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Vuelta a España 2015: Stage 15


Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage from stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Welcome back for the second mountain stage in a row from the Vuelta a Epsana. The riders are just in the neutralized zone but the race should be officially up and running in the next few minutes. A reminder of where we stand in GC, coming into today's stage. 

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 57:20:10
2 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:26
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:49
4 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:29
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:33
6 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:02:10
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:11
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:02:13
9 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:00
10 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:39


On stage 14 De Marchi came away with the win for BMC Racing while Aru and Quintana duked it out for GC bragging rights. In the end the Movistar man was able to claw back a handful of seconds on his Italian rival. He's still 3'00 down on Aru but the race is far from over. Rodriguez, meanwhile, is just 26 seconds of the red jersey, having put a second into Aru when the Italian cracked near the summit of yesterday's final climb. Catch up on all of yesterday's action, right here.


Quintana, who has been down with illness in this race, looks to be finding some form at just the right time. He spoke to the media after yesterday's stage and this is what the Tour de France runner-up had to say. 


“I’ve had some very bad days, but at least the worst is over,” Quintana, the first of the favourites to reach the finish line, in sixth place, said afterwards.

“I hope at least to be able to go for the podium, there are still a lot of stages left out there where I can pull back time and which I can use.

“If I have the same kind of feelings as today, then I could recover some time.”


The full story is just here.


Aru's main concern yesterday, and it's an understandable one, was to put as much time in to Dumoulin as possible. He wasn't too concerned when Quintana tracked his attacks. 

Here's what he had to say about the Giant Alpecin rider. 

"He’s a great time triallist but a time trial in the third week,” when riders are at the limit of their strength and differences between specialists and non-specialists therefore all the smaller, “is never the same as in the first or second."

As ever the full story is just a click away. Would you like to know more?


The riders are now through the neutralized zone and onto the official race course.


Head in any direction in Asturias and you’ll find a little known but fearsome ascent that’s waiting to have its reputation sealed by the Vuelta’s passing.

On this occasion, it’s the Jitu de Escarandi, which rises from the town of Cabrales up to and beyond Sotres. Although not especially high, it’s tough enough to rattle anyone’s composure this far into a grand tour and beautiful enough to make a lasting impression on spectators.

Its gradient of eight per cent over 13km doesn’t appear obscenely difficult but it almost flattens out for a kilometre between some steep ramps on the first half and some super steep ones in the second, particularly above Sotres. It could produce quite a shake-up.


Alas, we don't have a Kelme or even a Mapei or Coast jersey to highlight this next quote but over to you Fernando..


Fernando Escartín (two-time Vuelta runner-up):

"The second consecutive stage in the mountains finishes on another climb new to the race. Sotres Cabrales is not a very long test but the final two kilometres are extremely demanding and should split the GC favourites, although the gaps may not be all that significant."


We've covered 5km of the stage and so far there's no real action to speak of. A lot of tired legs out there but the break has survived for the last two days in a row and there are a number of teams who haven't taken anything from this race so far. We're into the last week so every opportunity has to be taken with both hands.


Here's the profile for today's stage:


Just a few seconds later and we have our first real move of the day. Seven riders with a ten second lead over the peloton. Will Astana let this one go? The radio starts to crackle through with some of the names on the move...


That injection of pace has already strung out the main field and riders are desperate to hang on. It's too much for Boy Van Poppel (Trek Factory) who is right near the back of the bunch. If you're on your last legs this sort of racing isn't what you want. It's brutal out there.


Well Etixx have missed this move and they're not happy about it, as they set tempo on the front of the peloton. On the attack we have:  Blel Kadri (AG2R - La Mondiale), Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal), Amael Moinard (BMC), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre - Merida), Natnael Berhane (MTN - Qhubeka) and Syvlain Chavanel (IAM Cycling).


153km remaining from 175km

Etixx get their wish and they've catapulted Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quick Step), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) and Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) up the road. That's a very strong group of 11 although the gap still stands at just 11 seconds with 22km of the stage already completed. 


In the end it's Movistar who pull the break back so after 26km of racing we're all back together. 


While the race action has a brief lull lets catch up with some of the other major news from around the world of cycling. There's a lot to catch up on. We'll start over in Canada where Slagter has won his second stage in a row at the Tour of Alberta. Trek's Mollema, still leads. Would you like to know more?


Over in the UK and Bradley Wiggins is taking part in the Tour of Britain, a race he won back in 2013. No longer part of Team Sky, he's got his own Team WIGGINS. Here's what he has to say about the race and his ambitions for Rio 2016.


Another British rider with Olympic ambitions is Mark Cavendish. He's also at the Tour of Britain as he looks to win stages. 


