8.31.2014

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.”

RESULTS
STAGE
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
GC
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
POINTS JERSEY
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 87 pts
MOUNTAIN JERSEY
1 Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 18
COMBINATION JERSEY
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
TEAM
1 Belkin Pro Cycling Team

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