Menchov frustrates Heras again

Eladio Jimenez upstaged the favourites to win Saturday's eagerly-awaited mountain showdown at the La

Eladio Jimenez upstaged the favourites to win Saturday’s eagerly-awaited mountain showdown at the La

Roberto Heras failed to capitalise on a golden opportunity to seize Denis Menchov’s leader’s jersey of the same hue on Saturday, as the Vuelta a Espana climbed to the feared Lagos de Covadonga in the Cantabrian mountains. Heras and Menchov finished stage 14 in the same time, 1-44 down on stage winner Eladio Jimenez, who held on bravely after breaking away with 14 other riders just 39km into the 172.3km stage. Heras tried repeatedly to shake off Menchov on the 13km final climb but, as has been the case so often in this Vuelta, the Russian proved intractable. As a result, Heras remains in second place on general classication, 47 seconds down on Menchov and with his prospects of unseating the Rabobank man dwindling fast. Procycling columnist Carlos Sastre, who nicked a few seconds from both Heras and Menchov yesterday, lies third on GC, 1-50 adrift of Menchov. Heras’s Liberty Seguros’s team boss Manolo Saiz was last night left ruing Menchov’s stoicism. “Roberto tried to attack Menchov several times, but Menchov rode well and we couldn’t drop him. But tomorrow will be another day”, Saiz commented. If Heras is to realise his dream of winning an historic fourth Vuelta title, he will indeed be hoping that Sunday’s 191km mountain stage from Cangas de Onis to Pajares can serve as his launch-pad. The final ascent to Pajares features one section with a 17% gradient, sure to suit the bantam-weight Heras more than his Russian rival. Results 1 Eladio Jimenez Sanchez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 172.3km in 4.25.36 2 I¤igo Cuesta (Spa) Saunier Duval 1.20 3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre – Caffita 1.32 4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.37 5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.44 6 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 7 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak 2.11 8 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile 9 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak 2.16 10 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 2.36 General classification after stage 14 1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 56.53.00 2 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.47 3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.50 4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 2.45 5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 5.37 6 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile 7.18 7 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak 7.19 8 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 7.44 9 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 7.49 10 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step – Innergetic 9.02