Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Horner went to war on the slopes of Angliru to determine the winner of the 2013 Vuelta as both Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez were too far behind and a half a step lower in form to make the difference in the overall. With the break up ahead and one of the toughest mountains on the planet looming, the favorites were setting a fierce pace toward the pace of Angliru to thin the group as much as possible. Kenny Ellisonde (FDJ) was continuing the dream for the young Francais des Jeux team as he attacked in search of the win in the step slopes.
Behind, Vincenzo Nibali made several fierce attacks in effort to drop the others and the first of those looked to have potential as he gained as much as 17 seconds on Horner and the others, but each time Chris Horner was able to grind his way back the the wheel of the Sicilian. Ultimately, with just 3km remaining the roles were reversed, as in terms of bravery you couldn’t fault Nibali, but measuring tactics, he may have burned too much too early and Horner attacked once and made it stick. The near 42 year old slowly powered away from the Giro winner and put 28 seconds into the others while Valverde was able to pace himself back and take third on the day.
Unless a disaster occurs, Chris Horner has won the Vuelta as tomorrow’s stage is one for the Sprinters and is the celebratory circuit into Madrid. This Vuelta has been unexpected, dynamic and one of the most riveting Grand Tours in years. It’s put another quill in the hat of the Spanish race as since Nibali won in 2010, the level of excitement has been second to none.
2013 Vuelta Stage 20 Top Five
1. Kenny Elissonde (FDJ)________3h55’59”
2. Chris Horner (RLT)___________+26″
3. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)_____+54″
4. Vincenzo Nibali (AST)
5. Andre Cardoso (CJR)
Overall Classification after 20 stages
1. Chris Horner (RLT)_________81h52’01″
2. Vincenzo Nibali (AST)______+37″
3. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)____+1’36″
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____+3’22″
5. Nicolas Roche (TST)________+7’11″
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ALM)____+8’00″
7. Thibault Pinot (FDJ)_________+8’41″
8. Samuel Sanchez (EUS)______+9’51″
9. Leopold Konig (NET)________+10’11″
10. Daniel Moreno (KAT)________+13’11″