Reaction from the 18th stage

Wild weather, a breakaway day and caution abounds

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) - 19th on stage, third overall @ 1:10

"It was a tough day, the kind that can take its toll. Water and cold are not good traveling companions for cyclists; they made a day that in itself already had a demanding parcours even more difficult.

We tried to keep the race fast and took responsibility in the bunch. Igor Anton was involved in the break, so we had a fellow in front, just in case there was movement. Surprising Valverde will be complicated - he has a very strong crew. Purito, Moreno and Kiriyenka are always at his side - [they're] high quality cyclists and [it will] be difficult to catch them unaware, but we must try.

Mosquera and Gesink have much merit; they're injured due to falls from yesterday but today they have showed a brave face at all times - it shows that all of us up front are plugged into the Vuelta. Tomorrow will be another difficult day, and we'll the response to any forceful riding.

Jesús del Nero (Fuji - Servetto) - 10th on stage, 75th overall @ 1:37:36

"The stage was very hard, with the pouring rain and the high pace in the peloton on the flat before the mountains. We knew there was an obligation to enter the break and everyone inside the team was on high alert to get into the escape, even after the first attacks had no effect.

I gave it a try in the start of the first climb; a 10-rider group was breaking apart, I jumped from the pack and took them, and while we were doing the ascent to Mijares at full speed, the peloton didn't allow us to take a big gap until some kilometres after.

I had high hopes to do well at the Avila walls, because the cobblestones are always attractive to me, but the strong rhythm in the break and the attacks from 15 kilometres before left me with no energy.

At least I can say I've been into a winning break in this race. I was saving gas in the tank for the second half of the Vuelta, but I got the flu after Valencia's ITT and had two or three bad days. Now I see I did well by descending fast in the Andalusian stages, because I would perfectly be out of the race if I hadn't done."

Iñigo Cuesta (Cervélo TestTeam) - 94th on stage, 35th overall @ 52:09

"That was an impressive victory for Philip. This was not an easy stage to win. There were a lot of quality riders in that breakaway and a big rider always wins into Ávila. A victory like this will only help his confidence. He's proven he's a strong rider.

"Tomorrow is another good day for us to have a rider in an early breakaway. Maybe I can try or [José Angel Gómez] Marchante. It depends on how the legs are feeling.

"The GC riders will be watching each other... we are one day closer to Madrid. We will want to protect Philip. Tomorrow is the last hard day, then we're almost at the finish line."

Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) - 24th on stage, sixth overall @ 1:55

"The stage had infernal rain and cold that endured to Avila, characteristics that I can handle well, but after the fall [during the previous stage] the day was going to be complicated. It wasn't that bad at all, although I suffered a bit.

I had some difficult moments; regularly at first, but then I got better and managed to stay in the group of favourites. After a long night, the wounds bothered me, especially the knee, but luckily I made it through the day after using all five senses during the whole stage, from kilometre zero until the final sprint.

The most important thing is that now there are only three days of the Vuelta a España."

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) - 20th on stage, first overall

"The stage started very fast today and there was also a lot of tension and many nervous riders."

"The course was not easy at all, with a difference of height of 1400 metres which was favourable for breakaways. There was no rider who was dangerous for the general classification in the break so we let them go and just controlled the bunch.

"The most difficult aspect of today was resisting the cold weather: 8°C at the top of the first category Alto de Mijares while the average temperature during the day was 12°C. We can say that we have been through all possible kinds of weather during this Vuelta.

"Tomorrow is the last mountain stage. My rivals will definitely try to take advantage of this last opportunity to attack me and I will watch all my rivals which are among the first six of the general classification because all of them are still dangerous.

"I will be very confident at the start, supported by a great team and very motivated by the idea of winning my first major tour."

Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre - NGC) - 23rd on stage, eighth overall @ 6:35

"Today's stage proved that we'll have to pay maximum attention until the end of Vuelta and I have to be at the top if I want to defend eighth place. Today Danielson, who was ninth in the overall standing, left the race, but the winner Deignan took his place in the classification and I have 1'14" advantage on him."

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