Martin Wins Stage 10 of Vuelta a Espana; Contador Takes Red Jersey
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is on target for the world time trial championship later this month. The German powered over the 36.7-km course from Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Veruela to Borja, winning in 47:02. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) finished second at 0:11, and Martin’s teammate Rigoberto Uran took third at 0:15. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) finished fourth and took the red jersey from Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who crashed and lost 4:07.
Jesse Sergeant (Trek) set the early standard with a 48:15. The New Zealander remained at the top of the leaderboard until Cancellara crushed it with his 47:13. Martin was on the road when Cancellara crossed the finish line, however, and bettered the Swiss star’s time.
The GC contenders’ main goal was, in the case of some, to take time out of each other, and in the case of others, to limit their losses. Cadel Evans (BMC) rode a strong 47:51, while his teammate and captain Samuel Sanchez outdid Evans by a second. When Sanchez reached the 11.2-km checkpoint, which was at the top of a Category 3 climb, he had the day’s fastest time.
Chris Froome (Sky) began the day in eighth place at 0:28. Given that the Briton is a time trial specialist, he had good reason to expect to move up on GC. Froome traversed the first 11.2 km of the course in 19:59, but this time was slower than the times of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Quintana, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), or Contador. Froome might have been expected to gather momentum on the downhill and flat sections of the course, but he did not do so, and the Sky man stopped the clock at 48:41. He lost 1:03 to Contador and is now fifth at 1:18.
Valverde, who is not the best of time trialists, did a fine job limiting his losses. The Movistar man bettered Sanchez’s intermediate time. He lost only 0:24 to Contador and remains in second place overall. Before Contador finished his ride, Valverde was the virtual red jersey.
Rodriguez, who is probably less of a time trialist than Valverde, began the day in sixth place at 0:30. He did about as well as could be expected, going over the course in 48.52. The Spaniard did not lose any GC places, but he did lose 1:10 to Contador. Nonetheless, he remains in overall contention at 1:37.
After Stage 9, Uran was ninth overall at 1:26. The Colombian was the only contender to gain time on Contador. He vaulted to second at 0:59 and is in the thick of the fight.
The rider who experienced the biggest reversal of fortune was Quintana. The overall leader at the beginning of the day, the Movistar man posted a 19:50 at the 11.2-km checkpoint but crashed on the descent from it. He was slow remounting, which caused some to think that the Colombian would abandon. Quintana pressed on, but his time (51:10) has him in 11th place at 3:25.
Despite being the best time trialist in the field, Martin found the course difficult. "It was one of the hardest time trials this year," the Omega Pharma-Quick Step man said. "The mountain was quite hard. It was hard to find a rhythm and still keep some energy for the second part with the descent and the flat sections. It was also technical with a lot of corners. For sure it was a challenge. I also had some issues with heat at the end. I wasn't so sure about the win. But I'm super happy I did it, as this is a race that does not suit me perfectly and there are plenty of strong time trialists here at La Vuelta. I made up some time on the second part of the parcours. We made some good analysis with the team before the race so I was well prepared. I also never had any problems in the corners thanks to the performance of my Specialized Shiv. I also see that my condition is good, and I think this gives me huge morale in anticipation of Worlds.”
In the overall, Contador leads Valverde by 0:27 and Uran by 0:59. The Tinkoff-Saxo Bank man’s first challenge will occur tomorrow in Stage 11. The 153.4-km ride from Pamplona to Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar will have two climbs, a Category 3 ascent and the Category 1 climb to the finish. The stage will be another GC battle. Who will win the stage? Contador? Valverde? Rodriguez? Will Contador keep the red jersey? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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