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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Monday, September 8, 2014

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Vuelta a España Stage 15 Team and Rider Comments

Here's the word from BMC:

BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez slipped from seventh to eighth overall following the second straight summit finish Sunday at the Vuelta a España.

Much like Saturday's stage, Sánchez was unable to follow when the riders ahead of him on the general classification accelerated on the lower slopes of the final climb. "Samuel was the only guy from our team in the front group, but he was not able to follow the best," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said.

Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) survived from the day's breakaway to take the stage win, five seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha Team). Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was next to finish, a further five seconds back, to keep the race lead. Sánchez placed 13th, 1:46 back, and dropped to 5:02 behind Contador in the overall standings. One more mountain-top finish remains Monday before the race enjoys its second rest day Tuesday. "He is OK," Piva said of Sánchez. " Tomorrow is also a very hard stage. We will see if he has a better feeling. Today he was not able to stay with the best."

Samuel Sanchez

Going back a while. Here's Samuel Sanchez at the 2011 Tour de France wearing the polka dot jersey of the mountains classification leader. Photo ©Sirotti

And from Tinkoff-Saxo:

There are no easy stages in this year’s Vuelta a Espana and today’s course from Oviedo to Lagos de Covadonga was no exception. Just like yesterday, Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was under bombardment from his GC rivals but once again, he was able to not only respond but also attack and keep the lead before another big mountain battle tomorrow.

A breakaway consisting of five riders had a gap of 10 minutes with less than 50 kilometers to go while Tinkoff-Saxo remained silent behind the front of the field as the escapees posed no threat in the overall classification. The 152.2 kilometer long 15th stage of the Spanish Grand Tour was concluded with a 12 kilometer long and nasty uphill finish with gradients of up to 17%.

Entering the final climb, the already decimated field exploded once again. Katusha launched the first attacks from the field but Tinkoff-Saxo kept the pace in the bunch. Soon, Joaquin Rodriguez leaped up the mountain but Contador was on his wheel immediately. Alberto launched a series of counter-moves and Valverde and Rodriguez were responding and as they bridged to the Tinkoff-Saxo captain, the pace dropped while Chris Froome was chasing behind.

The group of favorites wasn’t able to catch the stage winner from the breakaway, Przemyslaw Niemic (Lampre) but Tinkoff-Saxo’s Contador controlled the finale and kept the lead before tomorrow’s summit finish. Because of time bonus on the finish line, Alejandro Valverde gained time and is now 31 seconds behind the race leader while Chris Froome is 1.20 behind in third position.

DS, Tristan Hoffman comments:

"We all witnessed a very strong and motivated Alberto in a great effort to not only defend but also attack his nearest rivals in the GC. At the end of the day he actually lost time to Valverde and Rodriguez but he gained time on Froome. It was a difficult situation tactically but I think he managed the situation very well. Tomorrow, there's another big day in the mountains and we''ll do everything we can to maintain the lead".

Alberto Contador and Joaquin Rodriguez

Alberto Contador leads Joaquin Rodriguez up stage 15's final climb. Photo ©Sirotti

Team Belkin's post stage 15 release:

Belkin Pro Cycling team's Robert Gesink defended his top-10 position in another grueling mountain stage in the Vuelta a España under rain Sunday. Gesink crossed the line 11th behind stage-winner Przemslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), and slotted into ninth overall at 5:11 behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

"It was my maximum effort. I have to be happy with that. I felt better than yesterday, so that's a good thing," Gesink said. "It was tough, but it was a good race. The descent off the first climb was really, really slippery, and we went like 5kmh. That wasn't really fun, but in the end, it dried up. Tomorrow will be brutal. It will be 5,000 metres of climbing. Now I need rest and a hot shower."

Belkin's Wilco Kelderman rode to 21st in the historic climb up Lagos de Covadonga in Spain's spectacular Picos de Europa, moving into 15th overall at 9:08 back.

"Wilco was really suffering on the last climb. He's not coming to his best form, and I think we must remember that he is young, and he already did one grand tour this year. That's also something to keep in mind," said Belkin Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. "It was very hard today. It took 50km before the break went, on a hard parcours. Then the second climb was hard, with a lot rain, and the descent was very tricky. That takes a lot of energy. Today was another uphill finish, and tomorrow again in the mountains. That's a grand tour, and we have to cope with that, and do as good as possible."

The 69th Vuelta continues Monday with the third consecutive mountaintop finale, with a five-climb stage ending at Lagos de Somiedo. More rain is in the forecast.

"It's a lot of climbs again, another uphill finish, another explosive final. I think Robert shows he is ready for it, so we are hoping he can move up in the GC," Zeeman said. "Tomorrow is going to be hard," said Belkin's Maarten Tjallingii. "Today and yesterday, I saw already the group in the back is really big. I hope we get together tomorrow, and get over the hills."

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink climbs in stage 15. Photo ©Sirotti

Lampre-Merida is justifiably happy with how Stage 15 turned out. Here's their statement:

Sunday is the magic day for Lampre-Merida. Seven days ago, the blue-fuchsia-green team celebrated the victory by Winner Anacona in Valdelinares. Today it has been Niemiec's turn to obtain his first success since he races in the team.

The Polish cyclist won the 15th stage of Vuelta a Espana on the summit arrival on Lagos de Covadonga, 152,2 km after the start of Oviedo.

On Saturday, Niemiec had been in the main breakaway of the 14th stage, and he reiterated today too his fighting spirit joining 4 riders in the attack that led the race for most of the course.

The Polish cyclist from Lampre-Merida escaped from the bunch with Degenkolb, Aramendia, Meyer and Vandewalle at the 45th kilometer; pedalling in the rain, the action could have a maximum advantage of more than 10', that allowed the breakaway to approach the final climb (12,2 km) with 4' on the bunch.

During the climb, Niemiec's pace caused all of the other attackers to drop from the head of the race, so blue-fuchsia-green climber could focus his attention exclusively on the battle against the top riders of the overall classification that were chasing him in the final part of the course.

Niemiec managed to reach the arrival conquering a solo victory with 5" on the Spanish duo Valverde-Rodriguez and with 10" on Contador, who's still the leader of the overall classification.

This is the 15th victory in his career for Niemiec, the 20th success for Lampre-Merida in 2014.

Anacona played the role of guardian in the bunch in order to help Niemiec, completing the stage in 22nd position at 3'15" to Niemiec. He's now 13th in the overall classification (+7'41" to Contador).

"After four years in this team, I obtained my first victory with there colors in such important race as Vuelta and in the charming arrival of La Covadonga: I feel so excited - Niemiec explained - I'm happy I could give this joy to the management of the team that always supported me.

Races are strange: yesterday I made a bunch of attempts to escape from the bunch and, when I finally succeeded in joining the breakaway, my energies were almost over.

Today I tried one attack and I was in the winning action: I perceived it could have been a good day when the breakaway had more than 10' on the bunch and it started to rain.

I knew the final climb and, also thanks to the hints by my sport directors Matxin and Vicino, I attacked once again in the central part of the climb: it was the winning decision."

Przemyslaw Niemiec

Przemyslaw Niemiec wins Vuelta Stage 15. photo ©Sirotti

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