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Vuelta a España 2014: Stage 9

Hello and welcome to stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Before Monday's rest day we've another summit finish with the 187km stage from Carboneras de Guadazaón to Aramón Valdelinares.

We're already into the stage and have seen a number of attacks from the front. There was a large group of around 25 riders clear at one stage but that number has become 27, although the gap is fairly small. It's been a frantic start to the stage though.

165km remaining from 185km

20km of the stage has already been covered and there have been so many attacks it's hard to keep up as rider after rider launches off from the front. That group of 27 - always too big to organise - has been caught but we now have six men off the front of the peloton but Astana, Garmin and BMC are chasing hard at the front of the peloton.

The chase has paid off and after 23km of racing the peloton is back together. More and more attacks though as the pace once again jumps up. The initial break is going to be crucial but at this stage it could take a while before it forms.

Still we wait on the formation of the first break major break of the day. Here's how the GC stands coming into the race:

 

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 31:21:20
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:15
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:18
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:20
5 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:41
6 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:45
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:55
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:58
9 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:01:02
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:06

158km remaining from 185km

The pace has split the peloton into three groups. We have a group of 27, then 16 and then the rest of the bunch.

A few riders in the that lead group include Arredondo, Hesjedal, Boonen and Cunego. Cataldo is there for Team Sky too. Will the peloton let this one go?

Well the bunch are two minutes down on that large first group so that answers the previous question. No real GC threats in that major break but the peloton can't afford to give them too much room.

Jungles and Hansen are also in that lead group. Vansummeren too. It's a really powerful move and the gap to the peloton is at nearly three minutes. There are six chasers at 40 seconds behind the first group.

Hesjedal is around 10 minutes down on GC. He's pulled back around four minutes already in the stage after 42km of racing.

Courtesy of the race website, here's a full list of riders in the break:

 

Winner ANACONA (2) and Damiano CUNEGO (3), Rinaldo NOCENTINI (18), Alexey LUTSENKO (27), Paul MARTENS (36), Dominik NERZ (46) and Danilo WYSS (49), Peio BILBAO (54), Jerome COPPEL (72) and Romain ZINGLE (79), Natnael BERHANE (82) and Yannick MARTINEZ (87), Ryder HESJEDAL (101) and Johan VAN SUMMEREN (109), Pirmin LANG (125), Eduard VORGANOV (139), Adam HANSEN (146), Javier MORENO (158), Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT (166) and Jay Robert THOMSON (167), Tom BOONEN (171) and Carlos VERONA (179), Sam BEWLEY (181), Dario CATALDO (192), Julian David ARREDONDO MORENO (212), Fabio FELLINE (213) and Bob JUNGELS (214).

At the moment it's Movistar who are leading the peloton, holding the gap to the main group at 3:48. It looks like containment is the aim at the moment. Is that first group too big though? There are a few passengers in there.

141km remaining from 185km

Movistar haven't hit the panic button, there's still a long way to go. Winner Anacona is the leader on the road as he started the stage 2:50 down Valverde's lead.

Bouet, who was in the second group, has led them to the leaders so we now have 31 men in the break. The gap is at four minutes after 44km of racing.

News has come through tha Moreno Hofland has abandoned the race.

133km remaining from 185km

The gap to the 31 leaders is now out to five minutes.

Movistar have a man up the road, which means they have six riders back to support Valverde and Quintana at the moment.

This gap continues to grow though, and it's at 5:25.

117km remaining from 185km

The gap to the break is moving out to six minutes, which puts Winner Anacona into the leader's jersey by around three minutes. We've still around 125km of racing to come, including the summit finish.

José Azevedo says: "I rode this in 2005 and I know it's a complicated climb. There will probably be lots of wind early on in the stage, which creates another difficulty. The gc riders will want to gain time on each other at the toughest finish so far."

Here's the top ten from that stage back in 2005:

 

1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 5.27.20 (39.78 km/h)
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.13
3 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 0.28
4 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 0.42
5 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic 0.49
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
8 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 0.52
9 Marcos Antonio Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 1.15
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team

It's been such a fast opening 70km of the stage and the gap continues to grown. It's at 6:28 as Movistar continue to set the pace at the front of the peloton.

