Moncoutie Wins Stage 13 of Vuelta
David Moncoutie (Cofidis) has won Stage 13 of the 2009 Vuelta. The French veteran gutted out a daylong break to win the mountainous, 172.4-km ride from Berja to Alto de Sierra Nevada in 5:09:22. Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) finished second at 0:52, and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) took third at 1:16. Valverde remains the overall leader of the Vuelta a Espana.
The stage began with an ascent of the Category 3 Alto de Berja. The field split, and nearly 30 riders wound up in the lead. Nine men escaped from the lead group to form the break of the day. They were Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), David Garcia (Xacobeo Galicia), Moncoutie and Rein Taarmae (both from Cofidis), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Koos Moerenhout and Pieter Weening (both from Rabobank), and Adrian Palomares (Contentpolis). At 66 km, the fugitives led the chase group by 2:30 and the peloton by 8:32.
Moncoutie, Moerenhout, and Taarmae dropped their companions. With 80 km ridden, the trio led the chasers by 2:45 and the field by 5:30. Their advantage grew to four minutes over the chasers and 10:30 over the bunch at 78.5 km and to 5:15 and 11:45, respectively, at 138 km.
Taarmae was dropped. Behind, the peloton got cracking. It cut the second chase group's lead to 3:30. Ahead, Moncoutie and Moerenhout led the field by seven minutes as they approached the Category 1 Alto del Monachil.
Moncoutie dropped Moerenhout. At the base of the Monachil, Moncoutie led the peloton by 10 minutes.
Liquigas drove the peloton. Riders were shelled as the field closed in on the first chase group. Tom Danielson (Garmin) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) were dropped. The peloton was reduced to a group consisting of Valverde; Sylvester Szymd, Roman Kreuzinger, and Ivan Basso (all from Liquigas); Cadel Evans (Silence); Robert Gesink (Rabobank); and Mosquera.
With 15 km left, Moncoutie was climbing the Alto de Sierra Nevada. Behind, Evans dropped out of the leaders' group with a puncture. A botched bike change and a replacement bike cost the Australian more than a minute. He got into a group with Sanchez but was eventually dropped. He would finish more than a minute behind the leaders' group and 2:23 behind Moncoutie.
Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) did the pacemaking for Gesink. The leaders' group was down to six riders: Garate, Gesink, Valverde, Rodriguez, Basso, and Mosquera. Moncoutie led this group by nearly five minutes with 11.5 km left and by four minutes four km later.
With seven km left, Mosquera attacked, and Basso led Valverde, Gesink, and Rodriguez to his wheel. One km later, Rodriguez was dropped.
The leaders' group gained on Moncoutie but could not catch him. The Frenchman, who was caught in the final km of Stage 8, grinned and raised his hands in the air as he reached the finish line.
Behind, the battle for the race lead continued. With 1.5 km remaining, Mosquera attacked. Valverde towed the others to his wheel. With one km left, Mosquera tried again. This time, he stayed away and would finish 0:24 ahead of Valverde.
In the overall, Valverde leads Gesink by 0:27 and Basso by 1:02. Stage 14 will provide no rest for the weary. The 157-km ride from Granada to La Pandera will feature three categorized climbs, the most important of which will be the Special Category Alto Sierra de La Pandera. This climb will be the finishing climb. Expect more fireworks. Who will provide them? Who will profit from them? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!