Reign in red comes to a close on stage nine of VueltaSun 30 Aug 2015
The reign of Colombian Esteban Chaves and ORICA-GreenEDGE in red has come to an end on stage nine of the Vuelta a Espana today.
Chaves fought bravely on the category one finale as he was repeatedly attacked, but lost touch in the final 700m.
The 25-year-old still sits third overall, 59seconds behind today’s stage winner and new race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) sits in second place, just two-seconds ahead of Chaves.
“I’m really tired and obviously disappointed,” Chaves said. “I lose the wheel with 700m to the finish and Tom Dumoulin was really really strong.”
“I tried. I said the first day I won that I wanted to leave my skin on the road to keep the red jersey and I did today.
“I want to say thanks again to the team, unbelievable ride again today. We will continue to try, it’s the ‘middle’ of the race and we will keep going.”
Sport director Neil Stephens reiterated that the Tour of Spain is far from over for the Australian outfit.
“As we have been saying all along, we are not obsessed with the jersey,” Stephens said. “It’s been fantastic and it’s been an honour to have the leader’s jersey.”
“I think now that we have lost the jersey we need to sit down and have a look at what we are have achieved and what we still want to achieve.
“Losing the jersey is a loss in pressure. Even though we talked about it, the red jersey has got a weight. You saw that on the shoulder of Esteban Chaves today.
“Now we go back to what we know, which is to work methodically to try and get to Madrid with the highest general classification we can obtain.”
How it happened:
A bigger group of 14 riders formed the breakaway for stage nine today. Amongst them, the highest placed general classification rider was Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quickstep) who started the day 10:44min down on Chaves.
Once again, teams with an interest in the stage victory helped the work of ORICA-GreenEDGE at the front of the peloton to keep the break’s advantage under control and at around five minutes.
The lead group fractured on the first ascent of the Alto de Puig Llorenca but survived in front.
The second time around if was left to the big general classification players at the head of the race and several launched attacks. Race leader Chaves covered for much of the climb, but lost time in the final 700m and finished almost one minute behind winner Dumoulin.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) also made time back on his overall competitors finishing just two seconds behind for second on the stage.