TOP STORY: How Good was The Vuelta?
Before this year’s la Vuelta a España started I said it would have to be spectacular to beat a very good Giro d’Italia and the best Tour de France in many a year, but it looks like it managed it. There wasn’t a stage that was predictable, most stages had a surprise and let’s face it, would you have guessed a near 42 year old guy who has not raced much due to a dodgy knee would win the hardest Grand Tour of the year
Why it was so good is difficult to pin-point, it could be the shorter stages, the eleven summit finishes, the short time trial stage or the prologue team time trial. It is said that it’s the riders who make the race and that is for sure, the stars were fairly evenly matched, Horner, Nibali, Valverde, Rodriguez and Roche were the main men, but what about those young French guys, it was great to see them take their chance and succeed.
A great Vuelta and a great 2013 season that was (mostly) done on pan y agua. Next up are the World championships, let’s hope for more excitement.
When will the sun set on Chris Horner?
Vuelta a España 2013
Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) stayed away after taking part in an early breakaway on Stage 18, Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) proved once again to being the most incisive climber from the group of the favourites. By just three seconds, he didn’t dethrone race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) but took an enormous psychological advantage ahead of the last two mountain stages up to the Naranco and the Angliru in the Asturias.
As expected, time trial winner Fabian Cancellara of RadioShack-Leopard was a non starter in Burgos in front of the magnificent cathedral. 18 kilometres further, 15 riders broke away: Caleb Fairly (Garmin-Sharp), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Mikaël Chérel and Ben Gastauer (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano), Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Cannondale), Martin Kohler (BMC), Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo-Tinkoff), Grega Bole (Vacansoleil-DCM), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Kiryienka.
Cofidis and Movistar set the pace of the bunch before letting the breakaway go at km 35. Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ) pulled out of the Vuelta. Txurruka was first to top the Alto de Bocos (km 78) where the peloton was timed at 8.50. Highest ranked rider on GC Chris Anker Sorensen (20th at 22.22) took the time bonus at the hot spot sprint of Espinosa de Los Monteros (km 90) ten minutes ahead of the bunch led by Movistar, Katusha and NetApp-Endura.
Txurruka was first again on the Alto Estacas de Trueba (km 107.5) and the Puerto de La Braguia (km 128.1) but the peloton was chasing. Kiryienka attacked in the Alto del Caracol just over 40km to go and rode solo to victory. The Movistar team wasn’t able to bring him back. Sorensen reacted too late and finished second up at Pena Cabarga.
In the race for GC, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) accelerated with his team-mate Dani Moreno 2km before the top, but he was rejoined by Horner and Nibali. Horner continued solo and Nibali kept the red jersey by only three seconds ahead of stage 19.
Christopher Horner “My possibility to win the Vuelta is definitely a reality”
You’re only three seconds adrift, does it matter with two mountain stages left? “If I lose the Vuelta by three seconds, it matters. But three seconds, it’s nothing really. I don’t forget that I’ve been timed with a deficit of six seconds because of a split in stage 4! There are many places where I could have gained three seconds since the start of the Vuelta. Talking about today only, with 100 metres to go, I was worried about the last 75 metres and I raced a little safe. The finish was not as hard as I thought it would be. But the most important is that I’ve made a lot of time today.”
How did you feel up to Pena Cabarga? “In 2005, racing for Saunier Duval, I lived in an apartment down the hill in Santander for six weeks. Fortunately, I never climbed up here. It’s hard! But I was never in the red. I felt easy. I enjoyed it. I had amazing legs. Maybe I’d liked it to be a kilometer or two longer. It was not quite as long as I thought. Matthew Busche and Rob [Kiserlovski], my guys, dragged me at the bottom of the climb. Saxo led up a little bit, then Katusha took over and I got stuck behind Nicolas Roche. It cost me a little bit of time but I’m really happy with the difference I’ve made. My team has done an amazing job for me again, even without Fabian [Cancellara]. I have fantastic guys on my side. Unbelievable!”
Where do you expect to beat Vincenzo Nibali? “I’m looking forward to the Angliru. It’s going to be a big battle. The climb is the steepest with no draft. Saturday is definitely a better day than tomorrow for me to win the Vuelta, but who knows, at the Naranco I might take the jersey. That’s another climb that I don’t know. My knowledge is zero. Tomorrow, it will be a game of tactics. I prefer when it’s extremely hard. I’ll just have to go deep and make sure no one follows me. Maybe it’s better not to be in the lead yet. If I make up the gap, I’ll be in the red and win the overall classification. My possibility to win the Vuelta is definitely a reality.”
Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): “It’s been a very eventful stage. I was going very well today and I intended to gain some time over my rivals, but Horner has demonstrated to being too agile. I thought I had the race under control when he rode away. He got me off his wheel! At the age of 42, he’s very strong! For sure it’s going to be difficult to beat him if he doesn’t have any moment of weakness. Even Rodriguez has tried to drop him off and didn’t succeed. Movistar has set a very high pace. But Horner is definitely the strongest. I’m not optimistic, I’m not pessimistic, I take this result with philosophy. I came to the Vuelta to do my best. I also wanted to win a stage and I’ve not achieved that yet. But my condition has been excellent up to now. I’m still the race leader and I still believe in my chances.”
Stage winner Vasil Kiryienka (Sky): “I knew that my lead at the bottom of the final climb allowed me to win but I had to keep a steady pace, without thinking too much of what was happening behind. The fans gave me a hard time. This is my third Vuelta. I had won stages at the Giro and the Tour but I only came second here [in stage 19 to Segovia in 2008]. I badly wanted to win. That’s done. All my wins have come the same way from long breakaways. They’re due to an honest work and the trust of my team. My kisses on the finishing line were for my wife and kids but I dedicate this stage to Daniele Tortoli. He was my directeur sportif in the amateur ranks, he helped me turn pro and he died in July. I also had a bad time at Tour de France [out of time cut in the Pyrenees] but I thank my team for having kept my morale high.”
Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo-Tinkoff), second: “I’m disappointed. In my career, I have seven or eight second places… It’s frustrating. It’s good to race at the front but not winning is painful. I followed the plan. I felt that Vassil Kiryienka went too early. I should have followed him. It’s my mistake.”
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “When one gives his best, he has to be satisfied about it. The team worked a lot and I must thank all of them for their support. Horner was unstoppable – he seems like the one to beat right now, but we could still keep the pace of Nibali and Purito. I went through a critical moment when Purito jumped away with Dani Moreno: I had to drop out of the group before the other guys and keep my own pace. I knew I couldn’t be keeping that speed for long. Going on my own, I could finish better than the rest, reaching Purito and even putting five seconds on Nibali.”
“I didn’t know the Peña Cabarga climb, and it’s really hard. Actually, I thought the final part was even harder, but when I saw the final 300 meters, I knew I could go full gas because it wasn’t so steep. I had a 39 crankset and a 29 cassette – I think my choice was right. We will have another demanding stage at the Naranco tomorrow, but the Angliru will be even harder. They say Saturday will bring some rain, and that would make roads more dangerous, but we will only have one option: giving 100%. For the time being, we must recover and keep fighting on tomorrow’s stage.”
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha): “I keep trying to improve my position overall but it’s going to be very difficult. I have suffered a lot today but I had to try and do something. We wanted to play and attack from far but Horner and Nibali are stronger. Movistar also tried to race for time bonus but failed to bring the breakaway back.”
Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff): “I went too deep and Rodriguez got me back. I have a few kilos more than him! I wanted to be fifth of the GC contenders, so today I’m where I should have been. It’s not a super performance but also not a bad performance. The tempo was pretty high. I asked Rafal [Majka] to keep a steady pace as long as he could. I’m happy today.”
Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol): “It’s a mixture of emotions. Of course I’m very happy with this third place in a mountain stage, only the team and I wanted more. I made some tactical mistakes and yesterday’s break cost me a lot of energy. But with a third place in hand I won’t complain. It wasn’t really the plan to attack again today, but I’m really eager to win a stage here. I was riding in the front when a group took off of which I thought it would make it to the finish and I decided I had to be in it.”
“When Kiryienka attacked on the penultimate climb Simon Clarke went with him and the others just looked to each other. I made the jump, but I spent too much energy. Kiryienka kept the pace really high and immediately we were dropped. When we had to let others pass us by Clarke and I stuck together and eventually we could come back to the chase on Kiryienka a few kilometers before the final climb. I could move up and am happy with my climbing today.”
Vuelta a España Stage 18 Result:
1. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky in 4:46:48
2. Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Saxo-Tinkoff at 0:28
3. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol at 1:18
4. Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC at 1:34
5. Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1:42
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 1:53
7. Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 2:02
8. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:13
9. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 2:14
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 2:18.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 18:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 73:39:35
2. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:03
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:09
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:24
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:34
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 5:44
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 6:14
8. Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura at 6:35
9. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 7:51
10. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 11:10.
