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Colombian EuroTrash!

The Colombians have taken over the Vuelta, stage 9 anyway. We have all the video, results, comments and race action from Spain and from Plouay. Other cycling news: World champ dies, more transfer news and some sartorial advice. All in a bursting EuroTrash.

TOP STORY: Igor Decraene, RIP
The news of the death of Igor Decraene was announced on Saturday in Belgium. The junior World time trial champion was only 18 years old and had been training to defend his title in Spain in September and would have been part of the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step development squad in 2015. Why or how he died is not known at this moment, but the sadness has been felt through out the world of cycling. A minutes silence was held at many events on Sunday.

Everyone at PEZ sends their condolences to friends and family of Igor.

Championat du Monde Cyclisme Route - men juniors

header-vueltaVuelta a España 2014
After the start of Stage 6, King of the Mountains Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Dutchman Pim Ligthart (Lotto Belisol), who was in a long lasting breakaway the day before, shot up the road. Some riders like Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Johan Le Bon (FDJ.fr), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) tried to bridge the gap but were brought back by the bunch. By the 50 kilometre mark the duo led by 14.20.

Garmin-Sharp took care of the chase, later reinforced at the head of the peloton by Katusha. At the second category Alto de Zafarraya, Mas crested the summit in first position while Jérôme Cousin (Europcar) took the remaining points as the bunch was timed ten minutes down. At the Alto de Los Bermejales, Mas was first again with his team-mate Amets Txurruka taking third place at the front of the peloton 7:45 later.

The advantage of the leading duo decreased to two minutes in Granada. Ligthart went for a solo effort from the foot of the uphill finish of La Zubia but as he got caught, Christophe Le Mével (Cofidis) tried his luck as soon as the Dutchman was reined in with 3km to go.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) reduced the front group to nine riders with Nairo Quintana well positioned behind him. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) attacked with 700 metres to go. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was prompt to follow him, so did Chris Froome (Sky) and Valverde who was still able to accelerate at the 250 metres mark. He won the stage ahead of Froome and Contador and moved back into the lead after having had the red jersey for a day after stage 2.

Stage winner and overall leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “This victory means a lot to me. Though it’s harder to feel great with these temperatures, my legs were really good today, I felt well all over the course and I was able to win. It was a climb that really suited me and we couldn’t miss such an opportunity had we got it – still, I think everyone saw clearly I was working for Nairo. There was a tailwind into the climb and it was hard for anyone into the main group to go away, they had to stay on our wheel. I was setting a strong pace to take some rivals out of contention, but saving an extra bit of energy in case anyone attacked, as it happened with both Purito and Froome. I never looked back: as well Nairo as the team car were telling me to keep the pace: ‘Only ten or twelve riders behind you.’

When Purito jumped away, I didn’t think about it for a second – I went after him. He’s someone we can’t let take a single meter. I still had strength to counter and go for the win, so, at the end of the day, we couldn’t do better: we took some rivals out of contention, though gaps weren’t really huge – we also took some bonus seconds and the result is fantastic for the whole team. For me, the main leader of the squad is still Nairo, though I don’t rule out my own chances. I keep really clear in my mind he’ll be doing better and better, and he showed today he’s up for the fight. Many mountains will come for him to do great. We get on really well with each other and I worked my heart out for him today. If I keep feeling well, I’ll try and go for some more stage wins, though I keep faith GC-wise. The important thing is that one of us Blues can win the race.”

2nd on the stage Chris Froome (Sky): “Movistar is the team to beat! I’ve seen Rodriguez riding very well too and Alberto Contador, for someone who is coming back after an injury, he’s impressive. I expected Quintana to do a little bit better but I’m sure he’ll be back in bigger climbs. I’m happy because I didn’t lose any more time, thanks to my team. They’ve been fantastic in positioning me where I wanted to be at the bottom of the climb.”

3rd on the stage Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “To finish third in the same time as Froome and Valverde is almost a victory for me. Had I just made the top 10, I’d have been happy. My knee still hurts sometimes but fingers crossed, I hope it’ll last like this. I haven’t prepared for the Vuelta as I should have done, I’m still below my level, I don’t have the same weight as at the Tour de France but I’m getting better and better every day. It’s been hard for me to watch the Tour from home. Honestly, if there’s a possibility to attack some day, I’ll do it.”

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “I felt good but I’ve lacked a bit of a rhythm. Valverde did a great job and in addition to that, he won. I’m happy for him. The most important is that the team wins, whether it’s Alejandro or myself.”

