OVIEDO, Spain, Sept 13, 2013 (AFP) – American Chris Horner sneaked into the
overall lead of the Tour of Spain with just two stages remaining as Spaniard
Joaquim Rodriguez produced a stunning final burst to win the 19th stage on
Katusha rider Rodriguez attacked with just over a kilometre of the 181km
ride from San Vicente de la Barquera to Oviedo remaining to finish 11 seconds
ahead of Italy’s Diego Ulissi and teammate Dani Moreno.
Forty-one-year-old Horner came in fifth, six seconds ahead of overnight
leader Vincenzo Nibali, to move just three seconds ahead of the Giro d’Italia
winner in the general classification.
“It’s always nice to have the red jersey again. I didn’t expect it today, I
thought maybe tomorrow,” Horner told Spanish television station TVE afterwards.
“It’s a big surprise. The climb was hard but not that hard. It was more a
game of tactics. I had Nibali on my wheel when Rodriguez attacked so I let him
go to force Nibali to chase.”
Despite his win, Rodriguez didn’t move up any places in the general
classification. However, he reduced the gap on those in front of him and is
now just 1min 57secs behind Horner and 51secs off compatriot Alejandro
Valverde in third.
“If we didn’t win today, tomorrow would be very difficult because Chris has
shown that he is very strong. Today was our last chance,” said a relieved
The penultimate stage of the race on Saturday is arguably the most daunting
yet as the finish line is at the top of the Alto de l’Angliru, a 12.2km climb
with an average gradient of over 10 percent.
And with such a demanding climb to come, Rodriguez believes he is now in
with a chance of not only securing a place on the podium, but fighting for the
“It is a beautiful finish (in Oviedo), for any climber to leave their mark
on the top is very special and today has been an incredible confidence boost.
“I hope to be at my best and to also have the chance to win tomorrow.”
However, Horner is confident he will still be wearing red when the race
descends on Madrid for its largely processional finale on Sunday.
“At the moment the legs are fantastic. I like the very steep climbs so, if
the legs are the same tomorrow, I think I should have the jersey in Madrid.”
As in previous days the overall race leaders stayed together in the peloton
and only really looked to attack one another on the final climb up the Alto de
Naranco to the finish.
However, once the peloton had caught an early breakaway attempt by
Portuguese rider Jose Joao Mendes up the category two climb, there was no
doubt who the winner would be once Rodriguez exploded up the final kilometre
to open up a huge gap on his competitors that was never threatened.
And Nibali’s bid to add a second Tour of Spain title to the one he won back
in 2010 continued to wilt as, just like in Thursday’s finish in Pena Cabarga,
Horner and Valverde also had stronger legs in the final few metres to move
away from the Italian.
Leading results from the 19th stage of
the Tour of Spain, a 181km ride from San Vicente de la Barquera to Oviedo on
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 4h16min 13sec
2. Diego Ulissi (ITA/LAM) at 0:11.
3. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 0:11.
4. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 0:11.
5. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) 0:14.
6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:14.
7. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 0:16.
8. Leopold König (CZE/APP) 0:20.
9. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 0:20.
10. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SAX) 0:23.
11. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 0:25.
12. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 0:33.
13. Dominik Nerz (GER/BMC) 0:41.
14. Mikel Nieve (ESP/EUS) 0:41.
15. José Herrada (ESP/MOV) 0:41.
16. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 0:45.
17. Egoi Martinez (ESP/EUS) 0:51.
18. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) 0:51.
19. André Cardoso (POR/CJR) 0:51.
20. José Mendes (POR/APP) 1:02.
1. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) 77h56min 05sec
2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) at 0:03.
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 1:06.
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 1:57.
5. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SAX) 3:49.
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 6:00.
7. Leopold König (CZE/APP) 6:38.
8. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 7:02.
9. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 7:45.
10. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 11:05.
11. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 11:18.
12. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 12:13.
13. José Herrada (ESP/MOV) 12:53.
14. David Arroyo (ESP/CJR) 15:55.
15. Dominik Nerz (GER/BMC) 18:52.
16. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) 20:11.
17. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) 21:33.
18. André Cardoso (POR/CJR) 24:29.
19. Eros Capecchi (ITA/MOV) 25:06.
20. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 26:00.