Anacona Wins Stage 9 of Vuelta a Espana; Quintana Takes Race Lead
Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) has lived up to his first name. The Colombian rode away from a daylong break to take Stage 9, a mountainous, 185-km ride from Carboneras de Guadazaon to Aramon Valdelinares, in 4:34:14. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) finished second at 0:45, and Anacona’s teammate Damiano Cunego took third at 0:50. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) gained enough seconds on teammate Alejandro Valverde to take the red jersey.
Because the peloton sensed that a break might win the day, a number of abortive sallies occurred before the bunch split into three groups with 25 km ridden. At that point, 27 riders were in the lead, followed by a 16-rider chase group, with the peloton bringing up the rear. The lead group dropped to 25 riders, while the chase group dropped to six. The latter merged with the former to form the break of the day.
Movistar rode tempo at the front of the peloton. Anacona, who began the day 2:50 behind race leader Valverde, became the virtual red jersey. The break’s advantage maxed out at 8:30 at the summit of the day’s first climb, the Category 3 Puerto de Cabigordo (124 km).
On the approach to the Category 2 Alto de San Rafael, Sky joined Movistar at the front, and other GC squads followed. Ahead, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) attacked, as did Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp). Sam Bewley (Orica-GreenEdge) countered and took the lead, but the rest of the break overtook the Australian.
More attacks took place. The resulting combustion put Anacona, Bob Jungels (Trek), and Javier Moreno (Movistar) in the lead. Moreno was in the break to monitor it for Valverde and did little work until it reached the base of the Category 1 ascent to the finish. At this point, it was obvious that a member of the trio would probably win the stage.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step paced the field up the day’s last climb on behalf of Rigoberto Uran. When the bunch had reduced the break’s advantage to four minutes, Sky took command.
Jungels fell off of the pace, and Anacona attacked with six km to go. Moreno followed the Lampre-Merida man, but Anacona dropped him. With five km left, he led the peloton by 3:40. The Colombian battled fatigue and held on for the win.
With 2.5 km remaining, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp-POC) attacked. Katusha reeled in the Irishman. With one km left, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) attacked, and Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) followed. The pair overtook Contador as he reached the finish line.
The dustup on the day’s final climb reshuffled the general classification slightly. Quintana took the red jersey, with Contador rising from third at 0:18 to second at 0:03. Valverde went from the red jersey to third at 0:08. Froome dropped from fourth at 0:20 to fifth at 0:28. Anacona jumped from 21st at 2:46 to fourth at 0:09.
Anacona expressed joy in winning and thanks to his team. “Today, I am in seventh heaven!” he said. “I have to say thanks to the whole team, from the leadership that has always believed in me, even in the hardest times, the DS present today at the race, who passed the fire necessary to achieve this victory, to all of the staff, who were always perfect in every role. Finally, let me dedicate the victory to myself and to the work that I have done to get out of bad luck since I became a professional. I hope to have continuity in my performance now and give plenty of joy to Lampre-Merida.”
Tomorrow will be the Vuelta’s first rest day. Teams and riders will formulate strategy for the coming week, which will begin with Tuesday’s 36.7-km individual time trial from Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Veruela to Borja. The course will ascend gradually for 11 km and descend to the finish. Who will win? Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Chris Froome (Sky)? Who will take the red jersey? Froome? Contador? Valverde? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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