Robert Gesink (Belkin): “I’ve been suffering like crazy. My performance is pretty good. I’m happy with this first uphill finish. It was short but much more enjoyable than the previous stages. The tempo set by Movistar was incredibly high. Nobody could give them a turn. And Contador! For somebody who broke a leg at the Tour de France, he’s good!”

Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) went into his red zone on the final climb: “It climbed for four kilometres and was straight uphill with an average gradient of 10 per cent,” said Ten Dam. “Valverde set the pace and really hurt me. I cursed him. I suffered a lot in the final three kilometres, but in the end, this is a great result. I did better than in the first mountain stage of the Tour.”

Young Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE): “I lost about a minute. It was just too hot, 37 or 38°. This climb was so steep with no wind. You can’t drink up the hill. I’ve done my job for Chaves. I hope he’s up there somewhere [the Colombian finished 7th at 25 seconds].”

Most aggressive rider Pim Ligthart (Lotto Belisol): “The plan was to have someone in the breakaway and I was one of the riders who had to try. I jumped away with Más and it was immediately the good one. The cooperation went well. The first fifteen kilometers we rode really hard. There was a counterattack with strong riders (six with among others Jimmy Engoulvent and Peter Sagan), but the peloton caught them. We could stay ahead and then I knew I was away with the right companion.” I believed in it
“We kept our tempo all the time and at the end I tried to accelerate, but the peloton was just too fast. Still, you can only try. The combative prize is a consolation prize. You try to win that stage and today we were close. The last thirty kilometers I started to believe in it, but between fifteen kilometers from the end and the foot the advantage went down so quickly and we knew we didn’t stand a chance. We should have been able to start the climb with a lead of about three minutes.”
High temperatures
“With these high temperatures we drink a lot and cool off with ice. Thanks to the advice of Energy Lab we have extra salt in our water bottles and that helps. I didn’t have any cramps yet, which I normally do have. Each ten kilometers I drink about one water bottle, but I didn’t count them today (laughs).”

King of the Mountains leader Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “I was very excited today. It was very hard. After the second climb, we thought we had a possibility to arrive but the peloton didn’t agree with that. The polka dot jersey remains a big call for me. I’m thinking of defending it on Sunday but it’ll be difficult because there are a lot of hard climbs but who knows, if I manage to break away and take points in the early part of the stage, I might continue my adventure with this jersey. I love it.”

BMC’s Samuel Sánchez: “The best riders stayed in front and in the final one-and-a-half kilometers, I could not follow them,” Sánchez said. “I preferred to continue with my own pace to limit my losses.” The past Olympic road race champion said he was not surprised to hear that Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) battled out for the stage win: “I have said from the first day that if Contador is here, he will be competitive, so is not a surprise for me.”

Astana’s Fabio Aru: “The team kept me at the front – they worked hard in the heat and that last climb was so tough!”

Sergio Pardilla
 (MTN-Qhubeka): It was a really hard and hot day. It was the first mountain stage and the team worked really hard for me. When it came to the final, the top guys were really fast. The climb was a short climb and an explosive climb, which doesn’t suit me, but at least I could still do a decent result. I will look for the stages where there is more climbing and longer climbs as well but for now I am happy.”

Read the full race report here.

Vuelta a España Stage 6 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 4:35:27
2. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 0:08
5. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:12
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:18
7. Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:25
8. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis
9. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky at 0:32
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:33.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 6:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 22:48:08
2. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:15
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:18
4. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:22
5. Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:41
6. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 0:45
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:55
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:58
9. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano at 1:02
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 1:06.

Stage 6:

Stage 7 saw the first withdrawals of the 2014 Vuelta a España due to crashes with Bryan Nauleau (Europcar), Aleksej Saramotins (IAM Cycling) and Ivan Santaromita (Orica-GreenEDGE) being forced to pull out because of various injuries. It was another “Crash Froome” day, the runner up of stage 6 went down once again but with no consequence. At the finish he even gained two seconds over the other favorites by following Dan Martin and Philippe Gilbert’s acceleration in the sprint for fifth place.

Four riders went away in the Alto de Illora at 39 kilometres: Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Hubert Dupont (AG2R-La Mondiale), Johan Tschopp (IAM Cycling) and Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale). By the 95 kilometre mark they had a 7 minute gap over the pack. With 15km to go, Dupont got dropped and Hesjedal crashed two kilometers further on, leaving De Marchi and Tschopp in the lead, but the Italian was clearly stronger. He claimed his first Grand Tour victory solo and dedicated it to Alfredo Martini, the great man of Italian cycling who died earlyier this week.

One more crash happened with 1km to go as Warren Barguil, ninth on GC, went down and was taken to hospital for examination of his left elbow, hip and knee. Alejandro Valverde retained the overall lead.

