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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
Monday, September 1, 2014

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Tinkoff-Saxo on Vuelta Stage Nine

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's press release about Vuelta stage nine:

Today’s 185 kilometer long 9th stage of Vuelta a Espana from Carboneras de Guadazaón to the mountain top finish on the first category climb, Aramón Valdelinares was far from the biggest challenge in this year’s Spanish Grand Tour. But a battle between the GC favorites was nevertheless expected. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador has shown surprisingly good form until now considering his build-up for the race and he was third overall before today’s thrilling finale.

A big group of 31 riders created the breakaway and they worked tenaciously hard to keep the overall favorites behind as they were approaching the final slope as well as facing lower temperatures and rain. With 15 kilometers to go, the gap was still more than five minutes to the remains of the front group, that started to crumble on the last climb.

Entering the final slope, Winner Anacona (Lampre) took off from the front group to solo his way up the mountain to take the stage while peloton kept slimming down behind. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was hanging on to the back wheel of Chris Froome (Sky) as he had no teammates in the group of 25 riders with 4 kilometers to go.

Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was the first from the chase group to attack with 2 kilometers to go but then Contador jumped out of his saddle and danced up the slope and instantly distanced Froome. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar)  however bridged the gap to Alberto and the Movistar took the overall lead of the race.

But once again, Alberto Contador took everyone by surprise with a fierce attack and is now second overall - only 3 seconds behind Quintana. Our DS, Steven De Jongh says:

“It was a very good day for Alberto and I think everyone saw a very strong Contador in the final. It was a bit of a nightmare in the rainy finale and we saw a lot of riders standing completely still. The first hour was very hard, we did over 47 km/h. It was never easy today, it was fast and they kept going full gas but we can be satisfied with today's result and now it's time to recover for the time trial Tuesday."

Our Swiss climber, Oliver Zaugg had this comment shortly after having finished the stage:

“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".

Contador added:

"I noticed that some of my rivals were in difficulties and I wanted to use the opportunity. I still lack condition to keep the pace at maximum intensity, but I'm very happy. I don't know exactly how much time I took on some of my opponents, but the important thing now is not to catch a cold and to get some rest", says Alberto Contador after crossing the finish line.

The captain of Tinkoff-Saxo was delivered to the front of the peloton on the final climb by his teammates and attacked with 2 kilometers to go just as several favorites looked to be in difficulties. Together with Joaquim Rodriguez and Nairo Quintana, Alberto finished 23 seconds ahead of rivals Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome.

“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".

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador's stage nine attack. Photo ©Sirotti

Team Belkin on Vuelta Stage Nine

Here's what Belkin had to say about Vuelta stage nine:

Robert Gesink kept the Belkin Pro Cycling team in the top 10 overall in the wet Vuelta a España stage to Aramón Valdelinares. He placed 24th on the summit finish behind victor Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) and slipped from seventh to eighth overall behind leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

"A top 10 overall is still good," Gesink said. "The last climb was hard, the weather really changed, it was really cold. I just kept fighting."

Gesink maintained his place with the leaders including Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome until the final attacks began. Dan Martin shot free, causing others to respond and Contador to launch an attack. Gesink kept his ground and finished at 2-55 minutes back from Anacona, or 39 seconds behind Contador. "24th place does not seem great, but I was close to the others," Gesink added. "It was my max today."

Wilco Kelderman came home in the rain just 19 seconds back at 3-14. Laurens ten Dam suffered from the extreme weather changes and lost time as soon as the eight-kilometre Aramón Valdelinares climb began.

"The weather changed on the first climb, from 40°C yesterday to 14° today," Sports Director, Erik Dekker said. "Laurens has trouble with weather changes like that and was dropped at the start of the final climb. Robert's still eighth, so that's good." A large, 31-man escape led for most of the day with Belkin's Paul Martens and eventual stage winner Anacona. Anacona held on, but the others cracked under the pressure of team Sky on the final climb.

Moreno Hofland unfortunately had to abandon early in the stage because of a respiratory infection.

Rest day
The Vuelta a España peloton enjoys a well-earned rest day tomorrow after nine days of racing. Dekker explained that the team will make an early start to preview Tuesday's time trial course and meet with the press. "I'll ride the time trial and another hour on the rollers to keep my body going," added Gesink.

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink

Lampre-Merida on Winning Vuelta Stage Nine

Here's the statement from Lampre-Merida after their rider Winner Anacona won Vuelta a España stage nine on Sunday:

A presentation was never more suitable than this, today the winner of the 9th stage of  Vuelta a Espana 2014 is really in name and in fact Winner Anacona.

The Lampre Merida has been able to take the ride as the Spanish bullfighter takes the bull by the horns ...! Since morning the tactics of the Italian formation was clear, and the DS Matxin and Vicino had indicated to the boys that the stage could hide the danger of a large group of attackers escaping from the start, and so it was. Matxin had figured to the perfection the most suitable man to enter into the flight: Anacona, the man best placed in the overall standings, (the Colombian started this morning with 2'50" to recover), centering on afull reading of the race.

