Part of an early and large 16 rider breakaway, the two men escaped and worked well together until they reached the long medieval fortress walls of the city.
The more experienced Kreuzinger (Liquigas) appeared to have the upper-hand. Snaking through Avila on wet roads, the Czech kept the skinny Deignan (Cervelo) up front. If you compared their number of wins, all bets would be on the Liquigas rider.
The little Irishman looked like the typical rookie forced to lead out. Then unaccountably, Kreuzinger attacked early and it was the mouse that pounced, easily coming round to take the biggest victory of his career.
“I got on the wheel good, when I went I still had some power left,” said a smiling Deignan. “Winning a stage is more than I ever expected.”
Somewhere Seamus Elliot and Sean Kelly are raising a pint of Guinness. (That would be the pub in Heavan for Mr. Elliot.) Young Deignan joins that illustrious group as the third Irishman to win a stage of the Vuelta.
For the overall GC contenders, it was watch and be watched. Like the TV cop that shouts “nobody move, ” Alejandro Valverde kept his rivals from doing a thing. Suffering from his injuries in yesterday’s crash, Robert Gesink was happy to finish without another ambulance ride to the hospital. Samual Sanchez and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) hung out in the peloton wishing Valverde would hit a pothole or take a wrong turn.
Tom Danielson, runner-up to Cadel Evans in this year’s Veulta Bad Luck competition, abandoned due to sickness and injury. The war of attrition reinforced the Valverde’s grip on the gold jersey. Only the Court of Arbitration in Sport could stop the Spanish rider–and they won’t render a decision on his alleged doping until the season ends.
For Philip Deignan, it was a grand day out, with rain reminiscent of his Irish homeland. Three cheers for the mouse who roared. Gather the Cervelo lads, it’s time to hit the pubs in Avila.