Vuelta Travelogue - Anticipation and Trepidation
Stage 10, September 5th,
Museo de Altamira (Santillana del Mar), 190 km
Time Theft by a Talented Breakaway
Avilés is located in the Principality of Asturias which is one of the most beautiful yet least known areas of Spain, with a strong Celtic culture and traditions stretching back over 1000 years. Snuggled between the high chalkstone summits of the Picos Europa and the white beaches of the Atlantic , this little known and least explored part of Green Spain' has a unique and beautiful landscape quite unlike the traditional views of the country.
The stage finishes in Santillana del Mar which is known locally as "the town of the three lies", since it is neither a "Saint", nor "flat" (llana) and has no "sea" (Mar). However it is a beautiful little town with cobblestone streets and ancient buildings that give a feeling of timelessness. The major attraction of the area is the Altimira cave and its world famous Palaeolithic cave paintings dating back 15,000 years.
In stark contrast to the Palaeolithic cave paintings, the Altimera museum entrance is ultra-modern.
Although avoiding the nearby mountains, this stage hugs the Cantabrian coast with a very challenging undulating route devoid of any flat stretches. At km 197 the riders face the only categorized climb of the day (Cat 3). By this point many of the riders in the peloton will have legs turned to mush by the incessant roller-coaster terrain.
Today's stage commenced at 12:30. The usual aggressive racing during the first hour saw attacks start almost immediately. Nothing serious managed to escape until a 24 rider group formed at the 40km mark. The group quickly gained a lead of 4'40 but 9 riders were dropped off the pace. The danger rider of the group was Caisse d'Epargne 's Vladimir Karpets (15th overall, +6'50). He became the virtual race leader on the road when the advantage grew to 7'40 after 2 hours of racing. Also in the breakaway were Iban Mayo, Michael Rassmussen, David Millar, Davide Rebellin, and stage 3-winner Francisco Ventoso.
Methodically the breakaway extended there lead past 9 minutes with 90km to the finish in Santillana del Mar. Carlos Sastre's Team CSC started the chase in earnest and the lead fell slowly to 5'33 at the end of the third hour of racing.
Team CSC works hard to limit the time gains ( Image © Unipublic )
At the base of the third category the Alto del Mirador de Cildad the breakaway maintained a 3'11 lead with CSC easing off the hard chase. The advantage extended to 3'28 over the top of the climb as the road plunged down into Santillana del Mar before the short tough climb to the finish.
Anthony McCrossan of Cycling.TV called it correctly today, this will be a fantastic stage finish! Under the 3km banner the breakaway exploded. One by one the leaders attack each other. At 1km to go Astana's Sergio Paulinho blew past Iban Mayo's lead-out and no one could close the gap. He rode to the line for the stage win ahead of Rebellin, Florencio and Karpets.
Sergio Paulinho scores Astana's 3rd stage win in a row ( Image © Unipublic )
The breakaway gained 3'54 as danger riders Karpets and Paulinho chipped away the Vuelta leaders and moved into 9th and 10th in the overall classification. Alejandro Valverde retained the Golden Jersey of the race leader
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