By Nigel Wynn
Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) took a solo win at the end of stage 13 of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana on Friday.
Navarro took off on the final climb to take the victory, with Daniel Moreno (Katusha) chasing him for second and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) in third, both two seconds behind the stage winner. It's Navarro's first victory of the season, and arguably the biggest of his career.
The group of overall favourites, including race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Sky) finished just behind at five seconds. Contador safely maintained his 20-second lead in front of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
From the gun, a 14-rider escape group split from the peloton, which was soon reduced to 11. They worked well together, but a high pace from the bunch meant that they never really opened up a significant gap. As the group navigated the day's three third-category climbs, riders started to drop out, with Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) the final man to get caught with 7km remaining.
Thereafter, Sky, Katusha and Tinkoff-Saxo were active at the front of the peloton, maintaining a fast speed to try and prevent any attacks before the final sharp ascent to the finish in the final 2.5km.
Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was the first to attack as the road reared up and was joined by Navarro, who then struck out alone as Brambilla blew. Behind, Froome put in an attack, but was quickly marked by Valverde. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) sped off in a short-lived move, before Moreno and Kelderman went off in pursuit of Navarro. But no-one could catch the Spaniard, who took the victory alone.
Saturday's stage 14 will be even more explosive, finishing on the relentless final climb of La Camperona with gradients nudging 20 per cent.
Vuelta a Espana 2014, stage 13: Belorado to Obregón. Parque de Cabárceno, 188.7km
1. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis in 4-21-04
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 2 secs
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at same time
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 5 secs
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
8. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
10. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep all same time
13. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 5 secs
Overall classification after stage 13
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 48-59-23
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 20 secs
3. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-08
4. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 1-20
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 1-35
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing at 1-52
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 2-13
8. Winner Anacona (Col) Lampre-Merida at 2-37
9. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 2-55
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 3-51
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