Vuelta diary, stage 3: Contador reminds us of his brilliance
With Alberto Contador out of action for almost a year, one would be forgiven for forgetting his brilliance on high, steep climbs.
For all those who forgot or merely underestimated the Spaniard, stage 3 overnight was living proof of his pure brilliance where, on the final climb to the finish, he attacked again and again and again, dropping main contenders in the Vuelta such as Robert Gesink, Juan Jose Cobo, Jurgen Van den Broeck and even 4 time king of the moutains winner at the Vuelta, David Moncoutie.
Whilst this was without a doubt impressive, the fact that Contador was inches of away from dropping Tour de France runner up, Chris Froome, time and time again is a testament to his class.
Throughout the Tour de France, Froome was the untitled King of the Mountains, and on a number of occasions even had to wait for his superstar team mate, Bradley Wiggins, to catch up.
This proves that Contador is in sparkling form, and as the pundits predicted, will be hard to stop at this year’s Vuelta.
Whilst Froome didn’t end up losing any time to the 29 year old Saxo Bank rider, he was dealt a number of key psychological blows by Alberto Contador during that damaging 5.5km climb which had an average gradient of 7.8%, to the finish line.
For the rest of the Vuelta, in the back of his mind Froome will now doubt his capabilities to go with Contador and co, whilst Contador will be brimming with confidence at every climb that the peloton undergoes, knowing that Christopher Froome is very vulnerable.
On another note, the success of Movistar at this year’s Vuelta a Espana keeps rolling on after Alejandro Valverde grabbed the stage win, inching out fellow Vuelta contender and this year’s Giro d’Italia runner up, Joaquin Rodriguez in what was a tantalizing sprint finish.
Valverde and Rodriquez were the other sole survivors of Contador’s blasting exhileration in the final moments, leaving only four riders at the front.
Valverde’s stage win was without crucial to his general classification hopes; as it gave him a 20 second time bonus for his efforts.
Today’s stage also means he takes the prestigious red coloured, leader’s jersey off team mate Jonathan Castroviejo, who realistically was never going to figure in today’s stage.
Stage 4 tonight is a 161 kilometre journey from Baracaldo to Estacion de Valdecaray.
It is a high mountain stage and it features a 15km category one climb to the finish, which is sure to sort the contenders from the pretenders.
Stage 4 ‘Unsung hero’: 8 man breakaway. Call me silly but, where would be without a breakaway group? Today’s 8 man group included strong Belgian rider Phillipe Gilbert, and tried everything they could to hold, before being sweeped up by the Peloton with 8km to go. A credit to them, for giving it a go.
VALVERDE, A. MOV 3:49:37
RODRIGUEZ, J. KAT m.t.
FROOME, C. SKY m.t.
CONTADOR, A. STB m.t.
MORENO, D. KAT a 6
MOLLEMA, B. RAB a 6
CAPECCHI, E. LIQ a 6
INTXAUSTI, B. MOV a 6
TALANSKY, A. GRS a 6
10. GESINK, R. RAB a 6
VALVERDE, A. MOV 8:46:56
INTXAUSTI, B. MOV a 18
RODRIGUEZ, J. KAT a 19
FROOME, C. SKY a 20
CONTADOR, A. STB a 24
MOLLEMA, B. RAB a 28
GESINK, R. RAB a 28
URAN, R. SKY a 30
MORENO, D. KAT a 33
10. ANTON, I. EUS a 46
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