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Vuelta a España 2011: Stage 13


La Vuelta continues with another mountain stage from Sarria to Ponferrada in Northwestern Spain. With five categorized climbs on the menu and the finish line located more than 40 kilometres after the last pass, this is a perfect day for long-range attacks. But it could also prove treacherous for the GC contenders...

79km remaining from 150km

The group is led by mountain classification contender David Moncoutié (Cofidis), out to get the KOM leader Matteo Montaguti (AG2R), who missed this move.

There are also three Eusklatel riders, including Igor Anton, vying for the stage win.

Just to recap, this is what happened until now:

But then some real fun began. A new escape group of 34 men formed around the two climbers in the descent, including several high-profile riders such as Fabian Cancellara (Leopard), Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep) but also GC contenders Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Igor Anton (Euskaltel) and Carlos Sastre (Geox). The Italian took the intermediate sprint points at Becerrea - and six precious bonus seconds for GC, with the bunch following close at no more than 30 seconds.

This group included the following riders:

After 31 kilometres of racing and at the foot of the next ascent, the Alto de O Lago (Cat. 3), this group broke up in two, with Nibali and Wiggins trapped in the second. The Liquigas leader set out in pursuit, and under the impressive driving of the Astana team in the peloton, the breakaway finally got caught just after the summit. Moncoutié again crossed the KOM line behind Montaguti, losing another point.

In the long descent prior to the next climb, Cat 1. Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas, French team AG2R sent out David Le Lay, certainly in an attempt to help Montaguti later on in the climb. He was joined by another 18 riders, including teammate Nicolas Roche, Moncoutié, Sastre and Anton. The group extended its advantage to 1'20" at km 58.

Back to the present situation: The riders have passed the feed zone and now hit the bottom of the fourth climb today, the Cat. 1 Puerto de Ancares.

This is the complete list of riders in this breakaway:

The climb is on a narrow road through the forest. It's not very hot today, actually overcast.

66km remaining from 150km

Best-placed rider on GC in the break is Dani Moreno of Katusha, he is 16th at 3'39" of Bradley Wiggins.

Today, the Vuelta orgainsers have welcomed a special guest in the directors' car: Alberto Contador. The Spaniard is watching the race from another point of view, sitting comfortably in an airconditioned vehicle.

63km remaining from 150km

Euskaltel is extending the gap to the bunch to 3'14.

Three riders have now come out of the bunch, trying to bridge up: Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R), Sergio Pardilla (Movistar) and Martin Kohler (BMC).

Zaugg is sitting behind the leading Euskaltel rider - we think it's Txurruka - followed by Moncoutié.

But more riders have jumped with this split and while there is a small gap to the bunch, the attack seems neutralised.

The leaders have crossed the summit.

Cobo, in the group of favourites, is putting on a fierce tempo for Geox, making may riders suffer. They have reached the summit now, 3'08" behind the leaders.

Taylor Phinney (BMC) has dropped out of the race, race radio says. The American landed a strong fifht place in the time trial, but was sitting in third to last position on GC.

At the KOM point, Moreno was first and Moncoutié second. The Frenchman, who is going for his fourth mountains title, scored another six points and now leads the classification by nine points ahead of Montaguti (AG2R).

Like the ascent, the descent of the Ancares is a narrow road. The three Euskaltel riders left in the break are leading the group out.

There is another attack on GC: Nibali, Mollema and Kessiakoff have opened up a gap. Wiggins is talking to his team directors through the radio...

Antoher Astana rider has bridged up and is pacing Kessiakoff. Sky is riding hard in what is now a chase group including the overall leader.

Some expected fireworks on the climb - but it happened in the descent!

46km remaining from 150km

They are making up time already, the gap is reduced to 17 seconds.

Solid team effort by Sky, bearing fruit. They will catch the Nibali/Mollema group soon.

43km remaining from 150km

40km remaining from 150km

The riders are speeding down a wider descent now. The lead group still has more than two and a half minutes over the bunch with 35 clicks to go.

Three riders especially will be happy if this group can stay way from the bunch: Moreno, Sörensen and Roche. Their stadings on GC are the following:

Nieve of Euskaltel sits in 24th position at 4'46 on GC. certainly, he orange squad will want to grab the red leader's jersey before the race hits the Basque country...

Txurruka is completely sacrificing himself for his teammate today, he has been pulling the escape for ages now.

27km remaining from 150km

2'32" is the current gap. As of now, it is all downhill - will the break take its advantage to the finish or will we see another sprint to the line?

20km remaining from 150km

It's Verdugo now doing the work for Euskaltel and Nieve. They are doing a great job, having been in the break the whole day, too.

The whole lead group is strung out single file, with about half of the riders actively pushing it on.

The bunch is also going hard, but their work is not paying off. A bunch sprint finish is now highly unlikely.

13km remaining from 150km

10km remaining from 150km

65 km/h are being done here on this run into Ponferrada.

The gap has come down to 1'57" under the ten km banner.

Sörensen and Roche are also helping Euskaltel in the lead.

What a tough day: three Cat 3 and two Cat 1 climbs and now a time trial into the finish. These riders will be finished this evening.

4km remaining from 150km

Attacks will be launched now as the lead group is breaking up.

Albasini and Madrazo have a gap now. The Movistar rider is yelling at Albasini to take a turn

Moncoutié (??) comes out of nowhere, De Maar in tow

Bakelats goes down on some road furniture, seems relatively unhurt though

They're all back together again. Moncoutié tries again.

One km to go. All back together.

S^rensen leads out, Albasini in tow.

Albasini starts from afar, but holds on in front and takes the victory!

Wout Poels (Vacansoleil) takes off from the bunch in the finale and makes up a few seconds. The bunch comes in at 1'32".

The top ten of the stage are:

Moncoutié is the new mountains leader. Let's see what consequences this stage has on GC - Moreno now sits in ninth position we think.

Results (provisonal)

Thanks for reading and join us again tomorrow for stage 14, hopefully an epic battle between GC contenders on the summit finish of Lagos de Somiedo.

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