Stage winner Alessandro De Marchi: In the past three months, Dauphiné (King of the Mountains) and Tour de France (super combative rider) included, how many times have you attacked before you finally made it here in Alcaudete? “I can’t remember, there were so many attempts! Maybe there was always something missing for me to win but it was my destiny to get my first victory in a Grand Tour at my first participation to the Vuelta. I’m happy, everything worked at perfection today.”

How did you react after Ryder Hesjedal’s crash in the finale? “Firstly, I was a bit scared that the peloton would catch us. They were pretty close. With 12km to go, there was a climb and I knew it was my chance to go for the win. I feel sorry that Hesjedal crashed. We were the two riders who kept this breakaway alive. We’ve worked more than the two boys. We even agreed that we’d played the victory between the two of us. When he crashed, I waited for a little while but I couldn’t wait for more. I couldn’t miss the occasion to win.”

Who did you dedicate your victory to when you crossed the line? “It was a sign to Alfredo Martini [the former rider and coach of the Italian national team who died on Monday at the age of 93]. He was an important piece of Italian cycling. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him briefly but I heard a lot about him. I would have loved to know him more. In the last few kilometers, I thought the first Italian victory at the Vuelta had to be dedicated to him.”

What’s better: going on stage on the Champs-Elysées in Paris [as most aggressive rider of the whole Tour de France] or winning a stage at the Vuelta? “It’s very difficult to answer this question. Had I another chance to ride the 2014 Tour de France, I would repeat exactly what I did. It was my destiny to not win a stage at the Tour but the feeling of being on the podium in Paris was like a victory. Here I’ve won by myself. I put those two achievements on the same level.”

You have already secured a contract for next year [with BMC]. Has this given you the serenity you needed for this day to go at perfection, as you said, and how do you see your future? “Yes it has helped me to race with serenity. I came to the Vuelta without any big pressure, only with the aim of getting back in good shape day after day for the world championship. It’s not that I wasn’t serene before. Many things in cycling are unpredictable. It was my destiny to try a lot before I made it but it doesn’t change my future. I’m the kind of rider who has to work for captains, for a team, whether it’s for Cannondale or another one. It’s no secret where I’m going but I don’t make names because for now I’m a Cannondale rider. I’m already satisfied with what I’ve achieved so far for myself.”

Overall leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “These are demanding roads, plus the pace was really fast today. Though it was less hot than the two previous stages, the sun still burnt and made the day considerably hard. Fortunately, we didn’t have any troubles, but we had to stay focused because, as everyone could see, there were many crashes and it was a dangerous one.

“We were told Froome had crashed – we were going after riders on the attack at the front and we never pushed at 100% nor trying to get him dropped. It was a crash, you have to respect that. The Albacete roads on tomorrow’s stage are always difficult due to the wind, and we will have to keep full attention, though everything is easier while in the lead. It’s a bigger effort, to spend the whole day up-front, but this jersey makes it less hard.”

Second on the stage Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp): “I wish I knew why I crashed. We were in the break, going twisty to the side, all day through cities, De Marchi was yards in front of me, we were going at the same speed, we were comfortable, working as a group all day… I was following him and suddenly my tyre was just gone. I don’t know how fast we were going but I went straight to the head like that… I’m disappointed. I’ve worked hard. I had a chance to win today. I did my possible. It’s frustrating.”

Third on the stage Hubert Dupont (AG2R-La Mondiale): “De Marchi and Hesjedal were above us, we got kick butted all day! Rapidly I understood that I was racing for third place but a top 3 in a World Tour race isn’t bad at all. If it’s windy, tomorrow, I’m gonna have my ass kicked again because of the efforts I’ve produced today.”

Philippe Gilbert (BMC): “I’ve suffered a lot at the beginning of the Vuelta, now I’m going better. I want to leave the Vuelta in good condition but I also want to win a stage, I’ve become used to that. I’ve missed two occasions to win but there are more to come. I’m happy to have won the bunch sprint today, it’s a good sign.”

Chris Froome (Sky): “I’m feeling okay but you definitely get the feeling that when bad luck comes it comes more than once. But all things considered I’m feeling all right and I think I got off relatively unscathed. It’s good to have another day behind us now. When the crash happened a Giant-Shimano rider went down in front of me just to my left. I swerved to try and avoid that and went down. Then the guys paced me back. It took us a good 15km before we got back into the peloton. I’ve even gained two seconds on the finishing line! I’ll definitely take that after a stage like today. At the end of the race you might need all the seconds you can to defend your place. I’ll keep chipping away and get closer to the time trial.”

