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30/08/15 - 12:34
Torrevieja - Alto de Puig Llorença
Vuelta a España • Stage9

Torrevieja - Alto de Puig Llorença

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Dumoulin is the new red jersey with Chaves dropping to third place on GC behind Rodriguez. It's all shaping up rather nicely...


Froome takes second and Rodriguez third - quite a superb finish there, the most exciting of the race so far.


What a final surge for Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin, who denied Froome what looked like a sure-fire win at the last.


What a victory for Tom Dumoulin! The Duchman dug deep into his reserves and rounds Froome with 10 metres to spare to take the win - and the red jersey.


Froome attacks! He opens up a gap... but Dumoulin is chasing him down!


Rodriguez now leads with Froome in his wheel.


Dumoulin has been caught by Froome, Rodriguez and Majka.


Majka has been caught and passed by the chasers, being led by Froome and Rodriguez. Chaves is going backwards. Dumoulin will be caught, but he could still be in red tonight.


Majka has Dumoulin in his sights, but Froome has kicked again behind...


Dumoulin has eight seconds going under the flamme rouge. Majka has attacked from the chasing pack...


Dumoulin has read the roadbook - all his attacks come just ahead of the flat sections, so that he can power clear. But now it's Froome who leads the chase - he's back in contention and on the front. Great stuff.


Dumoulin goes again! What a race he's having.


Aru attacks! Froome can't reply to these constant changes of tempo and rides his own race a bit further back.


Froome is back with this main pack, as is Henao for Sky. Dumoulin is reeled in but then attacks once again. Chaves now joins him as Valverde starts to struggle. Aru looks poised.


Dumoulin attacks! The Dutchman, in the white combined jersey, opens up a gap on one of the flatter sections. He has Jose Goncalves of Caja Rural with him. They open up a small gap.


Valverde is back with the race favourites. Froome is digging deep to rejoin them. Roche is there.


Now Valverde goes! The green jersey, who crashed earlier, edges clear.


Quintana and Rodriguez now lead, with Aru and Majka back in contention ahead of Valverde and Chaves. Pozzovivo and Dumoulin are still there - but no sign of Froome or Roche.


Valverde, Chaves, Rodriguez and Quintana have ridden clear of the pack. The break has been caught!


Right, we're onto the second ascent of the Alto de Puig Llorença. The remaining escapees have just 10 seconds...


As they approach the final climb, the gap is down to just 25 seconds now for the break. Game on!


Katusha have had enough and refuse to do any more work, forcing GreenEdge to take up the reins. The gap is under one minute now, with Bagot, Serry and Cattaneo just 10 seconds behind the leading trio of Thomas, Bouet and Brutt.


Thomas has managed to bridge the gap to Brutt and Bouet. They have 1:05 as the likes of Jim and Fraile are caught by the pack.


The second ascent of the Cat.1 Alto de Puig Llorença is longer because of that detour at the top, which peaks out at a brutal 26%. Overall it's a 4.1km climb at an average of 8.9%.


Bouet and Brutt open up a small gap over the other escapees. The gap is up to a minute back to the pack.


Given the gradient and length of the final climb, there's no way one of these weary escapees will stay out all the way to the finish. The break are now on one of the sudden rises ahead of that climb, and Tjallingii has cracked - as has Fraile.


Tjallingii takes the intermediate sprint, with Serry and Thomas leading the chase.


Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana has now taken up place on the front of the pack. The gap is down to 45 seconds in the break as Maarten Tjallingii jumps clear ahead of the intermediate sprint.


It's man-robot Alberto Losada doing the dog's work for Katusha, burying himself and dousing his own face with water from his bidon. They want to set up either Rodriguez or Moreno for the win today to open up their Vuelta account. Movistar will be thinking of Valverde, Astana perhaps Aru and Sky for Roche. Others to think about are Domenico Pozzovivo, the red jersey Chaves, Mikel Landa and Rafal Majka.


It's coming down fast now under the pressure of Katusha, Astana and Sky. The gap is 1:10 for the leaders.


It's quite some view from the top of the climb, as this tweet from Katusha shows...


