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“This doesn't change our plans. Our stronger rider is still Gianluca Brambilla. Last year he was close to top 10 and he's in better shape than last year."

Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson


28.08.2016 @ 22:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

David De La Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) bounced back from bad luck at the Giro d’Italia when he claimed the biggest win of his career on the famous Alto del Naranco in stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana. Having joined a formidable 12-rider breakaway, he followed an attack from Dries Devenyns (IAM) and then dropped his companion with less than 1km to go before soloing to the finish. The main contenders didn’t attack each other and arrived 2.56 behind the young Spaniard which allowed him to move into the lead with a 22-second advantage over Nairo Quintana (Movistar).


We have gathered several reactions.


De La Cruz: I’m still here to work for Brambilla

Three days after renewing his contract with the team, David De La Cruz put in a masterful display on stage 9 of Vuelta a España (Cistierna – Alto del Naranco, 164.5 kilometers), soloing to the win and the red jersey, after being part of the 11-man escape which animated the day. Riding his home race for the third time, the Spaniard infiltrated himself in the big group that slipped away soon after the start and laid down an important workload on the front of the group, helping it take its lead north of five minutes, despite various skirmishes of other riders, who tried several moves.


At one point during the stage, with around 30 kilometers remaining, attacks flew from the front group and the advantage began to come down; De La Cruz didn’t let himself get drawn into these games and patiently bided his time, deciding to go on the final descent together with Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling). Together, they built a gap of 30 seconds on their former breakaway companions, which they extended on Alto del Naranco (5.7 kilometers, 6.1% average gradient).


Despite doing some long pulls at the front, David De La Cruz still had enough left in the legs to attack inside the last kilometer, speeding towards the finish and notching up his maiden pro victory. The 86th home rider to win a stage in the Vuelta a España since the inception of the race, the 27-year-old was over the moon after producing the most astonishing performance of his career, one which netted him a success he’ll never forget.


“After being injured and sidelined due to health problems many times in the past two years, this victory repays me for all the hard work and the team for the confidence showed. The key moment was when I was with Devenyns and found out that we have a consistent gap on the guys chasing us. Then I knew I can do it. It’s incredible to ride in a race against the best in the world – riders like Froome, Contador, Valverde or Quintana – and take this beautiful win. Alto del Naranco is a fantastic climb, which I know very well from the Vuelta a Asturias, and to be on top here gives me a great and unique feeling”, said De La Cruz after the dust had settled and he celebrated the result with his teammates, who came behind the podium to congratulate him as soon as they completed the stage.


Following his triumph on one of Spain’s most iconic ascents, David De La Cruz garnered more than one trip to the podium. As he finished three minutes ahead of the peloton – from which Gianluca Brambilla attacked in the closing meters – the Spaniard moved to the top of the overall standings and will now start stage 10 to Lagos de Covadonga in the red jersey, thus becoming the fourth Etixx – Quick-Step rider to lead a Grand Tour this year, after Marcel Kittel, Gianluca Brambilla and Bob Jungels all topped the Giro d’Italia GC.


“I can’t believe I’m the leader of the Vuelta a España! At the start of the day, when I went in the break, I was thinking of taking the win. During the stage, I wasn’t aware I can seize the jersey, it was only in the final two kilometers that I got this info from the team car. To lead my home race is the icing on the cake and I’ll savor every moment. I want to thank all my teammates and sport director Jan Schaffrath, who kept me informed on what was happening during the stage and motivated me. The confidence of the team and of the guys was crucial and says a lot about how united and determined this team is.


"It way my objective today but to be honest, I wasn’t thinking about the race leadership towards the end. I was just thinking about winning the stage. It was very hard to ride with Devenyns because he was very hard to beat. I can’t believe that I won.


"I felt good sometimes, other times I didn’t feel so good and I didn’t think that I would have enough to finish it off, with so many good riders in the break. I thought to myself, ‘let’s try and go to the end’ and I won. I’ve been close a few times and I’ve not won - but today I got the stage and the race lead, so let’s see how long we can keep it.


“It was a very special moment and a reward after all the bad moments I had in recent seasons. A stage win in the Vuelta and the red jersey on top of it with the level of the filed in this edition is really surprising.


