Rodriguez wins 15th Vuelta stage, cuts Aru lead to 1 second
Sep. 06, 2015
SOTRES, Spain (AP) — Joaquin Rodriguez powered up the final ascent of the mountainous 15th stage of the Spanish Vuelta to reduce Fabio Aru's overall lead to just one second on Sunday.
Rodriguez attacked over the last two kilometers (1.2 miles), riding high off his seat and breaking into a smile as Nairo Quintana faded and Aru also dropped behind, leaving the Spaniard alone to crest the grueling peak.
He finished the 175.8-kilometer (109.2-mile) ride, culminating at the Sotres category-one summit, in 4 hours, 33 minutes, 31 seconds.
Aru was fifth across the line, 15 seconds behind. Adding the 10-second bonus for Rodriguez's stage win, the Italian just saved the leader's red jersey for Monday's third consecutive stage with a summit finish in the northern mountains.
It was the 36-year-old Rodriguez's first stage win of this Vuelta and his ninth career stage win at the three-week Grand Tour.
"I had been looking for this during the entire Vuelta," said the Katusha leader, who also won two stages at this summer's Tour de France.
"We are in a perfect position only one second behind Aru. The strongest rider will win this. My feelings are good."
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin fell from third overall to fourth, now 1 minute, 25 seconds back. Rafal Majka of Poland finished the stage second to move into third place in the general classification, one second in front of Dumoulin.
Dumoulin has so far stayed in contention in the mountains, with one more tough stage to go before a rest day. Dumoulin, the time-trial bronze medalist at the 2014 world championships, could make a grab for the red jersey in the 17th stage individual time trial.
Rodriguez previously said Dumoulin had become the favorite after Chris Froome withdrew due to injury, and he stuck by that prediction on Sunday.
"I think he is doing it on purpose, marking his own pace," Rodriguez said about Dumoulin.
Aru agreed, saying "Dumoulin is dangerous."
Monday's stage stays in the northern mountains, taking riders through 185 kilometers (115 miles) from Luarca to a summit finish at Ermita de Alba.
The 21-stage race ends in Madrid on Sept. 13.
This story has been corrected to show the stage was 109.2 miles, not 110.9.