Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage ten of the Vuelta a Espana. The mountain stage is from Torredelcampo to Güéjar Sierra/Alto Hazallanas.
After a first week of attacks, tough finishes and several changes in race leadership, the Vuelta steps up a level and climbs high, with a tough mountain finish on the Sierra Nevada near Granada in the heart of Andalucia.
Today's stage is 186km long but the riders have already covered a 15km neutralised section before the start.
The riders rolled out just after mid-day with all 194 riders signing on. However Bart De Clercq (Lotto Belisol) was a very early retiree after crashing in the neutral zone.
The long neutralised section actually ate into the stage distance, reducing the active part of the race to 167km.
The stage includes some early climbs but the two key tests come in the final quarter of the stage.
The Alto de Monachil climb last featured in 2009 and is best remembered as the pass where Cadel Evans punctured and, he still believes, lost that year's Vuelta because he failed to get a spare wheel promptly.
This time it's the precursor to a new climb up to the finish that could quickly assume the same legendary status as the Angliru. Although the riders will only be tackling the first 7km of this long ascent, the first 5km averages 11 per cent.
For more info see our stage preview here.
We have already seen several attacks and attempts to form a breakaway but none have stick o far, as team's strategy and interests collide and conflict, leading to high-speed chases.
Bauke Mollema (Belkin) was on a recent attack as he tried to salvage something from his Vuelta but he has been quickly caught.
Unfortunately there is another crash victim from the neutralised section: Canada's Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale) has been forced to retire due to injury.
If you followed Sunday's stage, you will know that Spain's Dani Moreno (Katusha) snatched the race leader's red jersey from Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).
We are likely to see the two fight for the jersey today, before Tuesday's rest day. It is still very tight in the GC.
Here is the current top ten in the general classification:
1 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 35:58:34
2 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:01
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:20
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:22
5 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:28
6 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:00:56
7 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura 0:01:09
8 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard 0:01:10
9 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:01:24
10 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:01:25
It's a good day for Spanish cycling. During the early part of the stage, Formula 1 pilot and keen cyclist Fernando Alonso has confirmed that he's finalising details to buy the Euskaltel-Euskadi team.
He plans to make the team more international in the long term. It is not sure who will sponsor or run the team but it should ensure that there will be at least two major teams in Spain in 2014.
Read more about the news here.
The Katusha team is controlling all the attacks so far.
Many of the riders will have light bikes for the tough climbs in the finale of the stage.
Cyclingnews and Bikeradar were at the recent Eurobike show to discover all the latest super lightweight bikes. Read about all the latest bike tech here.
Katusha is doing all the chasing but that is causing problems for their rider Alberto Losada. He also crashed in the neutralised section and has been forced to retire.
Leopol Konig (NetApp-Endura) is also struggling today. He is seventh overall at 1:09 but felt sick before the stage according to team manager Brian Smith.
Barry Markus (Vacansoleil-DCM) has also been forced to quit after the neutralised zone crash.
126km remaining from 186km
We finally have a major break forming but Katusha is still leading the pursuit.
There are 21 riders in the move.
The stand out names in the break are Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky), Chris Anker Sorensen (SAxo-Tinkoff), Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol), Diegog Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and Jerome Coppel (Cofidis).
133km remaining from 186km
Time trial expert Stef Clement (Belkin) has now hit out alone. He has an 18-second lead on the other riders, with the peloton at 45 seconds.
Katusha is still leading the chase of the 21-rider break away. Clement is powering along alone but behind the 20 other riders have split into three groups. This is a super aggressive start to the stage.
Are you still catching up with all the weekend's racing?
You can read about Filippo Pozzato's victory at the GP Plouay here.
Victory in the one-day French WorldTour race has also put him back in the running for a place in the Italian team for the world championships.
Back to the stage and things have been shaken up again.
The 21-rider break has been caught and a new group has formed, this time including ten riders.
The break has been let go and now has a gap of 2:20.
The break is on. The gap is now 3:00.
