Vuelta stage 14: Ratto Survives the Deluge; Several Contenders Do Not

Happy boy - Fotoreporter Sirotti

Cannondale's Daniele Ratto completed a long solo breakaway in miserable conditions for his first victory as a Pro. Despite losing half of his eight-minute lead on the final climb to the Pyrenean summit of Collada de la Gallina, Ratto comfortably held off the two-man chase of Vincenzo Nibali, the overall leader, and Chris Horner, the surprising challenger, for the stage.

Nibali, meanwhile, strengthened his hold on the Red Jersey to the near exclusion of almost any challengers. Only Horner limited his losses, leading Nibali up the final few km before being passed at the line (and surrendering the bonus seconds), while several other key challengers succumbed to the miserable, cold, wet weather. Ivan Basso dropped out of the Vuelta with hypothermia, one of several retirements on the day. Alejandro Valverde limited his losses, going off the back on the descent before the final climb, but staying within a minute of Nibali. Joaquim Rodriguez stayed close but couldn't match Nibali and Horner on the final climb. Nic Roche lost three minutes in the misery. Just a day a lot of guys would like to forget.

Horner remains a legitimate challenger for the overall win, at 50 seconds, though with Nibali's excellent form it's hard to imagine Horner merely overtaking the Sicilian. More likely, Horner will be fighting for second, against a series of challengers who seem to find themselves in one kind of trouble or another as this Vuelta goes on. Valverde seems like he has the legs to hold his place, or take advantage if Horner or Nibali falter. Rodriguez less so, but he hasn't blown up entirely yet. Still, today was billed as his kind of course, and Purito wasn't a serious protagonist at the end. Stage results:

1. ITARATTO, Daniele 77 CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING 4h 24' 00''
2. ITANIBALI, Vincenzo 31 ASTANA PRO TEAM 4h 27' 53'' + 3' 53''
3. USAHORNER, Christopher 184 RADIOSHACK LEOPARD 4h 27' 55'' + 3' 55''
4. ESPRODRIGUEZ, Joaquin 121 KATUSHA TEAM 4h 28' 11'' + 4' 11''
5. ESPSÁNCHEZ, Samuel 91 EUSKALTEL EUSKADI 4h 28' 19'' + 4' 19''
6. ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro 1 MOVISTAR TEAM 4h 28' 43'' + 4' 43''
7. FRAPINOT, Thibaut 101 FDJ.FR 4h 28' 46'' + 4' 46''
8. ITAPOZZOVIVO, Domenico 11 AG2R LA MONDIALE 4h 28' 46''

+ 4' 46''

GC now:

POS. NAME TEAM TIME
1. ITANIBALI, Vincenzo 31 ASTANA PRO TEAM 53h 56' 49''
2. USAHORNER, Christopher 184 RADIOSHACK LEOPARD 53h 57' 39'' + 50''
3. ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro 1 MOVISTAR TEAM 53h 58' 31'' + 1' 42''
4. ESPRODRIGUEZ, Joaquin 121 KATUSHA TEAM 53h 59' 46'' + 2' 57''
5. ITAPOZZOVIVO, Domenico 11 AG2R LA MONDIALE 54h 00' 32'' + 3' 43''
6. FRAPINOT, Thibaut 101 FDJ.FR 54h 01' 23'' + 4' 34''
7. ESPSÁNCHEZ, Samuel 91 EUSKALTEL EUSKADI 54h 03' 59'' + 7' 10''






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