Vuelta a Espana stage 15- Lagos de Covadonga
Today we are at stage 15, of the 21 stage Vuelta a Espana, the final big race of the season. Yesterday we saw Joaquim Rodriguez take the stage 14 win at Puerto de Ancares. Rodriguez gave us one of the most exciting hill top finishes that we,ve seen in the Vuelta so far. He piratically left Contador for dead in the final 200m of the race in the final run in to Puerto de Ancares, to claim his third stage win.
Today we have another tough mountain stage to contend with, and then another mountain stage on Monday, ahead of Tuesdays rest day. The race set off today at a fairly steady pace with an early breakaway of 11 riders including the Spaniard Antonio Piedra of Team Caja Rural. With 10.5km to go, this relatively large group led the peloton by an immense thirteen minutes – to far for the pack to pull back!
As the riders approached the last big climb of the day, Saxo Bank took control of the peloton from Team Sky, trying to get they’re GC contender, Alberto Contador into a position where he could claw back some vital seconds before next weeks finish in Madrid.
At the front of the race, Antonio Piedra managed to hold onto the lead and get his first stage win in a major event and getting great publicity for the small team. Meanwhile, about ten minutes behind things started to heat up with the main group of riders there was a lot to play for between the riders.
A lot of cat and mouse cycling took place between Contador and Rodriguez with Valverde doing his best to make his way back to the top two. The lead changed back and forward for the next couple of kilometers with a couple of hard digs being thrown by Contador. Rodriguez matched him for every single punch though, and on the final sprint showed his strength and power by pulling out a 10m lead – no mean feat against a cyclist of Contador’s standards.
Chris Froome was unable to stick the pace today again and it looks like the immense effort in the Tour De France and the Olympics has taken its toll – understandably so after doing so well in both events!