Behind Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) who stayed away after taking part in a breakaway from far out, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) proved once again to being the most incisive climber from the group of the favorites. For only three seconds, he didn’t dethrone race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) but took an enormous psychological advantage ahead of the last two mountain stages up to the Naranco and the Angliru in the Asturias.
As expected, time trial winner Fabian Cancellara of RadioShack-Leopard was a non starter in Burgos in front of the magnificent cathedral. 18 kilometres further, 15 riders broke away: Caleb Fairly (Garmin-Sharp), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Mikaël Chérel and Ben Gastauer (AG2R-La Mondiale), Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano), Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Cannondale), Martin Kohler (BMC), Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo-Tinkoff), Grega Bole (Vacansoleil-DCM), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) and Kiryienka.
Cofidis and Movistar set the pace of the bunch before letting the breakaway go at km 35. Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ.fr) pulled out of the Vuelta. Txurruka was first atop the Alto de Bocos (km 78) where the peloton was timed at 8.50. Highest ranked rider on GC Chris Anker Sorensen (20th at 22.22) took the time bonus at the hot spot sprint of Espinosa de Los Monteros (km 90) ten minutes ahead of the bunch led by Movistar, Katusha and NetApp-Endura.
Txurruka was first again atop the Alto Estacas de Trueba (km 107.5) and the Puerto de La Braguia (km 128.1) but the peloton was chasing. Kiryienka attacked in the Alto del Caracol just over 40km to go and rode solo to victory. The Movistar team wasn’t able to bring him back. Sorensen reacted too late and finished second up at Pena Cabarga.
In the race for GC, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) accelerated with his team-mate Dani Moreno 2km before the top but he was rejoined by Horner and Nibali. Horner continued solo and Nibali kept the red jersey for only three seconds ahead of stage 19 from San Vincente de la Barquera to Oviedo/Alto del Naranco (181 km).
Interview mit Chris Horner:
“My possibility to win the Vuelta is definitely a reality”
You’re only three seconds adrift, does it matter with two mountain stages left?
If I lose the Vuelta by three seconds, it matters. But three seconds, it’s nothing really. I don’t forget that I’ve been timed with a deficit of six seconds because of a split in stage 4! There are many places where I could have gained three seconds since the start of the Vuelta. Talking about today only, with 100 metres to go, I was worried about the last 75 metres and I raced a little safe. The finish was not as hard as I thought it would be. But the most important is that I’ve made a lot of time today.
How did you feel up to Pena Cabarga?
In 2005, racing for Saunier Duval, I lived in an apartment down the hill in Santander for six weeks. Fortunately, I never climbed up here. It’s hard! But I was never in the red. I felt easy. I enjoyed it. I had amazing legs. Maybe I’d liked it to be a kilometer or two longer. It was not quite as long as I thought. Matthew Busche and Rob [Kiserlovski], my guys, dragged me at the bottom of the climb. Saxo led up a little bit, then Katusha took over and I got stuck behind Nicolas Roche. It cost me a little bit of time but I’m really happy with the difference I’ve made. My team has done an amazing job for me again, even without Fabian [Cancellara]. I have fantastic guys on my side. Unbelievable!
Where do you expect to beat Vincenzo Nibali?
I’m looking forward to the Angliru. It’s going to be a big battle. The climb is the steepest with no draft. Saturday is definitely a better day than tomorrow for me to win the Vuelta, but who knows, at the Naranco I might take the jersey. That’s another climb that I don’t know. My knowledge is zero. Tomorrow, it will be a game of tactics. I prefer when it’s extremely hard. I’ll just have to go deep and make sure no one follows me. Maybe it’s better not to be in the lead yet. If I make up the gap, I’ll be in the red and win the overall classification. My possibility to win the Vuelta is definitely a reality.