“I wanted to get in the break because I could see there might be chances to go for the red jersey but when I saw that the peloton did not give us much time and kept the gap around 4:30, I thought it would be hard. I hoped for the gap to go up to eight or nine minutes but they didn't let us. When we got to the Alto del Naranco knowing that a peloton can easily take two minutes back immediately, I started doubting and riding only with the stage victory in mind. The red jersey was an extra.


“It's incredible. It's been a magic year for the team. We've been leaders of the Giro, now leaders of the Vuelta. What we're achieving is really great with the two previous stage victories by Gianni Meersman. And we're only halfway through the Vuelta. Getting the red jersey, the white jersey and the stage wins is amazing.”


Joaquin Rodriguez won here three years ago.


“He is an inspiration even more so now that he has retired. It's really beautiful to take his legacy this way. He's a rider who won't be easy to emulate. Spain will have to wait a long time to find another rider like him. I'm really touched to follow on the footsteps of one of the greatest Catalan riders ever and one of the best in the world.


“This doesn't change our plans. Our stronger rider is still Gianluca Brambilla. Last year he was close to top 10 and he's in better shape than last year. All the energy we left in today's stage will have consequences tomorrow but we'll stick to our strategy of going for stage wins and try to help Gianluca as much as possible.


“I don't think the fact I had good memories here changed anything. But it's true I made the podium of the Tour of Asturias on that climb. Today is possibly the reward of the work I did that day.


“If we had to sprint stages ahead of us, it would be better. But it will be really difficult tomorrow without the finale at the Lagos of Cavagonda. I didn't feel really good yesterday, the climb was too steep for me but generally, my level of climbing is quite good. I prefer not to think about the jersey but keep enjoying this with my team. I'm going to sweat and fight and see where it takes me.


“I don't think that this will change my career plan. I'm going to keep trying to get stage victories and see how far I can go. Cycling is made of ups and down. You can't relax. I don't want to get carried away. I want to ride a good Vuelta and then we'll see.”


Etixx – Quick-Step concluded the first week of the Vuelta a España with three distinctive jerseys (red, green and white), three stage victories and as leader of the teams classification.


Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step, green jersey): "We're all really happy for David, who's a great guy, always relaxed, very focused on his job. We all told him this morning: go in the break even if you're 13th in the GC. He took the break, won the stage, took two jerseys, the white and the red, it's three jerseys for the team. It's amazing because he works really hard for the team all year round. We're all really happy for him today."


Dries Devenyns: I can’t use the mechanical as an excuse

IAM Cycling has been extremely active and at its best once again in the 9th stage of the Vuelta. Among a break comprised of nine other riders, the Swiss team had two of its own, Mathias Frank and Dries Devenyns who played leading roles. The Belgian Devenyns even managed to ride himself into a two-man attack that lead through the flamme rouge before eventually finishing in second place on the stage. Mathias Frank ended the day in fifth place behind the stage winner, David De La Cruz (Etixx- Quickstep), who also grabbed the red jersey.


 “I just didn’t have the legs to win, and I am disappointed,” Devenyns said. “I attacked twice in order to place Mathias Frank in a good position. But his group never caught back up to us. When my opponent attacked, I tried to change my gears, but I did not have the strength to flip it up to the big chain ring. He was the strongest in that situation. I am of course disappointed because it’s not every day that you find yourself in a position to play for a victory in a grand tour stage. But hey, I have done my best and David De La Cruz deserved to win.


"I cannot use a small mechanical problem as an excuse. David De la Cruz was too strong for me in the last kilometer. I spent the day in a group of tough guys and I was feeling super good but he was simply stronger than I was. Of course it's frustrating. My goal was to win the stage but there will be other chances and I'm going to try to take another breakaway and hopefully to win."


"I'm disappointed. This was a great opportunity. We rode with a nice group. The collaboration with De La Cruz went well, but in the end, certainly in the last kilometer, he was just stronger. I'm more of a puncheur. He simply climbs better than me. I'm going to try to get in an escape in the later stages still, but now I am mainly disappointed."


