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Vuelta Stage 13: Berja - Sierra Nevada: 172KM
David Moncoutié of Cofidis, the sole survivor of the day’s breakaway and riding in the claret leading climber’s jersey that he also won last year, deservedly took Stage 13 of the Vuelta on the Sierra Nevada this afternoon.
But the real drama was unfolding behind him, as Cadel Evans suffered a huge blow to his hopes of winning this year’s race, dropping from second to fourth overall, on a day which saw a big shake-up in the top ten of the general classification.
The Silence-Lotto rider, seven seconds behind race leader Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d’Epargne at the start of today’s stage, was already struggling to keep pace with the Spaniard in the early stages of the day’s final ascent when he suffered a rear puncture.
To add to his woes, the neutral service personnel took so long to change the wheel that the Australian eventually grabbed a replacement bike from the Silence-Lotto team car once it had made it through the traffic.
The episode left Evans more than a minute down on Valverde on the road, and although he managed to make it back to a group containing Samuel Sanchez, who was also struggling, he was unable to follow the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider once the latter decided to try and make up time on the golden jersey group in the closing kilometres.
It was a good day all round for Valverde, who had earlier said that he thought Evans looked vulnerable during yesterday’s Stage 12, the Spaniard taking eight bonus seconds by finishing third today. That gives him a 27-second cushion in the general classification over Rabobank’s Robert Gesink, who now lies second.
The Liquigas rider Ivan Basso, who tracked Valverde all day, now sits third overall, while Ezequiel Mosquera of Xacobeo-Galicia, who came fourth overall in the 2008 Vuelta, moves up to fifth after racing ahead of the race leader’s group in the closing kilometre to take second place on the stage.
Tom Danielson of Garmin-Slipstream and Lampre-NGC’s Damiano Cunego were the day’s other strugglers among the general classification contenders. Danielson drops to ninth, nearly seven minutes down, but Cunego now lies 31st, half an hour behind Valverde.
Pre-race predictions were that Stages 12 to 14, comprising three consecutive days of summit finishes, would prove decisive in this year’s Vuelta. With two of those now behind us, it’s becoming clearer who is going to contest the final week’s racing, including next Saturday’s time trial in Granada.
Tomorrow’s 157-kilometre stage from Granada - La Pandera gives Valverde another opportunity to strengthen his grip on gold, although Gesink and Basso will be keen to pounce on any sign of weakness from the Spaniard.
Top 20 Stage 13
1) David Moncoutié (Cofidis) 05:09:22 2) Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia) 00:00:52 3) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:01:16 4) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 00:01:17 5) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 00:01:17 6) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:01:37 7) Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:02:09 8) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 00:02:24 9) Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-NGC) 00:02:31 10) Amaël Moinard (Cofidis) 00:03:37 11) Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) 00:03:49 12) Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:04:41 13) Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) 00:04:48 14) Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) 00:04:52 15) Francis De Greef (Silence-Lotto) 00:05:12 16) David Herrero (Xacobeo-Galicia) 00:05:19 17) Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:05:26 18) Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) 00:05:32 19) Daniel Navarro (Astana) 00:05:36 20) Haimar Zubeldia (Astana) 00:06:59
Top 10 General Classification After Stage 13
1) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 56:23:08 2) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 00:00:27 3) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 00:01:02 4) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:01:32 5) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 00:01:33 6) Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia) 00:02:06 7) Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:05:02 8) Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-NGC) 00:05:33 9) Thomas Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream) 00:06:52 10) Daniel Navarro (Astana) 00:08:21
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.