“We tried to control the race last year and we exploded by the end. I don’t think we’ll try to do that again. There might be some teams who want to do it but they are difficult and long stages with six-man teams and the hills the way they are. I think that a break will go to the end on most days. Etixx-QuickStep has a good group of guys here and most of us are preparing for the World Championships so we’ll take our chances.”


Read the full story here.


Back to the Vuelta and Chaves continues to impress and he's up to fourth on GC now, as well as holding the points jersey. 


"I’m pleased to be up there with the best of them, although there are two really tough mountain stages to come and we have to take things step by step.”


“My goal is to try and defend my overall placing and if I can, improve it.”


The full story is here.


128km remaining from 175km

47km completed and we finally have our break:


Blel Kadri (AG2R - La Mondiale), Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA), Dominique Rollin (Cofidis), Brayan Ramirez (Colombia), Nikolas Maes (Etixx - Quick Step), Natnael Berhane (MTN - Qhubeka), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Maarten Tjallingii (Lotto NL - Jumbo), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory). 


They have 2'25 over the Movistar led peloton.


That's another strong break with Kadri, Rolland and Zubeldia standing out as the best climbers. 


The nine leader have now pushed their advantage out to 3'00 minutes with exactly 50km of the stage covered. Just the small matter of 125km to go.


Haimar Zubeldia - who has been competing at the top end of Grand Tours since the early 2000s is the best placed rider on GC but he's still a whopping 33 minutes down on race leader Fabio Aru. Right now though, it's Movistar who are setting the pace. It can only mean one thing - surely - Quintana is going to light it up once more in the mountains. 


No passengers in this move and they're continuing to collaborate but Movistar have them at 3'10 which suggests that they're intent on both the stage win and the overall. 


Today is a real test for Aru. At last year's Giro Quintana put four minutes into him and it could have been more. The gap between them is currently three minutes and so much depends on how well recovered the Movistar rider is. Lets not forget that Valverde is still in the mix too. Here's where we stand on GC:


1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 57:20:10
2 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:26
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:49
4 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:29
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:33
6 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:02:10
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:11
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:02:13
9 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:00
10 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:39


The break take on some tough, undulating terrain with a few uncategorized climbs coming up. They're having to work hard for their lead though with Movistar clipping them back to 2'54.


Not a cloud in the sky at the moment and there's some wind but it's not a major concern for the riders. The race actually goes near to the Lagos de Covadonga today, home to some of the last wolves in Europe.


107km remaining from 175km

Blel Kadri (AG2R - La Mondiale) who had a teammate in the break yesterday, in Cherel, takes a turn on the front of the break. 107km remaining in the race with the gap between the break and the peloton at a stable enough 2'48.


#LV2015: MOV controla la fuga: 2'48", 107 km a meta. @franventoso recoge comida y bebida para sus compañeros.

@Movistar_Team Sun, 6th Sep 2015 12:29:35

We're still some way off the first major climb of the day, the second category Alto del Torno. Movistar, though, continue to plough on at the front of the peloton. Astana will be happy enough with this situation but they'll certainly need to watch both Valverde, and especially Quintana on the final climb to the finish.


96km remaining from 175km

Under 100km to go and the race has settled into a steadier pace with Blel Kadri (AG2R - La Mondiale), Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA), Dominique Rollin (Cofidis), Brayan Ramirez (Colombia), Nikolas Maes (Etixx - Quick Step), Natnael Berhane (MTN - Qhubeka), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Maarten Tjallingii (Lotto NL - Jumbo), and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory) in the break and Movistar controlling the peloton. 


No let up from Movistar as the break hit an uncategorized climb. The pace from the peloton brings them back to 1'52.


Movistar realise the danger in catching the break and briefly ease up in the pace duties. Quintana takes on a drink and the gap moves back out to 2'25.


The break are having to fight for every second out there and that's going to have an effect if they're able to stay clear by the foot of the final climb. 


From here the road gradually climbs all the way to the top of the first major climb of the day. The break have 2'25 with 85km remaining.


That easing from Movistar has allowed the break to move out to 3 minutes once more. They've not had more than that all day. 


This pace will help Dumoulin settle any nerves ahead of the stage. He's near the front and will be looking to protect his podium spot for another day in this year's race. His main rival is still Aru, and not Quintana.


























































































 The race heads through the feedzone, which provides the break with a great opportunity to extend their advantage over the peloton. They need every second that they can find at this point.

They find another 20 seconds or so as the peloton settle back and take on some food. Can the break bring their gap out towards five or six minutes?


The break are doing everything that's asked of them at least and have moved the gap out to 3'54. After the feedzone Movistar settle back at the front of the peloton and tap out their own tempo.


