Cobo wins last mountain stage in Vuelta
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Cobo wins last mountain stage in Vuelta

by Bjorn Haake at 11:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results

Gesink loses time

Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) won the final mountain stage of the 2009 Vuelta a España out of an eight-man front group containing the top six in the overall, minus Robert Gesink.

Alejandro Valverde ended the sprint in second place, adding more time bonus over Cadel Evans, who finished third on the stage. Ezequiel Mosquera, Samuel Sánchez and Ivan Basso were also in the group, but Gesink suffered from his injuries and finished the day five minutes behind. The Dutchman slipped to sixth overall, 5'30 behind Valverde. Cobo moved into the top ten.

Cobo admitted that it was easier for him, taking advantage of the GC battle. "I was lucky, the others were racing for the Vuelta. I just had the stage win in mind." On the wet roads Cobo took a few extra risks in the end. "I opened a small gap and that was enough."

The day was dominated by a three-man break (Daniel Martin, Eduard Vorganov and Christophe Riblon), which was caught at the bottom of the final climb. It was Sánchez who attacked over the top, with Valverde in tow.

One by one the favorites fought their way back on the descent. Daniel Moreno was controlling the pace, marking the aggressive Sánchez and Mosquera. Moreno also countered a move by Paolo Tiralongo, but when Cobo went Moreno knew to let him go.

Cobo may have been motivated by receiving the good news that he will be racing in the World Championships for Spain. He had a big smile on his face as he crossed the finish line two seconds ahead of the group and stated the obvious. "I was feeling really well today."

Decision on the descent

The attack of the day formed after a good 20km when a larger group was about to be brought back by the peloton. Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) was part of that group and kept going. From the main field, Daniel Martin (Garmin-Slipstream) and Eduard Vorganov (Xacobeo Galicia) jumped and the three quickly built a lead of six minutes (km 46, raced in one hour, despite a cat 3 climb).

The gap stayed steady between six minutes and 6'30, as the break crested over the cat 1 Puerto de Navacerrada. Behind, it was once again David De La Fuente who led the peloton, with KOM David Moncoutié (Cofidis) nowhere to be seen. But the Frenchman has an insurmountable lead and only needs to make it to Madrid without accident.

The big surprise came in the third climb of the day, the cat 1 Puerto de la Morcuera. Gesink had trouble following the pace and quickly lost half a minute on the lower slopes of the 11.5-kilometer long climb. He fought his way back to the bunch just before the top.

However, he quickly lost contact again as his knee injury started to catch up with him. The whole Rabobank team dropped back to pace him to the finish.

The three-man break was caught with 35km to go, triggering a few counters. In the end it was the favorites who prevailed, climbing up the Navacerrada for the second time in front. The attack by Sánchez set up the finale, which played out on the wet roads downhill.

Tomorrow's 27.8-kilometer time trial will decide the overall and with second-placed Sánchez almost a minute and a half behind Valverde looks like the likely winner, with only two days left to race.

Results - Stage 19, Ávila - La Granja - 179.8km

1. Juan José Cobo (Esp) Fuji-Servetto                                    4h37'35
2. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne                            0'02
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
4. Samuel Sánchez (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5. Daniel Moreno (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne
6. Ezequiel Mosquera (Esp) Xacobeo Galicia
7. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-NGC
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas
9. Manuel Váquez (Esp) Contentpolis-Ampo                                1'34
10. Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Française des Jeux

GC after stage 19

1. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne                  83h34'03
2. Samuel Sánchez (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi                              1'26
3. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas                                                             1'45
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto                                               1'59
5. Ezequiel Mosquera (Esp) Xacobeo Galicia                             2'11
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank                                                5'30
7. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-NGC                                           6'49
8. Joaquím Rodríguez (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne                         7'42
9. Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam                                     9'37
10. Juan José Cobo (Esp) Fuji-Servetto                                    10'40


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