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”I had a a different approach to the climb. My past experience at the Lagos de Covagonda told me to ride in a different kind of way, at a pace that suited me best."

Photo: Sirotti

VUELTA A ESPAÑA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
31.08.2016 @ 21:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Chris Froome (Sky) showed that he is still very much in contention for the Vuelta a Espana victory when he took another victory on the Peña Cabarga climb where he won his first grand tour stage three years ago. After a huge battle with Nairo Quintana (Movistar), he beat the Colombian in a two-rider sprint before Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) sprinted to third from a small group six seconds later. Quintana retained his lead but Froome moved into second, 54 seconds behind the Colombian.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Chris Froome: I had to approach the climb differently

Chris Froome climbed to a thrilling stage win atop the Peña Cabarga to move up to second overall at the Vuelta a Espana.

 

Froome kept pace with his rivals up the famous six kilometre climb and then followed the attack of race leader Nairo Quintana in the final kilometre of stage 11, before rounding the Colombian to take a resounding victory.

 

He only closes the gap to Quintana by four seconds - he now trails the Movistar man by 54 seconds overall - but he was able to leapfrog Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who now sits third, one minute and five seconds back, after he crossed the line third, six seconds down.

 

Leopold Konig helped Froome up the climb and then held on to take a fine fourth place, crowning a magnificent day for the team in Spain. He stays sixth overall, three minutes and nine seconds off Quintana.

 

Speaking after the stage, Froome referenced his stage win atop the same climb in the 2011 Vuelta.

 

He said: "I've got some special memories here from 2011 and today adds to that. It's an incredible feeling.

 

"Quintana is really strong at the moment. He has the leader's jersey and I'm just trying to do as much as I can day by day, and hopefully I can keep getting closer to him.

 

"I just want to thank my team-mates for all the hard work they've done and also my family at home, for all the motivation and support, because at this point in the season after all the work I've done, it's really tough for me at the moment. A big thank you to them. I'm looking forward to coming home soon.

 

Of course I have special memories of 2011 at the Vuelta. I was riding against Cobo at the time and it was my first ever victory as a professional. So obviously I have special memories of this climb. Today was just another day. I knew the finish well, I knew the climb well. That definitely helped. Coming into the last 200 meters, I couldn't see the line but I knew the moment to accelerate. I'm really happy to have a stage win.

 

”Movistar have the lead now, Valverde is third. It's not for us to control, they have that responsibility at the moment.

 

“It' was definitely my intention coming into this Vuelta to ride myself into the race. It was difficult. After the Tour de France I had to go to the Olympics, I did not necessarily have much time to prepare specifically for the Vuelta. I wanted to build into the race and feel better in the second half and hopefully I'm on track for this now.

 

”I had a a different approach to the climb. My past experience at the Lagos de Covagonda told me to ride in a different kind of way, at a pace that suited me best. In the past I often exploded on that climb so I paced myself a lot better. It was the best way for me to ride. Today was a completely different climb. I approached it differently, it was better today to stay in the front.

 

”Definitely Quintana is really strong at the moment and he has the leader's jersey. I'm trying to do as much as I can and hopefully I can keep getting closer. He takes time and I take time and that's what makes it exciting.”

 

Leopold König: I can be a wild card for Froome

Konig came home in the same time as Valverde and spoke of his happiness and form after the stage.

 

He said: "I'm happy. We executed a plan. It's nice. We've won a stage and finally I could pull a little bit for Chris.

 

”We just used the help of Tinkoff and that's how we won it. We won the stage because of them otherwise we wouldn't have chased the breakaway. We're pretty on it.

 

"After a rest day you never know how you'll feel, but we are pretty on it. Let's hope for a better second part of the race. 

 

"On the Covadonga [on stage 10] I lacked the endurance because I've had so few racing days this year. I was a long time injured. But I think I can be up there in the hard climbs in the Pyrenees, play a wild card for Chris and occasionally help him."

 

Nairo Quintana: It’s difficult to think about Froome’s tactics

The tough slopes of Peña Cabarga offered another duel between GC contenders, even if a close one today, in the Vuelta a España. Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Chris Froome staged what seems like a two-man show in the overall fight, with permission from Alejandro Valverde, who keeps exploring his limits and surprising everyone. In the end, the Briton won ahead of Nairo Quintana, who only conceded the four-second bonus difference between first and second; in turn, Valverde took 3rd at only six seconds. All of that, after a really fast day of racing.