Stage 19 confirmed the impression of the previous day at Pena Cabarga: Chris Horner is the most incisive of the favorites. The American from RadioShack Leopard took the overall lead from Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) as he crossed the line six seconds ahead of the Italian. However, he couldn’t prevent Spanish star Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) from claiming his first victory at the 2013 Vuelta a España.
Polka dot jersey wearer Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) initiated a 20-man breakaway at 2 kilometres: Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), David Tanner (Belkin), Francis De Greef (Lotto Belisol), Rafa Valls (Vacansoleil-DCM), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Xavier Zandio (Sky), Georg Preidler (Argos-Shimano), Danilo Wyss, Ivan Santaromita & Dominik Nerz (BMC), Benat Intxausti (Movistar), Paul Voss (NetApp-Endura), Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida), Leigh Howard and Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale).
Led by Katusha and Omega Pharma-Quick Step, the peloton didn’t allow much advantage to the escapees who only had 2 :14 lead at the feed zone. After 88km’s, Boasson Hagen and Preidler rode away from the front group. They passed the Alto de San Elmiliano in that order while Edet grabbed one more point for the KOM classification.
While the peloton never had a deficit of more than 2 :30, Euskaltel remained the only team with nine riders as Astana’s Maxim Iglinskiy called it a quitS. All chasers between the leading duo and the bunch got caught with 23km to go. Dennis Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) tried his luck, joined by Mikaël Chérel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Pieter Serry & Serge Pauwels (OPQS), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), José Herrada (Movistar), José Mendes (NetApp-Endura), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel), Andriy Zeits (Astana) and Christian Knees (Sky).
Mendes was alone in the lead in the streets of Oviedo, but less than a minute behind, the peloton strongly led by FDJ and Saxo-Tinkoff didn’t give him many chance to stay away. The ascent to the Alto de Naranco was very fast. Mendes got reined in 1.1km before the finish. Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) tried their luck but were severely counter-attacked by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) who claimed his first stage win since the start in Galicia – and the third for Spain with two by his team-mate Dani Moreno. This is his seventh victory at the Vuelta a España.
Race Comments :
Stage winner Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez (Katusha): “Today I’m really happy because finally I took the stage win. The whole team was great: they worked from the first km to the end because they knew I could win. We planned to attack in the last climb: I didn’t know very well how it was, but the Sport Directors helped me and gave me the right information. As I saw the last km, I attacked: it was very hard, but I did my best in order to win the stage. I’m really happy: I’m an ambitious rider, and I strongly wanted this victory, that gives me strong motivations. Tomorrow we have the last mountain stage, which will be crucial for general classification: Angliru is much harder than today’s climb, so everything can happen. Every climber would love to win tomorrow, it’s a prestigious stage: that’s why I hope to be in this shape and fight for the victory. Today I got closer to the podium, my final goal: the team and I will fight until the last meter in order to get the best possible result. If I think I can still fight for general classification? It’s very hard, but Angliru is a terrible mountain, we are all very tired after such a tough competition, so everything can happen.”
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), second: “It’s a pity to miss out on a stage win at the Vuelta but it’s no shame to finish second behind such a great champion [Joaquim Rodriguez]. I’m happy with my ride. In fact, the most important is to feel the good shape coming ahead of the world championship. In the past three days, I’ve become certain to have an excellent condition to be able to show up at the World’s at my best.”
Most aggressive rider Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky): “It would have been nice to have a bigger gap. Yesterday, Vasil Kiryienka demonstrated that it’s possible to win a stage from a breakaway so I wanted to do the same. Unfortunately, the peloton rode full gas behind us. My condition is getting better and better, it’s looking good ahead of the world championship.”
King of the mountains Nicolas Edet (Cofidis): “The stage started on a fast note. Nico Sijmens did a great job for me. In fast, he did the same as two years ago for David Moncoutié who was fighting against Matteo Montaguti for the same jersey. My goal was to grab some points. I got one but I’ve been scared when two riders [Edvald Boasson Hagen and Georg Preidler] rode away. Shall I win the KOM classification by one point, I’ll have had a good stage today. However, my legs were much better than yesterday and we’ll draw the conclusion tomorrow.”
Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff): “It was a perfect finish for me but the attack we planned didn’t work. I was hoping to be dragged till 1km to go and try from there. I’m disappointed. We’ll debrief and start all over again tomorrow. The Angliru gave me mixed feelings in the past. It was good in 2008 but bad in 2011. It’s a very tough climb. It’s one of those stages where anything can happen.”
