Tour of Spain: Stage 17 & Contador’s Bravery Rewarded

With only a few stages left, Alberto Contador and his Saxobank team unleashed a tactical masterpiece  that saw Contador win the stage and take the overall.

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Previous Stages | Stage 1 TTT | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Stage 4 | Stage 5 | Stage 6 | Stage 7 | Stage 8 | Stage 9 | Stage 10 | Stage 11 | Stage 12 | Stage 13 (Cummings win) | Stage 14 | Stage 15 | Stage 16 |

With only a few stages left, Alberto Contador and his Saxobank team unleashed a tactical masterpiece  that saw Contador win the stage and take the overall. Contador won the stage from Alejandro Valverde with race leader Joaquin Rodriguez losing well over two minutes finishing back in 10th place and dropping to third overall.

Chris Froome finished in 32nd place, losing almost five minutes but keeping his fourth overall as he now looks to the Road Worlds and the time trial.

Contador celebrates a masterful victory, one he describes as being among his three most important…Photo

Race report
The stage was 187 kilometres from Santander to Fuente Dé with several minor climbs along the way and the sting in the tail provided by a category 2 summit finish. It wasn’t though the summit finish that provided the key to the day’s story.

The tactical masterpiece by Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoffsaw them launch their man for the GC, Contador up the road with Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and they worked up a lead of more than two minutes, making Contador the virtual race leader on the road with Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) over two minutes back.

The Katusha rider in the race leader’s Red jersey fought to minimize the gap in a small chase group but he was evidently having a bad day and instead the challenge to Contador came from Valverde. Entering the final 11 kilometres, the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank captain was alone out front of the race while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) left the group with Rodriguez to try and move up a spot on the podium.

Alberto Contador was then caught by the chase group but he kept his cool, winning the stage and finally taking the leader’s jersey after a stunning performance. Bradley McGee, Contador’s director sportif was certainly impressed. “It was simply an amazing performance by the entire team and it was part of the plan from the start of the stage.”

“On the two first climbs, Jesus Hernandez, Bruno Pires and Sergio Paulinho jumped away from the pack and Katusha seemed stunned and then Alberto simply bridged the gap alone to his teammates and continued to the final climb where he put in an unforgettably powerful effort to stay in front and not only take the jersey but put the icing on the cake by taking the stage win as well.

Above: Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo understood Contador’s intentions earlier than the rest of the peloton and successfully got himself into the breakaway. Then, with 20 km to the finish, he was the only one to follow Contador in the decisive attack at the bottom of the day’s last climb. Contador and Tiralongo worked together for much of the ascent, but with just a little over 10 km to the line the Sicilian could no longer match Contador’s pace, eventually finishing the stage in ninth place. Photo

Alberto Contador: “I attacked instinctively. I believe this day of racing has shocked a few! Truly, I’ve ridden a bit like a kamikaze. But I had to try. I felt something like an angel and a devil on my shoulders. One was telling me: “Attack”, the other one said: “Don’t attack.” I followed the right advice. I’ve been scared to lose my advantage in the last fifteen kilometers because I hadn’t eaten a lot. I was afraid that other riders could catch me.”

“I wasn’t on one of my best days. But my will to succeed was enormous. Second place isn’t bad but you always have to try and win, even though many people thought it was out of reach for me. My attack with 50 km to go was of an absolute madness. I told my three team-mates via radio to go “full gas”, and nothing more because sometimes the radios are pirated by other teams. And I’ve climbed with the same conviction I had up to l’Alpe d’Huez in the 2011 Tour de France.”

“This is one of the three most important of my career. The first one was at the 2005 Tour Down Under when I resumed racing after my big accident. The second one was the 2007 Paris-Nice. It’s not finished yet but Joaquim Rodriguez must be congratulated for what he has done during this Vuelta. I wasn’t able to drop him off in the steepest uphill finishes, so every day I had to think of the tactic for the next day. I’ve had to calculate a lot the time not to lose and the right spot for attacking him.”

Joaquim Rodriguez: “I didn’t expect that. I’m sad because I’ve lost the Vuelta. That’s what we’re here for: sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t but it’s sport. The stage to Fuente Dé will make history and I’m proud to be part of it. Contador has demonstrated to being the strongest and his team as well. When I’ve seen him climbing, the disaster that I was going to encounter didn’t cross my mind.”

“We didn’t imagine what was going to happen, no one did. I’ve experienced different states of mind in the last fifty kilometers. From the Collado La Hoz, I just hoped it would come good on the downhill with the help of riders from Movistar but it didn’t. Today, for sure, it’ll be hard for me to sleep!”

