Portugal’s Nelson Oliveira came home alone to land the 13th stage of Spain’s Vuelta on Friday with Fabio Aru retaining the overall leader’s red jersey.
For Lampre rider Oliveira, a three-time national time-trial champion, this was a first ever stage win on one of the Grand Tours.
He set up his personal milestone by attacking with 30 kilometres of the 178km ride from Calatayud to Tarazona remaining. He had his fellow members of a breakaway group in trouble on the final climb of the day, extending his lead to the line.
France’s Julien Simon (Cofidis) out-sprinted Ireland’s Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) for second, this pair chased home by the rest of the breakaway group.
“It was a difficult day but things worked out in the best way possible for me,” reflected Oliveira in an interview with Spain’s public television station.
“It’s my first international victory and the first on a Grand Tour,” he added.
“Those last 30km were the longest of my life.”
Italian Aru took 36th place to keep the overall lead by 27sec from Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez. Tom Dumoulin is third, a further three seconds away.
Aru is trying to go one better after filling the runner-up spot in the Giro d’Italia in May. Despite his position at the head of the Vuelta standings he will be only too mindful of the precariousness of his position.
In Italy, he lost three minutes to eventual winner Alberto Contador in a race-against-the-clock, and there is one looming next Wednesday – the 17th stage 38.7km time-trial in Burgos.
So first he will be out to exploit his advantage in the three tough days coming up in the mountains.
“We’re going to see how the legs hold up in these three stages. If I feel good tomorrow (Saturday) I’ll try to do something to make time,” the Italian said.
Saturday’s 14th stage is the longest of the 2015 Vuelta, a 215km mountainous ride from Vitoria to the ski station of Alto Campoo, with an hors-category summit finish. – Agence France-Presse