 

The four hours prior to the decisive climb were covered at 46kph average, thanks to furious pace for the early break - ultimately formed by 23 riders, including Ben Hermans (BMC), at just under seven minutes in the GC - and a courageous Tinkoff, which started pushing halfway through the stage to keep the escapees on a leash. The Movistar Team only had to take leading roles - following initial efforts from the relentless Imanol Erviti and Sutherland - at the bottom of the climb. Rojas, Castroviejo and a fundamental Rubén Fernández kept the GC group strung out, with no attacks, till the last 2km.

 

An acceleration by Chaves (OBE) anticipated the decisive move by Froome, who twice tried unfructuously to leave Quintana behind while Valverde fought to keep gaps short and later jump for the bonus seconds. There was a switch in the GC - 54” between Quintana and Froome, now 2nd, alverdesits in 3rd, 1’05” in arrears-, yet margins remain quite the same before two not-to-decisive stages in Bilbao (Thursday) and Urdax (Friday). A remarkable fact also happened after today: Movistar Team leads all classifications in the Vuelta, with Quintana first in the GC, KOM and Combination rankings; Valverde in green as Points leader; and the Blues on top of the Team prize.

 

Nairo Quintana said: 

 

“I’m fine. We crossed the finish line together with Froome today, though he won the stage as he’s usually faster in sprints. I keep in mind from today’s that Chris is showing to be strong, probably the biggest threat GC-wise - we must keep focus and look for other demanding stages, like Aubisque or Formigal, where we will surely see some fireworks.

 

”Froome’s tactics today? It’s difficult to think about how he rides. He’s a man who plays different approaches, and gets different or similar results. Last Saturday, at another short climb like La Camperona, I put time on him, and today, into similar terrain, we came together across the finish. We’ll see how the two of us react on longer climbs, in longer stages. We’ve also got our strategy, but we must remain cautious about him: he’s probably the one to beat.”

 

Alejandro Valverde: I knew that Froome woul pass me sooner or later

Alejandro Valverde said: 

 

“I remain happy about today’s result. We did a nice job. It’s true, Froome won, but Nairo proved to be as strong as him, and Chris only beat him in the sprint. I got that third place after working a bit for Nairo - you couldn’t do much else really, as the climb was short and there was no margin for playing strategy. As we all know, I’m in a completely new challenge for me, and it was clear to me that Froome would overtake me in the GC sooner or later. Fortunately, I remain in third spot.

 

“Our main plan today we letting a break go because there was just a rider 7 minutes behind in the GC and, for the rest, there wasn’t any real threat. The smaller the better, but having 23 riders ahead with no GC threats, it really didn’t matter to us. We had to keep our guys as fresh as possible. At some point, the gap was five minutes, but surprisingly, Tinkoff started pushing hard. We must congratulate them, as well as Froome, for the work they did today.

 

”It all remains as it was before today. Froome grabbed four seconds to Nairo but that’s all. One day you are behind and the other day you are not. The more time we get on Froome before the TT, the better. Today’s was another proof of the essence of cycling: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

 

”Tomorrow is a harder day even if it’s not a summit finish. We will have to be at the front. As a team, we are OK and today the boys could rest a bit as we haven’t worked that much, so tomorrow we’ll see how it goes.”

 

Alberto Contador: You have to take a risk to know if you can win

After the Tinkoff riders held a blistering pace to pull in the escape, it was a hard push on the day’s main climb for Alberto Contador, taking 5th on the stage and maintaining his hold on 5th in the GC.

 

The break’s advantage hit almost six minutes as the day went on, and the Tinkoff riders took up the chase, pushing a relentless pace to pull in the escapees as the race entered its final 60km. The speed of the chase was both reducing the gap on the break as well as putting the hurt into the GC riders in preparation for the climb to come. In less than 10km, the yellow jerseys of Tinkoff had brought the break below three minutes, and then approaching two, with Michael Gogl, Manuele Boaro, Sergio Paulinho and Ivan Rovny pushing hard, while Alberto Contador sat a few places back as the kilometres ticked down. With 15km to go, the break’s lead was well below a minute.


