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Saxo Bank rider overtaken when he seemed poised for victory for the second Saturday in a row

For the second Saturday running, Alberto Contador found himself overhauled just short of the line when he seemed poised to win a Vuelta stage, race leader Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha today overturning what had been a deficit of almost a quarter of a minute to the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank man with a kilometre left to go and riding past him to win Stage 14 at Los Ancares.

Rodriguez now has a lead of 22 seconds over Contador at the top of the overall standings. Movistar's Alejandro Valverde took third on the stage, but once again Team Sky's Chris Froome lost time to his rivals. The Briton remains third overall, but is now on exactly the same time as foirth placed Valverde, 1 minute 41 seconds behind Rodriguez.

In a repeat of the finale of last Saturday's stage to Andorra, Contador looked assured of victory as he entreed the final kilometre of today's 152-kilometre stage from Palas de Rei alone at the head of the race but again the rider who returned earlier this month after six months out of the sport due to his ban was found wanting once he was caught.

Last week, both Rodriguez and Valverde had bridged across but today it was only the Katusha man who proved able to bridge across to the 2008 Vuelta winner Contador, who had attacked with just under 2 kilometres remaining following a day on which his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team had ridden strongly to keep the day's break in check, and again on that final climb to pick the remaining escapees off one by one, with Katusha's Alberto Losada the last to be caught.

The pace the Danish team's riders were setting was putting a lot of Contador's rivals in trouble, with Rabobank's Robert Gesink, fifth overall this morning, among those to be dropped from the lead group. Froome, who had the Colombian climbers Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Uran to assist him, also found himself tailed off with 3 kilometres left to ride as Rodriguez, Moreno, Contador and Valverde rode off.

The Team Sky trio towed what was now a small group back up to the quartet ahead of them, but just as they did so, Contador attacked again, blowing that group apart as they tried to organise themselves to set off in pursuit of him.

Froome managed to go with Rodriguez and Valverde, and even attacked himself as he approached the flamme rouge, but Rodriguez managed not only to check that move, but also overhaul Contador and leave him in his wake for what had seemed, just moments before, an unlikely victory.

With the next three stages each featuring summit finishes, as well as next Saturday’s penultimate stage which ends on the Bola del Mundo outside Madrid, it’s far too early to start calling the winner, especially in a race where bonus seconds are awarded for stage finishes.

However, Rodriguez has continued to impress this week, one in which he was widely expected to surrender the race lead following Wednesday’s individual time trial.

Instead, he limited his losses to hang on to the red jersey by just one second from Contador, while it was Froome who dropped a place to third on GC.

Having also taken Stage 12 on the Mirador de Ezardo on Thursday, today’s victory is the third stage win by Rodriguez in this year’s race and follows a season in which he has won the Fleche Wallonne and finished as runner-up in the Giro d’Italia.

Meanwhile one jersey that did change hands today was the polka dot number sported by the mountains classification leader, now back on the shoulders of Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Clarke, one of the riders involved in today's break. Also in the break was David Moncoutié of Cofidis, who retires at the end of this season, and is chasing a fifth successive king of the mountains title in the race.

Vuelta Stage 14 Result  

1  RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin   KAT  4h 10' 28''
2  CONTADOR, Alberto    STB        + 5''
3  VALVERDE, Alejandro  MOV        + 13''
4  MORENO, Daniel       KAT        + 35''
5  FROOME, Christopher  SKY        + 38''
6  TALANSKY, Andrew     GRS        + 44''
7  ANTON, Igor          EU         + 56''
8  TEN DAM, Laurens     RAB     + 1' 04''
9  MARCZYNSKI, Tomasz   VCD     + 1' 13''
10 ROCHE, Nicolas       ALM     + 1' 17''
11 VERDUGO, Gorka       EUS     + 1' 17''
12 NIEMIEC, Przemyslaw  LAM     + 1' 26''
13 MAJKA, Rafal         STB     + 1' 51''
14 GESINK, Robert       RAB     + 1' 56''
15 DE CLERCQ, Bart      LTB     + 1' 56''
16 URAN, Rigoberto      SKY     + 2' 19''
17 HENAO, Sergio Luis   SKY     + 2' 19''
18 TIRALONGO, Paolo     AST     + 2' 19''
19 MONFORT, Maxime      RNT     + 2' 19''
20 CAPECCHI, Eros       LIQ     + 2' 19''

Last man home on Stage 14  

183 LOBATO, Juan Jose   ACG    + 27' 43''
   
General Classification after Stage 14  

1  RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin   KAT 53h 06' 33''
2  CONTADOR, Alberto    STB       + 22''
3  FROOME, Christopher  SKY    + 1' 41''
4  VALVERDE, Alejandro  MOV    + 1' 41''
5  MORENO, Daniel       KAT    + 4' 16''
6  GESINK, Robert       RAB    + 5' 07''
7  ROCHE, Nicolas       ALM    + 5' 51''
8  TALANSKY, Andrew     GRS    + 6' 13''
9  TEN DAM, Laurens     RAB    + 6' 34''
10 ANTON, Igor          EUS    + 7' 16''

