Katusha‘s Vuelta plans in tatters after Geox-TMC and Team Sky prove stronger
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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Katusha‘s Vuelta plans in tatters after Geox-TMC and Team Sky prove stronger

by Ben Atkins at 4:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Joaquim Rodriguez and Daniel Moreno both lose time and admit that their race for the red jersey is over

joaquim rodriguezKatusha rode stage fourteen of the Vuelta a España almost perfectly, but for one thing: on the final climb to the finish at La Farrapona, Lagos de Somiedo attacks from Geox-TMC, and a stiff pace set by Team Sky, meant that both Joaquim Rodriguez and Daniel Moreno lost time on a day when they were supposed to be the ones putting race leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) under pressure.

The Russian team managed to put Aliaksandr Kuschynski and Eduard Vorganov in the seventeen-man break of the day, then managed to get both to work for Moreno when he bridged up to them. Rodriguez also attacked several times during the day but at the finish he had lost 1’21” to Wiggins, with Moreno losing 32 seconds.

After a disastrous time trial on stage one Rodriguez had still held hopes of making up the lost minutes on the tough mountaintop finishes this weekend. Having slipped to 18th place, 4’17” behind Wiggins, he now concedes that his dream is over.

“I’ve lost the Vuelta,” he admitted at the finish. “Today I did my best, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough; I couldn’t do more in this very hard climb.

“The team strategy was perfect,” he explained. “We put two men in the breakaway, Kuschynski and Vorganov, and they helped Moreno a lot when he attacked with 35km to go. Unfortunately, even though my teammates all gave their best, for us it was impossible to keep the incredible pace kept by Sky on the last climb today; the work by Wiggins team unexpectedly messed up our plans.

“We hope, anyway, to have better days in the coming stages,” he said, “even if we start to suffer with physiological fatigue.”

Rodriguez still holds the green points jersey but is now coming under pressure from Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), with double stage winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) close behind in third place.

Moreno had lifted himself into ninth place on the previous stage, after being part of the successful twenty-man breakaway that took 1’33” out of the peloton. The 29-year-old from Madrid lost almost a third of that time, and slipped to tenth, but more importantly was unable to succeed on a stage that was supposed to be more suited to his own characteristics.

As well as the lost time in the overall classification, Moreno lost his white combination jersey to Mollema.

“The truth is that teams Sky and Geox were pacing at a superior rhythm,” he explained. “We did our best, we did a good job but our adversaries were very strong and they ruined our plans.

Moreno still has a number of opportunities to move back up the standings in the remaining seven stages, but a deficit of 2’24” to Wiggins, and with a number of strong climbers between himself and the red jersey, he concedes that it is unlikely.

“From now on, nothing is impossible but a good position on GC has become very difficult,” he admitted.

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