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Valderde best of the favourites with stage win
Aug 26th, 12. Alejandro Valverde was the best of the top favourites as they challenged for the stage win and GC time up the final climb, a Cat 1, of Stage 8 of the Vuelta Espana.
The favourites contested the demanding Collada de la Gallina, a 1st category 7.2km long climb with an average gradient of 8% - with the finish line at the top.
Valverde, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff bank), Chris Froome (Team Sky), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), along with Daniel Moreno (Katusha), showed why they are the top favourites when they surged ahead with 3km to go.
Valverde made the first big attack, but the others were able to pull him back. Next to find a gap was Contador who launched one of his famous attacks in the final kilometre.
With just a few hundred metres left, however, Valverde and Rodriguez attacked and were able to pass him.
The Movistar rider took the win with Rodriguez 2nd and Contador 3rd. Froome finished 15sec behind.
It was Valverde's second win his Vuelta. He also now leads the KOM classification.
"It was a really hard stage, especially with the speed from the start to make the day's break," said Valverde. Team Sky set a very fast pace during the final 40km and the beginning of the last climb was super strong.
"I had very good sensations and that's why I launched the first attack, also with the intention of dropping GC rivals coming behind. From that moment on, there wasn't any big gaps because all of us were suffering, until Contador attacked.
"I knew Purito (Rodriguez) knew the climb really well and we had clear in mind that we couldn't climb so fast for long, so I stuck to his wheel when he jumped and went past him when I saw him sitting on the saddle."
With his 2nd place, Rodriguez , kept his lead in the General Classification. He extended his gap to 2nd place Froome to 33sec. Contador is 3rd on GC +40sec and Valderde 4th +50sec.
"I'm happy to keep the red jersey," said Rodriguez. "For me today was a special stage because it's where a live, all the people along the route supported me so I had strong motivations to win: but Valverde was great and deserved the victory."
The stage was characterised by a six-man breakaway: Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Javier Ramirez Abeja (Andalucia), Amael Moinard (BMC), Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis), Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil) reached a highest gap of 9min before being caught thanks to the work in the group of Katusha Team and Sky.
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