93km remaining from 185km

The leaders, all 31 of them, have 7:30 over the peloton as they race through the feedzone. Movistar are still setting the pace with 93km to go.

At the start of the stage the race organisers spoke to Cadel Evans. The Australian is here to support Samuel Sanchez, in what could be his final grand Tour:

 

“I’m here for Sanchez. My job is to deliver him fresh at the bottom of the last climb and give him confidence for the remaining part of the Vuelta. History has showed that he comes good in the third week of the Grand Tours. Hopefully it’s going to be the same again. As for my personal ambitions, I’ll see if an opportunity comes for me to win a stage later in the race.”

Away from the Vuelta, it's been confirmed that Orica GreenEdge have offered new deals to both of the Yates brothers. They have contracts until 2015 but the team are looking to lock them in for another year. One rider who will not be staying with the team is Matthew Goss, who is being let go after three years with the squad. You can find the full story, right here.

Back to BMC Racing Team and it's been confirmed that Danilo Wyss with stay with the squad for another year. He's racing the Vuelta. Here's the story.

We've had high temperatures for most of the Vuelta so far but race radio reports that there are thunder storms at the finish and on the final climb. The weather change could really have an affect on some of the riders if there's a sudden drop in temperature.

At the start  of the stage this morning, Winner Anacona also spoke to the media:

 

“I’ve got good sensations but yesterday I’ve been unlucky to be caught behind in the echelons. Racing without Chris Horner is different from our initial plan. With him, I’d probably have been racing at the front yesterday. Anyway, my goal remains to ride for GC and target a stage win. I’m looking forward to see if I have the legs for that today. We’re seven Colombian racing. There’s no fight between us but we all race for different teams. Nairo is super strong. He’ll make the final top 3 for sure. Uran will recover some time on Tuesday in the ITT. Chaves is the nice surprise of the first week. He’s a Grand Tour rider in the making.”

As for Chris Froome, CN spoke to him at the finish of stage 8. He's been pleased with how his team have ridden through the first eight days but he'll need full on support today. Cataldo being in the main break will surely help as the race opens up. Here's what Froome said post-stage 8.

Meanwhile the gap to the leaders is at 7:40 as they make their way to the first intermediate sprint of the day.

The leaders are now on the first climb of the day the puerto de Cabigordo, with their advantage at an even eight minutes.

Cyclingnews' Barry Ryan is at the top of the final climb. "It's raining hard at the summit, with thunderstorms. The temperature is a lot cooler up here compared to Andalusia."

There's still a long way to go but it will be interesting to see how the break tackle this climb and whether there will be an early selection as they try and distance some of the passengers.

Alberto Contador has played down the significance of the summit finish today:

“I don’t think Valdelinares will make big differences. I’ll pay attention to all the moves. I’m more worried about the time trial on Tuesday," he said at the start.

For the first time in a long while the gap to the leaders has dropped as they make their way over the first climb. It's at 7:50 still, with 70km left of the stage. A reminder that we have thunder storms at the finish.

The leaders are cresting the top of the first climb, their lead back up to 8:30, the largest it has been during the stage. Meanwhile we have a preview of the final climb, right here.

From Barry Ryan's preview of the final climb: "At eight kilometres in length, the climb is twice the length of the Vuelta’s previous summit finish above La Zubia on stage 6, but unlike that short, sharp grind in Andalusia, the gradient is far shallower throughout and there are several flat sections that allow for recovery. It does not seem, then, that the climb to Valdelinares will whittle down the leading group quite as mercilessly as the Alto Cumbres Verdes did on Thursday."

Jerome Cousin was first to the top of the climb with KOM leader Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA in second. Cataldo was third.

52km remaining from 185km

We're almost into the final 50km of the stage and the bunch, still controlled by Movistar, have taken a minute out of the break on that climb.