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “You always want to win, but there isn’t much energy left into the tank. Purito played his cards really well, and when he jumped, all the rivals looked at me, put all pressure on me to chase and I couldn’t do much more. We have gone through very hard days in this Vuelta, always full gas – we’re feeling quite tired at the moment. There’s only one decisive day left before we get to Madrid. Angliru is a demanding climb where the only strategy is putting your own pace and forgetting about your rivals. Tomorrow’s weather won’t be what I’d have liked, but we will do the best we can. Horner is looking really strong and will be the big favourite tomorrow; despite being a short gap, Nibali lost some more terrain on us two and Purito – that makes me consider Horner the strongest. The team was phenomenal once again.”
Vuelta a España Stage 19 Result:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha in 4:16:13
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:11
3. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
4. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:14
6. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:16
8. Leopold Koenig (Cze) NetApp-Endrua at 0:20
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 0:23.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 19:
1. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek in 77:56:05
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:03
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:06
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 1:57
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:49
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale 0:06:00
7. Leopold Koenig (Cze) NetApp-Endrua at 6:38
8. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 7:02
9. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 7:45
10. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 11:05.
Aged 22, Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) preceded eventual Vuelta a España overall winner Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard), who is almost 42, at the top of the mythical climb l’Angliru on Stage 20. He scored the fourth stage victory for French cycling.
At km 25, a 32-man breakaway was formed including: Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and King of the Mountains leader Nicolas Edet (Cofidis).
In the first two climbs, Edet secured the lead in the king of the mountains competition for good.
Elissonde and Tiralongo begun climbing the Angliru with an advantage of 40 seconds over their former breakaway companions and 4.30 over the red jersey group. Elissonde continued solo 6km before the summit. Nibali launched a first attack 7km away from the finish and did it again on five other occasions but with 2km to go, it was race leader Horner to get his arch-rival off his wheel while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) maintained his third position on GC over stage 20 winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
Race Comments :
Kenny Elissonde : “The Angliru is a myth”
How do you feel about winning atop the Angliru in your first Grand Tour? It’s just incredible. The Angliru is a myth. In the first part of the stage, I made the breakaway with many good climbers and I didn’t have good legs. It was a very hard stage and I’ve won it. After Alexandre Geniez at Peyragudes and our leader Thibaut Pinot finishing seventh overall, we couldn’t hope for more.
What was your knowledge of the situation of the race when climbing the Angliru? I rode away with the idea of helping Thibaut in the finale. I felt better after the first climb. I dropped Paolo Tiralongo off and the crowd’s support in the Angliru helped me to give everything I had, but that was a long, long climb. I didn’t have much info. I understood I was1.20 ahead but I wasn’t sure. I was afraid of being caught. In the downhill before the finish, when I saw the Shimano car of the neutral service, I understood that I had won.
How do you feel at FDJ? I feel very well in this team because it’s made of young riders like Geniez and Pinot. The atmosphere is great. The Madiot brothers have trusted me for being a pro cyclist last year after I joined the CC Etupes, the club of Thibaut of his brother Julien who is our coach at FDJ.
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard): “This is an amazing moment. You said Nibali attacked six times? I thought they were ten or twenty. But ok, I agree. He put on an amazing show. I can imagine how beautiful it was to watch from a couch. It must have been unbelievable for the fans. I hope people have enjoyed every pedal stroke. It was too dark in the fog, I never saw the last kilometer mark, I misunderstood the last kilometer and the banner for the KOM. When I expected a downhill, it was still going up, so I was really twisted in the hardest part. I had put on the big chain ring and I kept suffering. A guy of my age winning a Grand Tour, it’s something you’ll maybe never see again in your life. Earlier this year, when I was at home after my knee surgery, I told my 11 year old boy that I wanted to continue racing but that I might be forced to retire. He said ‘you can’t retire, it’s not cool, right now at school I tell my mates that my dad is a professional cyclist and rides Giro, Tour and Vuelta, I can’t tell them that my dad is an ex-cyclist!’ Now he will say that his dad is the only American to have won the Vuelta and the only 42 year old to have won a Grand Tour.”
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): “I’ve tried everything I could. More than that, it was impossible. I’m happy because I’ve done the whole climb flat out and I knew I could count on my team-mates who were in the breakaway. It’s been a great battle on the Angliru. I was on a great shape but it’s normal that I gave in to Horner in the finale. I’ve raced well at the Vuelta from stage 1 to now. It’s been a very hard Vuelta. I’ve honored the red jersey. Possibly at El Formigal (stage 16), I’ve underestimated Horner and he gained a few seconds, but I have to be realistic. I didn’t arrive at the Vuelta with the same condition I had at the Giro but I’ve done my best every day according to my physical possibilities. I’ve had great rivals: Horner, Valverde, Purito… They have put the rhythm of the Vuelta very high. I’m fine with the outcome. Winner of the Giro and second at the Vuelta: it’s pretty good.”