68km remaining from 175km

The gap is now an even four minutes. 


The nine leaders are now on the lower slopes of the alto del Torno. 


Chaves, Dumoulin, the Movistar team, and Aru and Majka, they're all near the front of the peloton as the bunch tackle the first major obstacle of the day. This should soften a few riders up before the final climb of the day. 


Movistar's intent is clear today. They want to control the race and then set up their climbers for the final ascent. It's a real test for Astana and of course Dumoulin, with the Dutch rider hoping to protect his podium spot.


The break are around 5km from the summit and still all together as they share the workload. The peloton are back at 3'30 with no real trouble for the majority of the non-climbers. 


A reminder of the talent that we have up the road:


Blel Kadri (AG2R - La Mondiale), Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA), Dominique Rollin (Cofidis), Brayan Ramirez (Colombia), Nikolas Maes (Etixx - Quick Step), Natnael Berhane (MTN - Qhubeka), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Maarten Tjallingii (Lotto NL - Jumbo), and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory).


Over the top of the climb for the break and now it's a long, at points technical descent, for the nine men.

The peloton crest the top of the climb while its been confirmed that Dominique Rollin was top of the climb, with Rolland in second place.


The leaders are still on the long descent, with a sector in the valley to come before the long, and difficult final climb. The stage and the red jersey are all up for grabs today. Rodrigues is second on GC but has gone under the radar so far in the race. Has he been saving himself for one huge attack today?


45km remaining from 175km

We're into the final 45 of the stage and the nine man break have moved back out to four minutes. Rollin takes a long turn on the front over a flat section but the peloton are starting to respond. Movistar, followed by Astana, Katusha and Giant Alpecin.


The gap has continued to grow actually and it's up to 4'44. If they can bring it to six minutes before the final climb they'll have a slim chance of competing for the stage win.


Well the move has five minutes now and it's continuing to grow. With 42km to go the break are at least making a race of this. 


Quitana sits near the back of the Movistar train with just one teammate behind him. Movistar have lined the peloton out as the break hit another short ridge before the main climb starts. 


Like yesterday we have a tailwind on the final climb, perfect for attacks from the peloton. That will suit the break too, who have 4'43 with 37km to go.


The gap is down to 4 minutes as Movistar up the pace. This uncategorised climb goes on for another 6km and it's stretching the leading group to breaking point. 


33km remaining from 175km

Movistar continue to put the hurt on their rivals. They've been on the front all day and they're going to ask serious questions of Aru on the final ascent with Quintana primed to attack.


You can see the resignation on Zubeldia's face as he comes through and takes a turn with the gap down to 3'49. Rolland comes through but it's a big ask for the break to stay away today. 


A few riders are starting to lose contact at the back of the bunch already with Movistar rapidly making their way up this climb.


30km remaining from 175km

30km left in the stage and the gap is coming down steadily  - it's at 3'19 now. Kadri takes a pull on the front of the break but the Frenchman has to attack from this group if he wants to stand a chance of winning the stage. 

Geraint Thomas is back with the team car and picking up bottles for his teammates. Nieve will be looking to consolidate his position in the top ten today. The final climb does suit the former Euskaltel rider.


Over in the Tour of Britain, Viviani has beaten Mark Cavendish to win the opening stage. For more information on that win, click here.


22km remaining from 175km

Back to the race here and we're over that climb and heading towards the summit finish. The gap is at 2'22 with 22km to go.


The official climb doesn't start until around the 12km to go point but from 18km onwards it's all uphill. The leaders have 2'13 with 19km to go.


Movistar are rocketing along at the moment at over 50kph. How many men will Quintana have with him for the finishing climb?


And we're climbing. It's all uphill from here to finish. There are sections of around 9-11 percent on the climb, so plenty of places to attack. The final few sections are at 13 per cent too. 

Here's where we stand on GC:

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 57:20:10
2 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:26
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:49
4 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:29
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:33
6 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:02:10
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:11
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:02:13
9 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:00
10 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:39


15km remaining from 175km

15km to go and the gap is at 1'33.


Rollin is leading the break on the climb. He's far from being a pure climber but he's riding well today for Cofidis. 


Maes is the first rider to be dispatched from the back of the break. The gap is just 1'04 with 11.8km to go.


And Kadri has attacked. He's matched though by several riders, while further down the climb Movistar grind their way closer to the break. 

Amador is on the front but Movistar are running out of men. They're down to five including Quintana and Valverde. Will the Colombian go for a long one?


Ramirez now leads the from the break but the gaps are so small. The peloton are still at 1'05 with 10.8km to go.


