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"I immediately got dropped, and felt like giving up, but then I thought 'no, I have to keep fighting'. Gabriel [Rasch] was encouraging me as well from inside the team car, and I wasn't going to do that with only 4km left af...






05.09.2015 @ 22:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Salvatore Puccio produced an heroic display on the 14th stage of the Vuelta a Espana, climbing to second place on the Alto Campoo. Fuente del Chivo.


Puccio was active from beginning to end on the longest stage of this year's race, and had already had one attack thwarted before he worked his way into a five-man breakaway after 59km.


The Italian then led from the front as the quintet built a 10-minute lead heading onto the final climb of the day.


When the attacks started flying, Puccio was momentarily dropped as they pressed towards the summit, but battled his way back into contention and then jumped clear with Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) in the last 2km.


Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) eventually passed that duo, but as Rojas fell away in the last kilometre, Puccio mustered yet more strength and crossed the line just 21 seconds down on De Marchi to equal his highest-ever finish in a Team Sky jersey.   


If that wasn't enough, Mikel Nieve also rode aggressively, and moved up to sixth place in the general classification after finishing the day in 12th position.


Elsewhere, Fabio Aru saw his overall lead cut to 26 seconds after his nearest rival Joaquim Rodriguez crossed the line one second ahead of him. Nieve sits two minutes and 10 seconds down on the Italian with seven more stages to go.



After the stage, Puccio was able to reflect on a hard day at the office, and explain how he dealt mentally with such an explosive finale.


He told "It had always been the plan to put someone in the breakaway today, so I tried my hardest to do that. It took about an hour and a half for the move to actually go, and after a few attempts, I'm glad I was able to make it. 

"Once it had gone, it was clear we had a good group of strong riders, and knew we had a chance to stay away as no one was a threat to the GC. We rode well together and set a good pace until the attacks started with around 4km to go.


"I immediately got dropped, and felt like giving up, but then I thought 'no, I have to keep fighting'. Gabriel [Rasch] was encouraging me as well from inside the team car, and I wasn't going to do that with only 4km left after 211km.

"I tried everything I could after that to win the stage, but De Marchi distanced me in the last 800m and all I could do was limit my losses. It was really steep at the end.

"It's nice to get the freedom to ride like this as a team, even though we all wish Chris [Froome] was still here with us. We have the chance to get in breakaways and go for stage wins, and obviously, we're still doing everything we can for Mikel as well.

"Hopefully we can do more in the days to come and keep making the race exciting."



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