Unlike stage eight, Alberto Contador could not match the fierce attack of Chris Froome (Sky) in the final meters of stage nine, yielding 12 seconds to the race leader who grabbed the stage win. Contador arrived in 6th place on the short and steep finish climb, and although he lost a few seconds to some rivals, he gained on others and moved into 13th place in the overall classification.
"It was a short final. In the end, you have days in which you perform better and days where you perform less. Today I lacked the legs to fight for the victory, but in the end, I don't think I was that bad today," said Contador.
"Cannondale had made it a tough stage all day long, by pulling hard in front of the peloton. Yes, it was a very fast and breathtaking ascent of Cumbre del Sol. Yes, I definitely expected Froome to attack. He is a very strong rider who likes to have a bigger gap on his rivals. I think that's very logical, he has quite a big gap on me, but not on his other direct competitors," he continued, then added: "Off to the rest day now."
The Vuelta a Espana has yet to enter the high mountains and the four-kilometer ascent that ended the 174-kilometer stage nine resulted in more or less a stalemate amongst the contenders: the bigger damages will certainly come in the long ascents in the second part of the three-week race.
While Contador found himself behind the eight-ball after he lost time in the first climbing stage due to a stomach illness, he slowly has been pulling himself back into the GC game.
After nine days, the Spanish Grand Tour enters its first rest day tomorrow, a welcome day of respite for a very tired peloton that has faced a very fast-paced and agressively raced first part.
"If I look back on the first part of the Vuelta, I would like to say that it was very good, but I can't because the stage to Andorra was not good," explicated Contador. "On the other hand, I think it's good to stay optimistic with the eye on what's left of this Vuelta. There is still a lot that can happen, and we will see. Froome is obviously very strong, but we are not in Madrid yet."