Mathias Frank said:


“I am still feeling very good, but lacking that little something extra needed to play for the win.


IAM Cycling founder Michel Thétaz was following his team racing in two different events today by having two tvs going at the same time. After which, he released this message: “Congratulations to all, it was exceptional!”


Sports director Marcello Albasini said:


“The team did exactly what we asked of them in the briefing before the race. Dries Devenyns and Mathias Frank managed to join and power the breakaway. Unfortunately we were just missing a touch of strength to grab another victory. That’s a shame since Dries was really on track before stumbling a bit in the final.”


IAM Cycling has chalked up 20 second places since the start of the season, which help to make up the total number of 51 podiums, including Oliver Naesen’s victory today in Plouay.


Moreno Moser: Devenyns and De La Cruz surprise us

Cannondale-Drapac riders had a clear directive for the ninth stage of the Vuelta a España: get in the early breakaway. Fifteen kilometers into the stage, it was mission accomplished as Moreno Moser and Simon Clarke forced clear of the peloton as part of a 12-man move.


“It was my first day in the break in this Vuelta, so I didn’t know what to expect with my condition,” said Moser. “With me in the breakaway, there were a lot of super good riders because we escaped in the climb. I tried to stay well-positioned all day and not waste any energy.”


Collaboration in the group began to wane following the third of five categorized climbs on the 165-kilometer route. Davide de la Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) and Dries Devenyns (IAM) gained a gap on the penultimate climb and put enough time into the rest of the escape group that Moser knew he was racing for third place.


“Everyone was looking at each other when the two guys attacked,” said Moser. “It was a smart move. We lost a lot of time behind, so I knew I was thinking about third place. I followed wheels and then attacked in the last kilometer.”


Moser’s efforts up Alto de Naranco netted him the final spot on the stage podium. Clarke earned the jury-awarded Fair Play prize. Andrew Talansky finished alongside the overall contenders and heads into the stage 10 in 13th place overall.


“It was a pretty good day,” said Moser. “Of course the win was the goal, but there are a lot of stages left to try.


"I'm glad with this result. Of course I would have liked to win but we were all surprised by the attack by Devenyns and De la Cruz before the final climb and afterwards, we didn't get on well, it was too tactical. The main goal for the team is to help Andrew Talansky get the best GC result but I will again try to breakaway to win a stage."


Michele Scarponi: I am at the level of the best

"I'm at the level of the best,” said Michele Scarponi at the finish line of the Alto del Naranco. “Tomorrow I will try to defend myself and then give everything in the last week. I know both the climbs tomorrow and I'll give my best to stay with the overall contenders, but the condition is growing and I hope to enter the final Top Ten.”


Astana also had Luis Leon Sanchez in fourth place after a very brave race.


"Luis Leon was good,” said sport director Stefano Zanini. “He planned to do the race, entered the right breakaway and it was just a shame that he came up short in the final.”


Strong Bartosz Huzarski close to victory in the Vuelta

There is no day without any Bora-Argon 18 rider in the breakaway.Today Bartosz Huzarski was one of them with 11 other riders. He tried to save energy as good as possible and made his move on the penultimate climb. He could not go clear from the others. When again attacks started, he went at his own pace, managed to overtake some riders in the final kilometre and finished in 7th place.


"I tried to go at my own pace as long as possible, the last 30k I was really on the limit and I am not an explosive guy. In the end I could overtake some riders in the last k and finished 7th, I am happy with that. My legs become better day by day, not as good as in the Tour, but getting better and better. I will also try something in the next stages, because I think there is also a good chance that a break can fight for the win,” Bartosz Huzarski said.


Thomas De Gendt: My goal is to complete my grand tour triple

In today’s stage, the riders had to overcome five categorized climbs. Thomas De Gendt was the first one to reach the top at the first three climbs and took eleven points in the mountains classification and takes over the polka dot jersey. De Gendt finished eighth.


Thomas De Gendt said:


“I had a really good day in the breakaway today. One rider of the team had to be in the breakaway today because we knew that there was a big chance that a rider in the breakaway could win. We got away pretty early in the stage even though some teams tried to neutralize the breakaway because Frank or De La Cruz could endanger the GC. However, once we had a one-minute advantage we could ride further and further.


