photo credit @ La Vuelta
Joaquim Rodriguez moved to within one second of Fabio Aru (Astana) in the overall race lead, after commencing a solo victory in today’s 15 of Vuelta a España.
Rodriguez made his decisive attack inside the final kilometer of today’s 176 kilometer stage from the seaside town of Comillas to the mountain village of Sotres in Cabrales.
From there, Rodriguez dropped his Italian rival Aru before riding clear to win the stage by 12 seconds over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), with Aru coming home three seconds further back in fifth.
After collecting 10 bonus seconds for his victory, Rodriguez moved to within one second of Aru’s overall lead ahead of tomorrow’s stage, which features three back-to-back summit finishes.
Majka himself moved up into third place on GC at the expense of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), who limited his losses to 51 seconds – dropping to fourth place 1:25 in arrears – and one second behind Majka.
Katusha also saw an impressive performance from Daniel Moreno, who finished the 12.7km long Alto de Sotres alongside fourth-place finisher Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Aru.
Quintana, showed his rivals that he had shrugged off a week of illness by attacking with 10km remaining of the final climb.
The Colombian’s attack came to nothing after the Astana team-mates of Aru combined to reel him in while lone escapee Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) continued forging his way up the road with a minute’s advantage.
It was not until Zubeldia was caught with 2km remaining that Quintana upped the tempo again – but the Colombian was unable to match the accelerations of Rodriguez.
“I’m very happy to have this win,” said Rodriguez, whose ninth Vuelta stage victory saw him move to the top of the green jersey points classification. “I feel very good. For me this is one of the best Vueltas I have done. I’m calm and I’m riding within my limits.”
Aru was upbeat despite seeing his overall lead slashed by Rodriguez.
“Today Movistar set the pace at the beginning and ‘Purito’ did great things at the end so I congratulate him for his victory,” 25-year-old Aru said.
“But I’m still in red and we have another mountain stage ahead of the time trial, which will be very difficult for many riders.” Stage 15: Results, standings, live comments
A nine-rider breakaway group containing Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Blel Kadri (Ag2R-La Mondiale) starred in a break that also included Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Dominique Rollin (Cofidis), Brayan Ramirez (Colombia), Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) and Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), got underway after 35 kilometers of racing.
After negotiating the Category 2 climb of the Alto del Torno during the final 60 kilometers, the leaders had established a maximum advantage of five minutes over the peloton.
However, as the escapees reached the start of the final climb, their advantage had dwindled to just over a minute.
Both Kadri and Eritrean Berhane put in individual attacks, before Zubeldia rode clear of his fellow escapees with less than 11km remaining.
Trailing Aru by three minutes on GC, Quintana decided to attack on the final climb.
In response. Astana sent Luis Leon Sanchez up the road to mark the attack and Quintana soon found himself back in the fold.
At one point, Dumoulin was shelled out the back of the pack while Quintana was ultimately unable to match the pace of Rodriguez when the veteran rider made his move.
Aru and Majka followed the Katusha pace-setter before Aru dropped back – eventually to be pipped by Quintana for fourth place.
With just one second separating first and second on GC, the scene is set perfectly for Monday’s decisive day in the Asturias.
Stage 15 Results
ESP 1 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquim (KATUSHA) 4:33:31
POL 2 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF – SAXO) + 12
ESP 3 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) + 14
COL 4 QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander (MOVISTAR) + 15
ITA 5 ARU, Fabio (ASTANA)
ESP 6 LANDA MEANA, Mikel (ASTANA) + 18
COL 7 CHAVES RUBIO, Johan Esteban (ORICA GreenEDGE) + 20
ESP 8 NIEVE ITURALDE, Mikel (SKY) + 24
ESP 9 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 29
ITA 10 POZZOVIVO, Domenico (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 41
RSA 11 MEINTJES, Louis (MTN – QHUBEKA)
NED 12 DUMOULIN, Tom (GIANT – ALPECIN) + 51
BEL 13 DE CLERCQ, Bart (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 1:04
FRA 14 ELISSONDE, Kenny (FDJ) + 1:15
COL 15 HENAO MONTOYA, Sergio Luis (SKY) + 1:31
USA 16 BOSWELL, Ian (SKY) + 1:36
POR 17 CARDOSO, Andre Fernando S. Martins (CANNONDALE – GARMIN)
General Classification after Stage 15
ITA 1 ARU, Fabio (ASTANA) 61:53:56
ESP 2 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquim (KATUSHA) + 1
POL 3 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF – SAXO) + 1:24
NED 4 DUMOULIN, Tom (GIANT – ALPECIN) + 1:25
COL 5 CHAVES RUBIO, Johan Esteban (ORICA GreenEDGE) + 1:34
ESP 6 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) + 2:08
ESP 7 NIEVE ITURALDE, Mikel (SKY) + 2:19
ESP 8 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 2:25
COL 9 QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander (MOVISTAR) + 3:00
RSA 10 MEINTJES, Louis (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 5:07
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