4th place in hellish Haza Llana for Basque climber from Movistar Team; 'Perla' stays into overall podium (3rd) with two stages remaining
Left aside the unreachable battle between the two biggest names of the 61st Vuelta a Andalucía, Alberto Contador (TCS) and Chris Froome (SKY), Beñat Intxausti completed a very decent performance in the first real mountain stage of the Ruta del Sol, with its finish at 1,689m above sea level in Haza Llana (Cat-1) after 159km starting in coastal Motril, Granada.
The Basque climber, always well protected by a compact Movistar Team, was one of only four riders able to follow an impressive acceleration from Tinkoff-Saxo into the first slope of the climb. Initially into a pursuit group with Kudus (MTN), Bardet (ALM) and Kennaugh (SKY), the progression by Froome, who reached Intxausti's group and dropped them back, forced Beñat to go on his own, with no references other than Bardet's wheel, who beat him by about twenty seconds across the line (+1'58").
Beñat stays into the GC podium thanks to his brilliant TT -he's now in 3rd, 1'59" back- while the race is still open for many chances tomorrow in the shorter, steeper, equally trascendental Las Allanadas (Cat-1) uphill in La Guardia de Jaén, after 199km from Maracena. Gorka Izagirre (10th) closes the overall top-ten at 4'15", after a day of huge gaps in the Sierra Nevada mountains.