King of the Mountain Nicolas Edet (Cofidis): “It’s been a nice day. I managed to catch the breakaway with my team-mate Jérôme Coppel. I took three points atop the first climb. When two Caja Rural riders attacked with Kiryienka, I produced an effort to rejoin them and also take the five points of the second climb. I wanted to stay at the front as long as I could but I got a flat tyre before the first category climb (l’Alto del Cordal) and I was never able to come across the front of the race. There was the Angliru left. What a suffering! I fin dit hard to realise that I’m the king of the mountains of the Vuelta. That’s beyond my hopes. It’s enormous for me.”
Alejandro Valverde: “I gave everything that I had and I’m satisfied with myself. We must congratulate Horner after such a great effort – we saw he was the strongest in the race once again, he was phenomenal. Nibali was great, too – he was brave and made us struggle a lot. I think all four main contenders did really well. I knew I’d be climbing well on my pace, but I needed one of my rivals to crack in order to progress in the overall. That didn’t happen and that’s why I’m happy with this third place. It’s yet another podium overall in the Vuelta a España, and despite not winning a stage, we were always at the front and we secured the Points jersey. We were able to stay regular through all three weeks, and that’s fantastic – the team was also impressive today. Let’s hope this is a good step to making something beautiful at the Firenze Worlds in two weeks’ time.”
Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) “I feel happy and satisfied. I went for a top-5 result and here I am. I knew my ambitions were high and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but with a team like Saxo-Tinkoff including both staff and riders backing me up 100% all the way, paying back 100% becomes natural. I’m honoured and thankful for the massive support from the entire team but also the fans for the active support via Twitter and Facebook, states Nicolas Roche and adds: “A very special thanks to Bjarne (Riis) for his very important advice regarding the general tactics and not least to make me believe that I could perform everyday throughout the race.”
Vuelta a España Stage 20 Result:
1. Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ in 3:55:36
2. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:26
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:54
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
5. Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC at 1:15
7. José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp-Endura at 1:45
8. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 1:52
9. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 1:59
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 20:
1. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek in 81:52:01
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:37
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:38
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 3:22
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff at 7:11
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 8:00
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 8:41
8. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 9:51
9. Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura at 10:11
10. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 13:11.
Australian sprinter Michael Matthews of Orica-GreenEdge won the Final Stage 21 of the 2013 Vuelta a España ahead of Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Nikias Arndt (Argos-Shimano), while Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) enjoyed his first Grand Tour overall victory at the age of almost 42.
Following a quiet parade in the outskirts of Madrid through Pinto, the home of Alberto Contador who was busy contesting the GP of Montreal in Canada, the winners of the teams classification Euskaltel entered the capital at the front of the bunch as a symbolic “adios” from the folding Basque squad. Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) attacked at km 69. He was rejoined by Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) with 32km to go.
The leading duo was reeled in during the final lap while sprinters’ teams Sky, Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge geared up for the inevitable bunch gallop. In a contrasted Vuelta marked by an old overall winner and young stage winners, Matthews, 22, scored his second victory after stage 5 to Lagos de Sanabria.
Race Comments :
Christopher Horner: “I want to race for another two seasons.”
“It’s been a fantastic Vuelta. I came here super motivated and the organizers gave a tailor-made course for my style of racing with only a short time trial. I don’t know if I believed I could win the Vuelta but I believed I could make the podium. It’s a lifetime of memories and hard work to get here. Every year of my 19-year long career, I’ve tried to be a better cyclist. Every victory is amazing and all Grand Tours have a special place in the memories of the riders, but this one will last for ever. It’s so complicated to get to this level. My daughters are 16 and 14, my son is 11, at the difference of most children of Grand Tour winners, they understand what they’re watching. Coming back home will be amazing too. Spain is always special to me. My character fits well with Spanish lifestyle. I particularly feel at home in the Basque country. I hope that people have enjoyed the show. There’s a possibility that I won’t continue with the same team-mates. I don’t know where I’m gonna be next year, I can’t talk about the Tour de France as long as I don’t know which team I’ll ride for but I want to race for another two seasons at least because my legs are feeling well and I’m psychologically very strong.”
