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“The winner of the Vuelta will be the most consistent of the favorites. I’m happy with my result today because I gained some time over my direct rivals. Everyone does his own race."

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ALEXANDR KOLOBNEV

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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06.09.2014 @ 20:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Joaquim Rodriguez got closer to the podium when he gained time on Rigoberto Uran, Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador in today's stage of the Vuelta a Espana. The Spaniard expects it all to come down to consistency in the upcoming mountain stages.

 

Day-by-day Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez puts his effort into moving closer to the podium for the general classification with today’s stage seeing him move into fourth place overall, just 16-seconds away from the third step. Also on stage 14 teammate Alexander Kolobnev put himself in the breakaway and held on for fourth place on the difficult climbing stage. All the solid teamwork has put Team Katusha in second place in the Team competition at only 1.08 behind Movistar.

 

"In the morning before the stage the sports directors asked us to follow any big break in case it goes away. Right after the intermediate sprint a massive group of riders broke away and I was able to go with them. This stage could suit Joaquim, so it was important for the team to have an additional rider in the break. In the long 1st category climb, we had a very high pace in the break and half of riders went in front together with me. With more or less 30 km we realized the peloton would not catch us. I decided to follow the best riders and to try to get the highest possible result. Team director Gennady Mikhaylov was following me in the car and helped me a lot, explaining very well the final climb, which was really hard, especially last 2 km. In the end I was able to finish 4th. It’s not bad to get this result from a such a big breakaway, but of course, I wished maybe to get more. Anyway I did all I could. I don't know if this stage could be a real indicator of my shape for the Worlds, but I am happy to be here in the Vuelta and to ride together with many favorites for the Worlds," said Alexander Kolobnev.

 

At 200,8 km the stage began in Santander and ended in La Camperona-Valle de Sábero with the last category 1 climb taking place with 8 km to go. Kolobnev’s break of 11 riders still held almost five minutes at the start of the climb and it looked good for a stage winner to come from the front group. With the steepest parts at 18% near the 3 km to go mark, Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) put in the first attack near 2 km to go and Kolobnev was in close pursuit. The Russian cyclist held his ground and continued on the climb in front, but it was Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) who rocketed past Zaugg to take the stage win after more than five hours of racing. Second and third places went to Zaugg at 10-seconds and Imanol Erviti of Movistar at 30-seconds. Kolobnev was fourth at 39-seconds.

 

"I am really happy. I took some time back to both Contador and Valverde. I don’t think we were really looking at each other, it was just so steep. We all had to give our maximum constantly. There was no question of tactics in play. I don’t know if this was the steepest finish ever in the Vuelta but it was very tough. Not only because of the steepness, but also because of the rough road surface. Now the Asturias stages will come and will decide the overall winner. It will go to the most regular rider. I am very regular anyway," said Joaquim Rodriguez.

 

“The winner of the Vuelta will be the most consistent of the favorites. I’m happy with my result today because I gained some time over my direct rivals. Everyone does his own race. It’s going to be complicated until the end. Chris Froome is a Tour de France winner and one of the world’s best cyclists. We can’t rule him out.”

 

The general classification riders all came to do battle on today’s stage with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) the first to attack from the group of contenders. But race leader Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez were quick to respond and soon Valverde faded away, leaving Rodriguez to continually gain time toward the podium. Despite drifting to the back and seeming to be out of power, 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky) dug in to come back to the GC group, eventually riding his way forward to also gain time and move into third place behind Contador and Valverde. Contador widened his lead to 42-seconds to Valverde and currently holds 1.13 to Froome and 1.29 to Rodriguez.

 

Today’s summit finish was only the first of three in a row with Sunday bringing another hard day in the mountains of northern Spain. Stage 15 begins in Oviedo and ends on the HC climb of Lagos de Covadona after 152.2 km of racing. On such a short stage the racing speeds are sure to be full gas for the final climb.

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