By Bjorn Haake in Fuentes de Invierno
Sunday's win by Alberto Contador in stage 14 of the Vuelta a España was overshadowed by a small war of words from the Xacobeo Galicia team. Alvaro Pino, the directeur the team which hopes to move Ezequiel Mosquera onto the race's overall podium, was rather angry with the Astana team tactics. Mosquera set the pace for much of the final climb after his next closest rival on GC, Carlos Sastre, was dropped from the group. Astana allowed the 32-year-old to set the pace, and then attacked to take first and second on the stage.
Pino was annoyed that the two would not even grant his rider a stage win after letting him do the work. "Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong did the work and let the others win. Here, they don't even let the small riders win."
It is a sentiment that was not entirely shared by Contador. "The stage yesterday was enough, I really didn't think about the win today. I was interested in the gaps to my rivals in the overall. But if you can get a stage win it is even better. I have a lot of supporters here."
Like yesterday, the chants "Contador – Contador – Contadooooor" were still echoing through the mountains long after the Spaniard had stepped off the podium for the fourth time and final time in his individual efforts (stage win, yellow jersey, white jersey, blue jersey).
Instead, he explained that the decision was taken at the last possible moment. "We talked with the team car and they told us to go take the opportunity." Contador didn't think there was a problem. "Mosquera just wanted to ride and take time out of his rivals. He needed to gain time to get closer to the podium and that's what he did."
Mosquera is now only 54 seconds off Sastre's third place spot. It is for that reason that Contador thought Xacobeo Galicia would not be too angry about it. "If the team of Mosquera is a bit upset, it is not too much, because they wanted to take time out of his rivals, and that's what they did."
Mosquera had finished fifth last year, when he debuted in the Vuelta at the ripe age of 31. Contador added that Mosquera's performance was impressive, but didn't come unexpected. "I am not surprised about Mosquera. He is a great rider and today he has demonstrated that."