Sport Director, Steven De Jongh was thrilled with how hard the team worked to drive up the pace and bring the break back.

 

“We knew we couldn't let the break get to far and we closed the gap down to two minutes and then one minute. Hats off to the guys today – they did a great job.”

 

As the attacks came and the GC race started, Contador held his own and stayed up there with his rivals, and as the final big ramps saw others dropped, the Spanish Tinkoff leader kept on, crossing the line in 5th spot, just a few seconds behind the stage winner.

 

From the finish, Contador wasn’t sure how he would perform after the rest day, and while he had finished strongly, felt he didn’t have the legs.

 

“We already lost a lot of time for the GC, so we have to look for other objectives. Today was a summit finish which could have suited us, even if we didn’t know how I would feel after the rest day. We tried to control the break, even if there were 23 riders which made things complicated. We tried but then the legs didn't respond. There were riders stronger than me.”

 

De Jongh was pleased with how the Tinkoff leader rode the stage – particularly given the high speeds and the tough climb – and was looking to see how he would perform in the later stages.

 

“It was a fast race today. We tried to win the stage with Alberto and he did a very impressive job. It was very good from him – in the final, Froome and Quintana were strong, but Alberto was showing good signs and I'm happy for that, it's promising for the stages to come.”


While the team’s hard effort didn’t result in a win, Contador knew that taking risks was an integral part of cycling.

 

“You have to take risks in order to know whether you can win or not. It is of no use to have 25 riders finish ahead and the only option for us to be in the group. We also have to seek other options and other goals.”

 

“We tried, but I didn't have the legs and there were some riders who were better than me. We will keep trying. Everything that makes the Vuelta harder I think will make more differences between riders, and given the situation I'm in, it can’t be any worse for me.”

 

The Vuelta stays in the north for tomorrow’s 193.2km stage. The rolling parcours takes in a first and third category climb before the 100km point, before a finishing circuit around Bilbao that climbs the second category Alto El Vivero twice before the finish. The final kilometre is flat, but with the demanding 8.5% climb ridden twice, who knows who will take the win.

 

With the hard profile, De Jongh was expecting a strong breakaway effort on stage 12.

 

“Tomorrow will be a hard finishing lap and also hard at the start - it could be a stage where the break stays away. We will see how the race goes.”

 

After today’s strong effort and good result, the Tinkoff leader was waiting to see what the day would bring.

 

“Tomorrow is another day and we will see what we can do."

 

Esteban Chaves: It’s better to take a risk

2015 Tour of Abu Dhabi winner Esteban Chaves attacked bravely on the Pena Cabarga climb on stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana today, bringing the race to life before being caught with 800metres to go and retaining fourth on the general classification.

 

ORICA-BikeExchange teammate and stage six winner Simon Yates also rode strongly up the final climb to take sixth place on the stage and move up to seventh overall going into stage 12.

 

Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) won the stage with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in second, retaining the race lead.

 

The attack of Chaves animated the finale as the Colombian gave his all after ORICA-BikeExchange worked hard leading the peloton onto the start of the Pena Cabarga climb.

 

“You can just ride and hold on to finish sixth or seventh on the general classification,” said Chaves. “But it’s better to try and attack instead, win a stage and finish tenth overall.

 

“I prefer the longer climbs of forty or fifty minutes and today it was more like twenty minutes. It was a difficult finale, it was steep in the last kilometre and when you go hard like that you’re not really thinking because of the pain but we tried today and that’s important.

 

"I tried but it was not possible for us today. The important thing is to keep trying. The goal is still to finish in the best position in the general classification. The podium? We will see…"

 

Sport director Neil Stephens was content with the performance from the team and the position of Chaves and Yates ahead of stage 12.

 

“It was a super fast start to the stage that didn’t really let up,” said Stephens. “The breakaway took a long time to go and by then it was always looking like it would come back together for the Pena Cabarga.

 

“Hats off to Esteban (Chaves) and the boys for the way they rode today. It was maybe a little early to attack but the important thing is he left it out there and had a go.