5th on GC, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE): “It’s a dream come true to be racing at the front in a Grand Tour. I’ve worked every day for that since I joined this Orica-GreenEdge. It’s a wonderful team that has given me the tools to do things well after the bad year I had because of my arm injury. There are still some movements in my everyday life that I can’t do but I can ride my bike. The team trusts me. I’ll do all I can to end up in the best overall position.”

Stage 7 race report here.

Vuelta a España Stage 7 Result:
1. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale in 4:01:52
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 1:35
3. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
4. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 2:17
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
7. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
8. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 2:20
9. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
10. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 7:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 26:52:20
2. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:15
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:18
4. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:19
5. Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:44
6. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 0:45
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:55
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1:09
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 1:12
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale.

Stage 7:

The Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni had warned his teammate at the start in Baeza: he was ready to climb into the ring with 2 kilometres to go. So he did, winning in Albacete after a perfect sprint to cross the finish line ahead of Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) managed to maintain his leadership and the red jersey through the crosswinds.

195 riders started Stage 8, which on paper looked to be designed for sprinters. The race had just started when Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) broke away with Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida). The gap reached it’s maximum of 7 minutes after 37 kilometres for the two companions. That’s when Giant – Shimano and FDJ.fr desided to take the lead in the chase to insure a sprint finish at Albacete.

The two attackers were caught 40 km out from Albacete. Tinkoff – Saxo, Sky and Belkin then decided to use the crosswinds in order to break the peloton. They succeed with 30 kilometres to go as the bunch was split into three groups. All the main favourites were part of the 25 riders lead group.

With 12 km to go, a new push from BMC broke the lead group, but the main sprinters still managed to reach Albacete with the first group. Frustrated in Ronda (stage 5), where he was beaten by John Degenkolb, Bouhanni made his move with 300 metres to go, despite the headwind. Matthews and Sagan were unable to pass him and the French sprinter got his second stage victory in this years Vuelta after winning last Sunday in San Fernando.

54 riders cross the line with the same time. Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) and Dani Moreno (Katusha) finish in a second group, 53 seconds down.

Stage 8 winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr). With two stage wins, have you reached your goal? “I came to the Vuelta for winning at least one stage. Tonight, I’ve bagged two. I was very disappointed to come second in the last sprint because I had the legs for winning. I got boxed in. I was determined to win today. I remained very focused in the finale. I knew there was a head wind to finish but I launched my sprint from far out, at about 300 metres, and I resisted.”

Did the sprint you lost to John Degenkolb influenced your strategy today? “The last fifty kilometers have been long and difficult. Geoffrey Soupe was with me in the finale. We lost each other in the sprint. It’s true that I wanted to launch the sprint before Degenkolb. Usually when I start at 200 metres, it’s difficult to pass me but today, it was at 300 metres. I didn’t figure out very well where the line was. I seized an opportunity to go but in a standard sprint, I would have waited for 300 metres more.

Does the green jersey become a goal again? “Shall I win the next sprint, I’ll make it a goal. I should be around ten points down on Degenkolb (13). If I precede him at Logroño, it’ll become possible to beat him in the points classification too.”

You declared yourself as a candidate for the French team at the world championship. Have you got the call? “I spoke with the selector Bernard Bourreau after the Eneco Tour, we spoke about the World’s, he described the circuit and I know that in a great day, the course suits me. I’m well, even though I got a heatstroke two days ago. I’ve been on the edge of pulling out. Yesterday I felt better. I hope I’ll improve my condition again during the remaining stages of the Vuelta. I have no guarantee to be selected for the World’s but Bourreau is supposed to come to the Vuelta and I believe I’ll meet him.”

Are you the world’s best sprinter? “It would be pretentious to say so. I’m among the best but I won’t come up with a ranking.”

Third on the stage Peter Sagan (Cannondale): “I’ve looked at racing always in the first positions because I had the feeling it could be a difficult finale. It was my goal to try. I know that my condition isn’t at the top and some sprinters on the other hand are in a great state of form. At least I’ve tried and I’m pleased with that. My goal is to improve my condition for the world championship. We’ll see on the way to Santiago di Compostela if there are other opportunities for a stage win.”

Fourth on the stage John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano): “This was definitely not an easy stage. I made quite a mistake to not take the first split, so I had to use my team and my own energy to bridge the gap across to the lead group. Nairo Quintana was with us but what mattered to me was that three of my team-mates were burning themselves to bring me back on. Near the end, I was at the limit before I could start sprinting. I made it back in the first group before the narrow road, just in time, but then I didn’t have any time left move back to the head of the sprint. Things like that happen. I’ll have other chances to win another stage.”

