De la Cruz takes stage 9, shock Vuelta lead
SPANISH rider David de la Cruz won stage nine and claimed the overall lead of the Vuelta a Espana on August 28 with a decisive attack 500 metres from the line. De la Cruz beat out Belgian Dries Devenyns and Italy’s Moreno Moser in a time of 3hrs 47min 56sec on the 164.5-kilometre (102-mile) stage from Cistierna to Oviedo.
The general classification favourites including overnight leader Nairo Quintana and Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished 2min 56sec back.
That gap allowed De la Cruz to jump to the top of the standings, 22 seconds clear of Quintana with his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde 19 seconds further back.
Froome slipped to fourth, eight seconds further adrift, in his quest to become the first man in 38 years to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in the same year.
Despite facing another punishing category-two climb to the finish over the Alto de Naranco, a 12-man breakaway was never reeled in by the peloton after building up a fiveminute lead.
That sparked a series of attacks from the strong breakaway group, but it eventually came down to a clash between De la Cruz and Devenyns for the stage win.
But when De la Cruz kicked for the line in the final kilometre, Devenyns couldn’t stick with him.
“I wasn’t thinking about the lead at the end. I was so close to winning the stage, that was my main objective,” said De la Cruz.
“It was very hard to ride with Devenyns because he was hard to beat, but I am the leader as well, I can’t believe it.”
The 27-year-old was in tears and kissed the red jersey as he stood atop the podium.
And with another gruelling summit finish up the special category Mirador de la Reina yesterday before the first rest day of the race today, De la Cruz was intent on savouring his moment in red.
Three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador also finished among the general classification group to remain 2min 01sec off the lead in seventh overall.
Contador suffered a difficult first week as his Tinkoff-Saxo team lost 52 seconds on the opening team timetrial stage and he suffered a huge crash on stage seven.
However, he made up some time on Froome and Valverde on Saturday and is hoping with more time to heal he can launch a bid for a recordequalling fourth Vuelta win.
“I passed the day without problems, let’s see if tomorrow I keep improving. First, I want to maintain this level and then, obviously, if there’s a chance I will attack,” said Contador.
“Yesterday was a good day for me, because the most important thing was to survive and, finally, I even took time off some favourites.
“Today was a quieter day, we already knew Alto del Naranco is a climb where it is difficult to make gaps. The legs have been good, now the important thing is to rest and to keep working with the physiotherapists in order to be a bit better tomorrow.” –
Spanish cyclist David de la Cruz of Team Etixx-Quick Step celebrates as he crosses the finish line during the ninth stage of the 71st Tour of Spain on August 28.