Contador cashes in as rivals falter
5:19pm Tuesday 2nd September 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Alberto Contador stormed into the leader's red jersery in the Vuelta a Espana after Nairo Quintana crashed and Chris Froome lost more time to his rivals in a dramatic stage 10 time trial on Tuesday.
World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the stage in a time of 47 minutes two seconds, but it was Tinkoff-Saxo's Contador who lit up the general classification battle with a time of 47mins 41secs, fourth on the day, easing him into the red jersey so spectacularly surrendered by Movistar rider Quintana.
The Colombian had just crested the top of the sole climb on the technical 36.7km route from Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Veruela to Borja when he went into the crash barriers on the side of the road and tumbled over the handlebars.
He was slow to get up before climbing on to his spare bike and resuming the race, having already lost two minutes to his rivals, and by the time he crossed the line he had given up a total of 3mins 28secs to Contador.
The news for Team Sky's Froome was only marginally better as he lost 53 seconds to Contador without the excuse of a crash.
Both men are recovering from injuries which ended their participation in the Tour de France early, but this stage suggested it is Contador who has found his form faster.
This technical time trial course saw the riders crest a significant climb early in the day, with the incline reaching 8 per cent near the summit before a long descent and the run to Borja.
Froome had already given up 28 seconds to Contador by the top of that climb, and it got no better for the Team Sky man.
That was a major disappointment given that Froome is seen as a strong time triallist, who would usually look to make up time in the discipline.
Instead it was others who used the day's stage to put themselves in contention.
While Contador was the big winner, Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Rigoberto Uran was the best placed of the GC contenders, taking third place on the stage - 15 seconds behind Martin and four behind Trek Factory's Fabian Cancellara - to move up to third overall, 59 seconds down on Contador. Qu intana's team-mate Alejandro Valverde sits second in the GC standings after a time of 48mins 3secs kept him in touch.
Froome is now down in fifth overall, 1min 18secs back, with Lampre-Merida's Winner Anacona six seconds better off in fourth place.
An honest Froome admitted he got his tactics wrong, going out too fast and paying for it on the climb.
He said on www.teamsky.com: "I definitely started out too fast. For the first 15 minutes I felt fantastic and I think I chased it a little much. By the time I hit the climb I started to really feel the effort of the fast start and I paid the price for the rest of the time trial.
"I think anyone who races and knows that feeling of starting out too fast, and how hard it is to come back from being in the red, will know what I'm talking about. It's a horrible feeling and I had to just try to hold on to it and finish the best I could.
"I'm just over a minute off GC still with a lot of racing to come. I'm going to keep fighting as best I can every day. Going back, my goal coming into this Vuelta was to get a Grand Tour into my legs and finish the season in good form. I think all things considered I'm still on track for that. I'm going to take it one day at a time."