By Bjorn Haake in Fuentes de Invierno
Alberto Contador threw another punch at his rivals when he went clear of Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) in the final kilometres of stage 14 in the Vuelta a España on Sunday. Contador and Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer sat on Mosquera's wheel, who was desperately trying to put time into Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) in the heated battle for the third podium spot.
The first two places are firmly in the hand of Astana, with Leipheimer trailing Contador by 1:17. Leipheimer has a comfortable margin of 2:24 over current third-placed Sastre. Contador elegantly described the Astana's stranglehold on the race. "The team knows how to control a race."
Astana had indeed everything under control. They let the break of the day get away just far enough to make for a decent chase, then helped blow the race apart on the final climb up to the Fuentes de Invierno (which translates as 'springs of winter', which wasn't true to its name on this hot day with a clear blue sky). Contador repeated his words from yesterday about being in the drivers' seat.
"I am very calm in light of the general classification situation." But he cautioned that it isn't over until it is over. "No, I am not the [overall] winner yet. You have to pay attention until the finish line in Madrid is crossed. We have to be careful, there will be lots of attacks." But Contador is happy to let the team control it and let Astana do its work so he can take out the final victory in one week's time.