Alejandro Valverde: “When Contador attacked in the Collado La Hoz, I waited on Purito’s wheel. We were doing a different race. Mine consisted in distancing Froome. I had to play my cards. I feel sorry for Purito but that’s racing. I’ve ridden the finale flat out. This is one more step towards the podium in Madrid but it’s been a very hard day on the bike.”

King of the Mountains Simon Clarke: “Lucky is the word! I’ve had a lucky day. I can’t say a good day because I scored no points but Joaquim [Rodriguez] also didn’t score any, so it was good in this way. I’ll have to go full gas for Saturday. I’m in the same situation as Matt Lloyd in the Giro two years ago. I have no option but go away and fight for points at the top of the climbs.”

Chris Froome: “I don’t think I’ve seen Valverde all day today. I was just trying to follow some wheels and there was a lot of attacking. I’m shattered. I’m on my knees. This Vuelta is a hard one but it’s a good experience for the future. I’m having a great fun. It’s fantastic.”

Stage 17

1 CONTADOR, Alberto STB 4h 29′ 20″
2 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV @ 6″
3 HENAO, Sergio Luis SKY @ 6″
4 VERDUGO, Gorka EUS @ 6″
5 NOCENTINI, Rinaldo ALM @ 19″
6 BAKELANTS, Jan RNT @ 55″
7 INTXAUSTI, Beñat MOV @ 1′ 13″
8 GENIEZ, Alexandre ARG @ 1′ 40″
9 TIRALONGO, Paolo AST @ 2′ 13″
10 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT @ 2′ 38″
11 HERNÁNDEZ, Jesús STB @ 2′ 38″
12 QUINTANA, Nairo Alexander MOV @ 2′ 38″
13 JEANNESSON, Arnold FDJ @ 3′ 03″
14 CUNEGO, Damiano LAM @ 3′ 18″
15 TEN DAM, Laurens RAB @ 4′ 05″
16 LANDA, Mikel EUS @ 4′ 17″
17 NIEMIEC, Przemyslaw LAM @ 4′ 48″
18 TALANSKY, Andrew GRS @ 4′ 48″
19 MEERSMAN, Gianni LTB @ 4′ 48″
20 GESINK, Robert RAB @ 4′ 48″
21 MORENO, Daniel KAT @ 4′ 48″
22 MARCZYNSKI, Tomasz VCD @ 4′ 48″
23 MONFORT, Maxime RNT @ 4′ 48″
24 DE CLERCQ, Bart LTB @ 4′ 48″
25 CAPECCHI, Eros LIQ @ 4′ 48″
26 ROCHE, Nicolas ALM @ 4′ 48″
27 BOUET, Maxime ALM @ 4′ 48″
28 ANACONA, Winner LAM @ 4′ 48″
29 PAURIOL, Rémi FDJ @ 4′ 48″
30 ANTON, Igor EUS @ 4′ 48″
31 MONCOUTIE, David COF @ 4′ 48″
32 FROOME, Christopher SKY @ 4′ 58″

Overall after stage 17
1 CONTADOR, Alberto STB 68h 07′ 54″
2 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV @ 1′ 52″
3 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT @ 2′ 28″
4 FROOME, Christopher SKY @ 9′ 40″
5 MORENO, Daniel KAT @ 11′ 36″
6 GESINK, Robert RAB @ 12′ 06″
7 TEN DAM, Laurens RAB @ 12′ 55″
8 TALANSKY, Andrew GRS @ 13′ 06″
9 ANTON, Igor EUS @ 13′ 49″
10 INTXAUSTI, Beñat MOV @ 14′ 10″
11 VERDUGO, Gorka EUS @ 15′ 54″
12 ROCHE, Nicolas ALM @ 16′ 22″
13 MARCZYNSKI, Tomasz VCD @ 17′ 11″
14 HENAO, Sergio Luis SKY @ 18′ 07″
15 MONFORT, Maxime RNT @ 18′ 12″
16 DE CLERCQ, Bart LTB @ 18′ 18″
17 NIEMIEC, Przemyslaw LAM @ 19′ 13″
18 ANACONA, Winner LAM @ 20′ 08″
19 NOCENTINI, Rinaldo ALM @ 20′ 24″
20 BOUET, Maxime ALM @ 28′ 13″
21 BAKELANTS, Jan RNT @ 28′ 48″
22 CARDOSO, Andre Fernando CJR @ 29′ 24″
23 MOLLEMA, Bauke RAB @ 35′ 17″
24 PAURIOL, Rémi FDJ @ 35′ 57″
25 CAPECCHI, Eros LIQ @ 40′ 26″


RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK

Tags: , ,