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Contador keeps attacking but can't gain time
Sep 3rd, 12. On the second of three consecutive mountain top finish stages, Alberto Contador again went on the attack but he could not drop Vuelta tour leader Joaquim Rodriguez.
Today's 186.5km Stage 15 started with an early breakaway of 19 riders. Once the group had shrunk to 10 the peloton let it have its freedom while Katusha and SaxoBank Tinkoff Bank took control of the pace.
After time gaps reached over 15min, Spanish cyclist Antionio Piedra (Caja Rural) took the reins to win solo by over 2min from his breakaway companions.
Behind him, the real fight for the 2012 Vuelta Espana was happening 9min back.
The battleground was the Lagos de Covadonga, the 13.5km, 7% average gradient - 15% maximum, Hors Category climb to the finish line.
As he was yesterday, Contador was the main aggressor as he tried to find weaknesses in his rivals. Unfortunately for the SaxoBank Tinkoff Bank leader, Katusha's Rodriguez had an answer to each and every attack.
After each attack, Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) would bridge back to Contador but another rival Chris Froome (Team Sky) was left behind.
In the end, Valderde, Rodriguez and Contador finished together - in that order but with the same time. Froome finished 35sec back. Today's result leaves Contador 22sec behind the red jersey leader, Valverde 3rd +1m41s and Froome 4th +2m16s.
Tomorrow sees another mountain top finish, a 19.4km Hors Category climb with the final 2.8km including kicks of an incredible 24% gradient. Contador, who said he did not feel at his best for most of today's stage, has promised to keep up his fight for the Vuelta title.
"You can rest assure that I'll try at every chance I get from now on," he said. "You never know when people have a bad day.
"Joaquin is riding stronger than ever while I might not be as strong as I could be because of my long break from racing. But I simply enjoy being here after too long time away from racing. It's amazing to feel the love and support from the crowd every day.
"Tomorrow, the goal is simple. I have to attack and keep attacking so I hope to recover and be stronger than today."
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