Vuelta a Espana - Nibali in red after Anton crash
Eurosport - Sat, 11 Sep 16:41:00 2010
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali rode into red on a day that overnight leader Igor Anton withdrew from the race after a terrible crash near the finish.
Liquigas' Nibali crossed the line on the summit of Pena Cabarga 20 seconds down on Stage 14 winner Joaquin Rodriquez of Spain – but the main drama of the day came seven kilometres from the finish when Anton touched wheels with his Euskaltel team-mate Egoi Martinez at top speed causing a whole bunch of riders to hit the deck.
Anton, his red jersey torn to shreds and his body covered in cuts and bruises, withdrew from the race and, alongside Martinez, was taken to hospital for treatment.
"I'd prefer not to have taken the jersey this way," Nibali said. "It's terrible what happened to Anton.
"I myself lost the lead in the Giro d'Italia this year after a crash and I know how bad it feels."
Spaniard Anton had held a 45-second lead over Nibali going into Saturday's 178-kilometre stage through the scenic Cantabria mountains of northern Spain.
A frantic start to the stage saw many riders jostle to be part of a breakaway before Dutchman Terpstra successfully managed to distance the peloton after 40 kilometres of racing.
The combative Terpstra, who rode in Stage 13's breakaway on Friday, was soon joined by Millar and his Garmin-Transitions team-mate David Zabriskie, with the trio building up a lead which quickly ballooned to over 12 minutes.
Following three lower category climbs the peloton, driven by Euskaltel and Caisse d'Epargne, reduced the deficit to under four minutes.
With the lead crumbling and the moustachioed Zabriskie the first to falter, Euskaltel sank back into the middle of the pack to recuperate before the final ascent – a decision the Basque team will rue.
As the Katusha team of Rodriguez set a swift pace on the front alongside Nibali's Liquigas, the fateful crash occurred, ending Anton's hopes of winning the Vuelta in a painful instant.
With two summit-top wins to his name already so far in the race, Anton's crash was a cruel blow. Liquigas took advantage of the situation and Roman Kreuziger's pace blew apart the peloton.
Millar was dropped by lone leader Terpstra just as Nibali made his move. Rodriguez was the only rider who could match the Italian for pace. Rodriguez, who wore the red jersey for one day last week, launched his decisive attack as the pair rode under the kilometre-to-go banner amongst a sea of animated supporters.
Nibali could not follow and was soon being put under pressure by the chasing Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia).
Rodriguez, covering his right eye with his hand, crossed the line to take his maiden Vuelta victory and an important 20-second time bonus. Nibali finished 20 seconds later, just two seconds ahead of Mosquera, to take a 12-second time bonus that secured his red jersey.
Nibali holds a slender four second lead over Rodriguez in the general classification with Mosquera and Xavier Tondo (Cervelo) both 50 seconds adrift.
Sunday's 187-kilometre Stage 15 runs from Solares to Lagoa de Covadongo and concludes with another gruelling summit finish.
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