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Benefiting from an unorganized chase, Hansen made a wily attack in the finale of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana and held off the peloton to take his first stage win in the Spanish race; Contador defended his lead

Photo: Sirotti

ADAM HANSEN

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ALBERTO CONTADOR

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FILIPPO POZZATO

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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12.09.2014 @ 18:03 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) added a Vuelta a Espana stage win to his palmares when he denied the sprinters on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana. After a hard climb had whittled down the peloton significantly, the Australian made a perfectly timed attack with less than 5km to go and as the chase never got organized, he managed to hold off the peloton, with John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) beating Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) in the sprint 5 seconds later. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) retained the leader’s jersey.

 

Adam Hansen has been one of the most aggressive riders in the Vuelta a Espana and has launched lots of attacks in the finales. However, they have all been futile and going into today’s penultimate road stage, it seemed that both he and Lotto Belisol would leave the race empty-handed.

 

Hansen’s best chance was to join the early breakaway on a day when many expected the break to stay away but when the sprint teams had managed to let a 3-rider group take off, his options were limited. As expected, Giant-Shimano and Orica-GreenEDGE brought the early break back and the main question was whether John Degenkolb and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) would be able to survive the final climb.

 

Sky set a brutal pace all the way up the category 2 ascent and significantly whittled down the size of the group. Degenkolb and Matthews both made the selection but most of their domestiques were sent out the back door.

 

Giant-Shimano had to use both Tobias Ludvigsson and Nikias Arndt to bring back Alexey Lutsenko and so the Dutch team was on its limit when they hit a small climb with 5km to go. Peter Kennaugh (Sky) launched a first attack before Hansen tried his hand.

 

As so often before, the attack was futile but when they crested the summit, Hansen sneaked off the front. As the chase never got organized, Hansen started to build an advantage and even though Giant, BMC and Orica-GreenEDGE all tried to bring him back, they never managed to do so.

 

Passing the red kite, Hansen was 12 seconds ahead and he had plenty of time to sit up and celebrate the second grand tour stage win of his career. Five seconds later, Degenkolb beat Filippo Pozzato in the sprint for second, missing out on a fifth stage win in the race.

 

Alberto Contador had a relatively easy day in the saddle and defended his 1.19 lead over Chris Froome (Sky). Tomorrow he faces the final big test in the mountains when three climbs in the second half precede a big mountaintop finish on the Puerto de Ancares where Joaquim Rodriguez took a stage win two years ago.

 

A hilly stage

After yesterday’s big summit finish, it was back into flatter terrain for the penultimate road stage which brought the riders over 180.5km from Salvaterra do Mino to Cangas do Morrazo. After a flat first half, the riders tackled a category 2 climb at the midpoint but the crucial point of the stage was another tough category 2 climb in the finale. The Alto Monte Faro summited just 15km from the finish and then a fast descent and flat coastal roads led to the finish.

 

The riders took the start under dry but cloudy conditions but one rider failed to sign in. Having suffered from a saddle sore for several days, Bob Jungels (Trek) decided to head home to recover for the Worlds.

 

A day for breakaway

Everybody knew that this could be a stage for a breakaway and so most of the teams had gone into the race with the plan to attack. This created a very fast start with numerous breakaway attempts.

 

Very early, a strong 15-rider group got clear that situation was too dangerous for Tinkoff-Saxo. After the group had swelled to 20 riders, the Russian team brought it back at the 9km mark.

 

A trio gets clear

Rohan Dennis (BMC) launched a solo attack after 9km of racing and he was joined by Johan Le Bon(FDJ) to form a duo of strong rouleurs. Jaco Venter (MTN) and Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) were the next to bridge the gap but at the 18km mark, that group was brought back too.

 

After 24km of racing, Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale) and Pim Ligthart (Lotto Belisol) gave it a go but when they were joined by Wout Poels (OPQS) and Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r), they were brought back. Ligthart and Poels tried again and this time they had Laurent Mangel (FDJ) for company.

 

Giant-Shimano take control

Finally, the peloton decided that they had had enough and they allowed the gap to grow to 1.23 before Giant-Shimano took control. While the Dutch team set a steady pace, the advantage was still rising and after 42km of racing, the escapees were 3 minutes ahead.

 

Giant-Shimano were unwilling to let the break get too much leeway and so they kept it stable at around 3 minutes for a long time. When Mangel beat Ligthart and Poels in the first intermediate sprint, the trio were 3.15 ahead and at the bottom of the first climb, the gap was 2.58.

 

The peloton slows down

At first the peloton went slowly up the climb and so the gap reached a maximum of 3.24. However, they accelerated on the upper slopes and as they crested the summit, the deficit had been brought down to 2.37.

 

With Ramon Sinkeldam and Chad Haga riding on the front, Giant-Shimano brought the gap down to 1.45 when Ligthart led Poels and Mangel across the line in the final intermediate sprint. As they didn’t want to catch the break too early, they slowed down a bit and allowed the gap to reopen to 2.05.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE start to chase

With 52km to go, Orica-GreenEDGE joined forces with the Dutch team and Mitchell Docker and Sam Bewley started to work with Haga and Sinkeldam. As a consequence, the gap was melting away and with 33km to go, the escapees were only 50 seconds ahead.

 

Now the fight for position intensified and while the Giant riders blew up, Orica were swamped by the GC teams. While the first riders got dropped from the peloton, Tinkoff-Saxo hit the front with Matteo Tosatto, Michael Valgren and Daniele Bennati all taking huge turns on the front.

 

The break is caught

Mangel was the first rider to sit up and with 22km to go, the break was brought back. That’s when Sky took control and it was Luke Rowe who led the peloton onto the final climb.

 

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) launched an immediate attack and while Peter Kennaugh (Sky) set the pace in the peloton, he opened a 10-second advantage. Kanstantsin Siutsou took over from the British champion and now the peloton was exploding to pieces.

 

Sky ride hard

Guillaume Levarlet (Cofidis) launched a futile attack but Siutsou’s fast pace made it impossible to get clear. Nonetheless, Degenkolb was always riding in the first five positions and looking really good.

 

Lutsenko crested the summit with a 6-second advantage but managed to increase his gap on the descent. Samuel Sanchez (BMC) took off as they tackled the many switchbacks while Degenkolb led the chase himself.

 

Lutsenko is caught

At the bottom, Sanchez was 10 seconds ahead of the peloton but the BMC captain decided to sit up. Lutsenko had extended his advantage to 20 seconds and after Warren Barguil had taken a short turn on the front, Tobias Ludvigsson started to chase.

 

With 6km to go, he had almost brought Lutsenko back but as he blew up, the Kazakh reopened his advantage. That forced Arndt into action and with 5km to go, he had brough the Astana rider back.

 

Hansen makes his move

Simon Clarke started to work for Orica but he was blown away when Kennaugh made a futile attack. Hansen made the next move but was unable to get a gap.

 

Going over the top, he tried again and this time he got an advantage. Simon Yates and Barguil started to chase and managed to neutralize an attack from Daniel Navarro (Cofidis).

 

Disorganized chase

With 3km to go, Hansen was 7 seconds ahead but as there was no longer any chase going on, he extended it to 14 seconds. Yates and Danilo Wyss (BMC) started to chase before a BMC rider got an unintentional gap.

 

Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) launched a fruitless attack that brought the gap down to 12 seconds at the flamme rouge. BMC again started to chase but it was all too late as Hansen took a solo win while Degenkolv had to settle for second.

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