Stage 21 winner Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge): “It’s a dream come true. It’s one thing to come to a Grand Tour with good form and good spirit, it’s another thing to come out of a Grand Tour with two stage wins including the last one. I wasn’t expecting two stage wins. It was a difficult task for my team-mates to bring me to a sprint finish but they’ve done it at perfection, today and the rest of the Tour. I couldn’t ask for more. My victories come from the team spirit and all the work done with my coach, Brian Stephens. In the third week of the Vuelta, I didn’t think too much of this stage in Madrid. I was more concerned about not wasting energy. There weren’t maybe all the best sprinters in the world at this Vuelta, but the sprints were also not the usual ones. The sprinters that were here are the world’s top sprinters on this terrain. To win on the Champs-Elysées at the Tour de France as well as here is a bit of a step but that’s my goal for the future. I first have to make the Tour team.”
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), second: “I’m disappointed. My team led me out quite far away from the finish but it was better to stay out of trouble. They did a very good job. I was positioned right behind Matthews. He didn’t surprise me. He just beat me in the sprint. He was faster. This is my sixth time finishing second this year and I have only one victory. I have the team time trial world championship, the Franco-Belge and Paris-Tours left on my program. With the form I have, I don’t want to finish the season without one more victory.”
Runner up Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): “Coming second of the Vuelta after winning the Giro, for sure it means I’m having an exceptional season. I’ve been strong in the last week of the Vuelta. Today again I wasn’t feeling tired. That’s a good sign before the world championship. I need to recover some energy and do the last training rides in altitude. In Florence, I’ll have to be brave and race smartly. It’s going to be a tough World’s. The polemics around Chris Horner winning the Vuelta at almost 42 are a consequence of what happened in the past. He has raced very little before coming to Spain. He was fresh like nobody else in the peloton.”
King of the mountains Nicolas Edet (Cofidis): “It’s impressive to ride on the Paseo del Prado and the Paseo della Castellana with a distinctive jersey. Earlier in the Vuelta, I tried to wear it but I never thought it was possible for me to be the king of the mountains like my former team-mate David Moncoutié. I rode my first Vuelta at his service but I didn’t finish it. This polka dot jersey is the real start of my career.”
Points classification winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “The green jersey highlights my regularity during all those three weeks. I’ve been close to winning a few times. After the Tour de France I did – I should have made the podium in Paris as well if it wasn’t for my mistake – I’m delighted to have been twice on stage here, for third place overall and points classification.”
Samuel Sanchez, team classification winner (Euskaltel-Euskadi): “We quit the scene with joy but it was inevitable that a few cries would emerge from our gathering on stage. We’ve had wonderful years together. Above all, we’re a family.”
Best young rider Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), seventh overall: “I started the Vuelta with the hope of a top ten finish. It’s mission accomplished. In every hard stage, I was between 5th and 8th. I’ve had two or three difficult days but I can reasonably say that I’ll target a higher rank in stage races next year. I’m happy with our team spirit and our two stage wins [with Alexandre Geniez at Peyragudes and Kenny Elissonde at the Angliru].”
Michael Morkov (Saxo-Tinkoff): “I’m one of the riders of the Vuelta who go home with a first victory in a Grand Tour. My palmarès has changed in the past three weeks. I’m proud of what is my biggest win so far. But I’m not a different person.”
In 2014, the 69th Vuelta will kick off from Cadix, Andalucia, in the far south of Spain.
Vuelta a España Stage 21 Result:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 2:44:00
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
3. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano
4. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
6. Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
8. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Argos-Shimano
9. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Robert Wagner (Ger) Belkin.
Vuelta a España Final Overall Result:
1. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek in 84:36:04
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:37
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:36
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 3:22
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 7:11
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 8:00
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 8:41
8. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 9:51
9. Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura at 10:11
10. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 13:11.
GP Cycliste de Québec 2013
With an impressive final effort, Robert Gesink won the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec Friday. The Belkin Pro Cycling Team cyclist rode a powerful final kilometre and out-sprinted French champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Greg van Avermaet (BMC) on the slightly uphill arrival.
BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet followed the wheel of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in the uphill sprint at the end of the 201.6-kilometer race that comprised 16 laps of a circuit. But Sagan faded and Van Avermaet was not fast enough to catch the two riders ahead of him in registering his 12th podium result of the season. “I’m a little bit disappointed,” Van Avermaet said. “I think I was close to winning. But I was waiting a bit for Sagan in the sprint. But he was also tired. Gesink did a really good sprint. I was a little bit too far back in the end. I’ll have another chance in Montréal (Sunday), where I will try to do another good result and hopefully it will be first place.” A year ago, Van Avermaet was runner-up in Québec to Simon Gerrans. This season, he has four wins to go along with five runner-up finishes and three third-place results.
