Moncoutié takes Vuelta honors this time
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Moncoutié takes Vuelta honors this time

by Bjorn Haake at 12:37 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results
 

Overall shakes up heavily

David Moncoutié soloed to victory in the difficult stage 13 of the Vuelta a España, up to the Sierra Nevada. He whittled down the initial 30-man break and consolidated his lead in the mountains classification.

The overall received a major lifting, with Cadel Evans being the main victim losing over one minute. Valverde now leads Robert Gesink by 27 seconds, Ivan Basso by 1'02 and Evans by 1'23.

Valverde knows the race is far from over with tommorow's difficult stage 14 on tap. "With 4500 vertical meters, after the 4800 yesterday, each day it becomes harder. It is another very difficult stage tomorrow, the tambourine, and it will be important that the legs have recovered well before tomorrow," the Spaniard said after the finish.

On a tough day in the mountains, American Tom Danielson and Italian Damiano Cunego vanished from the top ten.

Disaster struck for Evans on the penultimate climb, when he flatted just short of the top. After the slowest wheel change in this year's Vuelta from neutral support, the Australian chased in vain after the incident ended with him taking a new bike from his team car.

Basque rider Sammy Sanchez was dropped on that same climb, but recuperated well to only lose 20 seconds in the end.

Moncoutié was oblivious to the drama behind, although he admitted that "it was a very difficult stage." The Frenchman didn't have the day's victory on his mind initially. "I went into the break, mainly thinking about the mountains points."

Still haunted by his agonizing loss to Damiano Cunego in the final kilometer of stage eight, Moncoutié did everything right this time. "We had [Caisse's Joaquím] Rodríguez with us, so we tried to shake it up. [Rein] Taaramäe did a superb job!"

The group of favorites had become smaller and smaller, with only Valverde, Gesink, Ezequiel Mosquera and Ivan Basso left. Mosquera was aggressive as always, attacking several times and making his decisive move with two kilometers to go. He gained the 12-second time bonus for second place.

The remaining eight seconds went to Valverde, extending his overall lead to Gesink once again. The Dutchman was exhausted after the finish. "This was a tough stage. In the end Mosquera was really strong."

Ten riders abandoned, underlining the toughness of the stage. The list included Tom Boonen, Simon Gerrans, Oscar Freire and Dominique Rollin. They were unable to enjoy the double whammy in the end, with the Monachill (cat 1) and the Sierra Nevada (HC) coming back to back, with only a negligible descent separating the two.

Large break of the day

With five ranked mountains on offer, the duel between the two Davids, Moncoutié and De La Fuente, started immediately after 20km, in the Alto de Berja. The two were in a group of 30, but while Moncoutié scored full points, De La Fuente got none.

Caisse d'Epargne put Joaquím Rodríguez in the move, so for once the team was not obligated to chase. In fact, Rodriguez was the virtual leader on the road after 34km, as he was only four minutes back in the overall.

After 40km the front group split, with Moncoutié making the front part, while De La Fuente was left behind. The Frenchman took full points again on the category one Ragua (km 58).

The lead group was further reduced and eventually consisted of only Moncoutié, Koos Moerenhout, and Rein Taaramäe. After 85km they were 10 minutes ahead of the peloton.

After 123km, Moncoutié topped the Puerto de los Blancares, receiving more mountain points.

When the final uphill with 26km to go started, Liquigas took over. Several overall contenders lost contact, and the main group was reduced to Kreuziger, Basso, Valverde, Evans, Gesink, Sanchez and Mosquera. Some riders from the large break of the day would get passed and desperately try to hang on to the front group. One of them was Rodriguez, who provided valuable help for Valverde in the end.

On the front Moncoutié left Moerenhout and Taaramäe on the climb up the Monachill, and hung on all the way to the mountain top finish of the Sierra Nevada for the win.
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