Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) has won the ninth stage of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana.
The Belgian national time trial champion, and last year’s UCI world number one, escaped on the final climb of the 196.3km stage from Andorra to Barcelona with race leader, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), who finished second, but extended his overall lead on his main rivals.
Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo was third, while Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished in a group with Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), 12 seconds down on the leading pair.
Gilbert was delighted with the victory, his first since joining the team at the beginning of this season.
“There’s been a lot of expectations for me this season and I was not going like I should go. But I never stopped fighting. The good thing is, I always had the confidence of the team and my family and my supporters,” he said.
Second place for Rodriguez was perhaps even more valuable. The Spaniard has proved equal to the challenge of his three main rivals on every stage and by escaping on the Alto do Montjuic produced a master stroke.
‘Purito’ said he had called on experience of the climb to time his effort.
“It was hard today because many riders wanted to fight for the stage, but I knew this route because I did it many times when I was young. A lot of people supported me during the stage: that gave me strong motivation. Now there is the rest day, where I’ll try to recover some important energy,” he said.
Rodriguez now leads second-placed Froome by 53 seconds and Contador by exactly a minute. Alejandro Valverede (Movistar), winner of two stages, is fourth, 1.07 behind the leader.
Contador again tried to take time on his rivals, but his effort was in vain. Both should regain time on the leader in Wednesday’s 39.4km time trial from Cambados to Pontevedra.
Team Sky’s directeur sportif, Nicolas Portal, paid tribute to Rodriguez effort, but said spirits in the Sky camp remained high.
Discuss in the forum
Vuelta a Espana – stage nine
1) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – BMC Racing – 4.45.28
2) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha
3) Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) – Astana +7”
4) Tomasz Marczynski (POL) – Vacansoleil-DCM +9”
5)Daniele Bennati (ITA) – Radioshack-Nissan-Trek
6) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar
7) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ-Big Mat
8) Gorka Verdugo (SP- A) Euskaltel-Euskadi +12”
9) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
10) Igor Anton (SPA) – Euskaltel-Euskadi
1) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha – 34.44.55
2) Christopher Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +53”
3) Alberto Contador (SPA) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank +1.00
4) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar +1.07
5) Robert Gesink (NED) – Rabobank +2.01
6) Daniel Moreno (SPA) – Katusha +2.08
7) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – AG2R-La Mondiale +2.34
8) Igor Anton (SPA) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +3.07
9) Laurens Ten Dam (NED) – Rabobank +3.18
10) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Rabobank +3.27