Zubeldia is now leading from the break and he has a few seconds on his former companions. The peloton are closing - they're at 58 seconds. 


And 10km to  and Quintana has attacked. His team pulled off, Astana moved up and straight away Quintana goes. Sanchez marks him and Astana set the pace at the front of the peloton.


It's basically Quintana versus the entire Astana team and he's been caught but the peloton is thinning out.


Dumoulin is struggling though at the back of the lead group. That's not a good sign at all for the Giant Alpecin rider.


Dumoulin is just hanging on as Zubeldia holds a 50 second lead over the read jersey group with 9.3km to go. 


Most of the riders have been caught by the main field, which is being led by Astana.


Aru is just marking Quintana at the moment as Dumoulin holds his own at the back of the GC group. Zubeldia still has 58 seconds with 8.4km to go. Can the veteran hold on and take his first ever Vuelta stage win?


This is an impressive ride from Zubeldia who has 1'03 with 7.5km to go. Astana on the front of the red jersey group with Dumoulin still hanging on towards the back.


And now Movistar up the pace for Quintana once more, a few of his teammates having come back the red jersey group. 


Inside the final 5km of stage and the gap is down to 45 seconds. Arroyo has been dropped by the red jersey group as we see Dumoulin struggle at the back of the GC group. This is Visconti on the front for Quintana. 


Ruben Plaza is the next rider to be distanced, while Ian Boswell hangs on with Dumoulin. 


Zubeldia has just 35 seconds now as Visconti and the GC men hunt him down.


Aru is pushing quite a big gear. Is he in a spot of trouble?


The road is going to ramp up once more, creating the perfect launchpad for a flurry of attacks.


Just over 3km to go and still no attacks s Visconti continues his work on the front of the group. 


Zubeldia is at 24 seconds now and it's not looking good for the Trek Factory Racing rider as Visconti cracks and Astana take over. Daniel Moreno has been dropped.


Just 15km to go and Dumoulin is in huge trouble now as Astana inject a huge surge in pace. 


The rest of the GC men are there and Dumoulin has been dropped. 2.5km to go.


Astana are so strong on this terrain. Can even Quintana attack?


Zubeldia is in sight and Nieve has an attack. 2km to go. 


The pace slows and Dumoulin is starting to come back . Nieve is caught straight away as the favourites spread out over the road.


Aru looks in trouble but no attacks so far. 


Quintana is at the front and he's just winding things up with Valverde 1.7km to go, Zubeldia has been caught and dropped. 


It's now Majka setting the pace as they all seen intent on putting time into Dumoulin who is at 23 seconds with 1.5km to go.


Just over 1km to and Tinkoff Saxo are still on the front. The climbers need to make their moves.


Dumoulin isn't losing anymore time, with the gap at 23 seconds. 


And now Rodriguez takes it up and he strings the group out. Quintana is with him and so are the other GC men. 


And Aru has attacked, following Rodriguez and Quintana has cracked.


43 seconds to Dumoulin now as Rodriguez leads with Aru and Majka just behind him. 


Dumoulin is back at 1'17 and Rodriguez is looking strong. 


Aru is giving it everything to close the gap but it's holding. Quintana is losing so much time as Rodriguez opens up the gap by a few more seconds. He has around 5 seconds on Aru and he'll take the ten seconds bonus at the finish if he wins. 


The rest of the group are coming back to Aru, including Chaves and Quintana but Rodriguez is going to take the stage and I think the race lead. He was 26 seconds down on Aru at the start. 


Majka takes second and then Aru comes over the line a few seconds. He'll keep his lead by around 1-2 seconds. Dumoulin limits his losses well and comes over the line at 50 seconds (plus the 10 second time bonus).


A masterclass from Rodriguez who allowed Movistar and and Astana to slug it out between them before an attack in the closing stages. Aru, it's confirmed, holds the lead by just one second from the Katusha rider. 


Majka was second on the stage and has just told reporters that 'he's not afraid of anyone.' He's now into third on GC after that performance. 


1 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 04:33:31
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:00:12
3 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Team Katusha 00:00:14
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:15
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:15
6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:18
7 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 00:00:20
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 00:00:24
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:29
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 00:00:41


That new GC is so close now with Aru clear by just a single second. A strong ride from Majka who can't be ruled out from winning this race either. And if Dumoulin can ride like that again tomorrow he's still in with a chance.


1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 61:53:56
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 00:00:01
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:01:24
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin 00:01:25
5 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 00:01:34
6 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Team Katusha 00:02:08
7 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 00:02:19
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:02:25
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:03:00
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka 00:05:07


Thanks for joining us today. You can find our report, results and photos from today's thrilling Vuelta a Espana stage, right here.


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