Lone Survivor of Early Breakaway Wins La Vuelta Queen StageSun 8 Sep 2013
Alexandre Geniez (FDJ.fr) won what was billed as the queen stage of the Vuelta a España. The Frenchman was part of a large breakaway that slipped away from the bunch after 28km of racing on stage 15. The group fractured over the hilly parcours, and Geniez was the only rider from the early escape to hold off the field.
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) was the second rider to cross the summit finish line to Peyragudes, 3’03 behind Geniez. Nicholas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) rounded out the stage podium. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) successfully defended his race lead and retained his 50” advantage over Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard Trek) in second overall.
As expected, it was another day of survival for the ORICA-GreenEDGE squad. Michael Matthews briefly featured in the breakaway before falling back in the bunch up the second of four categorised climbs. Baden Cooke abandoned before the mid-point of the stage.
“Obviously, I’m really disappointed not to be able to finish the Vuelta,” said Cooke. “I have had a cough for over a week and after getting so cold yesterday, the cough seemed to move into my lungs. The doc has given me antibiotics for bronchitis.”
“This Vuelta has been a success for the team so far with Michael’s win on stage five,” Cooke continued. “I’m really upset that I can’t try to help him win again in Madrid.”
While disappointed that he will not complete the Grand Tour, Cooke admits there is a silver lining.
“The only upside is that my daughter took her first step today,” Cooke said. “I might be home in time to see her walk for the first time.”
With Cooke out of the race, the Australian outfit looked after five riders battling towards the finish. Christian Meier was the team’s best placed rider in 58th place, crossing the line 21 minutes after Geniez. Meier’s teammates finished in the grupetto at 35’09.
“Someone joked that it looked like a Grand Fondo at there towards the end of the race,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “Everyone was just sort of riding for themselves to make it to the finish line.”
“When we’re in the mountains, which aren’t our strength, it’s easy to forget what we’ve already achieved and what we hope to accomplish in later stages,” said Wilson. “We might not have much to report from a day like today, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost focus. We’re here chasing stage wins on the flatter stages. Even with only five guys left, we have a chance to get Matthews up for the win in Madrid.”