Cycle//Vuelta a España
by Marcus Leach
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal won stage fourteen of the Vuelta a España with a superb sprint finish as Britain's Chris Froome managed to claw back some time in the general classification.
It looked as if Tinkoff-Saxo's Oliver Zaugg was going to take the stage, only to be caught and passed in the closing stages of the race by Hesjedal. The Canadian struck on the steepest section of a brutal climb to bring an end to a tough day in the mountains.
However, it was Froome's efforts that stole the show as he produced an impressive late burst, having been dropped at one stage, to finish tenth and move to third in the overall standings, 73 seconds behind leader Spaniard Alberto Contador.
Froome was distanced early on after accelerations from Alejandro Valverde and Contador but quickly settled into a rhythm to not only bridge the gap, but eventually go clear with 500 metres to go in an incredible show of strength.
Team Sky's Sports Director Dario Cioni heaped praise onto the whole team for putting together a successful stage and taking a measured approach to the challenge.
"It was a really great ride from Chris and the whole team,” he told the Team Sky website. "We did what we were looking to do out there and everyone followed the plan well.
"Chris was able to put a second on Rodriguez, a few into Contador and quite a big chunk on Valverde and Rigo.
"We thought that today could be an opportunity. With the steep part starting 2km out we thought some people might underestimate how hard it would be. It’s a long two kilometres! We actually hoped someone would start off too fast. Our goal was to go up with our pace, not worry too much about what other people were doing and hopefully it would be enough to get a good result."
Stage Fourteen Result
1. Ryder Hesjedal 5hrs 18mins 10secs
2. Oliver Zaugg +10secs
3. Imanol Erviti +30secs
4. Alexandr Kolobnev +39secs
5. Louis Meintjes +42secs
6. Bart De Clercq +52secs
7. Romain Sicard +1min 44secs
8. David Arroyo +2min 2secs
9. Carlos Verona +2mins 15secs
10. Chris Froome +2mins 32secs
1. Alberto Contador 54hrs 20mins 16secs
2. Alejandro Valverde +42secs
3. Chris Froome +1min 13secs
4. Joaquim Rodriguez +1min 29secs
5. Rigoberto Uran +2min 7secs
6. Fabio Aru +2mins 15secs
7. Robert Gesink +4mins 14secs
8. Daniel Martin +4mins 37secs
9. Damiano Caruso +4mins 45secs
10. Daniel Navarro +5mins 10secs