Past the mid-point of the race, the BMC Racing Team put the peloton in a panic by placing three riders – Amaël Moinard, Steve Morabito and Tejay van Garderen – into what became a nine-rider breakaway that lasted nearly 35 kilomètres. BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Jackson Stewart said the aggressive tactics were by design. “We didn’t want Cannondale to be able to control it,” he said. “We thought the wind would have been more of a tailwind down by the water. But it kind of ended up being in between. So it wasn’t easy to stay off the front. We did exactly as we planned. It just didn’t work out in the end.” Cadel Evans was also in the top 15 for the BMC Racing Team, placing 12th, eight seconds back.
Race winner, Belkin’s Robert Gesink: “I did not expect that this uphill finish still remained after such a gruelling race with all those little climbs,” said Gesink. “I’m still a little bit shaky. It was not a flat sprint, it was pretty hard, but I’m still a bit surprised. Apparently, everyone was exhausted.”
The Quebec win lifted a burden off of Gesink’s shoulders. “I had a bit of a difficult year,” Gesink explained. “The Giro d’Italia was difficult and didn’t go as planned, so this victory means something special. I’ve had to work very hard for it.”
Gesink immediately fell in the arms of his girlfriend and daughter at the finish. When the Belkin Pro Cycling Team rider won the 2010 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, his girlfriend had already left for home after being on training camp through America with him. He added, “She regretted that so much.” Gesink showed her what she was missing and repaid her support with the Quebec today.
With his victory in Quebec, Gesink is the first rider to have both Canadian WorldTour classics in his palmares. “The races here are very hard, everyone is at his max in the final so that even I can win a sprint,” he explained. “And on Sunday? Who knows. I ‘m feeling really good. Anything is possible.”
“This is what you hope for, but I would not have dared to dream about his,” said Sports Director Frans Maassen. “We told Robert that he had to wait until the very last moment because we thought he could win the sprint. It’s incredible that he was able to succeed in that way.”
Maassen had positive words for the entire team. Gesink’s teammates left him on his own to do his work at three kilometres from the line. “They did an excellent job,” said Maassen. “We agreed not to go along with an escape unless riders from teams BMC and Cannondale there. When three BMC riders jumped, Jack Bobridge did a great job by jumping along with them. Everything went according to plan. Eventually, we ended up with three men in the top 20 with Robert, Tom-Jelte and Paul. All in all, I’m a very happy man.”
Saxo-Tinkoff’s Matti Breschel rode a good race and finished 8th: “It was a very tough race with a lot of climbing and it was practically run as a World Championship on my part. Basically, we had Alberto and me as captains, and I was supported by Karsten (Kroon) most of the day and I tried not to spend too much energy on the climbs. In the absolute finale, I kind of messed up in the battle for position so there were a couple of gaps in front of me. So I had to bridge to the front group at the entrance to the last one and a half kilometres. But other than that, I’m content with my condition. I’ve been working hard to get here and naturally, I hope for a spot in the line-up for the worlds.”
GP Cycliste de Québec Result:
1. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin in 4:58:13
2. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
4. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp
5. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar
6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin
8. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo-Tinkoff
9. Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano
10. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 0:06.
The action from Québec:
GP Cycliste de Montréal 2013
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) again showed why he is the best of the “New Guard” of Young riders by winning the GP de Montréal in Canada on Sunday. He didn’t wait for a sprint finish, instead he took off with 5 kilometres to on the Côte de la Polytechnique and soloed to the finish. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) looked to have the home victory as he had attacked earlier, but Sagan had other ideas. Behind Sagan a group of 10 riders formed the chase, but could not close on the flying Slovakian. Hesjedal jumed away from the chasers but was beaten to the line by Simone Ponzi of Astana. At the post race press conference Sagan reveiled that he wanted to work with Hesjedal to the finish, the Canadian replied that “maybe you should have slowed down a bit.”
GP Cycliste de Montréal Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale in 5:20:07
2. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana at 0:04
3. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:07
5. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar
7. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana
8. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin at 0:09
9. Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10. Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard Trek.
GP de Montréal action:
Tour of Britain 2013
Stage 1 in Scotland started in Peebles and finished in Drumlanrig Castle 201 wet kilometres later with a win for Elia Viviani (Cannondale) from Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and this year’s Milano-Sanremo winner; Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka). The break of the day gained a maximum lead of 5 minutes and included: Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT), Christophe Laborie (Sojasun), Aaron Gate (AN Post Chain Reaction), Peter Hawkins (IG Sigma Sport) and Ben Greenwood (IG Sigma Sport). Omega Pharma – Quick-Step pulled them back, only for Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) to jump away, pass the break and take a lead of 1 :32 with less than 30 kilometres to go. Sky again towed the bunch up for Alex Dowsett (Movistar) to go on a solo attack with 12 K’s to go. His attack also failed and the sprinters teams took control. The tricky sprint final caught some riders out and Viviani came through for the win.
