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Vuelta’14 St.10: Martin Up, Quintana Down!

Race Report: No surprise as Tony Martin won the stage 10 time trial, but a crash for Nairo Quintana ruining his race was a shock. Contador was the fastest of the overall contenders and took over the red jersey. A day of up’s and big down’s on la Vuelta.

The time trial was following it’s usual format of a battle between Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek), with the GC men fighting for their positions. Contador looked to be going the best with Valverde, Uran, Sanchez in close contention, with Froome, Rodriguez and Quintana a little bit slower. Then on the descent off the Alto de Moncayo; Nairo Quintana miss judged a bend and hit the metal barrier, flipping him over the bars to land on his back on the tarmac. His bike was smashed and he didn’t look much better. He remounted and rode on.

Martin took the stage, Contador the overall, Uran moved up, Anacona held his place, Froome and Rodriguez lost a little, but big loser of the day was Nairo Quintana who has probably lost this Vuelta a España.

The TT Course:
The 36.7 kilometer time trial starts in a monastery; the Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Veruela is situated in the hills of the Province of Zaragoza at 655 meters altitude to be exact. From the religious edifice the riders climb the Alto de Moncayo, it’s a narrow, technical climb that peaks at 1,000 meters after 11.2 kilometers. From there the race against the clock drops to 440 meters in 25.4 kilometers, but it’s on narrow roads with many bends and a metal bridge. The last 10 kilometers to Borja are fairly flat and should suit the TT specialists like Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara.

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3…2…1…Go!
First man off was Matteo Pelluchi of IAM Cycling, followed 1 minute later by his teammate Dominic Klemme. As expected Trek’s Fabian Cancellara was the fastest of the early starters at the 11.2 kilometer point and put up the best time after 30 kilometers of 36:37. At the finish the Swiss rider posted a final time of 47:13, which at that time was 1:02 faster than his team mate Jesse Sergent.

Fabian Cancellara said at the finish that the climb is not the only problem for the riders as the road surface is less than smooth. In places the road has cracked and there are places where the surface had been patched-up and repaired.

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World Champ Time
World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) was out on the road as Cancellara was finishing and at the first check, the German was 6 seconds up on the Swiss.

Soon to retire; David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) put up a fair fight to finish 2:05 down on Cancellara.

Tony Martin pushed up his lead by a further 10 seconds after 30 kilometers to 16, but over the last 6.7 kilometers he lost a little time on Cancellara, but held the lead with a time of 47:02, which beat Fabian Cancellara by 11 seconds.

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Of the overall contenders, all have said the course suits them; only Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez has been keeping quiet during Monday’s rest day.

Sky’s Chris Froome said: “It’s not such a long time trial as sometimes but I like it. It’s a very typical Vuelta time trial. It’s very technical and hilly, the climb is very steep.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “When you see the parcours it looks even harder than it seems on paper. The first part is uphill, with some really tough ramps, and then there’s a very fast descent on a very uneven and difficult road. The last part, however, is fast and regular. For sure, it will be really tough.”

Overall leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “I made slight improvements in my TT performance and I think I’ll be close to the competition tomorrow; should I lose any time, it’s obvious that it will be because they’re better specialists than me on time trialling – I don’t think I’ll lose much, though.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “Froome might be a strong rival, maybe the strongest candidate for the stage win, but I think as well Nairo as myself and many other contenders might be in the mix and do well. Still, it doesn’t matter what result we get – we’ll keep fighting to win the Vuelta and let the fans enjoy.”

Cadel Evans put up a good ride to finish only 49 seconds down on Martin with 47:51. Out on the course his BMC teammate Samuel Sanchez posted the fastest time to the top of the Alto de Moncayo with a time of 19:40.

Everyone on the Road
The Red jersey (skin suit) of Nairo Quintana kicked out of the start house to a big a cheer; nearly as big as the welcome Alberto Contador received.

At the first checkpoint Samuel Sanchez was the fastest with 19:40 until Alejandro Valverde took 3 seconds out of him and then Contador took 10. Valverde was riding strongly at only 7 seconds down on Contador as Quintana, Rodriguez and Froome lost between 20 and 30 seconds.

The 11.2K Checkpoint:
T.Martin-20:02
Cancellara-20:08
Contador-19:30
Valverde-19:37
Quintana-19:50
Rodriguez-19:57
Froome-19:59.

Just after the split; overall leader Nairo Quitana slipped down the gap between the road and the barrier going head over heels smashing his bike and looking less than well. After around 2 minutes or so and with a crowd of helpers, the brave Colombian remounted to ride on with his skin suit in tatters. It didn’t look like he would or should carry on, but he did.

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The Second Checkpoint
At the second checkpoint Sanchez had slowed and was 11 seconds behind Tony Martin. The other top GC men were holding their positions, except for Quintana who had lost around 3 minutes. The big surprise came from another Colombian; Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) who had shot onto the leader board with a time equaling Tony Martin.

On the Line in Borja
At the finish Samuel Sanchez put in a very good time only 48 seconds slower than Martin as Rigoberto Uran eased to third place at 15 seconds, but the time of Tony Martin was looking safe.

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Joaquim Rodriguez’s time of 48:52 was not too shabby and will keep him in contention. Next in was Froome with 48:34, which must have been a disappointment.

Contador had been flying on the first section of the stage, but maybe started too fast on the climb and was looking less smooth on the final part of the course.

Valverde attacked the final kilometer and put up 48:03 to take the overall lead (at that moment).

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Alberto Contador had to push hard for his ride of 47:41 to put him in the Red jersey of the race lead. We only had to wait for the damaged Nairo Quintana. The little Colombian had all eyes on him as he struggled to hold a good pace in the final kilometers. His time of 51:10 was very good considering he had been flying through the air before hitting the road.

So, the time trial changed the look of the overall table, but maybe for the wrong reason in the case of Nairo Quintana. Alberto Contador did the ride he wanted and would probably have been in red anyway, but you have to feel sorry for the little Colombian.

The 2014 Vuelta a España is far from over, keep it PEZ and don’t miss a pedal stroke.

Vuelta a España Stage 10 Result:
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 47:02
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:11
3. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:15
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:39
5. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 0:48
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 0:49
7. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky at 0:58
8. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:01
9. Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek at 1:13
10. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 10:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 36:45:49
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:27
3. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:59
4. Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida at 1:12
5. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 1:18
6. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 1:37
7. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 1:41
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 2:27
9. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 2:36
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 2:59.

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