Philippe Gilbert (BMC): “It was either I led Samuel Sanchez out to position himself in the first split or I was racing for myself. I chose the first option. It’s been a good day for the team at the end with six BMC riders very active at the front in the echelons.”

Chris Froome (Sky): “It’s a relief to have this stage behind us. Fortunately the team was fantastic, keeping me always up front. Luke Rowe did a massive job there in the echelons. All the guys did a super job. I was never in trouble. That’s what we wanted in case of echelons. Now there’s a hill top finish to come tomorrow. I definitely don’t have the form I had for the Tour de France but I feel decent. I’m not in the situation of deciding how the race will unfold. It’ll be more about following the favorites uphill tomorrow: Quintana, Valverde, Rodriguez and Contador.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “Bennati is a life insurance. I have to thank him for those days at my service. It’s been a very tense day. Now I need to rest because tomorrow is an important day. There’s no quiet day at the Vuelta. I live it day by day. I couldn’t imagine that I’d be able to racing at such a high level. “These days are full of wear, stress and danger. Nothing has happened and I’m happy because I feel pretty well. I was nervous in the last 50k of the stage. I don’t know why, but I thought I had a flat and considered that if I had to stop to change the wheel, it would have been very bad. But everything worked to perfection and the team was great. We’ve completed another stage and now we have to rest because tomorrow will also be important”.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “I came across the group and there was a split. I’ve had to bridge a gap by myself once but the second one, I could not. Some of my team-mates have been left behind and the only one left out was Alejandro (Valverde). Giant has helped us to come across the second time. There was a common interest. Fortunately we were able to catch the first group again and save the stage. We have met the objective of the day that consisted in completing the stage without wasting time.”

Robert Gesink (Belkin): “We knew it was going to happen and in the end, we were in the right spot. We had to fight for it, but eventually Wilco and I were up there again. We were able to connect at the very last moment. We’re looking very strong. This was a good final test for tomorrow.”

Astana’s Fabio Aru: “The stage was so stressful and the wind was so strong – the team kept me at the front all day, and then Guarnieri just killed himself for me in the last 40k.”

Read the Race Report and Roadside on PEZ.

Vuelta a España Stage 8 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr in 4:29:00
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano
5. Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol
6. Robert Wagner (Ger) Belkin
7. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
8. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 8:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 31:21:20
2. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:15
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:18
4. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:20
5. Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:41
6. Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 0:45
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:55
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:58
9. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano at 1:02
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 1:06.

Stage 8:

On Stage 9; 31 riders formed a breakaway as soon as the race was flagged off: Anacona and Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Bouet & Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale), Lutsenko (Astana), Martens (Belkin), Nerz & D. Wyss (BMC), Bilbao & Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Coppel & Zingle (Cofidis), Zingle, Berhane & Cousin (Europcar), Hesjedal & Van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp), Lang (IAM Cycling), Vorganov (Katusha), Hansen (Lotto-Belisol), Teklehaimanot and Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka), Javi Moreno (Movistar), Boonen & Verona (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Bewley (Orica-GreenEDGE), Cataldo (Sky), Arndt (Giant-Shimano), Arredondo, Jungels and Felline (Trek).

The race covered 47 km in the first hour and reached a maximum advantage of 8.15 after 111 kilometres. While Movistar set the pace at the head of the peloton, Vansummeren held a high rhythm in the breakaway for teammate Hesjedal. But it was Anacona, Jungels and Moreno were the attackers on the ascent of the Alto de San Rafael with 21 kilometres to go. Under the pouring rain, Sky stretched the peloton to reduce the gap to 4.30 at the bottom of the final climb.

Anacona attacked again with 6km to go and soloed to victory but he missed the red jersey by only nine seconds. Contador countered Sky 2.2 km before the finish line. Froome lost contact but Rodriguez and Quintana bridged the gap onto Contador.

Quintana is the new race leader while six riders are within thirty seconds on GC with an individual time trial to be contested on Tuesday after the first rest day in Zaragoza.

Can you explain how come your name is Winner? “This is the third time I’m taking part in the Vuelta and I’ve always been asked the question. My father Rodrigo Antonio Anacona who is a policeman has always been a big cycling enthusiast. He was used to listening to the cycling reports on the radio and he was a fan of Andrew Hampsten and Peter Winnen in the 80s. He wanted to name me under his two idols. He didn’t know any word of English though, so he made a mistake and I became Winner. It’s the first time in my pro career that I can pay homage to my name. I’m obviously delighted.”

