Vuelta a España (st. 9)
Valverde suffers left shoulder contusion, no fractures on Vuelta stage nine, as Visconti also hurts ankle en route to Cumbre del Sol, where Quintana and 'Bala' finish 6th and 7th. Dumoulin (TGA) takes stage and red jersey
A crash early into stage nine of the Vuelta a España, finishing atop the Cumbre del Sol (Poble Nou de Benitatxell) on Sunday, added concerns to yesterday's incident suffered by José Joaquín Rojas en route to Murcia, which the Spaniard keeps recovering from, as the main favourites were again surprised by Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (TGA), who took the stage and got back in the lead of the Spanish Grand Tour.
A pile-up after 30km in split the peloton and took Giovanni Visconti and Alejandro Valverde down. While the Italian, with wounds in his right ankle, completed the stage with no troubles after doing some good teamwork, the Spaniard, with an imflammated left-hand collarbone and bruises over his arm, made an enormous effort to cross the line in 7th place, 26" behind the winner, in serious pain. Fortunately, explorations made by the Movistar Team's doctor, Jesús Hoyos, ruled out any fractures and confirmed a left shoulder contusion with bruises and a hematoma, that will still allow him to ride on yet with reduced mobility of his arm.
In turn, Nairo Quintana fought to keep the pace into a climb less suited to his characteristics, finishing in a fine sixth, 19" down. Today's result takes both GC references from the Movistar Team to sixth and seventh overall, as places two to eight are just 21" apart -with Dumoulin a minute ahead of the rest-. The Vuelta will head to Castellón on Monday, via the Desierto de las Palmas, before enjoying its first rest day in Andorra, Tuesday.
Alejandro Valverde (just after the finish): "I'm not one who likes to make up excuses, but after the crash I really thought it would turn out way worse for me, that I would even have to retire. I'll undergo medical checks as soon as I get down this hill, because my shoulder is so inflammated. I don't think my collarbone is broken, because I wouldn't have been able to get on my bike again if it happened, but to be honest, it hurts really much, like having a knife stuck into it. I did everything I could to stay within the favourites, trying to anticipate the attack into the last climb to test how my legs were -I didn't feel them really well into the first ascent- and the team, which I thank for all they did for me, was splendid. It was difficult to aspire to a better result in such conditions, but I'm happy because I didn't lose much time – I just hope the injuries after the crash evolve well."
Nairo Quintana: "This was one of the most difficult uphill finishes for me in this race, with short, steep slopes where specialists like Joaquim Rodríguez are really strong. For me it's a matter of defending myself as good as I can (smiles). Being a rouleur and an excellent time trialist, Dumoulin is really surprising us and showing himself as a serious contender. There's still a lot . Hemos visto muy bien a Froome, no descartamos a Chaves y está Purito, muy fuerte; también Aru… tenemos que esperar a Andorra, donde posiblemente se verán las cosas mucho más definidas".