Roux takes heart stopper in Vuelta
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Roux takes heart stopper in Vuelta

by Bjorn Haake at 11:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results
 
Escapee Anthony Roux (Française des Jeux) held off the charging peloton to win the 17th stage of the Vuelta a España into Talavera de la Reina, ahead of William Bonnet and points leader André Greipel. There were no changes in the overall, but Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) were victims of a crash in a typical transitional stage.

Roux was part of the five-man break of the day, which still had a lead of over one minute with 10km to go. But the break started its cat-and-mouse play early and gave the peloton the chance to return, which was not to Roux's liking. "The attacks started with five kilometers to go, which was a real pity," he said after the stage. Roux gestured to his companions to keep it together, but Martijn Maaskant had other plans and left the others behind inside the three-kilometer mark.

Roux countered and caught up with the leader less than a kilometer and a half from the line. "I went after Garmin's Maaskant and when I caught him, I rested a bit on his wheel." Then Roux made the decisive move. "At the roundabout with one kilometer to go I saw the peloton had come close. I gave it all and with 500m to go my legs were hurting pretty badly."

The peloton came agonizingly close and were given the same time, but Roux held them off by a few meters, giving him the biggest win of his career. He lit up the race and the podium ceremony, where he picked out two flowers of his bouquet to give to the first set of podium girls and sprayed the second set with the champagne.

Greipel's third place gave him more valuable points for the green jersey.

Crash breaks up dullness

The break of the day formed after only six kilometers, with Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Francisco José Martínez (Andalucía-Cajasur), Anthony Roux (Française des Jeux), Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Slipstream) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil).

The quintet quickly gained seven minutes (kilometer 28), before Columbia and Milram reduced the leash to five minutes. It stayed like this for almost 100km.

At km 129 a crash brought down two of the overall contenders, Gesink (second) and Mosquera (sixth). Both were able to continue, but Gesink was bleeding quite heavily on his left knee.

The crash interrupted the chase and with 30km remaining the gap was still four minutes. Columbia, Milram and Liquigas had their work cut out for them. They came close but not close enough.
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