excerpts from Lavuelta.com
181 riders took the start of stage 15 for the 19th finish of the history at the Lagos de Covadonga. An early crash caused the abandons of Lloyd Mondory (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Anthony Roux (fdj.fr). After many skirmishes, a breakaway was formed at km 48, including John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), Przemyzlav Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Cameron Meyer (Orica-Greenedge) and Kristoff Vandewalle (Trek Factory Racing). They reached a maximum advantage of 11 minutes at the feed zone in Berbes (km 88).
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) crashed after 8km of climbing to the Alto del Torno. It took his team-mates and particularly stage 14 winner Ryder Hesjedal twenty kilometers to bring him back to the group of the favorites before the ascent to the Lagos de Covadonga. Meyer rode away solo with 11km to go but one kilometer further, Niemiec rejoined him and dropped him off with 5km to go. It was the right move as none of the favorites caught the Pole despite fighting among themselves.
Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) was very active while Samuel Sanchez (BMC) and Dani Navarro (Cofidis) disappeared from the main group. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) also attacked a few times after Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) initiated the hostilities. The Spanish trio formed of Contador, Rodriguez and Valverde rode Chris Froome (Sky) off but the Brit limited the losses once again. Contador retained the lead despite losing a few seconds and Barguil was rewarded for his fighting spirit as he took place in the top ten overall.
On Monday, stage 16 from San Martin de Rey Aurelio to La Farrapona (160.5 km) is considered by many as the queen stage of the Vuelta.
“After four years in this team, I obtained my first victory with there colors in such important race as Vuelta and in the charming arrival of La Covadonga. I feel so excited – I’m happy I could give this joy to the management of the team that always supported me.
Races are strange: yesterday I made a bunch of attempts to escape from the bunch and, when I finally succeeded in joining the breakaway, my energies were almost over. Today I tried one attack and I was in the winning action: I perceived it could have been a good day when the breakaway had more than 10′ on the bunch and it started to rain.
I knew the final climb and, also thanks to the hints by my sport directors Matxin and Vicino, I attacked once again in the central part of the climb: it was the winning decision”.
– Przemyslaw Niemiec, Lampre-Merida
“The team rode superbly, they were phenomenal. We took the front of the bunch into the first climb and we wanted to stay there in the beginning of the descent so we could avoid any troubles, since it was a really dangerous one. We were taking this easy, not risking any more than needed, but despite all of that, we suffered Castroviejo’s crash.
The situation in the finale was ‘strange’, under quotations, because everyone did their own thing. They were always attacking: firstly one, then the other… Purito tried it in the final slopes, Alberto jumped away lots of times… Froome also rode like he used to in this race, looking not as strong as usual but still keeping the pace.
It was a bit too optimistic yesterday when I attacked into the final climb, and I chose to stay more conservative today and do one last attack, in the final meters. It’s true that Froome would have been a bit more distanced is we cooperated better, but I wasn’t trusting neithwe Alberto nor Purito.
With so many attacks from them two, I preferred to take the bonus into the sprint, as I did. The legs felt well today, but tomorrow’s stage is tremendous, hellish. It will be really hard, and I just hope that strength stays with us and not to have any problems like Castro’s again.”
– Alejandro Valverde, Movistar
Stage 15 Results POL 1 NIEMIEC, Przemyslaw (LAMPRE – MERIDA) 4:11:09 ESP 2 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 5 ESP 3 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (KATUSHA) ESP 4 CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto (TINKOFF-SAXO) + 10 ITA 5 ARU, Fabio (ASTANA) + 17 GBR 6 FROOME, Christopher (SKY) IRL 7 MARTIN, Daniel (GARMIN SHARP) + 28 FRA 8 BARGUIL, Warren (GIANT-SHIMANO) + 44 COL 9 URAN URAN, Rigoberto (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP) + 1:00 ITA 10 CARUSO, Giampaolo (KATUSHA) NED 11 GESINK, Robert (BELKIN) + 1:07 ESP 12 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) ESP 13 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, Samuel (BMC RACING) + 1:46 ESP 14 NIEVE ITURALDE, Mikel (SKY) BEL 15 VANDEWALLE, Kristof (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 1:58 AUS 16 MEYER, Cameron (ORICA GreenEDGE) + 2:01 ITA 17 CARUSO, Damiano (CANNONDALE) + 2:14 ESP 18 NAVARRO GARCIA, Daniel (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) FRA 19 SICARD, Romain (EUROPCAR) + 2:45 ESP 20 MATE MARDONES, Luis Angel (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) NED 21 KELDERMAN, Wilco (BELKIN) + 3:00 COL 22 ANACONA GOMEZ, Winner (LAMPRE – MERIDA) + 3:15 BEL 23 MONFORT, Maxime (LOTTO BELISOL) + 3:43 ESP 24 HERRADA LOPEZ, Jose (MOVISTAR) + 3:50 ESP 25 HERNANDEZ BLAZQUEZ, Jesus (TINKOFF-SAXO) ITA 26 BRAMBILLA, Gianluca (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP) + 4:56 ESP 27 PARDILLA BELLON, Sergio (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 5:01 SUI 28 ZAUGG, Oliver (TINKOFF-SAXO) + 5:03 EST 29 KANGERT, Tanel (ASTANA) + 5:04 ESP 30 ARAMENDIA LORENTE, Javier Francisco (CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA) + 6:07 ESP 31 ARROYO DURAN, David (CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA) FRA 32 LE MEVEL, Christophe (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 6:36 FRA 33 BAGOT, Yohan (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 6:39 ITA 34 TIRALONGO, Paolo (ASTANA) + 8:32 IRL 35 DEIGNAN, Philip (SKY) + 10:48 CAN 36 HESJEDAL, Ryder (GARMIN SHARP) + 11:14 COL 37 CHAVES RUBIO, Jhoan Esteban (ORICA GreenEDGE) + 11:15 ESP 38 IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, Gorka (MOVISTAR) + 11:16 BLR 39 SIUTSOU, Kanstantsin (SKY)
General Classification after Stage 15 ESP 1 CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto (TINKOFF-SAXO) 58:31:35 ESP 2 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 31 GBR 3 FROOME, Christopher (SKY) + 1:20 ESP 4 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (KATUSHA) ITA 5 ARU, Fabio (ASTANA) + 2:22 COL 6 URAN URAN, Rigoberto (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP) + 2:57 IRL 7 MARTIN, Daniel (GARMIN SHARP) + 4:55 ESP 8 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, Samuel (BMC RACING) + 5:02 NED 9 GESINK, Robert (BELKIN) + 5:11 FRA 10 BARGUIL, Warren (GIANT-SHIMANO) + 6:36 ITA 11 CARUSO, Damiano (CANNONDALE) + 6:49 ESP 12 NAVARRO GARCIA, Daniel (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 7:14 COL 13 ANACONA GOMEZ, Winner (LAMPRE – MERIDA) + 7:41 ESP 14 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) + 8:15 NED 15 KELDERMAN, Wilco (BELKIN) + 9:08 ESP 16 NIEVE ITURALDE, Mikel (SKY) + 10:34 FRA 17 SICARD, Romain (EUROPCAR) + 13:15 BEL 18 MONFORT, Maxime (LOTTO BELISOL) + 15:04 ESP 19 PARDILLA BELLON, Sergio (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 15:11 ITA 20 CARUSO, Giampaolo (KATUSHA) + 15:33
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