Image © Unipublic
Vuelta Stage 18: Talavera de la Reina - Avila, 165KM
Ireland’s Philip Deignan of Cervélo TestTeam came out ahead in a gripping, winner-takes-all game of cat-and-mouse against Liquigas rider Roman Kreuziger to claim Stage 18 of the Vuelta this afternoon in the walled city of Avila.
On a rainswept afternoon with the route punctuated by some tough climbs, the two had got off the front of the day’s breakaway to ride into Avila on their own, and in the final two kilometres, Kreuziger initially tried to stay on Deignan’s wheel in an attempt to remain in prime position for the final sprint.
But the Irishman took advantage of the twisting, cobbled roads in the city’s medieval centre to fall back behind the Czech, and when the latter launched an attack as the pair headed for the line, Deignan was able to keep pace and then overhaul him.
And with the peloton giving up the chase in the final 20 kilometres, eventually rolling in some ten minutes after the winner, the 26-year-old from County Donegal leaps up to ninth in the general classification, less than eight minutes down on race leader Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d’Epargne.
On the day’s penultimate descent, Euskaltel-Euskadi headed the peloton, perhaps hoping to capitalise on Samuel Sanchez’s expertise on wet roads to help him eat into Valverde’s lead, but Caisse d’Epargne kept a watchful eye on proceedings and the Olympic champion was unable to get clear.
Tomorrow’s Stage 19, covering 180 kilometres from Avila to La Granja, which feautures three Category 1 ascents, and Saturday’s individual time trial in Toledo, mark the last-chance saloon for the likes of Sanchez and Rabobank’s Robert Gesink to stake their claim for the golden jersey before the race ends in Madrid on Sunday.
Top 20 Stage 18
1) Philip Deignan (Cervelo TestTeam) 04:19:14 2) Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) 00:00:03 3) Jacob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) 00:00:16 4) Manuel Vázquez (Contentpoli-Ampo) 00:00:39 5) Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:00:41 6) Mikael Cherel (Francaise Des Jeux) 00:00:42 7) Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) 00:00:42 8) Rémy Di Gregorio (Francaise Des Jeux) 00:00:42 9) Jesús Hernández Blázquez (Astana) 00:00:42 10) Jesús Del Nero (Fuji-Servetto) 00:00:42 11) Tadej Valjavec (AG2R La Mondiale) 00:00:57 12) David Herrero (Xacobeo-Galicia) 00:01:20 13) Philippe Gilbert (Silence Lotto) 00:03:36 14) Bingen Fernández (Cofidis) 00:04:57 15) David Moncoutie (Cofidis) 00:04:57 16) Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) 00:07:16 17) Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) 00:09:40 18) David García (Xacobeo-Galicia) 00:09:40 19) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:09:40 20) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:09:40
Top 10 General Classification after Stage 18
1) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 78:56:42 2) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 00:00:32 3) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:01:10 4) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 00:01:29 5) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 00:01:51 6) Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia) 00:01:55 7) Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:05:54 8) Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-NGC) 00:06:35 9) Philip Deignan (Cervelo TestTeam) 00:07:49 10) Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) 00:10:46
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.