 

“When you’re fourth overall and one of the best bike riders in the world then no-one is going to let you go easily and Esteban fought really hard to try and stay away.

 

“Of course we are pleased with our position at the moment, we’ve got two riders in the top ten and as we saw today Simon (Yates) paced himself really well up the final climb and has moved up to seventh.

 

“We will keep going forward and keep trying to chip away to create opportunities to move up, there’s a lot of hard racing to come over the next few days.”

 

Astana optimistic about Michele Scarponi at the Vuelta

"It's never an easy stage after the rest day,” said Astana’s Alessandro Vanotti. “The feelings change and you never know how you'll go".

 

"We did very well. Personally I’m growing like the rest of the team. We work together to help Scarponi".

 

"Even today Michele was very good and his 7th place today it gives us hope for the next stages. It’s a pity for Davide Malacarne who had managed to go on the attack but was caught due to the Tinkoff Team’s hard work,” said sports director Stefano Zanini.

 

Pierre Latour: I finished on courage

Pierre Latour (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was 9th. He said:

 

"Contador's team pulled all day behind the break because he wanted to win it and it made for a tough ride. In front we had the Bakelants card to play and behind we knew what we had to do, stay in the wheels, but it was still hectic. I finished on courage but eventually the result is quite good.

 

"Since the beginning of this Vuelta, I have different feelings every day. I'm glad to see that the legs respond well after a rest day. As of today, I was a bit into the unknown, I have never raced for so long. I held on as best I could on the climb. I thank all the guys who have protected Jean-Christophe and me perfectly from the start of the stage. Every day is difficult, there is never a dead moment. I hope this will calm down a bit and I could speak again in the mountains.2

 

Jean-Christophe Peraud: The sensations are coming back

Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was 13th. He said:

 

"To ride at this level is both pleasure and suffering. The sensations are coming back even if they're not the best in my career. Pierre Latour is here to take the baton from me and I'm trying to give him advice from time to time but he's a fast learner.

 

"I am not at my best but I do enjoy playing with the best in the front. So far, apart from the Covadonga stage, we had had stages for puncheurs with very short climbs. I eagerly await the stagesin the Pyrenees."

 

Ben Hermans: Why did Tinkoff pull so hard?

Ben Hermans tried his luck in the breakaway on stage 11 and was in a good position to contend for the stage win with a solo attack on the final climb.

 

Hermans formed part of the day’s 23-rider breakaway that went away after one hour of racing. The group quickly built an advantage of five minutes but were kept under control by Tinkoff, who picked up the pace and brought the breakaway’s advantage back down.

 

At the base of the Pena Cabarga climb, the advantage of Hermans’ group was under one minute but an attack from Hermans saw their lead stabilize, before he went on to attack again and lead the race solo with 5km to go.

 

Hermans fought to keep the General Classification contenders at bay but they eventually brought him back 3km before the line, making way for multiple attacks from the group.

 

It came down to a one-on-one battle between Chris Froome (Team Sky) and race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), with Froome eventually taking the win and Samuel Sanchez crossing the line in 10th place, 30 seconds behind Froome.

 

Sanchez remains in 10th place on the General Classification, 3’56” behind Quintana.

 

Ben Hermans said

 

“I think that’s racing. I don’t know what the plan was behind this, why Tinkoff pulled so hard. I think if they had kept us close at four minutes or something I never would have taken the jersey as I’m not a threat in the GC. We only had 30 or 40 seconds at the bottom of the climb and I think if I had 1’40” I could make it to the finish. The team was really motivated to go in the break. I saw all of my teammates going in every breakaway but I was the lucky one. I chose the right moment. I attacked myself actually on a bridge. At first I thought that all of the peloton was on my wheel but there so many guys there, it was a big group. It was perfect for me as I didn’t have to do too much at the front and we gained 5 minutes quite quickly so everybody was thinking that we would go to the climb for the stage win. I was even thinking about the jersey, but they really had to do a lot of work. I will pay for this effort for sure. Today I had really fresh legs because of the rest day but for sure tomorrow I will feel the fatigue.”