Tour of Britain Stage 1 Result :
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale in 6:4:43
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
4. Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani Valvole CSF Inox
5. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
6. Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Sojasun
7. Shane Archbold (NZ) An Post Chain Reaction
8. Jonathan Dibben (GB) Great Britain
9. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
10. James Williamson (NZ) Node 4 Giordana Racing.
Tour of Britain Overall After Stage 1 :
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale in 6:04:33
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma Quick-Step at 0:04
3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:06
4. Aaron Gate (NZ) An Post Chain Reaction
5. Christophe Laborie (Fra) Sojasun
6. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Sojasun) at 0:07
7. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:08
8. Peter Hawkins (Irl) Team IG Sigma Sport
9. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky at 0:09
10. Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani Valvole CSF Inox at 0:10.
Zoncolan and Trieste: The Grand Finale of the 2014 Giro d’Italia
Press Release: The 2014 Giro d’Italia will finish in the Fruili Venezia Giulia region and decide the winner of the 97th edition of the Giro. The Grande Arrivo in Trieste follows the monster Zoncolan climb and is poignant as it cooincides with the 60th anniversary of the annexation of the regional capital to Italy.
The return of the finish to the area reinforces the strong bond between the Giro d’Italia and the region: it was the scene of the Grande Partenza of the Giro from Trieste in 1981, and three Grandi Arrivi, including two in Trieste 1966 (won by Gianni Motta) and 1973 (Eddy Merckx), and one in Udine in 1983 (Giuseppe Saronni).
The area remains etched in the history of the Italy – and not just for cycling as, after the annexation of the area to Italy, the Giro ended in Trieste.
It was 30 June, 1946, and during the stage Rovigo – Trieste anti-Italians activists, in favour of the annexation of Trieste to Yugoslavia, blocked the caravan of the Giro about 2km east of Pieris, blocking the road with concrete blocks and targeting armed Italian guards by throwing stones and nails. The organization of the Giro had already decided to close the stage in Pieris, with equal times for everyone, but some racers – led by Giordano Cottur – insisted on reaching Trieste anyway. Some riders were escorted on military vehicles up to Grignano, from where they headed for the finish line and made for the hippodrome of Montebello in the north of Trieste, where they were hailed and carried in triumph by the inhabitants of the city.
This year, the climb of the Monte Zoncolan will prove instrumental in deciding the final selection of this edition before the Great Arrival in Trieste.
Saturday 31 May, 2014 will see Stage 20, 167km from Maniago – Monte Zoncolan.
The first portion of the stage winds it way through the hills of Friuli along roads that, for the most part, have previously never been touched by the Giro d’Italia. The route will go though well-known places such as Daniele del Friuli and Majano, as well as less well-known places such as Buia and Bordano. After Tolmezzo the riders will face the mountain factor: first, the Passo del Pura, then the Sella di Razzo, and finally Monte Zoncolan from the classic line of Ovaro.
Passo del Pura is a steady climb that runs along the side of the mountain in a series of switchbacks for about 9km at an average gradient of 8% but with peaks in double figures. A short descent will bring the race to the dam of Sauris lake where the race will turn upwards once more for the ascent of the 15km-long Sella Razzo, with its average gradient of 5.5%, but with peaks over 10%. Following a long and rapid descent towards the But valley before tackling the 10.1km Kaiser Zoncolan, with its average gradient of 11.9% and peaks over 20%.
It will be the fourth time that a stage of the Giro d’Italia concludes with an uphill finish on Monte Zoncolan – once it climbed from the slope of Sutrio while the other three climbed from Ovaro. The winners were Gilberto Simoni (2003 and 2007), Ivan Basso (2010), and Igor Anton (2011).
The next day, Sunday 1 June, 2014, will see the 21st and final stage of the 97th Giro, taking in 169km from Gemona del Friuli – Trieste.
The stage follows a generally downhill profile towards the lowlands and the regional capital. Passing through places of historical interest – such as Cividale del Friuli and his Devil’s Bridge, with its Redipuglia Ossuary of the twelve battles of the Isonzo, and the Maximilian of Habsburg’s Miramare Castle – the riders will eventually reach Trieste where the race will end following eight laps of the city’s 7.3km fast circuit, with only one slight rise.
2014 Giro d’Italia stage 20 to the Monte Zoncolan:
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