Alberto Contador threw caution to the wind, making a trade-mark long attack 27 kilometers from the end of a grueling stage 15 at the Vuelta.
An incredibly strong Miguel Angel López (Astana) saw opportunity and jumped with Contador, and later Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) bridged to the pair giving, at least on paper, enough firepower to the move.
The quartet stretched their lead gap to 75 seconds, but there was no panic from the Team Sky-led rivals group behind.
“I wanted to be brave and see what would happen behind me, but Sky has a very powerful team, and that made it complicated,” said Contador. “I knew it was a risk, but I preferred to take it.”
“It was very long, and that caught up to me in the end, and I struggled to finish, but I do not regret what I did,” Contador continued. “It is my way of racing. It was difficult to keep up with the pace at the end because we went at a very fast pace ahead, and in the middle part of the climb, it was more comfortable to be in the group. That made me pay at the end, but you have to run the way you want, and I enjoy this.”
When Contador crossed the line, he had lost well over 30 seconds to his rivals and dropped from 8th to 9th .
“Today I lost time, but nothing changes for the last week. I tried. Now I want to recover and think about the time trial on Tuesday,” ended Contador.