NICOLAS ROCHE’S HOPES of winning Vuelta a Espana took a sizeable blow today as he dropped back to third overall in the General Classification.
The Saxo Tinkoff rider, who claimed the race leader’s red jersey on Saturday, started Stage 10 just a second off the lead but a seventh place stage finish saw him drop back. He could not stay with American veteran Chrsitopher Horner and is now 53 seconds behind.
Horner was imperious in clinching his stage victory today. It was the RadioShack rider’s second stage win of this year’s Vuelta following his third stage success that also saw the 41-year-old wear red for a day, before losing it to Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali.
The Astana rider finished second on the punishing mountainous 187km stage from Torredelcampo to Alto de Haza Llana, which included 18 percent ramps in the final stages, losing 48 seconds to the American with Spaniard Alejandro Valverde third at just over a minute back.
Horner broke clear on his own in the final kilometres and quickly edged out a significant gap as the other overall contenders marked each other’s responses.
Eventually Nibali kicked for home and got clear of the other chasers, but by now Horner was already well on his way to victory.
Horner leads Nibali in the overall standings by 43 seconds with Valverde third at 1.10 behind. Overnight leader Daniel Moreno lost over two minutes to drop outside the top five.
Tuesday is a rest day before Wednesday’s individual 39km time trial around Tarazona.