It took close to 60km of frantic racing but the action has finally settled, with some interesting riders in the move. But will any of them be able to hold off the climbers and GC contenders on the very tough finale?
88km remaining from 186km
The fast, aggressive racing has caused another retirement, with Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) confirmed as retiring.
90km remaining from 186km
It seems that Fenn was actually disqualified from the race for a long tow from a car. Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) has also reportedly been disqualified.
After a fast slightly downhill section, the riders face a further 30km of flat roads before the start of the double whammy of climbs in the finale.
Before the start Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) said he was worried about today's tough finish and picked up on Katusha leadership dilemma.
“The first climb (Alto de Monachil) is hard and the second one (Alto de Hazallanas) is very hard. I’ve never seen any of them but that’s my understanding," he said.
"Yesterday’s extremely hard finish might have some consequences today. A lot of guys will be very tired. Having Dani Moreno leading the classification modifies the situation a little bit but firstly for Katusha. They have to decide who the leader is. It can become complicated for them if they don’t have any team-mate left.”
Dani Moreno insisted that Rodrigeuz remains the team leader at Katusha, revealing that they are very close.
“Purito remains the boss. We do a lot of things together like training camps and we’re room-mates too,” he said.
The race is close to the stunning city of Granada now, with the gap up to 5:00.
The 10 riders in the break are: Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Georg Preidler (Team Argos-Shimano), Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step), Maciej Paterski (Cannondale), Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM), Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team), Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Euskaltel Euskadi), Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) and Stef Clement (Belkin Procycling Team).
Rodriguez has a puncture but his quickly serviced by his team and is off again. The Katusha team was in the number one slot of the team car convoy because teammate Moreno has the red leader's jersey.
After 120km of racing, the gap is up to 5;45.
The break is approaching the first intermediate sprint of the stage and after that, after 9km the Alto de Monachil begins. It's time for the finale of the stage.
Flecha is first over the line, ahead of Ulissi and Clement.
This final 50km of climbing is going to hurt!
The peloton is lined out as they fight for position.
Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) is the biggest threat overall but he's 7:47 back and so not a real danger to the red jersey.
The break is on the Alto de Monachil climb now. It's 8.5km long at an average of 7.5% However there are some sections at 15%. This will hurt and so will the climb to the finish, the Alto de Hazallanas.
The Alto de Hazallanas is 15km long. It has a short descent mid-way but then kicks up brutally hard, with several kilometres in double digits.
Riders are already going out of the back after doing some work for their team leaders.
Chris Horner (Radioshack) is near the front, behind Cancellara, who is working for him on the first part of the climb. The American veteran looks good.
Oh dear, Roman Kreuziger is struggling again and has been dropped.
Saxo-Tinkoff’s team manager Bjarne Riis talked about him and Nicolas Roche earlier.
“We don’t understand what happens to Kreuziger. His heart rate is very low. We hope the rest day will do well for him. On the other hand, Nicolas Roche is going very well. The
stage win he got at the Vuelta looks like the breakthrough he needed,” he said.
34km remaining from 186km
The break is splitting up front. They have little chance of holding off the peloton now.
Ulissi is still up there and looks good.
The peloton has also been shaken out after Cancellara's long high-speed turn on the front. He's slipping back but is building nicely for the world world championships.
Movistar has now taken over at the front, with Valverde wearing the green points jersey.
Davide de la Cruz (NetApp-Endura) goes off the front of the peloton.
Upfront, Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) leaves his breakaway companions but is quickly joined by Ulissi.
There are just 30 riders in the main peloton.
Just Marczynski and Ulissi up front now.
The peloton has reached the top of the climb, with Ulissi still a minute clear with Tomasz Marczynski just behind him.
Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) is trying to get back to the peloton on the slight descent. He's suffering today.
We stand corrected. Ullissi goes over the top of the climb now, a few seconds ahead of Marczynski.
26km remaining from 186km
Here comes the peloton, at 1:15 at the top of the Alto de Monachil.
The descent is breathtaking, with a rocky landscape and twisting roads.
