Malori Wins Final Stage of Vuelta; Contador Wins Overall
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) has won the 2014 Vuelta a Espana. He became the winner of the race at the end of today’s 9.7-km individual time trial in Santiago de Compostela. Adriano Malori (Movistar) won the stage in 11:12, with Jesse Sergent (Trek) finishing second at 0:08 and Rohan Dennis (BMC) taking third at 0:09. Contador has won the race for the third time in his career.
Today, being an early starter paid. Malori, Sergent, and Dennis all started early. The rain began to fall shortly after Malori crossed the finish line.
Dennis started early and led at the first checkpoint, but the Australian had to slow down when the rain started falling. Despite Dennis’s caution, he hit the deck when he crashed on some slippery cobblestones toward the end of the course. After Dennis, no other rider challenged Malori.
Some of the GC riders had reasons to put the pedal to the medal, but the conditions would not allow them to do so. Chris Froome (Sky), the runner-up, wanted to win the stage to end his Vuelta on a high. The Briton took no chances in the rain, however, and he finished 63rd at 1:10. Contador was even slower, riding the course 1:40 slower than the Sky man.
Sixth and ninth places were potentially up for grabs. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) began the day 0:17 behind Samuel Sanchez (BMC) in the battle for sixth place, but the Spaniard beat back the Irishman and finished 1:08 ahead of him overall. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) started the day in 10th place, 0:06 behind Daniel Navarro (Katusha), but the Cannondale rider gained enough time to finish 0:12 ahead of the Katusha man overall.
Malori was delighted about his stage win. “I'm super happy,” the Movistar man said. “I didn't know how things could turn out today after all the work I had to do for my team leaders during the whole Vuelta. Luckily, the team gave me a free ticket to recover during yesterday's stage and I could tackle this time trial at 100 percent focus. We knew it could rain and also that all favourites but the GC contenders, riders like Dennis, Sergent, or Kristof Vandewalle [Trek], started during the first hour. When I knew I had taken eight seconds on Sergent, who looked to me like a strong favourite, I realized I had many chances to win. He put two seconds on me through the intermediate, but the second part was more for strong rouleurs, suiting me better. The watts I produced were close to the highest level I found in my time trials this season, and that means I finished the Vuelta in good condition. It's a prize for the team as well as for myself. After what happened with Nairo [Quintana], leaving with three stages and Alejandro's [Valverde] podium is quite a thing. Now, we travel to Ponferrada really excited about what we can do in the Worlds. I hope to do well there."
This year’s Vuelta win is Contador’s third. Two of those victories came after the Spaniard had less than ideal preparation. In 2012, the Tinkoff-Saxo Bank man finished a doping suspension two weeks before the beginning of the Vuelta, jumped into the Eneco Tour to sharpen for the race, and trailed Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) until stage 17, when a long escape put Contador in the lead. This year, the Tinkoff-Saxo Bank man crashed out of the Tour de France with a hairline fracture of his right tibia. He underwent surgery and physiotherapy and did not announce that he would ride the race until days before the start; Contador did not feel confident enough to announce that he would ride to win until after Stage 9. No one can accuse El Pistolero of taking the easy road.
Tinkoff-Saxo Bank directeur sportif Steven De Jongh said that Contador’s victory exceeded the team’s expectations. “It’s simply an astonishing achievement by Alberto,” De Jongh said. “Coming back from an injury like that after declaring himself out a couple of weeks before the Vuelta and not only rides well but takes the win, is just amazing. We entered the race hoping that we could get a stage win in the last week of the race but as the race progressed and Alberto felt stronger by the day, we had to change strategy and go for the overall classification. So, with two stage wins in the pocket, the combined jersey as well as the overall win, we couldn’t be happier.”
In the overall, Contador defeated Froome by 1:10 and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 1:50. Many of the riders in the Vuelta will do battle in the world championships, which will begin next week, and in the Giro di Lombardia, the season’s final classic. How will they fare? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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