“I was really strong group of riders that are all capable of riding uphill. That’s when I knew pretty fast that it would be hard to win the stage. On one of the climbs, where I took some points for the mountains classification, I saw I had a little gap and I kept going. I was thinking about going solo to the intermediate sprint. Anyhow, I arrived on this big road with headwind. I was alone and I knew that the finale of the stage was going to be hard so I slowed down and was reeled in by the chasing group. The second last climb of the day was too steep for me and the other escapees could show themselves better.


"I was fighting for the stage but once I was in the break, I told myself I could also go for the points. It was a great battle with Alexandre Geniez today. There are lots of days left to try and breakaway again but I'm glad about what I did today.


“Being on top of the mountain classification is a good consolation prize. It’s a good intermediate goal in a Grand Tour. If I will keep wearing the polka dot jersey is still a question. Tomorrow there’s already a hard stage with an uphill finish, so I might lose it there already.


“However, this will be the way to win a stage here in the Vuelta. Maybe I can try and win a stage with a flat finale. Or maybe not because there aren’t so many flat finals… But we’ll see where I can get my chances.


“I dream of winning a stage in the Vuelta like I did on the Giro and the Tour this year but I don't know if it will be possible this time. If I can't, I'll try again in the future. It would be a great achievement for me to complete my Grand Tour record."


Pello Bilbao: I knew that I had to be intelligent

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA helped animate stage 9 of Vuelta a España as Pello Bilbao finished ninth on the uphill finish on Alto del Naranco in Oviedo.

Sergio Pardilla is still Caja Rural - Seguros RGA’s best-placed rider in the general classification. The 32-year-old Spaniard sits in 17th place, 3:52 minutes behind De La Cruz.


Pello Bilbao said:


“Today, we were all very eager to demonstrate that we are here in the race and motivated to do well. At the end, I was the one who got into the break. On the final climb, the other riders constantly attacked each other but I just kept my own rhythm. I knew I wasn’t the strongest rider in the group so I tried to do an intelligent ride and get the best result possible”.


Dylan Teuns proves his potential with top 10 in Vuelta mountains

Dylan Teuns recorded his first top ten result at a Grand Tour on stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana, crossing the line in tenth place on the hilly stage, which featured five categorized climbs, and finished in Oviedo, the home town of Samuel Sanchez.


The breakaway enjoyed a five-minute advantage on the peloton with 30km remaining until the last climb when the main attacks from the breakaway played out, setting the stage for Davide De La Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) to take the win and the red jersey.


Teuns battled it out in the chasing group and crossed the line in tenth place, just in front of the General Classification contenders’ group where Samuel Sanchez put a show on for his local fans by attacking in the last kilometer.


The shake up on the General Classification sees Darwin Atapuma sit in eighth place and Sanchez in tenth place with one stage left before the first rest day.


Dylan Teuns said:


“In the beginning it was quite hard to get in the breakaway but I had a good feeling. I had it in my mind before the start to get into the breakaway today because the profile looked nice for me so I wanted to be in it. I tried to recover as much as possible and not work more than the others.


“In the final it started to get nervous really early but I stayed calm. With 15km to go, two strong riders got 20 seconds and I knew from Samuel Sanchez, who knows the parcours very well, that there was a steep part in this climb, so I went across the to two leaders. I think it was a good try but afterwards the stronger guys came back as well. The final climb was much harder than I expected because the riders were all strong so I couldn’t make a gap anymore so I tried to finish as high as possible.”


Samuel Sanchez: Tomorrow I am going to suffer

Samuel Sanchez said:


“Today the stage was based on the breakaway which the peloton let go even if De La Cruz was two minutes’ away from the red jersey. The stage was really up and down and in the finale I had to try something, because tomorrow I’m pretty sure that I’m going to suffer. I hoped to gain a little gap but in the end I didn’t. The important thing tomorrow is to be up there on the mythical Covadonga climb. At the moment I’m up there on GC and I’m there with all of the best cyclists in the world. It was fantastic to ride today in Oviedo. It’s really a cycling city and there were so many people out watching the race, especially on the climb on both sides of the road.”


Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde pleased to lose leader’s jersey at the Vuelta

The weight of carrying the leader's jersey at a three-week stagerace often takes its toll at all levels, and today, the Movistar Team used intelligence to keep all their chances alive in the Vuelta a España while releasing pressure before a crucial day atop the Lagos de Covadonga. Nairo Quintana conceded his red jersey by just twenty-two seconds to David de la Cruz (EQS), after a long break which the Catalan climber crowned at the Alto del Naranco against Belgian Dries Devenyns (IAM).


Imanol Erviti and Rory Sutherland offered a masterclass on how to manage the tempo in a race. For more than 80km - from the foot of the Puerto de San Isidro (Cat-2) and all the way down to the not-rated Alto del Padrún - the Spaniard and the Aussie kept at exactly 4’30” a group of twelve riders, a powerful escape, including Luis León Sánchez (AST), Thomas De Gendt (LTS), Mathias Frank (IAM) and Jan Bakelants (ALM), which included the day's victor. On the last three ascents, Herrada, Castroviejo and Rojas consecutively took charge of the pace. On the Naranco, Rubén Fernández and Dani Moreno led out, sprinters' style, their leaders Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, making sure they finished within reasonable distance from De La Cruz (+2'56"), with Valverde at the front of the GC field.


The well-timed efforts from the telephone squad leaves Quintana in 2nd place, at 22", with Valverde 3rd at 41”, both in perfect position before tomorrow's Los Lagos (HC). Stage 10 will be longer than today's (188.7km), and will include a tougher previous climb to the finish, the Mirador del Fito (Cat-1), with slopes steeper than today's continuum of hills in the beautiful Oviedo outskirts.


Nairo Quintana said:


"By conceding this red jersey we're giving a turn to others - we're not worried at all. We remain strong, with confidence and a great group around us. It's a lead change in the race that favours us and we must continue doing things right, starting with tomorrow's important finish up the Lagos."


Alejandro Valverde said:


"It's a perfect situation for us - conceding the leader's jersey by such a short time gap is just what we wanted. Tomorrow's stage will be a tough one; everyone looks tired after almost half the race at big pace, with difficult stages, so we will have to race calm. We spent quite some energy today, but who doesn't do that in a week like this. Contador? I see him doing well - just like all of the other main rivals."


Rubén Fernández said:


"There are many days left still; keeping the jersey would have been a difficult situation. We had a big break, with powerful riders, going away; we couldn't use so much energy even if we kept the front for the whole day, we had to remain calm while working, because Lagos will be demanding. Let's see when we can take the jersey again. We would have liked to be in the lead until Madrid, but this Vuelta is still long - no reason to think about not taking it back."


Peter Kennaugh: I tried to take back some time

Chris Froome held steady on stage nine of the Vuelta a Espana to remain firmly in overall contention.


Froome kept tabs on his nearest rivals up the final climb, the five kilometre Alto del Naranco, but unlike the brutal end to stage eight it failed to cause any serious splits amongst the overall contenders.


Up ahead David de la Cruz (Etixx - Quick-Step) had won the stage having escaped from the day's breakaway and then the Spaniard faced an anxious wait to see if he would also move into the race lead.


He did, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) losing the red jersey by a slender 22 seconds. Froome slipps to fourth overall, but lost no time to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), or Quintana, while Leopold Konig also remains right in the mix, sat sixth, one minute and thirty eight seconds off the lead.


Pete Kennaugh had launched an opportunistic attack 3km from home to put pressure on the GC group but the Manxman was reeled in with a kilometre to go. He remains in the top 20, in 15th, three minutes and nine seconds back.


Speaking to after the stage, Kennaugh talked through the day in Spain, before looking ahead to a tough stage 10.


He said" "It was a pretty hard start, with a lot of guys wanting to go in the break as usual. I didn't feel great at the start but throughout the stage I felt better and better and I felt really comfortable on the last climb, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to maybe take 30 seconds or so back on GC. Movistar weren't willing to let that happen though, and they've got guys like [Dani] Moreno who chased. It was hard, but why not?


