Ezequiel Mosquera en route to best ever Vuelta a España finish
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ezequiel Mosquera en route to best ever Vuelta a España finish

by Bjorn Haake at 4:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Xacobeo-Galicia rider 39 seconds away from red jersey

Ezequiel MosqueraEzequiel Mosquera moved up to second place after today's 46-kilometer time trial in stage 17 of the Vuelta a España. The Xacobeo-Galicia rider is in the process of getting his best ever finish in the Spanish Grand Tour. He has finished all of his three Vueltas in the top five, but never better than fourth place.

His move into second came in a discipline in which he usually doesn't shine. His placings in last year's time trials were 94th, 54th and 64th. His best ever result was the sixth place in the 2008 Vuelta's stage 20 to the Alto de Navacerrada, but as the name suggests, it was an uphill time trial. The mountains are Mosquera's terrain, so the stage to Bola del Mundo on Saturday holds all his hopes to overcome the 39-second deficit to Vincenzo Nibali.

The quiet Spaniard didn't seem to have the head to get a better result so far. "[Team Manager Álvaro] Pino always believed more in me than I did," Mosquera said to Spanish paper El Mundo. "Álvaro told me 'you can win the Vuelta'. Me, I was afraid of Nibali. Now the objective is almost reached. Calmly, we have to try in Bola del Mundo," he said.

Pino is excited that one of his proteges could follow him as the overall winner - Pino took the 1986 edition of the race. "This is a great opportunity," Pino said.

The big loser of the day was former race leader Joaquím Rodríguez, who lost over six minutes and dropped to fifth place overall. Mosquera thinks his compatriot could come in handy on Saturday. "As soon as there is an opportunity I will attack and if it is possible with the help of Joaquim." Mosquera added that the two get along, which could be bad news for Nibali, who has struggled in some of the mountain finishes.

Nibali certainly knows who to look out for. "The rival is Mosquera," he declared at the finish. He and his Liquigas team will have the work cut out for them. Pino hasn't ruled out the Italian for the win yet, giving him a 55-percent chance of winning. Mosquera certainly will want to hang on to the other 45 percent. Pino's pre-race goal is still in reach. "We were looking to get a podium spot right from the start, but never ruling out something more."

Mosquera's epic battle with Alberto Contador in stage 14 of the 2008 Vuelta, up to the skiing area Fuentes de Invierno, showed that he certainly has the abilities to do major things when the roads tilts upwards. He has often attacked in this year's race, although not always getting the gaps that he wanted. He had a hard time dropping Rodriguez, but that is one less worry now for Mosquera. More importantly, he frequently took time out on Nibali. The Bola del Mundo could be long enough to get back those 39 seconds that he needs to take over the red jersey.



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