Konig Notches First Grand Tour Stage Win for NetApp-Endura
The hostilities began early. The peloton reeled in a number of breaks before 13 men got clear at 28 km. They were Christian Meier (GreenEdge), Kevin De Weert (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Matthew Busche (Radio-Shack-Leopard), Dominik Herz (BMC), Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Benat Intxausti (Movistar), Dario Cataldo (Sky), Ben Gastauer (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Rafael Valls Ferri (Vacansoleil-DCM), Francis De Greef (Lotto-Belisol), Jorge Azanza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp), Bartosz Hutarski (NetApp-Endura), and Thierry Hupond (Argos-Shimano). The baker’s dozen ran up a two-minute lead before the peloton pegged it, realizing that Hutarski had begun the day 0:45 behind Nibali (Astana). The other break members pressured the Pole to drop out of the group, which he did. The break then proceeded to forge ahead, leading by four and a half minutes at 94 km. Nerz, who began the day 2:57 behind Nibali, became the red jersey on the road.
The peloton, led by NetApp-Endura, began to chase. The gap narrowed to 3:40 with 51 km left, 3:00 with 31 km to go, and 2:12 with 20 km remaining. At the base of the climb to the finish (152.1 km), the break was about one minute ahead of the bunch.
RadioShack-Leopard led the pursuit. The Luxembourger squad’s pacemaking dropped Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Bank-Tinkoff). Ahead, attrition took its toll, and with six km left, only Nerz and Cataldo remained in the lead.
One km later, Nerz and Cataldo were reeled in. Anton countered, and Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) set out after him. With 3.6 km left, the Euskaltel-Euskadi man led the red jersey group by 0:24.
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) attacked the red jersey group. Nibali led the remainder of the group to the American. Horner accelerated again, and Ivan Basso (Cannondale) followed with another acceleration. With 2.4 km left, Anton led the Nibali group by 0:09.
Basso tried another unsuccessful acceleration. Konig and Thibaut Pinot (Francaise des Jeux) attacked, and the Italian joined them. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Roche joined the trio.
In the last km, Konig put his cards on the table. The NetApp-Endura man jumped up to and away from Anton. Moreno set out after the Czech but could not catch him. Roche took third place and the red jersey.
Konig was elated for himself and his team, which was a wildcard entry to the Vuelta. “This is for sure incredible and I am more than happy. I told the team this morning that I want to win this stage and asked for the support of the whole team. The guys were amazing. They had to stand up against the whole peloton and we did it. I am proud that we realized the victory together. That was so important for us. Now everyone realizes that we are able to play our cards."
"Leaving today's victory behind me, I will focus on this tough stage tomorrow because it is a new opportunity and we are here to take all opportunities. I want to repay the team for its great work and of course the Vuelta organization for trusting us with a wildcard,” König added.
In the overall, Roche leads Horner and Moreno by 0:17. Stage 9 could alter the standings again. The 163.7-km ride from Antequera to Valdepenas de Jaen will feature the Category 2 Alto de los Frailes and a tough uncategorized ascent to the finish. It will be a chance for the contenders to steal seconds from each other. Who will prosper? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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