Having held the malliot oro for only a day, Discovery's Stijn Devolder had a terrible day Sunday on the slopes of the Estación de esquí Cerler (Cerler Ski Station), finishing 42nd in the stage and losing the gold jersey to the wily veteran Denis Menchov of Rabobank, who rode a terrific race to finish just behind the stage winner Leonardo Piepoli of Saunier Duval-Prodir, whose relentless attacks shattered the GC and left the shards scattered on the high, hot roads up to the 1800-meter high Cerler peak.
Devolder fell all the way to fifth, with the hard-riding Cadal Evans moving up to third and the always dangerous Carlos Sastre lying fourth. Vladimir Efimkin, who has held the gold jersey for longer than any other rider so far in this year's Vuelta, is holding onto second two minutes behind, not a real impediment for him.
Perhaps the saddest story of the day was Oscar Periero's, whose combination of big time loss and physical discomfort drove him to abandon at the feed station today. Goodbye, Oscar, and farewell. For you, this is not the year.
Tomorrow, another punishing day in the mountains, with the final HC climb up to the Ordino Arcalis peak in tiny Andorra. Look for more fun for the climbers, more punishment for the sprinters, and more changes in the GC! Goodnight!
1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 33.54.46
2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 2.01
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 2.27
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 3.02
5 Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Karpin Galicia 4.02
6 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 4.28
7 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 4.42
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 4.58
9 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 5.07
10 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quickstep - Innergetic 5.19