Winner Anancona (Lampre-Merida) claimed his first ever European pro win in style, reaching the 2014 Vuelta a Espana’s second mountain-top finish a whole 45 seconds ahead of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).
In a good day all round for Colombia, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) moved to first overall after a frantic final few kilometres saw him gain time on teammate Alejandro Valverde.
Chris Froome (Sky) did not look at his best and was distanced by some of his major rivals, and slips to fifth overall.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) opened hostilities two kilometres from the line with a vicious attack. No-one followed him initially, until Quintana sprang out of the bunch with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). The pair gradually beared down on the Spaniard – having been aided by Rodriguez’s teammate Eduard Vorganov, who had dropped back from the original break – and caught him right on the finish line to ensure no time was lost.
Froome finished in a group 23 seconds down, which also included race leader Valverde, Fabio Aru (Astana), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp)
Martin had himself attacked with three kilometres to go, prompting Katusha to close him down.
Froome also struggled with this acceleration and drifted towards the back of the group, which no doubt prompted Contador to attack a kilometre later.
Prior to these attacks, Sky had set the pace up the final climb, although in hindsight it’s difficult to tell whether they were doing so to set Froome up for an attack, or in order to discourage other attacks and protect him on a bad day. If it had been known earlier that the Briton had poor legs, the loss of 23 seconds may be interpreted as damage limitation.
“In the final I didn’t have the legs to follow the top guys when they went,” Froome said via the team’s website. “But I think given where I’ve come from on the back of the Tour and the build-up into the race I’m really happy with how things have gone so far. I can definitely feel I’m starting to pick up that race rhythm back into my legs and I’m looking forward to the second half of this race.”
Froome is still just 28 seconds down on the GC, while the leading four – Quintana, Contador, Valverde and, having gained over two minutes today, Anacona – are all separated by less than 10 seconds. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) is the day’s big loser, finishing 3-34 down to slip out of the top 10 overall.
Aanacona was part of large 31-man break that was allowed to make it to the finish. On the penultimate climb, the Colombian broke clear from the rest along with Javier Moreno (Movistar) and Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing). But whereas the other two faded on the final climb to finish fourth and ninth respectively, Anacona maintained his speed and in the end won comfortably.
The riders were also made to endure a drastic change in temperature, with the hot weather that had characterised the race so far being replaced by thunderous conditions.
On Monday, the riders have a chance to recuperate with the first rest day before the action resumes on Tuesday for the race’s first individual time trial over 36.7km.
Vuelta a Espana 2014 stage nine: Carboneras de Guadazaon to Aramon Valdelinares
1. Winner Anacona (Col) Lampre-Merida in 4-34-14
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at 45 secs
3. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 50 secs
4. Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar at 1-04
5. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural Seguros RGA at 1-12
6. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 1-21
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 1-33
8. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto-Belisol at 1-45
9. Bob Jungels (Ned) Trek Factory Racing at 1-49
10. Fabio Feline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing at 2-08
12. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2-16
13. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 2-16
14. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2-16
18. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 2-39
Overall classification after stage nine
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 35-58-05
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 3 secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movstar at 8 secs
4. Winner Anacona (Col) Lampre-Merida at 9 secs
5. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 28 secs
6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 30 secs
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1-06
8. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 1-19
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-26
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano at 1-26
15. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 1-42
Crosswinds split peloton in final section of stage eight; Alejandro Valverde retains overall race lead
Chris Froome hits the deck on seventh stage of the Vuelta a Espana but bounces back to gain two seconds