Horner Climbs to Victory in Stage 10 of Vuelta; Reclaims Red Jersey
The stage began with a crash in the neutral zone that caused several riders to abandon. As a result, the neutral zone was extended for nearly 20 km. When the stage began in earnest, a number of abortive attacks occurred. Stef Clement (Belkin) ignited a move that had 19 other riders in it, but the peloton shut it down. At 53 km, the Belkin rider tried again, and Juan Antonio Flecha and Tomasz Marczynski (both from Vacansoleil-DCM), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Georg Priedler (Argos-Shimano), Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Maciej Paterski (Cannondale), Martin Kohler (BMC), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) joined him.
The bunch kept the break on a short leash, and the 10 riders led the field by five minutes at about 110 km. The peloton slowed for Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), who punctured, and the lead increased to six minutes, but it maxed out at that point.
RadioShack-Leopard took over at the front. With 35 km left, the break’s lead was down to 1:40. David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura) attacked from the peloton.
Movistar took command. Ahead, Marcyznski attacked on the descent. Priedler and Ulissi set out after the former Polish road champion, and Marczynski and Priedler led the bunch by 1:43 with 15 km to go. One km later, Ulissi joined the pair.
At the base of the special category climb to the finish, with the peloton a little more than a minute in arrears, Marczynski dropped his companions. The Movistar-led bunch reeled in Oroz, De La Cruz, and Flecha and went after Marcyznski. With 10 km remaining, the red jersey group was 1:04 behind the Pole.
With seven km to go, Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacked. Nibali countered, and the red jersey group overtook Priedler and Ulissi. Daniel Moreno (Katusha), the red jersey, was dropped. He would lose 2:21 by the time that he reached the finish line.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) attacked, but Nibali countered and Horner, Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Valverde, Rodriguez, and Nicolas Roche (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) followed him. The Nibali group caught and dropped Marczynski with a little more than five km left.
With 4.6 km to go, Horner made his move. With four km left, the RadioShack-Leopard man led Nibali’s group by 0:25. A km later, he led it by 0:41.
Nibali and Basso took turns trying to bridge up to Horner, but the rest of the group stayed with them, and the margin continued to grow. With 2.5 km remaining, Nibali attacked.
The 2010 Vuelta winner dropped his companions. He did not make inroads into Horner’s advantage, but the Italian kept the gap from widening further. At the one-km banner, Horner led Nibali by 0:50 and would obviously win.
Horner felt that the stage came down to strength and tactics. “Movistar did a good job of making an initial selection and then when Nibali attacked hard he made the selection down to four riders. I saw that Valverde was suffering so I said to myself it was time to go as hard as I could. I thought if I could get a little gap then the others would play with some tactics behind me with none of them really wanting to work too hard. I don’t have quick acceleration, but once I get up to speed I can maintain it. So I knew if I could get a small gap I would be able to keep that speed all the way to the finish.”
Despite grabbing the red jersey today, Horner does not expect to have it after Stage 11. “I don’t expect to hold the jersey after the time trial – that isn’t my specialty and Nibali is a very good time trialist. I have a little bit of a time cushion now but I’m sure Nibali knew he could give me some time before the time trial and not worry about it. I can stay very close after that until we go to another mountain stage and that will decide this Vuelta. As you can see, every top rider is alone on the last climb, so it’s going to get down to tactics every time.”
In the overall, Horner leads Nibali by 0:43 and Roche by 0:53. Tomorrow is the 2013 Vuelta’s first rest day, and the riders and team managers will recharge and plot strategies. Stage 11 will be the 2013 Vuelta’s only individual time trial. The 38.8-km ride in Tarazona will feature a Category 3 ascent that the riders will tackle early in the race. Two-time world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) should win, but the key question is how the GC contenders will do. Nibali is probably the best time trialist of the heads of state, so he should get close to the red jersey. But will he regain the overall lead? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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