The beginning of the 9th stage from Carboneras de Guadazaón to Aramón Valdelinares of 185 km saw a series of attacks by several athletes that alarmed the peloton. After 25 km the action was good, a squad of 31 athletes escaped, among them two Lampre-Merida men: Winner Anacona and Damiano Cunego.

The maximum gap was over 8 minutes and the ambitions of the successful tactics designed by the team in the morning began to take a really favorable turn.

For the entire stage Anacona was the virtual leader of the General Classification. He was not content to see how the group would react. On the penultimate climb (2nd category, 20 km from the finish) Anacona forced the pace, dragging behind him only two fellow adventurers: Bob Jungels and JavierMoreno.

Behind, no one was able to catch them, thanks also to the fine work of Cunego who stopped all attempts from their opponents to bridge.

The peloton, at the urging of Team Sky also reacted and was reported to be only 3'30" from the leading trio. At that moment Anacona, with great courage and strength, gave the decisive acceleration, unplugging from his breakaway companions.

Under pouring rain, the Colombian of Lampre-Merida thus reached the finish all alone, giving to Saronni's formation a deserved victory that had been sought for some time. To complete the feast was Cunego's beautiful 3rd place, who was able, after having worked as a stopper, to fire his best remaining ammunition.

A real shame was an attack of Contador during the last kilometers that led to ahigh acceleration that diminished the Anacona's gap, thus causing him to lose the leader's jersey by just 9" to Quintana.

These are the words of the protagonists:

The Director Matxin: "Today we hope to have reversed the fortunes of our Vuelta, the tactic this morning was clear, we could not absolutely miss the escape of the day. I played to perfection Winner as the path.... With him I had asked that at least a companion to be present and I have to say that Damiano has really done his best to comply with this request. I am grateful to him that today worked well and I'm happy for as he finished the stage, a 3rd place is a symptom of a condition that is growing. Winner has been phenomenal in the final and I hope that with this victory he has finally defeated the bad luck that has dogged him since his becomming a professional."

Anacona: "Today I am in seventh heaven! Have to say thanks to the whole team, from the leadership that has always believed in me even in the hardest times, the DS present today at the race, that passed the fire necessary to me for achieve this victory, to all the staff always perfect in every role. Finally, let me dedicate the victory to myself and the work I have done to get out of bad luck after I became a professional. I hope to have continuity in performance now and still give plenty of those joys to Lampre Merida. "

Winner Anacona

Winner Anacona celebrates his stage win. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC on Vuelta Stage Nine:

BMC sent out this statement about stage nine:

With help from teammate Dominik Nerz, BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez fought to hold onto his place in the overall standings during a rain-soaked summit finish Sunday at the Vuelta a España.

Sánchez was unable to follow an attack by Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the last two kilometers while riding in the peloton that was chasing the remnants of a large breakaway that had shattered on the final climb. Nerz – who was part of that earlier escape group – paced the past Olympic road race champion the final kilometer. Sánchez's result – 28th on the stage – dropped him from 12th to 13th in the standings. But he remains part of a group of nine riders within 30 seconds of each other heading into the race's first rest day. "Today I was missing a little bit to get to the finish line with Alejandro Valverde, who was the race leader," Sánchez said. "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."

Lampre-Merida's Winner Anacona survived from the breakaway to take the stage win, 45 seconds ahead of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) and Damiano Cunego (also Lampre-Merida). In the overall standings, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) took over the race lead by finishing with a small group that included Contador. Quintana is three seconds ahead of Contador and eight seconds in front of his Movistar teammate Valverde, while Sánchez is 1:35 behind. Sport Director Valerio Piva said the BMC Racing Team will continue to fully support Sánchez, who was runner-up at this race in 2009 and third in 2007. "But during the next stages, we will also try every day for stage wins," Piva said. "The Vuelta is long and we have not lost any spirit. Samuel will fight back. He knows this is his race."

Nerz, who joined teammate Danilo Wyss in the 31-rider breakaway, said he was glad to help Sánchez but disappointed he was not in a position to go for the stage win. "I felt pretty good the whole day and tried to save as much energy as possible," he said. "But in the final, the rain was the biggest problem. I was really cold and my legs felt rock hard. So that killed me in the end. Finally, I just waited for Samuel to bring him back and save him time." When racing resumes Tuesday, the 194 riders remaining in the race will face a 36.7-km individual time trial. "I think I can ride it well, as I know the course," Sánchez said. "The first part is really hard and the second part is for the time trial specialists. My shape is good and normally I am feeling better in the third week of the race."

Danilo Wyss Extends with BMC

Here's the BMC release about the team's extending its contract with Danilo 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.

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."

Danilo Wyss

Danilo Wyss rides stage six of the 2014 Vuelta a España. Photo ©Sirotti

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