Vuelta a España - Confusion as Haedo wins stage
Tue, 06 Sep 16:38:00 2011
Argentina's Juan José Haedo of Saxo Bank took stage 16 of the Vuelta a España following confusion on the final bend before the finish.
Haedo won the 204-km stage in subdued circumstances after poor road markings caused a split in the peloton and effectively gave the 30-year-old carte blanche to take the biggest win of his career.
Italian pair Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) and Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) took second and third respectively, while splits in the peloton saw red jersey Juan José Cobo (Geox) finish two and five seconds faster than British Team Sky pair Christopher Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
Froome, who narrowly missed out on picking up two bonus seconds in the final intermediate sprint, is now 22 seconds behind the Spaniard in the GC, while Wiggins stays in third - but sees his deficit creep up to 51 seconds.
Slovakian youngster Peter Sagan looked a safe bet to win a third stage in his debut Grand Tour, but the Liquigas sprinter was forced to slam on the brakes after the rider he was trailing - Leopard Trek's Robert Wagner - took a wrong turn on the final bend.
Wagner, who was leading out his team's sprinter Bennati, was one of a handful of riders towards the front of the peloton who were confused by a right-hand side open lane on a roundabout that came 300m from the finish.
With the bunch in disarray, 30-year-old Haedo simply rode on to take the first Grand Tour stage win of his career.
The long and largely flat stage from Palencia to Haro in the Rioja wine-making region of north Spain was animated from the outset by an early attack by Spanish pair Jesus Resondo and Antonio Cabello, both of the second tier Andalucia Caja Granada team.
Vuelta: Stage 15 HLTS
Joined by the ever-animated Frenchman Julien Fouchard (Cofidis), the breakaway built up a maximum lead of around eight minutes before being reeled in with 10km to spare.
Moments after Rosendo - the last man standing of the escapees - was caught, Britain's Froome made an audacious bid to take some vital bonus seconds in the second intermediate sprint, which came rather uncharacteristically inside the final 10km.
But David de la Fuente, the Geox team-mate of red jersey Cobo, thwarted Froome's bid, and the Sky rider was left to settle for what he thought was third place - and nevertheless two vital bonus seconds - behind the Spaniard and Garmin's Heinrich Haussler. However, race officials later decided Froome was pipped for third by Maxime Montfort (Leopard Trek).
Learning from his mistake, Cobo made sure he was near the front of the peloton at the finish, coming home two seconds down on stage winner Haedo in 10th place.
Froome finished a further two seconds back while Wiggins crossed the line in a large group a further three seconds back.
A big pile-up 15km from the finish brought down green jersey and double stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) while an earlier accident in the peloton saw the retirement of Italian veteran Alessandro Spezialetti (Lampre) with a suspected broken collarbone.
Rodriguez finished the stage alongside a number of Katusha team-mates more than eleven minutes off the pace.
The Vuelta continues on Wednesday with the 211km stage 17 from Faustino to Peña Cabarga.
With two lower category mountains and a punchy 6km climb to the finish, it could well be the last major chance for both Froome or Wiggins to take time back from red jersey Cobo before the race's conclusion in Madrid on Sunday.Felix Lowe / Eurosport