Result: OVERNIGHT LEADER JOAQUIM Rodriguez justified his decision to stay within the peloton yesterday as he over came his nearest rival and countryman, Alberto Contador to win stage 14.
The 150km ride from Palas de Rei to Puerto de Ancares is thought to be among the most challenging mountain stages of La Vuelta and for Rodriguez to beat Contador by five seconds is a strong statement that he will not loosen his grip on the red jersey.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome was the leading non-Spaniard in fifth place. The host nation claimed five of the top seven places today with mountain specialist Alejandro Valverde coming in third ahead of Daniel Moreno.
Rodriguez’ overall lead is now up to 22 seconds.
Here’s how it happened: At 19km, a group had ventured an early escape from the peloton with Italian Alessandro Ballan of Lampre and Frenchman David Moncoutie of Cofidis trying their luck before they were reined in.
Heading into the Ancares climb Alberto Losada of Katusha, who had been in the mix with Ballan and Moncoutie, stepped up the pace as he tried an ambitious tilt at a stage win but having opened up a minute lead on the peloton he was finally caught with 3km to go to the line.
First past him was Contador. As he strove to narrow the overall gap, he tried an escape 3.5km out, but Rodriguez and Valverde stayed with him and the former overhauled him in the final kilometre as he sprinted home.
Who’s wearing what jersey?
- Red (general classification): Joaquim Rodriguez
- Green (points): Joaquim Rodriguez
- Blue dots (mountains): Simon Clarke
- White (all-round): Joaquim Rodriguez
How did Nico do? Nicolas Roche put in yet another solid shift and came home in 10th place. one minute 17 behind the leaders.
What happens tomorrow? Stage 15 brings the riders 186.5 km from la Robla to Lagos de Covadonga with some very tough climbs along the way.
Additional reporting AFP