Vuelta a España (st. 19)
Rodríguez (KAT) makes his explosivity count atop the Naranco; closes in on Valverde, still in 3rd overall -1.06 behind new leader Horner (RLT)- before decisive climb of L’Angliru
A tremendously fast third-to-last stage -45 kph average after the first three hours of racing-, 181km from San Vicente de la Barquera to the top of the Cat-2 Alto del Naranco, caused another lead change in the 2013 Vuelta a España, who will depart tomorrow with Chris Horner (RLT) in the red jersey. The American took six seconds on Nibali (AST) after coming into the favourites’ group, also featuring Alejandro Valverde in 6th place, 15 seconds behind the day’s winner Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT), whose attack with 900m remaining launched him into the stage victory.
Movistar Team tried once again to fight into all fronts, entering the day’s big, early break of 20 riders with Beñat Intxausti and trying to counter the late moves at the non-rated climb of Padrún, just over 20k from the finish, with José Herrada. The Cuenca-based rider reached the front and later responded another move from José Mendes (TNE) in the slopes of the Naranco, to be eventually caught with one kilometers from the top.
Rodríguez’s victory takes him closer to Valverde’s 3rd place overall, 1.06 behind the race leader, before the stage that will decide Sunday’s podium in Madrid: 142km between Avilés and the Alto de L’Angliru (HC), with the previous climbs of Cabruñana (Cat-3), Tenebredo (Cat-2) and Cordal (Cat-1).
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “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.”