Two more escapees have been caught by the pack - Maes and Van Poppel. It's Katusha doing all the pace-setting now as they try to bring back the remaining nine escapees. The gap's 1:20.


The leaders are now joined by Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo) and so we have nine men out in front. The gap is down to 1:45.


Now we have eight ahead as Tjallingii and Jim managed to bridge across the the leaders. The gap is 2:05.


So, we have six riders out ahead: Bouet, Serry, Thomas, Cattaneo, Fraile and Bagot. They have 20 seconds over a chasing duo of Jim and Tjallingii.


Still Orica-GreenEdge and Movistar on the front on this loop before the second ascent. Meanwhile, Geraint Thomas and Maxime Bouet have rejoined the leaders, who have 2:15 over the pack.


The main pack still rides as one in this first ascent. They trail the leaders by 2:35 and make no mistake, the next time up will be much more combative.


Omar Fraile (Caja Rural) takes the 5pts over the summit to extend his lead in the polka dot jersey standings. Serry crests for second just ahead of Cattaneo and Bagot.


Cattaneo starts to grimace as Fraile powers past ahead of the summit. Serry and Bagot will catch the Italian next.


Fraile has caught Bagot and they have Serry in their sights. Cattaneo has ridden clear, the Italian from Lampre-Merida looking very strong.


It's Cattaneo and Serry who leads, with Bagot falling back. Fraile is riding back onto the wheel of Bagot. Those KOM points are up for grabs over the summit.


Fraile appears to have hit the wall and it's Serry who sets the pace. Both Hurel and Gougeard have been dropped.


Omar Fraile, the polka dot jersey, sets the tempo on this climb. It's very steep and straight, making it psychologically tough. The gap is down to just two minutes as a few of the escapees are blown of the back.


The leaders are onto the first ascent of the Puig Llorença (Cat.2, 3.3km at 8.9%) which peaks out at around 15%. The second ascent is longer because the route continues further up the hill. As such it has a Cat.1 status.


The gap is coming down pretty quickly now as Orica-GreenEdge come to the front alongside Movistar. Could Chaves get his third win of the race today? That would be sensational...


Now it's the Movistar team of Valverde and Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana who set the pace. The pack trails the 14 leaders by 3:10 now ahead of the first of two ascents of the Alto de Puig Llorenca climb.


Songezo Jim sets the pace on the front of the break, while the three Etixx riders - Maes, Serry and Bouet - are all firmly rooted to the back. MTN-Qhubeka's Jim then drops back and joins them for a few words. This is the 24-year-old South African's first Grand Tour.


The peloton passes through the coastal town of Calpe with its eye-catching rock formation the Penon de Ifach strutting out into the Mediterranean. The gap is 4:10 for the leaders. If this break goes the distance, Etixx hold the upper hand what with three riders present. Thomas is the dangerman, however. He's love to get some solo acclaim after all his selfless riding for Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins through the years.


Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo have come to the front to help out Katusha. Now Sagan has gone home, Tinkoff's eggs will all be in Rafal Majka's basket hereon in. The young Pole has yet to lead a team in a Grand Tour and you get the sense that, with the big time trial in the final week, his best chances will be with stage wins in the high mountains.


Katusha drive the pace on an uncategorised mound ahead of the double ascent that will crown today's stage. Katusha upped the tempo when Valverde went down in that earlier crash, apparently. The gap is four minutes now for the escapees.


It's worth adding that in Sagan's absence, it's Alejandro Valverde who wears the green jersey today. Esteban Chaves would be in green - he leads on 70 points - but the Colombian is in the red jersey so it's Valverde who takes over. The Spaniard is nine points down, with Roche third on 48.


The gap is down to 4:20 for the 14-man break as Katusha continue to lead the chase.


Nico Roche has been very consistent in the Vuelta so far. In the grand scheme of things he's in Spain to help Chris Froome win the entire race, but he will have his chances to shine along the way. He told this about today's stage: "Another hard and tricky finish. But yes at 4km long, it's a finale that suits me once again. We'll see how it goes. I'm third overall this morning so it would be a lie to say that I'm not thinking about the GC at all. You have to take it each step at a time but I still feel very good."


