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Hesjedal Wins Crazy Stage; Froome Rises Again

Hesjedal second on stage 7, but he upped the ante today
Hesjedal second on stage 7, but he upped the ante today
Jose Jordan, AFP/Getty

Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin accelerated around Tinkoff-Saxo's Olivier Zaugg on the fearsome climb to Valle de Sabero to win stage 14 of the Vuelta a España. Hesjedal, former Giro d'Italia winner, animated the seven-rider break that survived onto the gravel slopes of this Picos de Europa climb, featuring a long stretch of 19% gradient over the last four kilometers. But for a while, it appeared that Zaugg would be the one to finish the job, for although Hesjedal's initial attack splintered the group, he appeared to have no answer for Zaugg. However, the Swiss slowed to a crawl, understandably, on the 19% stretch, where Hesjedal slowly reeled him back in, and then unleashed a shocking acceleration, leaving Zaugg's and everyone else's stage hopes for dead.

The General Classification battle saw Chris Froome of Sky return from the missing file, both overall and on the stage, as Movistar's Alejandro Valverde led the elite group onto the slopes with a slight acceleration. Froome went missing, as did Fabio Aru of Astana, OPQS' Rigoberto Uran, etc. But Aru fought back to rejoin the front group, prompting an attack from overnight leader, Alberto Contador of Tinkoff. Then, as that move calmed down, seemingly out of nowhere Froome rejoined the leaders, got on the front, and hit the gas. From there it was Froome, chased by Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez, Contador, and Aru, as Valverde fell off the pace. Froome reclaimed seven seconds from the overall leader, with Rodriguez in between them. Valverde surrendered 28 seconds from his second-place perch, and Uran over a minute, shaking up the standings. Froome and Rodriguez are now third and fourth, ahead of Uran, as the race remains in the fearsome Picos de Europa for another few days.

For Hesjedal, the win is redemptive, his first of any kind since that 2012 Giro d'Italia and his first stage win of any sort since the 2010 Tour of California. It comes a week after he took second in a Vuelta stage, albeit by no small margin (1.34) at Alcaudete. Hesjedal is not in contention for anything but stages, and maybe the mountains jersey. But he was clearly pleased at the finish to make his mark today.

Results:

1. CANHESJEDAL, Ryder 101 Garmin Sharp 5h 18' 10''
2. SUIZAUGG, Oliver 209 Tinkoff - Saxo 5h 18' 20'' + 10''
3. ESPERVITI, Imanol 154 Movistar Team 5h 18' 40'' + 30''
4. RUSKOLOBNEV, Alexandr 134 Team Katusha 5h 18' 49'' + 39''
5. RSAMEINTJES, Louis 164 MTN - Qhubeka 5h 18' 52'' + 42''
6. BELDE CLERCQ, Bart 144 Lotto Belisol 5h 19' 02'' + 52''
7. FRASICARD, Romain 81 Team Europcar 5h 19' 54'' + 1' 44''
8. ESPARROYO, David 53 Caja Rural Seguros RGA 5h 20' 12'' + 2' 02''
9. ESPVERONA, Carlos 179 Omega Pharma - Quick-Step 5h 20' 25'' + 2' 15''
10. GBRFROOME, Christopher 191 Team SKY 5h 20' 46'' + 2' 36''
11. ESPRODRIGUEZ, Joaquin 131 Team Katusha 5h 20' 47'' + 2' 37''
12. ESPCONTADOR, Alberto 201 Tinkoff - Saxo 5h 20' 53'' + 2' 43''
13. ITAARU, Fabio 21 Astana Pro Team 5h 20' 55'' + 2' 45''
14. ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro 151 Movistar Team 5h 21' 15'' + 3' 05''
15. IRLMARTIN, Daniel 102 Garmin Sharp 5h 21' 31'' + 3' 21''

GC:

1. ESPCONTADOR, Alberto 201 Tinkoff - Saxo 54h 20' 16''
2. ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro 151 Movistar Team 54h 20' 58'' + 42''
3. GBRFROOME, Christopher 191 Team SKY 54h 21' 29'' + 1' 13''
4. ESPRODRIGUEZ, Joaquin 131 Team Katusha 54h 21' 45'' + 1' 29''
5. COLURAN, Rigoberto 177 Omega Pharma - Quick-Step 54h 22' 23'' + 2' 07''
6. ITAARU, Fabio 21 Astana Pro Team 54h 22' 31'' + 2' 15''
7. ESPSÁNCHEZ, Samuel 41 BMC Racing Team 54h 23' 42'' + 3' 26''
8. NEDGESINK, Robert 34 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 54h 24' 30'' + 4' 14''
9. COLANACONA, Winner 2 Lampre Merida 54h 24' 52'' + 4' 36''
10. IRLMARTIN, Daniel 102 Garmin Sharp 54h 24' 53'' + 4' 37''