What were your thoughts and your tactic during the race? Did you have the stage win in mind or the GC or both? “When the group was formed, I didn’t think we’d go very far. Being three minutes down on GC, I thought the bunch wouldn’t give us much space but we’ve reached an advantage of 8.20 and I’ve started believing that I could become the race leader. I knew this was a difficult stage towards the end and I attacked in the second last climb with the aim of taking the red jersey. But when I heard that Sky was pulling behind, I decided to attack a second time with 6km to go but this time, it was for the stage win.”

What are your ambitions in the Vuelta? “I came to this race aiming for a top 10 overall. Because of negligence, I lost thirty seconds at Arcos (stage 3). Also yesterday, I lost about one minute in the echelons. But my goal of finishing in the top has revived today. I’d like to look for another stage win as well.”

Last year was difficult after you had a big accident on Christmas Eve in Cucaita, Colombia [a dog crossed the road in a curve in front of him, he had a broken ankle]. How did you come back to this great level? “I started 2013 on the back foot and I was left with no racing for six months. I only resumed racing at Tour de Pologne, just before the Vuelta but I knew that last year’s Vuelta was my first step towards performing in this year’s Vuelta.”

What can you tell about the new generation of Colombian riders coming three decades after Lucho Herrera and Fabio Parra? “What Parra and Lucho achieved was very big. But Colombian cycling didn’t die after them. In the meantime there have been good cyclists like Santiago Botero or Álvaro Mejía. Now a great generation carries the flag for our country, Nairo, Urán, Chaves, the boys from Team Colombia… and there are many more to come. Yesterday, Ayer Miguel López won the Tour de l’Avenir in France. I’ve heard of his qualities but I don’t know him personally even though we come from the same province (Boyaca).”

How do you see your future? “I’m up for contract with Lampre-Merida. My agent is considering various options. We’ll chose what’s best for my future.”

Overall leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “We didn’t think of swapping the roles in the team with me in the lead as of today. I’m in the red jersey now but there’s still a long way away into the Vuelta. It’s going to be difficult. In particular, there’s a time trial coming up. There isn’t much difference between the favorites. The differences will be made in the last week. I’ve been surprised that Chris Froome got dropped a little bit. He’s not the kind of rider who gives up. He’ll keep fighting for GC and he might make it up for the time lost in the time trial. However, for the GC I fear Alberto Contador more than Chris Froome. My goal is to make the top 3. If I manage to do so at the Vuelta, I’ll have done it at the three Grand Tour in the region of fourteen months and it would be the best way to prepare for my attempt to win the Tour de France next year.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’ve seen the opportunity so I took it. When I realized that Froome was a bit behind, I felt like trying to drop him off. I lack condition to be able to maintain my rhythm at the maximum but I’m very happy with where I am now.” He added: “Whenever I have the legs, I have to try. I haven’t been able to prepare properly for the Vuelta to ride for the GC as a goal. I hope to improve day-by-day, but I’m aware that there are other riders, who have been training meticulously ahead of this race. Perhaps today they didn’t have a good day, but the Vuelta has just begun.”

Chris Froome (Sky): “It was a test stage out there, especially with the conditions there were today but the guys did a fantastic job. My main thing is to try and stay in contention at the moment with eyes on the time trial. The time I’ve lost today is not a disaster. It would have been better to be able to follow those guys. They had the legs on me in the final, a couple of kilometers there. For now, it’s just about getting through with the least loss as possible. I’m looking forward to the time trial now.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “It’s been quite cold compared to what we experienced the other days. We’ve concluded this stage well. We’re happy. We have the red jersey and the white one as well. We’ve changed the overall leader but the most important is that the jersey stays in the team. At some stage they [Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez and Nairo Quintana] rode away. I was on Froome’s wheel and I couldn’t jump to the group in front of us. At the end I’ve tried to regain a few seconds. Considering that I don’t like the bad weather, I didn’t go too bad today. I don’t know why Sky was riding so fast uphill. I think their pace has scared Froome at the end of the day. By now, we’re first and third on GC. There’s a difficult time trial to come and that pleases me.”

Samuel Sanchez (BMC): “Today I was missing a little bit to get to the finish line with Alejandro Valverde, who was the race leader. We have finished the first nine stages and have to be happy with what we have done up to now. We are close to the top 10 with a nearly two-minute gap from the leader. But our team has done a really good job in the first part of the race.”

Robert Gesink (Belkin): “A top 10 overall is still good. The last climb was hard, the weather really changed, it was really cold. I just kept fighting. 24th place does not seem great, but I was close to the others. It was my max today.”