 

Samuel Sánchez said:

 

“Today was a hard day because of the pace. The pace at the beginning was too fast. It was a one-hour fight for the breakaway to go away, and then the breakaway finally went away with 24 riders more or less. Then it slowed down but only for about 5km and then Tinkoff started pulling super hard and too fast. The final climb was good. It was a good tempo from Movistar, and then attacks from Sky and [Estaban Chaves]. I was behind the favorites and lost 25, maybe 26 seconds on Chris Froome. The Vuelta a Espana is one day less and there’s eight days which are super complicated. It’s a hard Vuelta and today was super fast.”

 

Gianluca Brambilla loses time: Maybe I can go in a break now

Among the riders in the break were also Pieter Serry, who was at his third escape since the start of the race, and Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner Zdenek Stybar, who won the day's intermediate sprint, who both represented Etixx-QuickStep

 

Former wearer of the red jersey and winner of stage 9, David De La Cruz was in the mix until the final two kilometers, when Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) attacked, sparking a response from Chris Froome (Team Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Movistar duo Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. At that point, the peloton was already strung out, Etixx – Quick-Step's Spaniard being one of the few who were still holding on the wheels of the GC favourites, despite the frantic rhythm.

 

De La Cruz paced himself admirably on Peña Cabarga, finishing 11th, half a minute later, a result thanks to which he kept his top 10 place in the general classification ahead of stage 12 of the Spanish Grand Tour (Las Corrales de Buelna – Bilbao, 193.2 kilometers), that will take the peloton over four classified climbs.

 

Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quick Step) lost time:

 

"It was really hard. It can happen after a rest day that you don't have a good feeling with the legs. I suffered a bit of pain in my left leg from the crash two days ago. In the last climb, I tried to follow but then, at minus two, I preferred to think about another day. Today I lost five minutes in the GC. Now a break is also possible."

 

Cannondale lose two riders on bad day at the Vuelta

Cannondale-Drapac lost road captain Simon Clarke before the start of Vuelta a Espanna stage 11 to a fractured scapula. Paddy Bevin was forced to withdraw from his first Grand Tour with knee pain. Not quite yet at the mid-point of the final three week race of the season, and the Green Argyle nine had quickly become seven.

 

“To not have Simon is not good news for us,” said sport director Juanma Garate. “Andrew had a lot of confidence with him. Simon is always at the front for the right moment. It’s a big miss for us to lose him.”

 

“Paddy – he came back from his first crashe and then he crashed again,” Garate explained. “He had a lot of pain in his knee, and we didn’t have options with him to continue. To Paddy, I say: ‘I’m sorry. I’m not happy, and I know you too are not happy.’ It has been a hard year for Paddy with crashes, so I’m sad for him.”

 

Despite the loss in numbers, Cannondale-Drapac rallied. Pierre Rolland won a hard-fought battle to make it into a large breakaway that formed in the second hour of the stage.

 

“Today was our plan to have Pierre away,” noted Garate. “Normally on this stage, the break can ride to the climb. We wanted Pierre to be in the break with not a lot of other climbers.”

 

“We did have Pierre in the break and maybe he was the best climber in there, but we didn’t have luck,” Garate added. “Tinkoff was running in the front of the bunch to pull the break back for options for Alberto Contador. Coming to the base of the climb with 20 seconds was not enough.”

 

The general classification riders threw down on the way up Peña Cabarga. Davide Formolo finished alongside Andrew Talansky with the Italian slotting into 14th place on the stage, two spots ahead his American teamamte. The duo each gained one spot overall with Talansky now in 11th on the general classification, two places and 41 seconds ahead of Formolo.

 

“Davide is learning a lot this Vuelta,” said Garate. “He’s learning how to do the general classification for the future. He’s always watching Andrew, following Andrew, helping when it’s necessary and learning from him the work of the leader.”

 

While Garate had hoped for more in terms of results, he is satisfied with the performances he sees out on the road.

“I cannot say that I’m happy with our day because it was not a super day,” said Garate. “But I can say that I’m happy with the performance of our riders, specifically about the motivation that they have shown and how involved they are in every part of the race. For this, I am super proud of my guys even if I’m not happy with the result at the end of the day.”

 

Madrazo animates home stage, Goncalves abandons due to muscle fatigue

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA was very active on stage 11 of Vuelta a España with two riders in the big breakaway and Sergio Pardilla following the GC favorites on the final climb.
 
