Vuelta diary, Stage 20: All hail Contador
Barring catastrophe in tonight’s crowning stage, Alberto Contador will be sworn in as the 2012 Vuelta a Espana champion in the midst of Madrid.
Holding a 1:35 lead over fellow countryman Alejandro Valverde before today’s stage, Contador was in prime position to hold onto his lead in last night’s penultimate stage.
Despite some superb climbing from rivals Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde respectively, Contador did just that holding onto a lead of 1:16 over 32 year old Movistar rider, Alejandro Valverde.
The stage was won by Katusha rider and 2 time Vuelta champion Denis Menchov, who beat Australian, Richie Porte to the line for the stage victory.
However, it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park for the soon to be 5 time Grand Tour champion. Riding up the final sector of the Bola del Mundo certainly wasn’t an easy task with an average gradient of 23% making it seem like your trying to ride through a solid, brick wall.
Sensing a final, last ditch opportunity for the general classification title, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez attempted many attacks on the final climb to the finish, with a vicious acceleration from Rodriguez 1.5 km out from the line proving too much for Contador to handle.
However Contador used every bone in his body to limit his losses, with the 44 and 19 seconds the Saxo Bank rider lost to Rodriguez and Valverde respectively, not being nearly enough to topple him in the general classification.
Unless Contador cannot complete tomorrow’s stage, he will be crowned the 2012 Vuelta a Espana champion, a title that the Spaniard will look back on in future years as one of his best, simply because it was his comeback Grand Tour after some tough months out on the sidelines; yet he triumphed.
On another note Australian Orica GreenEdge rider, Simon Clarke has won the king of the mountains classification. What a wonderful achievement it is for the 26 year old, becoming only the second Australian to win the mountains classification at a Grand Tour after Mathew Lloyd’s triumph at the 2010 Giro. Congratulations Simon Clarke, and what a great day this is for Australian cycling.
It has been an unbelievable Vuelta, and without a doubt the most entertaining Grand Tour this year.
It has thrown up wonderful surprises such as Aussie Simon Clarke’s Stage 4 victory, given us a taste of the future with John Degenkolb’s four sprint stage victories, and many great, attacking cycling duels between some of the finest cyclists on the planet.
Tonight’s final stage will see the crowning of Alberto Contador as the 2012 Vuelta a Espana champion in the streets of Madrid. Don’t miss what is set to be a magic moment for Contador.
Stage 20, ‘unsung hero’: Kevin Seeldraeyers. The 25 year old Astana rider completely sacrificed himself throughout today’s breakaway for the benefit of star team mate, Fredrik Kessiakoff. Constantly doing the pace at the front and providing lead outs for a move for his Swedish team mate, Seeldraeyers was completely selfless in today’s stage and a true team player. Great effort, Kevin Seeldraeyers.
Stage 20 standings:
1 MENCHOV, Denis KAT 4h 48′ 48”
2 PORTE, Richie SKY + 17”
3 DE WEERT, Kevin OPQ + 42”
4 KESSIAKOFF, Fredrik AST + 1′ 16”
5 SICARD, Romain EUS + 1′ 39”
6 CAPECCHI, Eros LIQ + 2′ 30”
7 BOUET, Maxime ALM + 2′ 39”
8 GESCHKE, Simon ARG + 3′ 14”
9 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT + 3′ 31”
10 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV + 3′ 56′
1 CONTADOR, Alberto STB 82h 14′ 52”
2 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV + 1′ 16”
3 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT + 1′ 37”
4 FROOME, Christopher SKY + 10′ 16”
5 MORENO, Daniel KAT + 11′ 29”
6 GESINK, Robert RAB + 12′ 23”
7 TALANSKY, Andrew GRS + 13′ 28”
8 TEN DAM, Laurens RAB + 13′ 41”
9 ANTON, Igor EUS + 14′ 01”
10 INTXAUSTI, Beñat MOV + 16′ 13′
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