Niemiec Wins Stage 15 of Vuelta a Espana
Lampre-Merida has taken its second stage of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana. Today, Przemyslaw Niemiec did the honors for the Italian squad. The Polish veteran was the sole survivor of the break of the day, and he soloed home to take Stage 15, a 152.2-km ride from Oviedo to Lagos de Covadonga in 4:11:09. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) outsprinted Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) for second at 0:05. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) remains the race leader, but he saw his overall lead reduced.
As was the case in Stage 14, the break of the day did not form quickly. In fact, more than an hour elapsed before Niemiec, Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), Kristof Vandewalle (Trek), and Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) sallied off of the front. The quintet’s advantage had ballooned to 11 minutes at 88 km.
Movistar took up the chase on behalf of Valverde, but the Spanish squad was really keeping things under control and riding tempo. The break still led the bunch by eight minutes with 39 km left. At this point, the field was on the Category 2 Puerto del Torno.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) crashed. His teammates dropped back to pace him back to the peloton, but Katusha and eventually Tinkoff-Saxo Bank added muscle to the pursuit, and the acceleration made the American squad’s task more difficult. Martin took a bike from a teammate, and he and his teammates chased for 20 km until he rejoined the peloton on the approach to the special category climb to the finish.
With 23 km left, the escapees led the field by five minutes. The gap had narrowed by a minute at the base of the final ascent.
Meyer attacked, and Niemiec joined the Australian. With five km left, Niemiec dropped Meyer and set out on his own.
Behind, the members of the red jersey group had begun to attack. Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) attacked, and Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) joined the Frenchman. Barguil made another move, but Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Caruso stayed with the Giant-Shimano man. With 6.3 km left, Rodriguez jumped across to the trio.
Contador attacked. Rodriguez, Martin, and Valverde covered the move, but Contador attacked again, and only Rodriguez and Valverde could join him. The Tinkoff-Saxo Bank man got no cooperation from his companions, however. A concerted effort by the three would have caught Niemiec and buried Chris Froome (Sky), who began the day in third overall at 1:13. Rodriguez and Valverde let Contador do the work, however, and dropped him in the last km.
This stage produced another shakeup of the standings. Contador lost 11 seconds of his lead to Valverde as a result of the Movistar man taking second place and the six bonus seconds that came with it. Rodriguez gained nine seconds on the red jersey, while Froome remained in third place but lost seven seconds. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) fell from fifth at 2:07 to sixth at 2:57. Samuel Sanchez (BMC) fell from seventh at 3:26 to eighth at 5:02.
Today’s victory was the biggest of Niemiec’s career, and the Lampre-Merida man was elated. “After four years in this team, I obtained my first victory in such an important race as the Vuelta and at the charming finish of La Covadonga,” Niemiec said. “I feel so excited. I am happy that I could give this joy to the management of the team that always supported me.”
In the overall, Contador leads Valverde by 0:31 and Froome at 1:20. Stage 16 will shake up the standings yet again. The mountainous, 160.5-km ride from San Martín del Rey Aurelio to La Farrapona, Lagos de Somiedo will be the 2014 Vuelta’s queen stage. It will feature four Category 1 climbs, one of which will be the climb to the finish. Once again, a large break will escape from the peloton. Who will be in it? Who will win the stage? Who will wear the red jersey at day’s end? Contador? Valverde? Froome? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
Watch Vuelta a Espana videos in our videos section, check out our bike shop , subscribe to our Twitter feed @RoadCyclingCom and like our Facebook page . Become a better cyclist by starting a training diary - brought to you by TrainingPeaks/Roadcycling.com and used by many of the pro riders who are competing in this year's Vuelta a Espana.