"For the team it's about not losing any more time tomorrow. Afterwards we've got the rest day, then the second week is a massive week compared to what we've done. You never know, if the legs are good and we have the opportunity to put Movistar under pressure, we'll take it, but we'll decide that out on the road.


"I'm really happy with how it's going, especially with only having the Vuelta a Burgos and Tour of Poland in my legs coming in. I'm starting to feel a bit more tired now, but that's always the way in these long races. You have one bad day, then one good day. Hopefully to


Esteban Chaves: The legs felt ok today
A fast and undulating stage nine of the Vuelta a Espana was won from the breakaway with Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates finishing with the other general classification favourites after a solid team performance from Orica-BikeExchange.


David de la Cruz (Etixx-Quickstep) won the stage with a late attack from the front group on the final climb to the finish, the Spaniard also moves into the race lead ahead of tomorrow’s stage ten.


Stage six winner Yates and fifth placed Chaves crossed the line close together after following the late attacks from the favourites group with Yates now in 11th place overall.


“It was a tough final 60kilometres today,” said Chaves. “Up and down all the way and the leaders were moving really fast, the team did really well to hold a good position as we went onto the final climb and the legs felt ok today.


“We will see what happens tomorrow because it is going to be difficult stage with a hard finish but we are always positive and we will see how the legs are on the climbs.”


Sport director Neil Stephens was content with how the stage unfolded and is looking forward to more opportunities in the days to come.


“We lost a little bit of time yesterday,” said Stephens. “A little more than we expected and this morning we decided to hit reset and assess certain aspects.


“It was fairly clear that today there wasn’t going to be any major time gaps between the major contenders on the final climb and we knew where we needed to be and who we needed to be finishing with.


“As far as that’s concerned it was a positive a stage today, we achieved our objective and the guys rode with intelligence so we can look forward to tomorrow and bide our time for when the right opportunity arises. “


“There are some fantastic bike riders ahead of us and behind us,” concluded Stephens. “What we are starting to see is that no one is afraid of having a little dig and trying to shake things up a bit.


“This is a Grand Tour and there will always be fluctuations day to day but we are in the race and competing for three weeks and there is a certainly a lot of racing still to come.”


Alberto Contador: I can’t rush things

After a reassuring return from his crash yesterday, climbing ahead of several of his GC rivals to the line to move up to seventh on GC, Alberto Contador again showed he’s working his way into this race with a confident ride on the final 5km climb to finish on stage 9 at La Vuelta.


Today was the second of three consecutive mountain-top finishes, with five categorized climbs along the rolling 164.5km route – the last of which being the climb to the line. After yesterday’s steep gradients, the finishing ascent today was more forgiving, with a maximum gradient of 11%. However, the fast pace set to the line still saw a thinned out GC group finish together, with Contador amongst them.

Looking back at this performance, Contador said after the finish:


"It was a race that started fast but was relatively calm in the group. The climb was probably a bit hard for me but in the end we finished without any trouble and I'm happy. Let's see whether we improve tomorrow. For the moment we will stay focused and, obviously, if there is any opportunity for the GC we will take it. However, right now I have to give my body some time and don't rush things.


"It was a very hard start, very fast, so maybe that's why I felt a bit blocked up, but overall I'm happy, once my legs had warmed up I felt fine. It was a relatively straightforward stage, not too complicated in the bunch. I'm looking forward to the Lagos de Covadonga because I like mountain stages, but let's see how my body recovers first.


“I passed the day without problems, let’s see if tomorrow I keep improving. First, I want to maintain this level and then, obviously, if there’s a chance I will attack. But, from now on, I think I have to give my body a bit of time and not want to go too fast. Today I was feeling a bit stiff, not really fresh, but we went through it and tomorrow, we will see how it goes.


“Yesterday was a good day for me, because the most important thing was to survive and, finally, I even took time off some favourites. Today was a quieter day, we already knew Alto del Naranco is a climb where it is difficult to make gaps. The legs have been good, now the important thing is to rest and to keep working with the physiotherapists in order to be a bit better tomorrow.”



