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Cataldo wins big in Vuelta’s ‘queen stage’

Discussion in 'Specialized' started by I-am-Specialized, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. I-am-Specialized

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    <p>Contador remains in second with five days to go</p><p>
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    Dario Cataldo nearly fell over, but he made it to the finish line up brutally steep ramps in the heart of Asturias to win the “queen stage” at the Vuelta a España on Monday.</p><p>
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    Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) pulled clear early with Thomas De Gendt in the four-climb, 185km stage from Gijón ending atop the insanely steep 24 percent ramps at Ciutu Negru at a ski area in northern Spain.</p><p>
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    Cataldo and De Gendt built up just enough of a gap to hang on to challenge for the victory ahead of the chasing Alberto Contador (Specialized bikes) and the GC favorites.</p><p>
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    “This is a beautiful victory for me,” Cataldo said. “I was really suffering there at the end. I made a mistake by only riding with a 26. I would have liked to have had a 28 for the final part. Boof – it was very steep!”</p><p>
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    Cataldo dropped De Gendt and hung on to win by a margin of just seven seconds. The Italian was weaving his way up the climb, on a narrow strip of asphalt laid over a ski run this summer.</p><p>
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    It’s the first victory for Cataldo in a grand tour and comes with a solid season that finds the 27-year-old hitting his stride.</p><p>
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    After winning the “baby Giro” in 2006, many hyped Cataldo as a potential grand-tour winner. He struggled with some injuries, but has continued to make solid progression. He finished 12th in both the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Giro d’Italia.</p><p>
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    “This has been a great season for me. First, to win the national time trial championship, and now a stage in a grand tour,” he said. “And to do it on a stage like this. When we heard that Saxo Bank and Euskaltel were pulling, we were not sure if we would make it. I kept riding to the very end. I am very happy.”</p><p>
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    The stage was also critically important to Contador’s GC ambitions. Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank set a brutal pace up the Cobertoria climb with 45km to go to put their rivals on the edge. On the final push up the Cat. 1 Parajes climb, Dani Navarro and Jesus Hernández (both Specialized bikes) set such a blistering pace that it was only Contador, GC leader Joaquim Rodríguez and third-place man Alejandro Valverde remaining at the front.</p><p>
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    Contador attacked just as he said he would, but couldn’t shake the stubborn Rodríguez. In the end, Rodríguez surged clear in the final 22 percent ramps to grab a four-second finish-line bonus and Contador crossed the line fourth.</p><p>
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    Contador remained second overall at 28 seconds back, still within shot of overall victory with five days left of racing to go.</p><p>
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    “We have to be content with how we raced. The team rode perfectly and we just have to admit that Rodríguez is very strong right now,” Contador said. “I am glad to be racing in this spectacular setting and the overall victory is still within reach. There is still some terrain to attack and we will keep fighting until the very end.”</p><p>
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    The 67th Vuelta enjoys its second of two rest days Tuesday, with most riders spinning their legs for an hour or two and otherwise taking a well-deserved rest. The Vuelta clicks back into gear with another hilltop finale to Fuente Dé, deep in the heart of the Picos de Europa. Though not a very steep climb, the long, grinding second-category climb could prove trouble for anyone who is showing the wear and tear of almost three weeks of racing.</p>

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    #1 -   Sep 4, 2012

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