Just over an hour of racing left, the 31 leaders heading towards the finish with still over seven minutes on the bunch. Cataldo, if a winner comes from the break, is a great shout for the stage. He's won a stage in the Vuelta before, in his last year at Omega before joining Team Sky.

The main field have rain as we see Team Sky move closer to the front of the peloton. Up ahead it's Vansummeren who is leading the break.

The break are currently on a downhill section with a seven minute gap with 40km to go.

Bingen Fernandez and Wegelius, both rode this stage finish in 2005. They'll offer Garmin a world of experience on the finale and it's perhaps no surprise that the team have a number of riders in the break.

It's Tom Boonen who has gone on the attack from the break. He's being marked by a rider each from Trek and Lampre as he attempts to soften up the rest of the break.

A few more riders are trying to bridge over to the three leaders but Garmin are bringing the move back together.

 Boonen looks back, sees that the move hasn't work and then sits up. Back to the bunch and it's still Movistar who are in control as they lead the peloton. Have they saved anything for that final climb though? Team Sky and Tinkoff may well look to put them under pressure.

And it's Vansummeren -  out of contract at the end of the year - who pulls on the front of the break for his teammate Hesjedal.

A winner should come from this break, the gap is still at seven minutes with 31km to go.

Vansummeren has the lead group lined out with the Canadian on his wheel. They've lost around 20 seconds to Movistar in 3km though.

The likes of Cataldo, Cunego and Arredondo will appreciate this work from Garmin with the final climb around 20km away. Back with the bunch and Tinkoff are moving Contador closer to the front.

And there's an attack from the break with Sam Bewley going clear. That's a brave move on this flat section and with Vansummeren setting the pace.

The Orica rider at least has opened a gap as he starts the penultimate climb on his own.

24km remaining from 185km

Into the final 25km of racing and Sky have pulled alongside Movistar near the front of the bunch. Anacona is still the leader on the road and he could still pull on the leader's jersey at the end of the stage. Up ahead and Bewley is being caught by the break.

In fact he's been joined by a rider from BMC and one from Lotto (Hansen) but more and more riders are trying to bridge up the trio.

Will Cunego work for Anacona as Lampre flirt with the race lead? They're up against it now as Sky hit the front of the bunch and take ten second off the break's lead.

The conditions are getting worse with more rain as the break continues to climb. It looks like they're all back together but hostilities will resume any second now.

Aru is in trouble and is off the back of the peloton, chasing with his teammates. Up ahead Anacona has taken off as Sky continue to set the pace.

Anacona has been caught but the break are starting to crack. Anacona pushes again and this time a couple of riders can match him.

Into the final 20km of the stage and the race lead and the stage win are all up for grabs.

Anacona is clear with Jungles and Moreno.

The Movistar rider is just marking the move of course, he's not working at all.

Back in the bunch and Valverde is glued to Quintana's rear wheel as Sky continue to do the work on the front. The leaders have six minutes.

Moreno continues to keep Jungels and Anacona in check with 19km to go.

The gap is down to just under six minutes but Anacona started the day 2:50 down on Valverde on GC.

Jungels is trying to get Moreno to share with the pace setting.

This leading trio have around 20 seconds on the Hesjedal group.

The three leaders have 40 seconds now over the chase. And now Moreno is helping them. Movistar allowed the gap to open but they're now thinking of the stage as Sky continue to lead the chase.

The trio are close to the top of the penultimate climb as the Lampre team car pulls alongside Anacona.

Back in the second group and Hesjedal lifts the pace but he's got a lot of work to do if he's to pull himself back into the frame for the stage win.

The three leaders crest the climb and now have 5km of descent before the final ascent to the finish.

Already into the final 10km and the rain is really heavy as the leaders: Jungels, Moreno and Anacona close in on the final climb.

Tony Martin is leading the peloton on the descent as Omega look to protect Uran.

That pace from Martin will really hurt a few riders in the bunch before they hit the climb. Up ahead and the three leaders are about to hit the final ascent.

Uran is fighting to stay on Martin's wheel but a few gaps are starting to appear.