A reminder of the 14 leaders, who have been out since the third kilometre (with the exception of Gougeard, who bridged across much later): Nikolas Maes, Pieter Serry and Maxime Bouet (Etixx-QuickStep), Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida), Yohan Bagot (Cofidis), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural), Tony Hurel (Europcar), Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo), Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R-La Mondiale).


Nacer Bouhanni's exit yesterday was the latest set back in a torrid season for the Frenchman. Today his Cofidis sporting director Didier Rous said: "For Nacer, it's piling up. As he puts it, he crashed more in the last three months than in the rest of his career. But he must go back to positive thinking and focus on the world championships in which he hopes to be selected but it's his pain to the elbow which will decide whether he can come back quickly or not."


The leaders are approaching the feed zone with a gap of 5:15 over the Katusha-led peloton.


Some big names in this break, including Welshman Geraint Thomas let off the leash by Team Sky. We also have Omar Fraile (Caja Rural), the current polka dot jersey, who is tied at the top of the KOM competition with stage seven winner Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo). They both have 13 points.


Katusha lead the chase on the front of the peloton, which rides 5:30 down on the break. The Russian team has yet to win a stage and will have high hopes for either Joaquim Rodriguez or Dani Moreno today.


IAM Cycling have lost their third rider of the race: Thomas Degand has called it a day. They lost both Matteo Pelucchi and David Tanner on stage 2 a week ago. The fall-out continues from that earlier crash, with Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R - La Mondiale), Marcel Aregger (IAM Cycling) and Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA) all visiting the medical car.


The best-placed rider in this group is Maxime Bouet of Etixx-QuickStep, who is 10:44 down on race leader Estevan Chaves. The Colombian from Orica-GreenEdge still holds a 10-second lead over Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and 36 seconds over third-place Nico Roche of Team Sky.


Valverde has been to see the medical car but according to his Movistar team, he is ok following that crash. Team-mate Gio Visconti - fourth yesterday - is said to have a problem with his ankle.


We now pick up the stage LIVE with 125km remaining and that 14-man group has a lead of 4:30 over the peloton, which has regrouped following that crash.


The average speed for the first hour of the race was 43.1kmph. Gougeard finally managed to catch the leaders after about 40km.


CRASH: An incident in the peloton happened after about 30km and involved a cluster of big-name riders, including Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa (Astana), Samuel Sánchez (BMC), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin). Race leader Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) also punctured.


Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R-La Mondiale) set off in pursuit of the leading riders.


An early break of 13 riders edged ahead shortly after the start: Nikolas Maes, Pieter Serry and Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step), Geraint Thomas (Sky), Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida), Yohan Bagot (Cofidis), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural), Tony Hurel (Europcar), Danny Van Poppel (Trek), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka).


While both Tejay Van Garderen and Dan Martin were forced out with serious shoulder injuries yesterday, the worst off was Kris Boeckmans of Lotto-Soudal who has been put into an induced coma because of his severe facial injuries. Our thoughts are with the Belgian.


So, just 183 riders took to the start today - six less than on Saturday - after all those incidents yesterday. Surprise, surprise - it's another hot day in Spain, the sun shining bright in a cloudless blue sky.


The big news today is that both Peter Sagan and stage winner Jasper Stuyven have not taken to the start. Sagan has been ruled out after that collision with a motorbike, while the young Belgian cannot continue because of the broken scaphoid he sustained in the big pile-up 50km from the finish yesterday. Read all about it below...


Yesterday's stage eight was an incident-strewn affair with four riders - including Tejay Van Garderen, Dan Martin and Nacer Bouhanni - crashing out, and Peter Sagan being knocked down by a passing race motorbike. In the end, Belgian youngster Jasper Stuyven took the spoils in a select sprint to take his first Grand Tour stage win.


Hola and welcome to live coverage of stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana - a 168km dash along the Costa Blanca from Torrevieja to Cumbre del Sol, which concludes with a double ascent of the Alto de Puig Llorenca.