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Vuelta Stage 9: Colombian Double Treat as Anacona Takes Stage, Quintana Red

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Bryn Lennon Getty

Lampre's Winner Anacona surprised the big names at the Vuelta a España to win the uphill ninth stage to Aramón Valdelinares, nearly taking the red leader's jersey in the process. Anacona escaped from the day's massive escape, taking advantage of peloton indifference and poor weather, plus his own determination to make a statement heading into the rest day. The 26-year-old Colombian, coming off a third place in the Tour of Utah, took his first victory at the elite level in the process.

The overall lead falls to the shoulders of another Colombian, Nairo Quintana of Movistar, who matched an acceleration by Tinkoff-Saxo's Alberto Contador in the final 2km, distancing overnight leader (and teammate) Alejandro Valverde by just enough seconds to take a 3" lead in the general classification over Contador, as well as 8" over Valverde and 9" over Anacona.

The stage was marked by poor weather, including thunderstorms at the finish and cooler temperatures everywhere, as well as a long breakaway by a group of 30 riders, led by Anacona, best-placed at +2.50 overnight. Anacona showed his intentions by launching numerous attacks on the break in the last hour, finally getting free with Bob Jungels and Javier Moreno inside 20km to go, on the false-flat climb to the real final action, the Alto de Sa Rafael. The sky opened up on the peloton with 14km to go, and Jungels eventually dropped away, as Sky (the team) put Peter Kennaugh on the front to manage the gap. By the start of the final climb the peloton was within four minutes of Anacona, who was now alone.

Anacona hung on gamely to the end, with Alexey Lutsenko and Damiano Cunego also among the dozen riders surviving from the breakaway to take second and third. Contador's acceleration shook up the general classification significantly, not only thwarting Anacona's chance at lasting glory (48 hours' worth, with the rest day beckoning) but also putting a bit more pressure on Sky's Chris Froome. The 2013 Tour de France champion lost a few more seconds and sits 29" back on GC now, with his specialty, the time trial, approaching Tuesday. Froome can be safely expected to challenge for Red, perhaps dominating (if history is a guide), but there are many, many mountains to come, and he will need to show more than he did today if the Englishman can be expected to win.

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