Despite suffering from a bad crash on the previous stage, Ángel Madrazo (photo) was very keen on performing well on his home roads today. Prior to the start of the Vuelta, Madrazo said he dreamed of winning this stage on familiar territory and the 28-year-old Spaniard did not let his hurting body hold him back. Together with Caja Rural - Seguros RGA teammate, David Arroyo, Madrazo made into the break of the day. The group quickly gained a big gap on the peloton but then Tinkoff went to the front to set a furious pace. The distance between the break and the pack diminished rapidly and when the front group started on the final ascent to Peña Cabarga, they had less than 30 seconds to the peloton.
 
Madrazo was the first rider to attack on the steep slopes at the bottom of the climb but with the charging peloton right behind him, the attack didn’t last long. Instead, the top favorites for the general classification took the scene. Here, Pardilla proved to be amongst the strongest climbers in the race as he stay with the best riders for the majority of the climb. At the end, Pardilla finished 12th on the stage and moved up to 14th place in the GC. Madrazo finished his day on home soil on the podium as he was awarded the Fair Play prize of the stage.
 
Ángel Madrazo said: 

 

“Yesterday, I could barely go training as my whole body was hurting but I wanted to stay in the race. Today, I attacked right from the beginning of the stage. I think I was in almost all the breaks before the big group finally got away. I knew it would be difficult with Tinkoff pulling in the peloton, but I wanted to keep going to be the first one on Peña Cabarga. It’s a shame we didn’t make it but we will keep trying”.
 
Sergio Pardilla said: 

 

“I don’t understand why but Tinkoff worked incredibly hard to catch the break. I guess Contador wanted to win the stage. On the final climb, I felt good and I stayed with the best riders until the last 800 meters when Froome and Quintana attacked. I gave it my all and I think the team did well today with two riders in the break and me up there on the last climb”.
 
Unfortunately, Caja Rural - Seguros RGA had to see José Gonçalves abandoning Vuelta a España due to muscle fatigue during today’s stage. This means the Spanish team is now down to seven riders after Lluis Mas crashed out earlier in the race.

 

Maxime Monfort: The next two days will be for a breakaway

Maxime Monfort was the first rider of Lotto Soudal to cross the finish line as nineteenth and Sander Armée, who was in the breakaway all day, was 51st.

 

Monfort said:

 

"It was the same scenario as the other days, an ultra fast start with a breakaway that eventually formed after a good hour of racing. I tried several times but without success. So there were 23 riders in front but today Tinkoff wanted to go for the stage win. The pace was really incredible. The final was decided on  a 6 kilometer climb. I'm happy with my climb. I managed it well. The next two days, I think the break will go to the end. It will be important to be there. "

 

Lampre-Merida: Kristijan Durasek could have done something beautiful

After the first rest day of the Vuelta a Espana, LAMPRE-MERIDA faced the 11th stage with a lively fighting spirit.

As confirmation, two blue-fuchsia-green riders joined the main breakaway of the stage: among the 23 attackers were also Kristijan Durasek and Ilia Koshevoy.

After the ambitions of Koshevoy and Durasek had vanished, the top contenders for the general classification began their battle. The first blue-fuchsia-green rider was Meintjes, 22nd at 1'24". In the general classification, the South African climber is 20th at 8'10".

"It was not easy to be in the main breakaway today, because the first 50 km in the race were characterized by the very high speed of the bunch and by a series of attack attempts,” sports director Pedrazzini explained. “Congrats to Durasek and Koshevoy, in particular we were happy to see Ilia in the front group after that he suffered a lot in the past days because of the consequences of a crash.

”It was a pity that the peloton withTeam Tinkoff was in the head position of the bunch decided to control the breakaway and to neutralize it, otherwise I feel that Durasek could have obtained a good result".

 

Martijn Keizer: I believed in my chances

Martijn Keizer shot free in a large escape group to have a chance at victory in the 11th stage of the Vuelta a España today in northern Spain. It came to nothing because at five  kilometres out on the Peña Cabarga summit finish, the stars caught the break and Chris Froome (SKY) took the victory. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) remains the leader.