Sport Director Steven De Jongh told after the finish:


“It was a high speed all day but the peloton gave some freedom to the guys in front and it looked like the leaders were happy to give the jersey away. Then on the final climb, Alberto just followed the moves and he did this well. During the stage we spoke and he said he was feeling better so this is a good sign. Tomorrow we have a harder climb so let’s cross our fingers for a good day there and then we can go into the rest day to recover a bit and focus on the second week.”


Louis Meintjes recovers from crash at the Vuelta

On the final climb Louis Meintjes checked his condition, considering that he’s still suffering for the consequences of the crash in which he was involved in the 6th stage. The South African rider was close to the general classification contenders and he completed the stage in 26th position at 3’04”. In the general classification, Meintjes is 22nd at 4’34”.


Robert Gesink getting better at the Vuelta a Espana

George Bennett arrived with the classification stars in the ninth stage of the Vuelta a España today near Oviedo. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s New Zealander, supported by Robert Gesink for a long time, placed 28th but in the same time as the race’s big guns. Spaniard David De La Cruz (Etixx - Quick Step) won the stage and took the overall lead.


“It felt good today,” Gesink explained. “I started this Vuelta without expectations. The most important thing is to finish a grand tour, looking forward to next year. It’s going well so far. The first nine stages weren’t easy and it was a little bit painful sometimes to notice that I don’t have the level to fight for top results. It’s going in the right direction, I’m reaching my old rhythm and I’m satisfied about that.”


Team LottoNL-Jumbo also wanted to be part of the breakaway in the ninth stage, but the four riders marked to do so were unable.


“Victor Campenaerts, Koen Bouwman, Martijn Keizer and Bram Tankink tried,” Sports Director Jan Boven said. “They weren’t strong enough to go along with the eventual breakaway, unfortunately. A strong group of riders rode free and we immediately felt that they were going to fight for the stage win.


“We changed plans quickly to work for George Bennett. That went quite well. I enjoyed watching Robert Gesink deliver such good work for George. He was in a good position for a long time.”


Sick Igor Anton abandons the Vuelta a Espana

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did not have the best of day’s as the African Team had to start today’s stage without Igor Anton. Anton had been ill for the last 3 days and he was battling to keep down any fluids. The Basque rider tried to battle through but with the excessive heat experienced in the opening week of La Vuelta, Anton’s health was only deteriorating day by day.


Without the experienced climber, the African Team looked to find the break of the day from the start and the boys were very active from the gun. A number of teams wanted to make the break today as once again, it was all but certain that Movistar would let the escape decide the stage. Unfortunately, despite the team’s best efforts, 12 riders rode away from the peloton without a Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider present and that was the stage.


Omar Fraile was the best placed rider on the day, placing 33rd and finishing among all the main GC contenders. The 7 other African Team riders all made it to the finish without any real hassle either.


Sports director Alex Sans Vega said:


“It obviously wasn’t a good day for us because Igor Anton had to go home. He was really trying to stay in the race the last three days’ but his health got worse last night. It is a shame, he was ready for this race and we will miss him.


“The stage also didn’t go so well. We missed the break and we knew from the beginning that the winner will come from the break, like yesterday. It was our priority to be represented in the front but it did not happen. We just need to stay focused on the next stages.”


Quiet day for successful Katusha team at the Vuelta a Espana

For Team Katusha it was a day to take it easier after yesterday’s win from Sergey Lagutin and look forward to other chances in days to come.


“We tried again today to go in the breakaway but we missed our chance, so it was better to save our forces for tomorrow. We have another hard day of climbing ahead of us and of course we will try again for a stage win,” said team sports director José Azevedo.


Team Katusha was presented on the podium for the Teams classification from yesterday’s stage.


Team Giant-Alpecin looking for future opportunities at the Vuelta a Espana

The first riders from the main peloton eventually finished almost 3 minutes down, with Tobias Ludvigsson the best placed rider from Team Giant-Alpecin a further minute back.


Coach Luke Roberts said after the stage: “We aimed to be in the breakaway today but as the strong 12 rider group went away at a hard moment we were not able to get someone in there. With Movistar controlling the peloton, our riders then sat in the peloton until the final climb. Now we will look towards the next opportunity.”



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