Vuelta stage 9: Winner Anacona, leader Quintana

From boiling hot to apocalyptic rain, the weather wasn’t the only thing that was a surprise in this stage. Winner Anacona lived up to his name and took the stage while Alberto Contador‘s attack put Nairo Quintana in red.

Stage 9 concludes the opening week with a tough summit finish

Winner takes it all

When the main peloton let a 31-man breakaway go clear and get a gap of over eight minutes, it was a safe bet that the stage wouldbe won by one of the breakaway riders. But it seemed that the peloton had ‘done the calculations’ a little late, as once the break broke into little pieces, the lead group held a red jersey rival: Lampre’s Winner Anacona at 2:50 down on GC. At 20km to go, they still had a six-minute gap, which meant that if the red jersey group didn’t sort themselves out, Anacona would be dressed in a hot mess of fluorescent pink, lime green, navy blue and red tonight.

Riding away from the main break with Movistarlet Javier Moreno and Trek’s Bob Jungels, Anacona kept a hefty gap until he dropped his fellow riders at the 6km mark, attacking on an 8% gradient. From there, he rode steady with only the slightest of wobbles along the way to take the biggest win of his career and vault into fourth place in the GC. Now that he’s there, Lampre will throw the entire team behind him to try to keep him in contention.

Bertie changes the tempo

For much of the final climb, it looked as though Sky was doing what Sky does – riding a hard tempo on the front to deter any attacks from Chris Froome‘s rivals. And 2km from the finish, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) did what Alberto Contador does – saying to hell with tempo riding and attacking his rivals. Today, it was Contador’s ploy that worked and Sky’s that backfired.

Contador quickly established a decent gap, the only response from the group being from Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). With no response from the race leader, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Froome looking like he was struggling near the back of the Valverde group, Contador rode hard to the finish line with Quintana and Rodriguez just catching him on the line. Quintana’s ride put him in red by three seconds over Contador in the GC, crushing poor Anacona’s visions of taking the lead. Valverde and Froome rolled over the line 22 seconds later.

Froome had said the other day that he wasn’t in the form he was in for the start of the Tour de France, and one wonders if the blistering tempo the Sky team was riding up the second climb took too much out of him and therefore he couldn’t pick up the gauntlet that Bertie had thrown down.

Contador was probably doing two things with that attack: getting some precious seconds to give him some wiggle room during the time trials (which we can only assume Froome will still be quite good at) and to try to put the frighteners on his rivals. I suspect it’s the latter that he’ll be most pleased to have accomplished today.

VeloVoices rider of the day

Contador (Image: LaVuelta Instagram)

Bertie’s the bee’s knees (Image: La Vuelta Instagram)

I should probably say Winner Anacona for rider of the day but while his victory was a magnificent one and proved that the Colombian renaissance isn’t contained to this year’s Giro, I have to go with the rider who did the most to animate the race and that is Alberto Contador.

Contador seems to be like Marmite – you either love him or hate him, no in between. No matter which side you’re on, however, there’s no denying that he can set a race on edge in an instant, that he can animate a stage with a few pedal turns and that he rides by instinct, not power meter. And that’s exactly what he did today and why I love watching him race.

Stage 9 result

1. Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) 4:34:14

2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) +0:45

3. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) +0:50

4. Javier Moreno (Movistar) +1:04

5. Peio Bilbao (Caja Rural Seguros RGA) +1:12

General classification

1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 35:58:05

2. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:03

3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:08

4. Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) +0:09

5. Chris Froome (Sky) +0:28

6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:30

7. Fabio Aru (Astana) +1:06

8. Robert Gesink (Belkin) +1:19

9. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +1:26

10. Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) +1:26

Points leader: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano).

King of the Mountains leader: Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural).

Combined jersey: Alejando Valverde (Movistar).

Team classification: Lampre-Merida.

Links: Official websitecyclingnews.com

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