Romain Sicard (Europcar): “I’ve recovered from my crash. It’s something new to me to lead a team in a Grand Tour. Europcar gives me this opportunity. But now I’m too far down on GC so I target a stage win. Today we had three riders in the front group with Jérôme Cousin, Yannick Martinez and Natnael Berhane. It hasn’t worked out but we’ll try again. I’m looking forward to the stages that suit me.”

Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo): “The weather made the last climb really difficult today. The rain started on the descent before the final climb and made it really difficult to climb up to the mountain finish . Now, I think we’re all looking forward to a rest day.”

Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka): Yeah today i made the big break with Jay which was good. Jay really helped me a lot in the break while i tried to save my legs. We made to the final climb in front still and then i tried to follow the front guys to maybe get a top 10 result. It was very difficult though in the rain and the other riders were very strong. I am happy with my ride today.

Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko: “After a week at 40 degrees, it’s nice to race in the rain.”

Read the PEZ Race Report here.

Vuelta a España Stage 9 Result:
1. Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida in 4:34:14

2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at 0:45

3. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:50

4. Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar at 1:04

5. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:12

6. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 1:21

7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 1:33

8. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol at 1:45

9. Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek at 1:49

10. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 2:08.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 9:
1. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar in 35:58:05

2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:03

3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:08

4. Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida at 0:09

5. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:28

6. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 0:30

7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1:06

8. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 1:19

9. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 1:26

10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano.

Stage 9:

header-plouayGP Ouest France – Plouay 2014
GP Ouest France – Plouay, with a new 229.1 parcours in 2014, came down to a small group of mostly French riders on Sunday. The race featured a big 26.9km circuit of eight-laps, and a final small circuit of 13.9 kilometres.

A seven rider group barely held off the peloton, with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) winning the sprint out of the small group that went away with about 2km to go, following the last steep climb of the day: Cote de Ty Marrec, which was 4km from the finish line. The race came back together on that climb. Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) was 2nd, and Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr) was 3rd, Cyril Gautier (Europcar) 4th and OPQS’s French rider Julian Alaphilippe was 5th.

Michal Kwiatkowski originally attacked and formed a different seven-rider group that was caught on the final steep climb of the day. That group did not collaborate well in the final 10 kilometers. Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) was a member of both the Kwiatkowski group and the Alaphilippe group that decided the stage. He repeatedly attacked in both groups.

OPQS went to the front on the final climb once Kwiatkowski was swept up by the peloton, and the first seven-rider group was also caught. That is when Alaphilippe was able to get into the crucial move of the stage.

”I’m happy about my race even if in the last kilometers I didn’t have great legs,” Alaphilippe said. “When Wellens accelerated I jumped on his wheel and I tried to work with him, but I couldn’t. I didn’t have enough left in my legs. I still gave everything in the sprint and I finished 5th. To me, it’s a great satisfaction, even if I could have done better than this with a little more left in the tank at the end. But Plouay is a long and nervous race, and in the final you have to be fresh. It’s a matter of training and improving, and of course it’s also a question of experience. I will work day-by-day to improve in these kind of races. Now, I will try to keep the condition and do well in the Canadian races.”

”As a team we rode well,” Sport Director Tom Steels said. “The guys were always present in the good actions of the race. The presence of Kwiatkowski in the 7 rider breakaway allowed the other guys to save energy for the final. At the end Julian was 5th, which is a great result for such a young rider in a demanding race. We know that he can do well in these races. Also, Gianni Meersman did a good sprint behind and he barely missed the top ten for 11th position. Considering everything it was a good race for us.”

Astana’s Dmitriy Fofonov: “No rain today in Bretagne – first time in years during this race we had sunshine and bright skies.”

GP Ouest France – Plouay Result:
1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling in 5:38:26
2. Andrea Fedi (Ita) Neri Sottoli
3. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr
4. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar
5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol
7. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC
8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:02
9. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
10. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol.

GP Ouest France – Plouay 2014:

header-MTNReinardt Janse van Rensburg Returns To MTN-Qhubeka
After spending two years in the World Tour squads Argos-Shimano and Giant-Shimano, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg will return to Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung for the 2015-2016 seasons. Janse van Rensburg burst on to the international cycling scene during the 2011 Herald Sun Tour with a stage victory whilst riding for the MTN-Qhubeka UCI Continental Team.

Janse van Rensburg confirmed his talent the following season by notching up a total of 14 victories, the most by any continental rider that year. Janse van Rensburg had attracted the attention of multiple World Tour teams and so moved on to Team Argos-Shimano in 2013, as he pursued his goals of racing in the World Tour. After 2 years with the Dutch squad where Janse van Rensburg formed an integral part of the teams’ formidable lead-out train, the young South African has decided to come home.

