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"Maybe he is the favourite to win this Vuelta. I have to ride a great TT to be on the podium and I hope it will happen. For me to win the Vuelta, he would need to fail and I would need to be a fantastic day."

Photo: Katusha

JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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07.09.2015 @ 20:36 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Needing only one second to take the red leader’s jersey, Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez sprinted from the small group of favorites at 800m to go and managed to hold off Fabio Aru to take the race lead with five stages remaining in the 70th Vuelta a España. 

 

Rodriguez’ effort on the super steep section on the last of seven climbs gave the Spaniard a one-second advantage on the general classification. Teammate Daniel Moreno holds 7th on the GC and Rodriguez also holds the green points jersey as well as the white combinada jersey.

 

“Everything is still possible in this Vuelta. My 1-second margin does not excite me but in the end this Vuelta has already brought me more than I expected: a stage win and the red leader's jersey. My final goal is to arrive at the overall podium in Madrid so why not on the highest step of the podium? It is in my hands but first we need to deal with the time trial in Burgos. I need to do a super chrono and I will give my maximum. That's why we are here. With Dumoulin at less than 2 minutes it will be hard, but not impossible. Dumoulin surprised me today. On the Cobertoria as well as on the last climb he was better than yesterday, really good. He can recover tomorrow and will be super motivated for the time trial. But we will fight too!” declared the race leader Joaquim Rodriguez.

 

“I resisted until the final km without having a lot of energy and with what I had left I tried to find my moment of glory.  It was such a tough stage. The gap is modest. The last two climbs were so difficult so I was thinking and even praying that I could do my best. It was difficult to set a rhythm up there and difficult to know how everyone else was going. Now I’ll have to try and recover for the time trial.

 

"The time trial will be very complicated, we saw that Dumoulin was very well. Surely after the rest day he will be fresher and he will be super focused to ride a great TT. Maybe he is the favourite to win this Vuelta. I have to ride a great TT to be on the podium and I hope it will happen. For me to win the Vuelta, he would need to fail and I would need to be a fantastic day."

 

Rodriguez played the waiting game before making his final move within the final kilometer of the steep upper section on the climb.  Aru (Astana) looked to be in some difficulty but fought back to minimize his loss when Rodriguez charged ahead and ended up second on GC by one second. Third place is held by Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) at 1:35 with time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin still in the mix with 1:51 for fourth place.

 

The 185km stage beginning in Luarca included seven climbs, with the 7km HC Ermita del Alba the last of 9 finishing climbs for the 2015 la Vuelta.  A break of ten riders including Fränk Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) and Rodolfo Torres of Colombia managed to build a gap of more than 20 minutes, with Schleck and Torres able to attack and drop the others on the second to last climb. By the final climb the duo held 11-minutes, but with 3km to go all cooperation was over between them and Schleck rode away to take his first Vuelta stage win, ending a dry spell for victories that dates back to 2011. 

 

Torres claimed second place on the stage at 1:10 and Moreno Moser of Cannondale-Garmin rounded out the daily podium at 1:48 off Schleck’s winning time of 5:49:56. Rodriguez and the GC favorites were back almost nine minutes from the top time, staying together until the final kilometer when the attack from Rodriguez gapped off the others and brought his the red jersey.

 

Tuesday brings the last rest day before the challenging individual time trial on Wednesday’s stage 17. At 39km in length, the Burgos time trial is basically flat which should favor the specialists against the clock but Rodriguez will be motivated to keep the race lead and will give maximum effort on the stage.  

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