Alberto Contador continued his remarkable recovery from a broken leg by seizing the red jersey on a dramatic first individual time trial of this year’s Vuelta. He was pipped to the stage win by reigning world time trial champion Tony Martin, though with most of his GC rivals losing time, El Pistolero will be delighted with his day’s work.
The Panzerwagen revs up for the Worlds
As has often been the case throughout time trials over the last few years, the early part of the race was largely spent waiting for Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) to go head-to-head for the stage win. It was the latter who rolled out of the start house first, and sure enough, he had no problems bettering the time of provisional leader and teammate Jesse Sergent.
However, Spartacus’ time wasn’t blisteringly quick, and he spent the immediate aftermath of his ride complaining about the state of the road surface. Sure enough, when the rainbow-wrapped reigning world champion Martin crossed the line, he’d taken 11 seconds from his Swiss rival. It wasn’t a massive gap, though it was enough to guarantee the stage win, and demonstrate his ominously good form heading into the ITT at the World Championships in Ponferrada later this month. You’d be brave to bet against him becoming the first man to ever win the title four times running.
El Pistolero steals red as Quintana and Froome misfire
The action only really got interesting when the top general classification riders got going late in the stage. The early signs were good for fans of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), who rolled out of the start house and darted around the twisting Veruela Abbey like a well-oiled machine. In contrast, Chris Froome (Sky) looked more like a man in need of some divine intervention. He was expected to make up time in the TT, though he hunched uncomfortably over his frame, seemingly never able to find his best position.
Red jersey Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who was last to start, was just looking to limit his losses to Contador and company. Though he was losing time as he navigated the technical course, he was still just about in touch, until disaster struck on the long descent towards the finish. The Colombian ran wide heading into a sharp right-hander and careered into an Armco barrier, flipping over his handlebars. His crash initially looked serious, though after a couple of minutes he was thankfully back up and running.
Alas, by the time he’d finished, he’d dropped out of the top ten of the GC altogether. New race leader Contador had come home fourth on the stage, behind Martin, Cancellara and the outstanding Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who moved up to third overall. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) stayed second overall by successfully limiting his losses to El Pistolero, though Froome’s disappointing ride saw him retain fifth place, but now over a minute in arrears of the red jersey.
VeloVoices rider of the day
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Though Contador’s recovery from a broken leg continues to amaze, it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of OPQS’ mulleted Colombian Rigoberto Uran, who rode the time trial of his life to move up into genuine podium contention. He’s been working hard to transform himself from a pure climber to a stage race specialist, and finishing just four seconds behind Fabian Cancellara on a pretty flat time trial is illustrative of quite how successful his efforts have been.
There are still doubts about whether he’s an explosive enough climber to seriously challenge for the red jersey, but make no mistake, he’s more than capable of making the top three.
Stage 10 result
1. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 47:02
2. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) +0:11
3. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +0:15
4. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:39
5. Samuel Sanchez (BMC) +0:48
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 36:45:49
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:27
3. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +0:59
4. Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) +1:12
5. Chris Froome (Sky) +1:18
6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +1:37
7. Samuel Sanchez (BMC) +1:41
8. Fabio Aru (Astana) +2:27
9. Robert Gesink (Belkin) +2:38
10. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) +2:59
Points leader: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano).
King of the Mountains leader: Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural).
Combined jersey: Alejando Valverde (Movistar).
Team classification: Omega Pharma-Quick Step.