Alessandro De Marchi won Stage 14 of the Vuelta after spending the day in the breakaway and surviving to the top of the summit finish on the Alto Campoo.
The stage was the first in the mountains of Northern Spain as the race began the final week in the fight for the red jersey.
De Marchi had clearly identified Stage 14 as his day, attacking several times in the first hour in his repeated attempts to escape the peloton. After 50km of racing he was eventually successful and managed to get away with a group of four other riders.
Along with De Marchi the break included Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Mikael Cherel (AG2R) and Carlos Quintero (Team Colombia). Their advantage quickly went out to more than 5′ and advanced to 10′ after they had completed the first climb of the day: the category 3 Puerto Estaca de Trueba.
Cherel was the nearest man to Aru on the GC but was more than an hour behind so the peloton were more than happy with the make up and allowed the break a long leash.
The breakaway continued to work well together and managed to keep their large lead stable at around 9′ as they went over the top of the category one Puerto del Escudo. In the peloton things had started to get fractious with Astana controlling the pace.
On the flat before the Alto Campoo and the summit finish a rapid increase in pace by Astana at the front of the peloton isolated Dumoulin from many of his teammates and left Aru in a strong position as they approached the foot of the climb.
As Luis Leon Sanchez continued to force a strong pace in the peloton the break began to sense that victory would be theirs, with Cherel the first man to make a move from the break to try and take the stage himself, dropping Puccio briefly as the break tried to bring Cherel back.
As Sanchez peeled off it was up to Cataldo to continue keeping the pace high for Aru and he was able to filter down the peloton to a bunch of just 40 or so riders.
De Marchi was able to catch Cherel and continued to use high strength in the mountains to work towards a stage win. A late rally from Puccio saw him attack with Rojas and try to distance De Marchi, but De Marchi was more than equal to it and used it as a launchpad to attack in the final 2km, taking a stage win for himself and the second one of the Vuelta for BMC.
Fabio Aru’s attack came as the climb started to really bite, is rapid acceleration distancing many of his rivals with only Quintana and Rafal Majka able to hold the Italian’s wheel. Majka soon tired and had to drop back to the peloton as Quintana surged and dropped Aru on a steep part of the climb.
As Majka dropped back Rodriguez and Chaves moved up and managed to make contact with Aru, with Rodriguez able to pass him to get an advantage. It was Quintana who was over the line first after the break, with Rodriguez soon following and Aru and Chaves just 1″ after.