Hansen Soloes to Victory in Stage 19 of Vuelta a Espana
Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) has taken Stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Australian soloed away from the field in the last five km to win the hilly, 180.5-km ride from Salvaterra do Mino to Cangas Do Morrazo in 4:21:58. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) outsprinted Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) for second at 0:05. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) remains the red jersey.
At 25 km, Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol), Laurent Mangel (FDJ.fr), and Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) sallied off of the front. The break never got more than three and a half minutes on the bunch as Orica-GreenEdge and Giant-Shimano kept the escapees on a short leash. At the summit of the Category 2 Alto do Monte da Groba (87 km), the trio led the field by 2:25.
Gradually, the pursuit closed in on the break. With a little more than 20 km left, Mangel dropped back to the bunch. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) attacked from the peloton.
The break was reeled in on the Category 2 Alto Monte Faro. At the summit, Lutsenko led the bunch by 0:10. While pursuing the Russian, Dario Cataldo (Sky) crashed on the descent. Samuel Sanchez (BMC) set out after the Astana man. With 10 km remaining, Lutsenko led the field by 0:19.
Giant-Shimano led the chase on behalf of Degenkolb and reeled in Lutsenko with five km left. Hansen counterattacked.
The peloton should have caught Hansen. However, the bunch disagreed on which team should lead the chase. While the peloton argued, the Lotto-Belisol man rode. He led the field by 0:07 with three km left, 0:14 with two km remaining, and 0:10 at the one-km banner. Giant-Shimano finally led the pursuit, but the Dutch squad was too late.
Hansen had planned to attempt to win this stage. "In the beginning of the stage I did try a few times to get in the breakaway,” he said. “Pim had also been very active and he made it. It was very good that we had a man in front. I kind of had a backup plan in mind to attack in the final. On the last second category climb I took care of Maxime Monfort. I made sure he was in good position and stayed in the first group. I had told Greg Henderson earlier that this was a stage for me. After the climb there won't be many lead-out men left, so if I would attack it would be difficult to catch me. I had tried in one of the first stages as well, but then they caught me with 500 m to go. When we had finished the descent Maxime and I were part of the first group and he said to me that I could have a go."
In the overall, Contador leads Chris Froome (Sky) by 1:19 and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 1:32. Stage 20 could shake up the standings. The 185.7-km ride from Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil to Puerto de Ancares will feature a Category 1 ascent and a special category climb to the finish. It will be the final mountain stage of the Vuelta and will present an opportunity for the contenders to take time out of their opponents before Sunday’s individual time trial. Who will win? Contador? Froome? Valverde? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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