Vuelta 2014: Alberto Contador soloes to victory in Queen Stage

Alberto ContadorMonday, September 8 - Three tough mountain stages in a row and today's is the last one leading in 158.5 kilometres from San Martin del Rey Aurelio to La Farrapona. Along the way riders are to crest four 1ste category mountains and one 2nd category mountain. Chris Froome detonates the fireworks on the closing climb whilst Alberto Contador takes over to solo to victory. El Pistolero puts 15 seconds into Chris Froome and almost 1 minute into both Valverde and Rodríguez. Who is going to beat the 'red powerhouse' from Pinto, or is Contador working on his third Vuelta-victory in his career? (Slideshow route/profile)

Vuelta 2014: Results stage 16

1. Alberto Contador (spa)
2. Chris Froome (gbr) + 0.14
3. Alessandro De Marchi (ita) + 0.50
4. Alejandro Valverde (spa) + 0.55
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (spa) + 0.59
6. Fabio Aru (ita) + 1.06
7. Daniel Martin (Irl) + 1.12
8. Robert Gesink (Nld) + 1.22
9. Samuel Sánchez (spa) + 1.43
10. Ryder Hesjedal (can) + 1.48
11. Warren Barguil (fra) + 1.51

50. Rigoberto Uran (col) + 15.46

GC after stage 16
1. Alberto Contador (spa)
2. Alejandro Valverde (spa) + 1.36
3. Chris Froome (gbr) + 1.39
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (spa) + 2.29
5. Fabio Aru (ita) + 3.38
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) + 6.17
7. Robert Gesink (Nld) + 6.43
8. Samuel Sánchez (spa) + 6.56
9. Warren Barguil (fra) + 8.37
10. Damiano Caruso (ita) + 9.12

16. Rigoberto Uran (col) + 18.53

Race report
Rohan Dennis is the first to attack once the flag is dropped. He is accompanied by 10 riders, but the pack is at their heels and only Dennis himself plus Laurens ten Dam, Luis León Sánchez, Adriano Malori, Peter Kennaugh and Ivan Rovny are willing to give it a try. While the other escapees go back to the bunch and at the same time Romain Sicard, Gianluca Brambilla and Johan Le Bon join the leaders.

Just under the top of Alto de la Colladona Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome get clear from the pack and try to get across. They are cresting at 18 seconds from the leaders and that’s the moment for Joaquim Rodríguez to wake up. In the downhill of La Colladona Katashua manages to catch Contador et al, whilst Peio Bilbao, Alessandro De Marchi, Damiano Cunego and Wout Poels do make it across. In this constellation the gain of the break is rapidly growing to over 8 minutes.

With 48 kilometres done Katusha starts to control the race.

At Alto de del Cordal the gain is down to under 6 minutes. Surprisingly Rigoberto Uran, 6th in the overall, is dropped at the 2nd category climb. Peter Velits brings him back in the pack, but it’s reprieve – the Colombian is dropped at both the Alto de la Cobertoria and at the Alto de San Lorenzo, with that last drop being the end of his overall ambitions.

Cancellara does some World Championships training in between and when the Swiss is reeled in at the penultimate climb, the future of the break away looks bleak as well. Only 2’32” left, a sign for Brambilla, De Marchi and Poels to attack. At the top they have a minutes gain over the GC-men.

At the closing climb Brambilla is expelled due to a ‘cycling fist fight’ with Rovny earlier in the race and it’s two upfront now. Uhm, make that one. De Marchi goes solo with 10 kilometres left.

At 6 kilometres the gap is 1’33”. De Marchi is in the steepest section by now, since the final 6,5 kilometres go up by an average grade of 9.4%, with max grades of 12.5%.

Sky is setting the pace in what is left of the pack and with 4 kilometres to go Froome makes his move. Contador is able to react, whilst Valverde, Rodríguez and Aru are forced to pursuit.

Froome and Valverde catch De Marchi and at 2 kilometres the two have a 40 seconds gain over Valverde, Rodríguez and Aru. Froome dictated the pace all the way and Contador sticked to his wheel, but in the last kilometres El Pistolero is off and he soloes to victory. Not only does he put time into his opponents, he takes bonification seconds as well.

Vuelta 2014 stage 16: Images and more

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Alberto Contador

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