Cunego Wins Stage 14 of Vuelta
Damiano Cunego (Lampre) has won his second stage of this year's Vuelta. Cunego surged away from a nine-man break to win the mountainous, 157.0-km ride from Granada to La Pandera in 4:04:23. Jacob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) finished second at 2:23, and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) finished third at 3:08. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) remains the overall leader.
The stage was ridden in the rain. From the start, however, the racing was aggressive, and numerous attacks occurred before nine men sallied off of the front. They were Kevin de Weert (Quick Step), Cunego, Fuglsang, Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Christian Knees (Milram), Xavier Florencio (Cervelo), Adrian Palomares (Contentpolis), Gonzalo Rabunal (Xacobeo Galicia), and Alan Perez (Euskaltel). The escapees led by three minutes at 52 km and more than eight minutes at 70 km. Liquigas chased, but the break increased its advantage to 9:10 on the Category 3 Alto de Huelma (83 km). Euskaltel joined the Italian squad at the front.
With 30 km remaining, the bunch was within seven minutes of the break. Euskaltel and Caisse d'Epargne led the field up the Category 2 Alto de Los Villares. With 17 km left, the gap had dropped to 5:13. Palomares and Cunego attacked but were reeled in. Palomares made a solo move but was caught.
Cunego made a second attack. This move succeeded. At the summit of the Villares, he led his erstwhile companions by 0:47 and the bunch by four and a half minutes.
Behind, Liquigas led the peloton. With seven km left, Cunego led the leaders' group by almost a minute.
With four km to go, Ivan Basso (Liquigas) attacked. Cadel Evans (Silence) stayed with the Italian, but Valverde and Sanchez were dropped. Evans attacked, and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) had a go. Basso, Evans, Gesink, and Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) were distancing Valverde, who was without teammates.
With three km left, Sanchez fought his way back to the leaders' group. Mosquera attacked, and only Gesink could follow. Ahead, Cunego powered toward the finish line, but the real race was behind him. Valverde clawed his way to Basso and Evans. He and Basso proceeded to Gesink. The Italian fell back, but Valverde caught and dropped the Dutchman. Sanchez caught Mosquera and pipped him in the final meters.
After the stage, Cunego admitted that he had deliberately lost 26 minutes in Stage 13 to save energy for today's effort. He said that his goal is the world road race championship in Mendrisio, Switzerland, which will take place on September 27. Based on his performance in the Vuelta, the Lampre man is ready for the worlds.
In the overall, Valverde leads Gesink by 0:31 and Sanchez by 1:10. Stage 14 will not change this state of affairs. The hilly, 167.7-km run from Jaen to Cordoba will feature two Category 2 ascents, the second of which is only 11 km from the finish. After three mountain stages, Stage 14 appears to be one that a member of a breakaway should win. Who will be in the break? Who will win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!