Vuelta a España (st. 16)
Demanding Queen stage in Vuelta a España, stronger Contador (TCS), Froome (SKY) make Movistar Team concede almost 1′; Spaniard still in 2nd overall
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The five climbs, more than 4,500 meters of vertical drop on stage 16 -160km finishing atop La Farrapona (Cat-1), after La Colladona (Cat-1), El Cordal (Cat-2), Cobertoria (Cat-1) and San Lorenzo (Cat-1)- made a big impact on Alejandro Valverde’s legs at the end of the hardest mountain stage of the 2014 Vuelta a España, way more than the previous ones. The Spaniard from the Movistar Team, represented by Adriano Malori in the day’s early break, crossed the line in 4th spot after a strong attack from Chris Froome (SKY), only followed by eventual stage winner Alberto Contador (TCS) as Alejandro, Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT) and Italian Fabio Aru (AST) struggled further back.
The unsuccessful pursuit by the two Spaniards kept the loss stable on the fourty seconds Froome put on Valverde at the finish, while ahead at the front, Contador opened a bigger gap with an attack just before the final kilometer, leaving his GC margin over Valverde in 1’36” as Froome sits now just three seconds behind Alejandro in third place. The overall standings will remain intact at least until Wednesday, in the first of five stages in Galicia after the riders enjoy a well-deserved, final rest day in the A Coruña province.
Alejandro Valverde: “Froome took a strong attack halfway through the ascent, and Alberto and him were able to keep that pace. We did what we could, but as well Contador as Froome were really great, superior to us today. There’s still the final week ahead and anything could happen: we can improve our situation or lost more time, but the race is still on. Froome is being a strong rival in this Vuelta, doing really great, though you can see he goes through better or worse days. We’ll see if he might be my biggest rival for this last week or not. We’re still there at the moment – the race is not over until Sunday and we all must keep fighting.”