 

Tough not a climber, Keizer considered himself to have a chance in the 186-kilometre stage.

 

"If you are in a position for a stage win, the race opens up. So perhaps you can break away with a small group without other climbers and save enough to hold them off." 

 

"The plan in a stage like today's is to be in the breakaway,” Sports Director Addy Engels. “With so many attacks, it is almost a lottery, so it is good that we succeeded to get a rider in the break.”

 

After covering 50 kilometres in the first hour, a group of 23 went free with Keizer.

 

“The whole team fought to get in the break, and this time it was my luck,” Keizer said.

 

“Soon we had more than five minutes and that motivated us. We worked well together to stay in the front, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. When Tinkoff started the chase the gap shrank and left us to hope that our advantage at the foot of the climb would be enough.”

 

Tomorrow, the Vuelta covers 193 kilometres to Bilbao. Engels knows that it will be important to be in the breakaway again.

 

"There is a difficult climb in the final loop, which will be covered twice. The attack group can definitely stay away until the end. So we must have someone in it."

 

Bora-Argon 18 down to 7 riders at the Vuelta a  Espana

After Bartosz Huzarski already crashed out of the Vuelta in stage 10, Silvio Herklotz got sick on the rest day and was not able to take on today’s stage 11 of the race. BORA – ARGON 18 is down to 7 riders entering the 2nd and 3rd week in Spain.

 

For BORA – ARGON 18 the goal was to get into the break of the day and then fight for the stage on the final climb.

It took more than 50k until a break finally could go clear from the peloton, and it was a big one. 23 riders including Cesare Benedetti and Christoph Pfingsten went away from the peloton and built a lead up to 5 minutes. Finally, also Christoph Pfingsten joined a breakaway at the Vuelta. He already tried hard several times but without success. Today he was at the head of the race in his first Grand Tour.

 

Just before the final climb Christoph Pfingsten attacked and started it in front. But already in the first kilometre of climbing all breakaway riders were caught by the bunch.

 

José Mendes climbed well today and finished in 25th place 1:38 down on the stage winner.

 

"It was a very fast stage and took really long until the group went away. We tried to save some energy in the beginning because we thought that we cpild go for a good result in the end. But then Tinkoff made a move and it was clear that we wouldnøt make it to the finish. I attacked from the break just before the final climb but was caught when we started climbing,” Christoph Pfingsten.

 

Tiago Machado: I want more than this

Sometimes the stage after the rest day is difficult for riders, but Team KATUSHA’s Tiago Machado and Jhonatan Restrepo both felt plenty of power in the legs for Wednesday’s stage 11 and put themselves in the big 23-man breakaway. While the break was caught on the last climb coming at 6km to go, Machado’s daily effort earned him the honor of most aggressive rider once again.

 

”We have to try to do something every day. We have 10 days more and this is what we will keep doing. I am happy to go onto the podium again to accept this award but to be honest, I want more. I want to be fighting for a stage win.  It’s never easy to fight for victory but at least we have to try,” said Tiago Machado. 

 

”I’m very happy about how things went today. It was a very hard day and so fast and I think we will see more hard days to come for the next few days, especially for the GC. I was hoping the breakaway could stay away on the last climb but when it came down to 15-seconds I knew it was not possible. Tonight I think I will sleep very well,” said Jhonatan Restrepo.

 

“It was quite a fast stage. We tried to go in the break, but it seems that Tinkoff’s goal was to catch us. Maybe Alberto [Contador] felt good. They did their race and we tried to do ours. At the end, there was no motivation left to fight for victory as the peloton was just some seconds behind us and we had no strength left after pulling all day. It was incredibly hard to make the breakaway, it took 50 kilometres of attacking before they let a group go. For sure, we will try again.”

 

Team KATUSHA rider Matvey Mamykin was also eager to test his legs and began the final climb in front of the peloton, but didn’t get the results he had hoped.

 

“It went so well in the first kilometers of the climb, but then suddenly I could not get in enough air and it hurt to breathe. It was a real pity,” said young Mamykin.

 

Difficult day for Giant-Alpecin at the Vuelta

For Team Giant-Alpecin it was a challenging day, Tobias Ludvigsson was the first home for the team, he passed the finish line in 35th place, 2’32” behind the winner. The team will now look forward to tomorrow’s stage.

