Joaquim Rodriguez took victory on the second consecutive summit finish of La Vuelta, reducing his deficit to the red jersey to just 1″.
Rodriguez’s power showed on the first category climb up to Alto de Sotres, distancing all of his rivals to take the stage and enough bonus seconds to put him just 1″ behind Aru.
The day took more than 50km for the breakaway to form with nine men eventually managing to make it clear before the second category climb at Collado Alto del Tomo. The nine riders were Blel Kadri (AG2R – La Mondiale), Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA), Dominique Rollin (Cofidis), Brayan Ramirez (Colombia), Nikolas Maes (Etixx – Quick Step), Natnael Berhane (MTN – Qhubeka), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Maarten Tjallingii (Lotto NL – Jumbo), and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory).
Despite being a sizable break and having terrain that worked int heir favour, they were never able to extend their lead to more than 5′ as Movistar worked hard to keep the pace high in the peloton, buoyed by a strong showing from Quintana on stage 14.
As the breakaway reached the descent of the Tomo their lead had been cut to just 2′ as MOvistar continued to work, with only Zubeldia the only rider staying out and trying to force the advantage as the rest of the break sat up with their lead just 1′.
Movistar continued to work on the foot of the Sotre and only stopped the pace setting at the final km, when the peloton was starting to suffer and riders were littered all over the foothills of the category one climb.
Quintana attacked and was quickly able to get a gap on the peloton, but Astana were equal to it and Sanchez was able to bring the peloton back to within striking distance and caught Quintana along with the Zubeldia as his day in the break came to an end.
Astana took control of the peloton for the first time of the day and continued to keep the pace high, even with Movistar’s Giovanni Visconti tasked by his team to keep setting a high tempo on the climb.
As they went into the final km Rodriguez began to work his way up, his strength clear as he pedalled off the front of the peloton with only Aru and Majka able to hold his wheel. As Rodriguez continued to increase his gap and with Aru clearly struggling, Majka went around the race leader and dropped him immediately in pursuit of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was always going to win this contest though as he took the stage win, with Majka coming in second place. Quintana, Landa and Chaves were able to make contact with Aru as he crossed the line so they didn’t lose more time, but Aru’s slender lead of 1″ will make for an exciting stage 16.