Annoyed Evans loses jersey to Valverde
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Monday, September 07, 2009

Annoyed Evans loses jersey to Valverde

by Bjorn Haake at 12:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results
 
In the exciting mountainous stage nine of the Vuelta a España, Alejandro Valverde took over the golden leader's jersey from Australian Cadel Evans. Gustavo César Veloso won the race solo, with Valverde sprinting to third place and an eight-second time bonus. Evans is now second overall, seven seconds behind.

The final climb of the Alto de Xorret del Cati with pitches of up to 20% provided the showdown all Spaniards had been waiting for. Valverde trailed Evans by only two seconds in the overall and the Australian tried everything to avoid a sprint with Valverde.

The pair traded repeated attacks, which left most favorites behind. Only Ivan Basso stayed put and Robert Gesink fought his way back into the action.

The four then contested a hot sprint for seemingly fourth place, as the remnants of the seven-man break of the day rode towards the finish line. But Valverde's strong acceleration moved him past David De La Fuente into third place for the day and the important eight seconds. De La Fuente also missed the mountain's jersey by one point.

Evans was blocked in the sprint by Gesink on the right-hand side of the road and was clearly furious, as he exchanged words with the Dutchman after the finish. "He pushed me into the barriers," Evans complained to a soigneur later.

Away from all the drama, Veloso timed his move on the final climb of the day to perfection, to win by over 21 seconds over former breakaway companion Marco Mazano.

"I am happy," Veloso said. "The break worked very well together. Even though it was hot and the [final] climb was hard, I was feeling really well towards the end."

Evans still leads the combination classification.

Seven go from the gun

With the start heading straight to the first climb of the day, attacks started from the gun. Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Marco Mazano (Lampre-NGC), David de la Fuente (Fuji-Servetto), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Julián Sánchez Pimienta (Contentpolis-Ampo), Gustavo César Veloso (Xacobeo Galicia) and Javier Ramírez Abeja (Andalucia Cajasur) were the lucky ones.

De La Fuente was the best placed rider in the overall, but at over 13 minutes in arrears the peloton let the seven-man break go ahead on another hot day in Spain. Silence-Lotto with golden jersey Cadel Evans controlled the peloton and allowed the break a maximum lead of seven minutes, with 60km to go.

De La Fuente had his eyes set on the mountain's jersey from yesterday's runner-up, David Moncoutié (Cofidis). De La Fuente made a strong run for it, winning five of the seven mountains classifications. In the end he had racked up 59 points, but couldn't dislodge Moncoutié, who has 60 points overall.

César Veloso took the sprint solidario, 30km from the finish. That earned him the red number for tomorrow's stage. The stage started to heat up with 10km to go, when Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank set a blistering pace. Garmin and Liquigas also pitched in.

The front group splintered, with Taaramae the first to give it a shot. He dropped the others, but clearly struggled on the steep sections towards the top. Veloso and Mazano passed him before the KOM. De La Fuente managed to hang on for third and 10 points. From the top it was only three kilometers to the finish, mostly downhill.

Tomorrow's stage 10 travels to Valverde's home soil, Murcia. Wit only one category two climb he should be able to keep his jersey.
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