Alberto Contador continued his march towards claiming a third major Tour within 14 months after
the Vuelta a Espa¤a’s Stage 15, won by Spaniard David Garcia (Xacobeo Galicia) in Ponferrada on Monday. Garcia escaped from a break of 17 riders that had got away from the main peloton on a hot, hard 202km stage from Cudillero to Ponferrada. Garcia finished the stage 5h2’27”, followed by Belgium’s Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) at 17″ and Quick Stepper Juan Miguel Garate in the same time. “Its a great pleasure to win today and this is the coronation of my sports career so far,” bubbled little-known Spanish pro Garcia post-stage in Ponferrada.
Doc Checks Bert
Vuelta a Espa¤a leader Contador, who won the 2007 Tour de France and the 2008 Giro d’Italia, retained the Vuelta leader’s gold jersey, despite suffering a crash that required medical attention. ‘My left side is bruised but I don’t believe there will be any problems. It’s only superficial. The worst part will be to sleep at night because of my shoulder. I will have to sleep on my right side,” Contador said post-stage. His front wheel got caught in a pothole and brought the rider from Pinto down mid-stage. After his crash, Contador joked. ‘Just a little body and paint work”.
The Astana racer compared the final uphill stretch of this stage to ‘some stages of the Tour of Italy’ and categorised it as ‘a trap’. But the fact that the breakaway wiped out any chance at the bonuses made the race much less tense back in the pack. Contador is looking to make history by becoming first rider to win all three major Tours since Frenchman Bernard Hinault three decades ago.
The 25-year-old Astana rider and the main bunch cruised over the finish line, 14″ behind Garcia and the remains of his break. Contador’s main rival, reigning Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) was with Contador in the main bunch and his comment on Monday’s stage, after back to back mountaintop finishes on the weekend was telling. “On a personal level, I did not have problems today but I thought it was an excessively hard stage,” said Sastre. The Vuelta continues on Tuesday with a 186.3 kilometre ride from Ponferrada to Zamora, with a preliminary 15.8km climb up the 1525m. Alto de Acebo, then a downhill and flat run all the way to Zamora.
Monday, September 15: Stage 15: Cudillero-Ponferrada / 202km
1. David Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia / 5h02’27”
2. Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis – Le Crdit par Tlphone @ :17″
3. Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Quick Step
4. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre @ :33″
5. Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ :36″
6. David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ :39″
7. Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC – Saxo Bank @ 1’38”
8. Xabier Zandio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Franaise des Jeux @ 1’39”
10. Sbastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crdit par Tlphone @ 2’38”
63rd Vuelta a Espa¤a General Classification after Stage 15:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana / 61h16’58”
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana @ 1’17”
3. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC-Saxo Bank @ 3’41”
4. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia @ 4’35”
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank @ 5’49”
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 6″
7. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 6’11”
8. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 8’56”
9. David Moncouti (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crdit par Tlphone @ 9’32”
10. Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Gerolsteiner @ 10’01”