in the breakaway, and it can go to the end. From tomorrow onwards our Vuelta will start. I also hope the situation for GC will become better as we go forward, but we also put zero pressure on Haimar.  We will take each day as it comes.”

BMC Samuel Sánchez: 
"The best riders stayed in front and in the final one-and-a-half kilometers, I could not follow them. I preferred to continue with my own pace to limit my losses. I have said from the first day that if Contador is here, he will be competitive. So is not a surprise for me."

OPQS Rigoberto Uran:
"It was a special climb with no corners, but a long straight road. I suffered a bit in the final, but we'll see in the next days what can happen. On Sunday there will be another test on an uphill finish."

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 4:35:27  
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky  
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo  
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:08  
5 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:12  
6 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:18  
7 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica Greenedge 0:00:25  
8 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
9 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:32  
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:33

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 22:48:08  
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:15  
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:18  
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:22  
5 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica Greenedge 0:00:41  
6 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:45  
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:55  
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:58  
9 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:01:02  
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:06  

1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 72 pts
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge 50  
3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr 49
1 Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 18 pts
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 10  
3 Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar 10  
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 13 pts
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 16  
3 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 24  
1 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 67:58:17  
2 Movistar Team 0:00:45  

3 Team Katusha 0:02:28