Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) defended his leader’s jersey as David López (Caisse D’Epargne) soloed to victory in stage 9 of the 2010 Vuelta a España on Sunday.
Anton finished with the rest of the GC favorites more than seven minutes behind López, who proved the strongest of a 15-man break that went away early on the mountainous 187.7km race from the coastal community of Calpe to Alcoy.
The stage featured seven climbs:
- The Category 2 Coll de Rates, a 6.8km climb that averaged 5.15 percent and began at 60km.
- The Cat. 2 Alto de Guadalest, 5.3km averaging 7.17 percent at 97.8km.
- The Cat. 3 Alto de Confrides, 11.8km averaging 3.47 percent at 106.5km.
- The Cat. 2 Alto de Tudons, 7.2km averaging 5.14 percent at 124.8km.
- The Cat. 2 Puerto de Torremanzanas, 8.3km averaging 5.42 percent at 147.5km.
- The Cat. 3 Puerto de Benifallín, 5.3km averaging 5 percent at 158.5km.
- The Cat. 3 Alto del Revolcat, 5.9km averaging 4.41 percent at 174.9km, summiting 6.9km from the finish.
Former Kelme rider Fernando Escartin was at the start and went over his predictions for the day.
“With seven climbs, today’s stage is harder than yesterday’s, even though the finish is easier,” he said. “I know these roads very well. In the winter, I always came here for training during my racing days. I expect a breakaway of six to eight riders and I don’t think Euskaltel will be able to control the whole race.
“If it’s dangerous, Katusha and Liquigas will not let a breakaway go. I expect 20 to 30 riders to regroup before the end. If he has recovered from his crash, Philippe Gilbert should be able to win again. Luis Leon Sanchez could be another one up there for the win.”
Katusha’s Joaquin “Purito” Rodriguez, sitting second on GC, tied on time with race leader Anton, wasn’t making any predictions, but he did have a plan.
“I’ll arrive a casa (home) on Tuesday and I absolutely want to get there in red and if possible stay in the lead until Madrid,” he said. “I’m fit and motivated but I’m aware that it’s gonna be another two difficult weeks of racing.”
Directeur sportif Dimitri Konyshev was less eager than his team captain.
“Purito absolutely wants the jersey but I would really prefer he not take it today,” said the Russian.
One rider who wasn’t thinking of the jersey was Alessandro Petacchi, who got banged up in a big crash on Saturday.
“I feel like a dead man,” he said. “My arm is really hurting after a bad night. I have no morale. I don’t know how much more I can ride my bike.”
The answer to that question came about 90 minutes into the stage, when Petacchi and Freddy Bichot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) both abandoned the Vuelta.
One break fails, but another succeeds
Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) and Giampaolo Cheula (Footon Servetto) tried a break, but they quickly got too much company, and the escapees were pulled back.
Then the ever-active David Moncoutie (Cofidis) went, followed by Jean Christophe Peraud (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Biel Kadri (Ag2r), and the trio took a slight advantage over the field.
They, too, got plenty of company — the break grew to 14 riders, then 15 as Javier Ramirez (Andalucia Cajasur) chased his way up — but it seemed a group that the bunch could live with, and off they went. They had more than three minutes by the 50km mark.
The men in the break
- Dario Cataldo (Quick Step)
- Giampaolo Caruso (Team Katusha)
- David López (Caisse d’Epargne)
- Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas)
- Oscar Pujol (Cervélo)
- Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
- Gonzalo Rabuñal (Xacobeo Galicia)
- Perrig Quemeneur (BBox Bouygues Telecom)
- Carlos Barredo (Quick Step)
- Enrico Gasparotto (Astana)
- Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
- David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
- Jean Christophe Peraud (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
- Biel Kadri (Ag2r)
- Javier Ramirez (Andalucia Cajasur)
Carlos Barredo was best placed in the break, sitting 22nd at 3:30 behind Anton. He soon was the race leader on the road as the break’s advantage grew.
Gonzalo Rabuñal and Moncoutie battled for KOM points on the ascents. The former was protecting the lead of his teammate Serafin Martinez, and doing a fine job of it, taking the maximum points on the first three ascents.
Then, with 50km to go Gonzalo Rabuñal kept going over a summit and left his companions behind as Barredo inexplicably dropped out of the break and drifted back toward the bunch, looking very unhappy indeed.
Barredo drifts backward, Gonzalo Rabuñal drives forward
As Barredo went backward, Gonzalo Rabuñal continued forward, taking a lead of some two minutes over the rest of the break. But he couldn’t hold it, and with 24km to go several of his erstwhile mates had rejoined him at the front — Martínez, Kreuziger, Caruso and López among them.
With Barredo no longer a threat, the peloton was cruising some nine minutes in arrears. That put Peraud into the virtual lead — he began the day in 37th place at 6:59.
Gonzalo Rabuñal tried to grab the points atop the Cat. 3 Puerto de Benifallín, but Moncoutie got him this time. Then the attacks began — first López tried a dig, then Caruso, then López again.
The Caisse d’Epargne rider took a slight lead onto the final climb, but Moncoutie soon joined him and the two shared the work with Caruso, Kreuziger and Martínez chasing.
The chase was successful, and with 7km to go Caruso attacked, taking top points at the summit ahead of Moncoutie. López went next, but he wasn’t hunting points — he was after the stage win.
He got it, crossing alone just ahead of Kreuziger with Caruso third. Peraud finished seventh at 55 seconds and fell just seconds short of claiming the red leader’s jersey for real as the peloton rolled in some seven minutes down. Anton retained the lead, but Peraud leaped all the way up into fifth place overall.
- 1. David Lopez, Caisse d’Epargne
- 2. Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas, at 0:06
- 3. Giampaolo Caruso, Katusha, at 0:14
- 4. David Moncoutie, Cofidis, at 0:21
- 5. Blel Kadri, Ag2r, at 0:27