Geniez Climbs to Victory in Stage 15 of Vuelta
Alexandre Geniez (Francaise des Jeux) has won Stage 15 of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana. The Frenchman, one of two survivors of a daylong break, took the 224.9-km ride from Andorra to Peyragudes, France in 6:20:12. Scarponi, the other survivor, finished second at 3:03, and Nicolas Roche (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) took third at 3:07. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished fourth at 3:20 and remains the red jersey.
Cool, dry conditions greeted the riders. After a series of abortive sallies, including one that contained 30 riders, Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura) attacked at 23 km on the Category 1 Puerto del Canto. Twenty-seven other riders joined him, among whom were Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Andre Cardoso (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Mikael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Geniez, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), and Francis De Greef (Lotto-Belisol). At the summit, the group was 2:04 ahead of the peloton.
The break made slow progress in drawing away from the bunch, so on the day’s second climb, the Category 1 Puerto de la Bonaigua, Cherel, Barguil, Geniez, and De Greef attacked the others. Cardoso and Edet joined them, and at the top, the sextet was 2:27 ahead of the rest of the chase group, with the peloton 6:40 in arrears.
The peloton ate into the fugitives’ lead. At 139 km, the lead group was 2:55 ahead of the rest of the original break, but the peloton was at 5:30. With 48 km left, the bunch had closed to within 4:40 of the leaders and 3:30 of the bunch.
On the Col du Port de Bales, Geniez and Cardoso attacked. Behind, the chase group disintegrated. At the summit, with 35 km to go, the pair led the peloton by 5:05, with riders scattered along the road between leaders and bunch. Roche attacked from the peloton and led it by 0:20 at the top.
On the descent, Geniez pulled away from Cardoso. Behind, Roche linked up with teammate Oliver Zaugg, who had been part of the original break. The pair forged a one-minute lead over the peloton. Francaise des Jeux took over at the front and began to chase to protect seventh place Thibaut Pinot’s position.
When Geniez began climbing the Col de Peyresourde, he was 1:20 ahead of Cardoso and more than five minutes ahead of Zaugg and Roche, with the peloton at 6:08. The Saxo Bank-Tinkoff duo was overtaking the break members, but they could not reduce the gap between themselves and Geniez.
The heads of state began to battle on the Col de Peyresourde. Astana led the 20-strong peloton up the climb. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) made the first move, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) countered it. Nibali then attacked and took Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) with him. Having reasserted his authority, the Italian dropped back to the peloton. Pinot accelerated. The combustion reduced the red jersey group to Nibali, Horner and Robert Kiserlovski (both from RadioShack-Leopard), Valverde, Pinot, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rigoberto Uran (Sky), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura).
Sanchez attacked, and Rodriguez countered. Nibali pulled the rest of the group to the back. The gap between the red jersey group and Roche was narrowed to 0:31 with nine km left.
Kiserlovski began pacemaking for Horner. The acceleration reduced Geniez’s lead, but the Frenchman would not be caught. Sanchez and Konig were dropped, but both got back on on the descent before the short climb to the finish. Sanchez attacked on the final climb, and the others let him go.
Rodriguez attacked, but the rest of the group reeled him in. With three km remaining, Geniez was 4:22 ahead of the red jersey group.
Horner accelerated, and Valverde, Nibali, Rodriguez, and Pozzovivo joined him. One km later, Nibali took over and led the group across the line. They were 3:20 behind Geniez, 3:03 behind Scarponi, and 3:07 behind Roche.
In the overall, Nibali leads Horner by 0:50 and Valverde by 1:42. Stage 16 will be another high mountain stage. The 147.7-km ride from Graus to Formigal will feature a Category 2 climb before the first category ascent to the finish. There will be an early break, but the red jersey group will catch it. A member of that group will win the stage. Who will it be? Nibali? Horner? Valverde? Rodriguez? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!