Points Classification after Stage 14  

1  RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin   KAT        144
2  VALVERDE, Alejandro  MOV        122
3  DEGENKOLB, John      ARG        112
4  CONTADOR, Alberto    STB        106
5  FROOME, Christopher  SKY         91

Mountains Classification after Stage 14  

1  CLARKE, Simon        OGE         34
2  RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin   KAT         30
3  VALVERDE, Alejandro  MOV         26
4  CONTADOR, Alberto    STB         18
5  PAUWELS, Serge       OPQ         13

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

13 comments

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cavasta [216 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm afraid this is looking like one race too much for Froome. All credit to him for being where he is (tied 3rd with Valverde at the moment) but it's starting to look like his intense - and impressive - summer schedule is beginning to take its toll.

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Cooks [491 posts] 3 years ago
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Has JRod been to Alberto's butcher?

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shot18 [55 posts] 3 years ago
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Still not convinced Froomey is finished yet... He did great to come back after Bertie's first attack, but think he counter was unwise, and took out what he had left in the legs.

Would be surprised to see Purito win again though.... although it's clear he's taken a leaf out of Tommi Voeckler's book on living in the leaders jersey!

What a race... and still plenty to come. Bring it on!

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cavasta [216 posts] 3 years ago
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shot18 wrote:

Would be surprised to see Purito win again though.... although it's clear he's taken a leaf out of Tommi Voeckler's book on living in the leaders jersey!

What a race... and still plenty to come. Bring it on!

Agreed. A really great race, with some excellent attacking and counter-attacking. I'd love to see Purito win, he really deserves it. Realistically though it's looking like Bertie might pip him...

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mhtt [43 posts] 3 years ago
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Amazing racing even if Froome isn't challenging for the red. Hopefully he can plan his season better next year and be a good domestique on the Tour and a Star on Vuelta.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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I hope Froome doesn't do the TdF next year, Leave that to Wiggo and don't be his bitch.

Go try your hand at the Giro. If that doesn't work out, Leave's you plenty of time to get ready for the Vuelta.

Doing the TdF and Vuelta may just be a hurdle to far.

As for the J-Rod vs Contador battle. J-Rod has him covered on everything. He'll win this year and leave Contador to cry into his steak  19

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Alan Tullett [1568 posts] 3 years ago
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I like Purito and hope he wins, but Galimzyanov was caught earlier this season of course, so who knows?

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antonio [1124 posts] 3 years ago
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One clean Brit versus three souped up Spaniards, no wonder Chris looked confused and lathered after that last stage. Can't agree with Hammond that Chris attacked at the wrong time wrong place, that reasoning says Contador attacked at the wrong time, wrong place several times but I agree when he says if you don't try you will never know.

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Mostyn [396 posts] 3 years ago
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Lets face it - Froome is out classed in the vuelta; and it's nothing to do with the form he's in. Froome has a lot to learn; and not yet a team leader IMO.

Rodriguez, is outstanding in this race, he's provided some real excitement. personally, I think Contador can still pull this out of the bag? still some hard climbs to come.

The Vuelta as been brilliant this year; on par, if not more exciting than Le Tour De France.

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Chuck [546 posts] 3 years ago
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antonio wrote:

One clean Brit versus three souped up Spaniards

I've not heard Rodriguez mentioned in connection with doping I don't think? And I'd doubt that Contador is back on the juice already.

Anyhoo, great racing so far- maybe enjoying it more that the Tour, apart from Wiggo not being in it of course!

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AWPeleton [3332 posts] 3 years ago
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Mostyn wrote:

Lets face it - Froome is out classed in the vuelta; and it's nothing to do with the form he's in. Froome has a lot to learn; and not yet a team leader IMO.

Rodriguez, is outstanding in this race, he's provided some real excitement. personally, I think Contador can still pull this out of the bag? still some hard climbs to come.

The Vuelta as been brilliant this year; on par, if not more exciting than Le Tour De France.

I disagree with him being outclassed - he is knackered and its one race to far after the tour, Olympics and TT. Bertie and J-Rod have done very little recently and they have it in their legs still. Mind you after the season he has had Froome is still doing bloody brilliantly  1

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bashthebox [751 posts] 3 years ago
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Froome seems fine apart from when the attacks come on the double digit gradients - that's not much of a surprise looking at his build. He's suited, like Wiggo, to grinding up long steady climbs. Trying to punch up the steep ramps with Bertie and Rodriguez takes a lot out of him, obviously. The Giro has even more punishing climbs than the Vuelta, so I'm not sure he'd compete there against the out and out climbers either.

I'd be very happy to be proved wrong.

Also, as to 'souped up' comments - who can tell? Rodriguez's power output was something like 6.02 W/kg for the final climb yesterday, which is right on the edge of the theoretical max of the human body, and way below the insane 6.5/6.6 W/kg of the Armstrong era. So it's certainly cleaner, but we can only hope that it's entirely clean.

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antonio [1124 posts] 3 years ago
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Eurosport's Harmon jumping up and down, 'Where do these guys get it from ? answers in a sealed plain brown envelope please.