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“We bridged to the closest chasers at the beginning of the uphill drag to Avila. We had spent much energy already. Today, our hope was to get a good result, but we encountered a strong opposition.”

Photo: Sirotti

FABIO ANDRES DUARTE

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LEONARDO DUQUE

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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11.09.2015 @ 22:22 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Team Colombia-Coldeportes’ riders didn’t spare themselves in the 19th stage of the Vuelta a España. Three of the cyclists guided by Valerio Tebaldi and Oscar Pellicioli went to the attack in the 185,8-km long stage from Medina del Campo to Avila. Leonardo Duque, Fabio Duarte and Juan Pablo Valencia have tried to play several cards in the finale of a very challenging stage, made even more stressful by strong crosswinds, an important factor in the last week of the Spanish race.

 

Frenchman Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) was able to make the difference on the climb of Alto de la Panamera and soloed in the last 19 km, going all the way to the finish line in Avila, where he landed the win.

 

Runner-up, 40 seconds behind, was the Portuguese Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), followed by Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal). Duarte came in seventh, 53 seconds adrift, after a long pursuit in the company of David Arroyo (Caja Rural) and the same Oliveira. Leonardo Duque finished in 20th place, while Juan Pablo Valencia was 22nd. As a result, the Escarabajos will be awarded for winning the team standings in the stage.

 

The peloton took an off-day until it hit the Alto de la Panamera, allowing the 24 riders in escape to gain an 18-minute advantage. In the end, the stage was brought to life after Movistar put down the hammer, attacking the leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Despite of that, the Dutch was the best of the favourites, managing to snatch three seconds of his closest rival, the Italian Fabio Aru (Astana).

 

“Today we wanted to go in the break at all costs, but it was a hard fight,” said Juan Pablo Valencia. “We rode full-gas for many kilometers to keep the peloton away, until the right hole finally formed.”

 

The front group stayed together until the third-category ascent of El Tiemblo, where Tiago Machado (Katusha) attacked his opponents. Then, on the slopes of Panamera, Gougeard and Leonardo Duque managed to get to him.

 

“In the escape group there was also Oliveira, and we decided to place Fabio in his wheel,” said the experienced Colombian rider, winner of the Fair Play prize.” While I tried to catch the ones at the front. Today, Gougeard was too strong. I managed to go with Machado, but in the end the pace was too high for me.”

 

After dropping Machado 3 km from the top of the climb, Gougeard stayed in command alone, chased by four men: Oliveira, Monfort, Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Arroyo.

 

“We bridged to the closest chasers at the beginning of the uphill drag to Avila,” Duarte told. “We had spent much energy already. Today, our hope was to get a good result, but we encountered a strong opposition.”

 

Now, there’s only one more challenging day before Madrid, stage 20, between San Lorenzo de El Escorial and Cercedilla (175 km and four categorized climbs). There, Tom Dumoulin will try to prove he is the strongest rider of the Vuelta a España, while the Escarabajos will look for another opportunity to shine.

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