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De La Cruz Takes Over La Vuelta

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Aug 28, 2016 – Spanish rider David de la Cruz won stage nine and claimed the overall lead of the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday with a decisive attack 500 meters from the line. De la Cruz beat out Belgian Dries Devenyns and Italy’s Moreno Moser in a time of 3hrs 47min 56sec on the 164.5km stage from Cistierna to Oviedo.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

The general classification favorites including overnight leader Nairo Quintana and Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished 2min 56sec back. That gap allowed De la Cruz to jump to the top of the standings, 22 seconds clear of Quintana with his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde 19 seconds further back.

Froome slips to fourth, eight seconds further adrift, in his quest to become the first man in 38 years to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in the same year. Despite another punishing category-two climb to the finish over the Alto de Naranco, a 12-man breakaway was never reeled in by the peloton after building up a five-minute lead. That sparked a series of attacks from the strong breakaway group, but it eventually came down to a clash between De la Cruz and Devenyns for the stage win. But when De la Cruz kicked for the line in the final kilometer, Devenyns couldn’t stay with him.

“I wasn’t thinking about the lead at the end. I was so close to winning the stage, that was my main objective,” said De la Cruz.

“It was very hard to ride with Devenyns because he was hard to beat, but I am the leader as well, I can’t believe it.”

The 27-year-old was in tears and kissed the red jersey as he stood atop the podium. And with another grueling summit finish up the special category Mirador de la Reina to come on Monday before the first rest day of the race on Tuesday, De la Cruz is intent on savoring his moment in red.

“Tomorrow is a very hard stage to Covadonga, but for the moment, we have got the stage and the leadership, so let’s see what happens and enjoy ourselves.”

Three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador also finished among the general classification group to remain 2min 01sec off the lead in seventh overall. Contador suffered a difficult first week as his Tinkoff-Saxo team lost 52 seconds on the opening team time-trial stage and he suffered a huge crash on stage seven. However, he made up some time on Froome and Valverde on Saturday and is hoping with more time to heal he can launch a bid for a record-equaling fourth Vuelta win. “I passed the day without problems, let’s see if tomorrow I keep improving.

First, I want to maintain this level and then, obviously, if there’s a chance I will attack,” said Contador. “Yesterday was a good day for me, because the most important thing was to survive and, finally, I even took time off some favorites. Today was a quieter day, we already knew Alto del Naranco is a climb where it is difficult to make gaps. The legs have been good, now the important thing is to rest and to keep working with the physiotherapists in order to be a bit better tomorrow.”

Results Stage 9:
1. David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx – Quick-Step 3:47:56
2. Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling 0:00:27
3. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:33
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:51
5. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling
6. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ 0:00:53
7. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Bora-Argon 18 0:00:58
8. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:04
9. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:01:10

General Classification:
1. David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx – Quick-Step 33:46:24
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:22
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:41
4. Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:49
5. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:01:19
6. Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:38
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:02:01
8. Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 0:02:06
9. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:02:07
10. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0: