By Antonio J. Salmerón
Today was a bad day for ex-race leader Alejandro Valverde, who lost his leadership to Alexandre Vinokourov on the way to Granada thanks to Vino's relentless attacking on the Alto de Monachil. Valverde caught Andrey Kashechkin and Jose Angel Gomez Marchante on the descent into the finish, but Vino had already flown the coop.
"We all knew that it was going to be a tough stage, not only because of the Monachil climb, but also because of the fast descent to Granada," said Valverde afterwards. "My teammates worked well, but Vinokourov attacked, and, although he was close to me, he attacked again, and then it was impossible to catch him."
Valverde was clearly tired at the end, but not defeated. "I will not throw in the towel; on the Pandera (tomorrow) I will attack again with the help of my teammates."
The Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears leader looked for help from his companions at the end, but didn't find it. "I didn't have any luck in that respect," he said. "The only one who collaborated with me was Gomez Marchante (Saunier), but he did it without conviction. However, I don't have anything to reproach him for.
"Vinokourov is now closer than ever to winning this Vuelta...this Vuelta is not still decided. I hope that the next stages will be decisive."