The Vuelta’s sixth stage to Córdoba rewarded an opportunistic move from the Liquigas-Cannondale team, with Vincenzo Nibali gaining a useful 17 seconds over his rivals on the day’s final descent.
"We saw a gap forming on the downhill, and we decided to push it," explained Nibali. "It was as simple as that - it turned out to be beneficial for me in the GC, a nice bonus."
"It really hasn’t been a great day. We’ve lost some precious time," said Rodriguez who admitted that he lacked the necessary focus at a crucial time in the final five kilometres. "The Liquigas team attacked at a location where I didn’t expect them to do so. I knew that the downhill was dangerous but they went away on a flat section where it was absurd to do so."
Rodriguez won yesterday's stage to Valdapenas de Jaen with an impressive attack on the final uphill, gaining 11 seconds over Nibali, but with the knowledge that he conceded 4:17 to the Italian in last year's time trial he's all too aware that every second is vital.
"That’s why I’m angry," said Rodriguez. "There’s still a long way to go in the Vuelta but 17 seconds are 17 seconds."
Scarponi meanwhile blamed himself for letting Nibali, a known ace descender, get a gap in the first place.
"It’s my fault that I’ve lost seventeen seconds from Nibali," said Scarponi. "Everyone knows that he’s the best downhill rider in the peloton and I wasn’t on his wheel. It’s definitely a mistake. Fortunately it’s not fatal."