And Tony Martin has opened up a gap with just Uran on his wheel. It's not huge but it's going to force Sky and Movistar to chase once the road levels out.

They latch up with Boonen who makes one last big effort to help Omega's GC rider.

Moreno now leads the trio up the final climb and Jungels has cracked. So it's just Moreno and Anacona. The Trek rider needs to push on because there are some flat sections coming up.

In the bunch it's Kennaugh who sets the pace, the gap at 4:10 so Valverde could well keep his overall lead.

Anacona realises this and starts to push on alone, but Moreno is trying to come back to the Lampre rider.

Froome now third in wheel with Sky still on the front. Quintana, Uran, Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez are all here.

Contador looks isolated though, he's only got one teammate in that group.

Anacona has gone clear. He has 3'45 over the bunch with 5.7km to go. He will not take the race lead at this rate.

The Lampre rider is out of the saddle and giving it everything he can. No distractions or help, he's all on his own. Kennaugh is taking a few seconds out of him though, the gap at 3:41.

Anacona has one really tough section to come as Cataldo is swallowed up by the bunch.

And Cataldo goes straight to work and starts setting the pace, allowing Kennaugh to sit back in second wheel.

Contador doesnt have a single teammate with him.

Anacona looks good for the stage, he has 3:47 with 4.2km to go.

It looks like Team Sky are winding up for an attack as Froome takes a gel, Contador two wheels back from him. Kelderman and Martin are in the GC group which is down to around 20 riders.

Contador now moves up to Froome's wheel, Dan Martin just behind him.

Cataldo is still setting the pace for Team Sky. 3km to go.

Anacona is still 3:43 ahead and he's riding towards the stage win and the race lead at this moment. No attacks from the GC group and that's helping him a great deal.

Now Sky start to put the hammer down.

And the GC riders start to line out as Anacona reaches the toughest part of the climb.

Anacona gets on the radio before pushing on once more, his lead still at 3:40.

Contador's rivals have to attack him. And Dan Martin has attacked.

It's Katusha who lead the chase of the Garmin rider. And he's caught.

Rodriguez men are on the front and the pace has jumped up.

And just like that Anacona has lost 20 seconds.

The GC group is down to ten riders.

Moreno leads Rodriguez, Contador, Froome, Valverde and Quintana are all there.

And Contador has attacked.

1km to go and Contador has attacked. And he's gone clear.

Contador has opened up a gap as Anacona heads to the stage but not the race lead it seems.

Contador has ten seconds and Quintana tries to respond but Valverde can't.

Contador is still pushing on even though he's looking back

Anacona takes the win. A great ride from the Lampre rider.

Contador is cutting through the early break but Rodriguez is coming up to him.

Is Contador struggling? Quintana and Rodriguez are closing in on him but there's no Froome or Valverde.

Contador holds a gap over Quintana and Rodriguez but they catch him on the line.

And Valverde comes over the line a few seconds leader with a group containing Martin and Froome.

Kelderman has come to the line now, he's lost time to his GC rivals. Has Valverde kept his lead or has Quintana taken the red jersey? We need to wait for the time checks.

No race lead for Anacona but still a very impressive ride from the Lampre rider. Contador blew the race apart on the final climb but Quintana and Rodriguez caught him as the road eased before the line. Froome and Valverde lost time, however.

Quintana takes the race lead three seconds ahead of Contador. Froome is down in 5th at 28 seconds.

1 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 4:34:14
2 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:45
3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:50
4 Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:04
5 Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 0:01:12
6 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:21
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 0:01:33
8 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 0:01:45
9 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing 0:01:49
10 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:08

And here's the new GC after the stage:

 

General classification after stage 9
1 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 35:58:05
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:03
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:08
4 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 0:00:09
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:28
6 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:30
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:06
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:19
9 Rigoberto Urán (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:26
10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano

The kick to the line with 1km to go from Contador split the lead group and we've seen Valverde and Froome left behind. Quintana and Rodriguez did well to bring the Tinkoff rider back and it's Quintana who now leads the race with Contador in second.

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our report, results and photos (they're coming) right here.

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