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Aqua Blue Sport Wins Big at La Vuelta 2017


“I tried to get the energy of the people to keep me going.”

Aqua Blue Sport rider Stefan Denifl has taken his biggest career win as he took victory on stage 17 of La Vuelta.

The stage was a climber’s day over 180 kilometres of rolling roads that finished on top of the super steep Alto de Los Machucos climb in the northern reaches of Spain.

Denifl started the day in the breakaway and rode strongly towards the last climb. He took the maximum climbing points on the Puertos de Alisas. At the bottom of the last ascent he then accelerated as the riders at the front hit the early steep sections.

Behind Alberto Contador set off in pursuit of Denifl but he kept the lead all the way to the top losing just a few seconds.

The gap fell to 23 seconds with a kilometre to go he capitalised on the relief of a downhill section.

Denifl crossed the line and through his hands in the air for a historic victory.

After the finish he said:

“It all began 17 racing days ago and we all have been working towards today. It has been a long journey. We have many guys and it is their first grand tour for them. I was hoping somehow to help them a little bit and let them know how hard it was going to be. I have been getting better day by day and already on the rest day on Monday I started to feel pretty good. My goal was to be on a level on the last week of the Vuelta where I can win a stage. It just happened today it is just amazing.”
Stefan described the process of getting away and the work of seizing the victory:

“When the break went Conor Dunne helped me a bit to move up. I was there with three guys and the peloton didn’t leave us go. We had to really push hard for a long time to get clear. The peloton then sat up about 20 kilometres in and that was a point where we were really not sure what we should do because we were only three guys in the front with a head wind. Good thing was two more riders came. We got a good time gap and soon Astana started chasing and some other teams. But I knew I had good legs and I really didn’t care what was happening behind. The last climb was a little like Kitzbuheler Horn. I was just about pacing yourself and believing in yourself and it worked out.

“I didn’t know what was happening, I did not know Contador was coming for me. My radio was not working on the climb. It was amazing on that climb, there was so much people and I tried to enjoy it. You cannot enjoy it but I tried to get the energy of the people to get me going. Then like two kilometres to go I was looking back and I could see someone coming and I said to myself ‘Stefan you have to put everything together in yourself to do this’. I fought to the last kilometre because I knew that had a bit of downhill and you know it worked out.”

He dedicated his win to his young son:

“I do not know too much about him as I have been on the road and I only saw him for one week. He is Xavier and he is four weeks old and he is a good boy. He has no idea I won a Vuelta stage but maybe in a few years he will be proud of what his Dad did.”

Rick Delaney, Team Owner, said:

“To be honest, this has been a very emotional day. Not in our wildest dreams did I think that we could have won a stage in our first Grand Tour. Just to be here, participating and to do what we did today. The conditions that we did it in, the last seven kilometres, it was like going up a wall. To see our name and Alberto Contador and Chris Froome chasing us and not catching us. I mean it was just surreal. I think it shows you the self-belief here in this team. Let’s call it like it is, we don’t have the best riders in the world and the guys have raw talent. I don’t know what it is on this team but staff, riders everybody just seems to work. We get 150 per cent when we should only get 100 per cent.”

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