Cofidis rider Rein Taaramae won the 15th stage of the Vuelta a España this afternoon as race leader Bradley Wiggins gained more time on his opponents.
Stage 14 took the riders from Astorga to La Farrapona. HTC's Leigh Howard was the first to get away not long after the stage had properly started The Australian was joined by De La Fuente and Rein Taaramae, Guilluame Bonnafond and Lloyd Mondory (AG2R-La Mondiale), Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez, Jonas Aaen Jörgensen of Saxo Bank-Sungard, Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervélo), Alberto Benitez (Andalucia-Caja Granada), BMC Racing’s Karsten Kroon, Cofidis man Yohan Bagot, Jorge Azanza and Inaki Isasi of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Katusha couple Aliaksandr Kuschynski and Eduard Vorganov, Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Daniele Righi (Lampre-ISD).
The major climbs happened later in the race and it was David De La Fuente who was first over the Category two Puerto de Ventana. Rein Taaramae took the second at Puerto de San Lorenzo with De La Fuente second.
The sprint stage of the day came with 155kms gone and it was De La Fuente who again took the maximum points on offer.
Taarame and De La Fuente (pictured below) were out in front as we got into the final ten kilometres and heading for the finish on the Hors Category La Farrapona.
Bradley Wiggins with Chris Froome at his side got into the group that contained Daniel Moreno and then put in a brilliant ride to make sure Juan Jose Cobo who was eighth at the start of the day did not gain any more time on him.
Nibali and Rodriquez were struggling off the back as Rein Taarame went away and won the stage in a time of 4hr 39mins and a second.
Cobo came in second 25 seconds back with De La Fuente 29 seconds back. Then 45 seconds came in Bradley Wiggins in fifth with Froome sixth.
Wiggins now leads his fellow Team Sky Chris Froome by seven seconds and Bauke Mollema some 36 seconds down.
Speaking after the stage, Rein Taaramae admitted that he was sick three days ago and said: "Yes, I had a sore throat at the end of last week and I got really sick during the rest day. My body temperature went up to 39°. I wasn’t feeling well at all. The day after, I rode alone, so far behind my team-mate David Moncoutié who won the stage. I was thinking of pulling out of the Vuelta and I must thank my directeursportifStéphaneAugé who supported me. He was saying: “I know how you’re feeling, I’ve experienced that as well, but stay in the race, hang on until the finish line!” With 35km to go, I got rejoined by the grupetto of the sprinters and they dropped me off with 15km to go. It was terrible. I thought I’d never recover. The day after (stage 12), I wasn’t feeling any better. Yesterday, I improved and today I’m the winner. It’s a bit of a miracle…
Q: What was your plan at the start this morning?
A: I intended to remain quiet but on the last attack, I followed the move and I thought that the peloton would follow as well. I looked behind, we were eighteen riders. It was the right breakaway and I was worried because I was feared to not be able to make it till the end. Until 5km to go with De la Fuente, I thought we’d be caught. I was afraid of him, so I attacked with 2km to go. I don’t know if he waited for Cobo or if he cracked but at that stage, I was sure to be the winner.
Q: What does this victory mean for you?
A: I needed such a win! My last one was two years ago at the Tour de l’Ain. I was missing a great victory at World Tour level. I was often well placed at stage races but I wasn’t winning. I ended up doubting about my capacity to win a race, but today is all good.
Chris Froome (Sky), second on GC: “I got the best feeling in the world when I heard on the radio that a few other GC contenders got dropped. Bradley [Wiggins] has been incredible. He’s in a super condition. For me, he’s the one who deserves to win this race. That was our objective today to try and get some time over our adversaries before the Angliru tomorrow and we did it. Personally, I’m up for contract and my future is still undecided but I hope to make a decision soon.”
Stage 15 tomorrow is from Avilés to Alto de l'Angliru and is 142.2.km long.
Pictures copyright of Tour Of Spain/Graham Watson