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''