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Vuelta Stage 14: Contador caught short again as Rodriguez wins, another tough day for Froome

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

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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