 

Coach Luke Roberts said after the stage:

 

“Today was once again a big fight to get in the breakaway and it took a long time until a group of 23 riders finally got clear. Koen [De Kort] and Johannes [Fröhlinger] did well to be part of it. Unfortunately, Tinkoff were not happy letting the break go to the finish and they chased hard to close it down at the base of the final climb, leaving the GC riders to fight for the stage win.”

 

African talents show themselves in Vuelta mountains

Merhawi Kudus was Dimenion Data’s best placed finisher. He spent most of the day in the break but was caught by the aforementioned riders with 4km to go and eventually crossed the line 2.45min down.

 

The race started with a blistering pace and it took a long while until 23 riders managed to break clear from the peloton. Kudus and Jacques Janse van Rensburg managed to jump into the group. However, Movistar and Tinkoff were not overly keen on letting the group get a big gap and kept a striking distance. In the finale the gap dropped below the 1min mark and it was then that both Kudus and Janse van Rensburg showed the African team’s fighting spirit. The latter was one of the first to attack from the break, but he was pulled back by the others. Kudus then tried to stay out as long as possible, yet when the GC favorites decided to start their fireworks it was all over for him and the remaining break.

 

Merhawi Kudus said:

 

”After yesterday’s rest day a lot of teams tried to be present in the break. At the beginning it was really hard. The break took more than one hour to forge clear, but luckily I made it together with Jacques. With 90km to we had a gap of nearly 5min, but then the peloton really picked up the pace and the gap came down quickly. In the end I gave all I had to stay upfront. We got caught on the final climb, but I guess that cycling.”

 

Fabio Felline loses to time to be able to go for stage win at the Vuelta

There was no easing back into the Vuelta a Espana one day after the rest day as an undulating stage 11 culminated with another stiff category-one rated climb.

 

As the general classification begins to take shape after 10 days of racing, the chance a non-threatening breakaway succeeds to the line increases, and stage 11 began, once again, with a feverish fight to be in the escape group. And, when everyone wants to be in the move, the speed of the race remains elevated until the elastic snaps, which can often take an hour or more of intense racing.

 

It was an hour at nearly 50km/h average speed before a group of 23 riders emerged with Kiel Reijnen represented for Trek-Segafredo.

 

"I was feeling stale in the beginning after the rest day," said Reijnen. "My job was to take care of Fabio (Felline) for the day and not worry about the breakaway, but the attacks went for a really long time, and I could see the guys were using a lot of gas trying to get in a break, so I made sure I helped.

 

"In the end, it was a big breakaway, and I thought it had a chance for the stage. I wasn't going to win from that group, but I could have gotten something out of it.  I guess Tinkoff had other plans."

 

The breakaway had gained five minutes before Tinkoff took control, eliminating all but 20 seconds ahead of the steep Peña Cabarga finish climb.

 

"It took 50k for the break to go, and the last 60k we were full gas, so it was a super fast stage," continued Reijnen. "I can say I was glad I had the aero bike (Madone) today! I was not going so fast anymore on the last climb, and it was so steep that I could not recover and go easy."

 

Riccardo Zoidl and Haimar Zubeldia were the first of the team to finish, three minutes and change behind Chris Froome (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who went one-two on the stage to remain in the top two spots overall.

 

Fabio Felline eased out of the GC battle and finished almost 12 minutes down, a planned move to increase his chances for a stage win over the remaining days.

 

"Now is the time in the Vuelta to start jumping and going with breakaways, I think they have a good chance at staying away, and I am surprised that today's breakaway didn't," explained Reijnen. "The team goal is to walk away with at least a stage win, so we will try and put ourselves in situations where we can at least do that. If Fabio continues to fight for the GC, it takes away the opportunity for him to win a stage, and he has shown that he can definitely win a stage, so it's worth sacrificing that to focus on the stages.

 

"But any of the guys are capable of doing this in the right breakaway; it just depends on the stage and the combination of riders. There's maybe a couple of sprint days left, and with Bonifazio out we don't have a reason to chase, but I will stick my nose in the wind if I get the opportunity. We have to get the right guy in the right move for the right day."

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