CYCLING | LA VUELTA
De la Cruz takes stage 9 and pulls on the red jersey
David de la Cruz won stage nine and claimed the overall lead of the Vuelta a España on Sunday with a decisive attack 500m from the line after an early breakaway was never caught.
Spanish rider David de la Cruz won stage nine and claimed the overall lead of the Vuelta a España on Sunday with a decisive attack 500m from the line after an early breakaway was never caught.
De la Cruz beat out Belgian Dries Devenyns and Italy's Moreno Moser in a time of 3hrs 47min 56sec on the 164.5km stage from Cistierna to Oviedo. The general classification favourites including overnight leader Nairo Quintana and Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished 2min 56sec behind.
That gap allowed De la Cruz to jump to the top of the standings, 22 seconds clear of Quintana with his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde 19 seconds further back. Froome slips to fourth, eight seconds further adrift, in his quest to become the first man to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España for 38 years.
Despite another punishing category two climb to the finish over the Alto de Naranco, a 12-man breakaway was never reeled in by the peloton after building up a five-minute lead. It sparked a series of attacks from the strong breakaway group, but it eventually came down to a clash between De la Cruz and Devenyns for the stage win.
But when De la Cruz kicked for the line in the final kilometre, Devenyns couldn't match him. “I wasn't thinking about the lead at the end. I was so close to winning the stage, that was my main objective”, De la Cruz said. “It was very hard to ride with Devenyns because he was hard to beat, but I am the leader as well, I can't believe it”.
The 27-year-old was in tears and kissed the red jersey as he stood atop the podium.
And with another gruelling summit finish up the special category Mirador de la Reina to come on Monday before the first rest day of the race on Tuesday, De la Cruz is intent on savouring his moment in red. “Tomorrow is a very hard stage to Covadonga, but for the moment, we have got the stage and the leadership, so let's see what happens and enjoy ourselves”.