Ergebnisse der 18. Etappe:
1º 194 KIRYIENKA, Vasil BLR SKY 4:46:48 15″
2º 206 SÖRENSEN, Chris Anker DEN TST a 28 11″
3º 143 HANSEN, Adam AUS LTB a 1:18 4″
4º 53 KOHLER, Martin SUI BMC a 1:34
5º 95 MARTÍNEZ, Egoi ESP EUS a 1:42 1″
6º 184 HORNER, Christopher USA RLT a 1:53
7º 68 TXURRUKA, Amets ESP CJR a 2:02
8º 121 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin ESP KAT a 2:13
9º 1 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP MOV a 2:13
10º 31 NIBALI, Vincenzo ITA AST a 2:18
11º 205 ROCHE, Nicolas IRL TST a 2:18
12º 101 PINOT, Thibaut FRA FDJ a 2:24
13º 131 SCARPONI, Michele ITA LAM a 2:24
14º 127 MORENO, Daniel ESP KAT a 2:31
15º 91 SÁNCHEZ, Samuel ESP EUS a 2:36
16º 151 KONIG, Leopold CZE TNE a 2:36
17º 36 KANGERT, Tanel EST AST a 2:36
18º 139 ULISSI, Diego ITA LAM a 2:49
19º 92 ANTON, Igor ESP EUS a 2:49
20º 25 JANSE VAN RENSBURG, RSA ARG a 2:53 1″
21º 11 POZZOVIVO, Domenico ITA ALM a 2:53
22º 15 CHEREL, Mikael FRA ALM a 2:59
23º 173 CLARKE, Simon AUS OGE a 3:04
24º 5 HERRADA, José ESP MOV a 3:06
25º 157 MENDES, José Joao POR TNE a 3:38
26º 56 NERZ, Dominik GER BMC a 3:42
27º 156 HUZARSKI, Bartosz POL TNE a 3:42
28º 202 MAJKA, Rafal POL TST a 3:42
29º 82 BAGOT, Yohann FRA COF a 3:42
30º 186 KISERLOVSKI, Robert CRO RLT a 3:42
1º 31 NIBALI, Vincenzo ITA AST 73:39:35 64 12″
2º 184 HORNER, Christopher USA RLT a 3 85 24″
3º 1 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP MOV a 1:09 12 19″
4º 121 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin ESP KAT a 2:24 51 8″
5º 205 ROCHE, Nicolas IRL TST a 3:43 62 20″
6º 11 POZZOVIVO, Domenico ITA ALM a 5:44 66 4″
7º 101 PINOT, Thibaut FRA FDJ a 6:14 62
8º 151 KONIG, Leopold CZE TNE a 6:35 6 10″
9º 91 SÁNCHEZ, Samuel ESP EUS a 7:51 69
10º 36 KANGERT, Tanel EST AST a 11:10 80
11º 127 MORENO, Daniel ESP KAT a 11:15 97 32″
12º 131 SCARPONI, Michele ITA LAM a 12:14 96 9″
13º 5 HERRADA, José ESP MOV a 12:30 33
14º 61 ARROYO, David ESP CJR a 13:48 97
15º 92 ANTON, Igor ESP EUS a 16:46 37
16º 56 NERZ, Dominik GER BMC a 18:28 24 2″
17º 186 KISERLOVSKI, Robert CRO RLT a 19:37 28
18º 206 SÖRENSEN, Chris Anker DEN TST a 20:21 90 13″
19º 2 CAPECCHI, Eros ITA MOV a 23:26 66
20º 63 CARDOSO, Andre POR CJR a 23:55 21 4″
21º 82 BAGOT, Yohann FRA COF a 27:34 26
22º 202 MAJKA, Rafal POL TST a 28:05 14
23º 198 URAN, Rigoberto COL SKY a 33:01 1 6″
24º 157 MENDES, José Joao POR TNE a 37:28 95
25º 191 HENAO, Sergio Luis COL SKY a 37:58 97
26º 68 TXURRUKA, Amets ESP CJR a 40:05 4 2″
27º 96 NIEVE, Mikel ESP EUS a 45:06 71
28º 32 BRAJKOVIC, Janez SLO AST
29º 33 FUGLSANG, Jacob DEN AST a 52:54 42
30º 95 MARTÍNEZ, Egoi ESP EUS a 56:55 6 1″