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg: “I am very excited to return to MTN Qhubeka, after 2 years racing in the World Tour. I know the set-up and I am also keen to align myself with the ambitions they have as a team. From my previous time there, I know how professional and passionate they are. It is a set-up where I know I can perform to my best, and be successful. I keenly followed their many achievements during the past two years. I feel like I am going home.”

“I am proud to have been a part of the legendary sprint train of Team Giant-Shimano and am thankful for the 2 years I spent in the WorldTour with the team, the experience I gained there was invaluable for my development as a rider. I hope to apply what I learned there back to MTN Qhubeka.”

Team Principal – Douglas Ryder: “It is fantastic to have Reinardt Janse van Rensburg back in Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. It actually feels like he never left because over the last two years we have supported him at Giant-Shimano as if he was still on our team. Reinie brought us a huge amount of success which helped bring us our Pro-Continental license and also the support from our sponsors, showing them what is possible and that we could go to the highest levels of world cycling.”

Learn more about MTN-Qhubeka at www.teammtnqhubeka.com.

ENECO Tour 2014 stage - 7

header-tinkoffsaxoKiserlovski Joins Tinkoff-Saxo
Tinkoff-Saxo is pleased to announce that Robert Kiserlovski will join the team in 2015. The Croatian rider will make the move and ride for Tinkoff-Saxo after signing a two-year deal. Ambitious team owner Oleg Tinkov sees Kiserlovski as a strong addition to the roster.

“Robert is a very proven rider and a strong climber. We need a rider like him in our squad and I’m pleased to welcome him on the best cycling team in the world”, says Oleg Tinkov.

As a solid climber, Kiserlovski finished 10th overall at the 2010 Giro d’Italia, while riding in support of winner Ivan Basso, who’ll also make the move to Tinkoff-Saxo in 2015. According to team manager Bjarne Riis, 28-year old Kiserlovski will be an important rider when the road gets steep.

“I look forward to having Robert on the team. He’ll be important in the Grand Tours and throughout the season to bolster our team in hilly and mountainous terrain. When he’ at his best, he’s a rider that can offer crucial help to our captains in decisive situations and perform on his own. I’m confident that Robert will be able to improve even more on our team”, tells Bjarne Riis.

The protagonist himself is excited about the move to Tinkoff-Saxo. “I’m really happy to join a team that has so many prominent athletes. I like the teamwork and I’m looking forward to the next two seasons. I’ll be ready every time a great champion like Alberto Contador needs my help”, concludes former Croatian champion and coming rider of Tinkoff-Saxo Robert Kiserlovski.

Giro d'Italia 2014

header_BMCBMC Racing Team Extends Contract For Wyss
Danilo Wyss, one of the longest-running members of the BMC Racing Team, will remain with the squad in 2015 after receiving a contract extension.

‘A Dedicated Teammate’
BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced the extension for the 29-year-old Swiss Saturday at the Vuelta a España, where Wyss is competing. A member of the BMC Racing Team since he turned professional in 2008, Wyss often puts aside ambitions of personal success to help his teammates, Ochowicz said. “Danilo has proven on every occasion to be a dedicated teammate,” Ochowicz said. “He has contributed to many of the team’s successes this season and will do so again in the future. Whether it is a grand tour or a single-day race, we can always count on Danilo to do his job.” Wyss said he was excited to receive the contract extension, specific terms of which were not announced. “I am really proud to have been with the team for a long time and I have so many good memories from the past seven years,” Wyss said. “I especially recall my first grand tour, the Giro d’Italia in 2010, which was also the first grand tour for the team.” Wyss has finished every Giro since, including helping teammate Cadel Evans place third there last year. “Next year, I hope to keep doing my best work for the team,” Wyss said. “I don’t really have personal objectives. I just take the opportunities when I have them.”

Paris - Roubaix 2014

header-astanaAstana Sign Laurens de Vreese
Astana Pro Team has signed Belgian cyclist Laurens De Vreese to a one-year contract for 2015. De Vreese brings Belgian combativity and hard-won spring classics palmarés to the Kazakhstan World Tour team. De Vreese will line up next season to race with recently contracted Dutch rider Lars Boom. 25-year old De Vreese comes from Ghent and is Belgium’s 2010 U23 national road race champion.

ENECO Tour 2014 stage - 1

header-GCNTop 10 Things Not To Wear While Cycling
Some more very good advice from the guys at the Global Cycling Network:
“Cycling fashion can bit a bit of a minefield, so we’re here to help you out. What should and what shouldn’t you wear while cycling? Before we get to the nitty gritty, there are major things that you need to get right. Matt Stephens, who’s made a fair few fashion errors in his time.”

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