Movistar has four riders in the front setting the pace behind.
No doubt the Euskaltel riders will be looking to win today after the excellent news that Formula 1 driver Fernando Alanso has agreed to purchase the team.
Read more about it here.
15km remaining from 186km
Here we go. The peloton is about to start the 15km climb to the finish.
Konig is back on to the peloton but he must be suffering.
Georg Preidler (Team Argos-Shimano) is back up to the front of the race as Ulissi fades.
Moreno looks cool so far, tucked on Rodriguez's wheel.
Here's Moreno on the podium in the red leader's jersey.
11km remaining from 186km
Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) has jumped away up front. Ulissi is trying to get acorss but Preidler is struggling.
Behind Ortoz, Flecha and Del la Cruz are about to be caught by the peloton.
The gap to the break is is just 1:06.
Riders grab a last bidon before the final, tough, part of the climb kicks in and steepens.
The middle section has kilometres at a leg-breaking gradients of 10%, 12%, 18%, 17%, 13%, 15%.
Here we go. The short last descent, over the bridge and then upwards, nearly vertical.
The peloton makes around the tight corner and has already swept up Preidler.
Ulissi has also been caught.
The corners are very, very steep and hurting everyone.
6km remaining from 186km
Igor Anton (Euskaltel) goes on the attack.
Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) still has a 45 second lead but will surely be caught.
All the best riders are riding hard now. Nibali, Basso, Horner, Roche, Rodriguez and Valverde are all there.
Henao (Sky) and Sanchez (Euskaltel) are dropped.
Fuglsang is leading Nibali, with Basso with him. But Moreno has cracked and has been dropped.
Nibali is driving hard as Tomasz Marczynski is caught and passed.
Roche could take the lead but he is also suffering. Valverde too.
Up front its Nibali, Basso, Rodriguez and Horner.
Now Horner accelerates and opens a gap.
Moreno is already 38 seconds down.
Horner has a 100m lead.
Behind Pinot, Roche and Valverde have got back up to Nibali.
Horner is climbing out of the saddle at a steady pace. He's grinding out a gap on his overall riders but there's still 4km to race.
4km remaining from 186km
Horner has a 28 second lead.
Moreno is fighting to survive but is now 1:10 behind Horner.
There are six chasers behind Horner: Basso, Nibali, Roche, Valverde and Pinot.
The Italian switches across the roads but the others respond and Basso hits the front.
3km remaining from 186km
Horner is making a clever controlled effort. But he must be right on his limits.
Now Basso ups the speed but Rodriguez marks him closely.
All the accelerations and chasing is helping Horner to stay clear.
Now Nibali surges away. This is a powerful attack!
He's alone and chasing after Horner.
He's got just 2km to catch the veteran American.
The gradient has eased a little, with the speeding rising.
Nibali is 48 seconds down on Horner.
The chasers are 25 seconds further back.
Horner still looks good and is still dancing on the pedals. He's in the final kilometre.
Horner has hardly sat down for the last four kilometres.
He is also set to take the red leader's jersey.
Here he comes...
Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) wins his second stage of this year's Vuelta.
Nibali finishes hard, 48 seconds down on Horner.
Valverde takes third just over a minute after Horner.
Moreno was two minutes back and so loses the red leader's jersey.
Horner took 48 seconds out of Nibali, 1:02 on the other GC rivals. That's a huge amount.
He now leads Nibali by 52 seconds, with Valverde third overall at 1:08.
The Vuelta takes a break on Tuesday as the riders enjoy the first rest day of this year's race. The Vuelta caravan will transfer north, for Wednesday's vital time trial stage. It will play another vital role in deciding who win this year's Vuelta.
As new race leader, Chris Horner will have the advantage of starting last.
That's about it for our live coverage from the Vuelta a Espana. Tuesday is a rest day and so join us on Wednesday for all the action from the time trial stage.
There will be a full race report, a huge photo gallery of all the action, news and interviews on Cyclingnews.com very soon.
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