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"Should we keep this minute we have when the Calpe TT looms, he’ll be the main favourite. I think three minutes would be a reasonable gap to tackle the time trial with calmness."

Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson


29.08.2016 @ 22:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) confirmed that he is the strongest rider in the Vuelta a Espana when he rode to victory on a very spectacular and dramatic stage 10 of the Spanish race. When Chris Froome (Sky) was about to regain contact after time trialing his way back to the front after getting dropped early, the Colombian made a big attack and then soloed to victory and back into the race lead. With a huge comeback, Froome crossed the line in third, 25 seconds behind the Colombian and one second behind early escapee Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), while Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) paid for his attempt to follow Quintana and lost more than a minute.


We have gathered several reactions.


Nairo Quintana: I need at least three minutes on Froome before the TT

Nairo Quintana completed one of the best rides in his excellent pro career on Monday atop the Lagos de Covadonga, end of stage 10 in the 2016 Vuelta a España (189km). Supported by a sensational Movistar Team, the Colombian wrote his name down the list of winners in the legendary climb in Asturias, and got back to GC leadership in the Vuelta a España with a minute’s gap over his own team-mate Alejandro Valverde. The Spaniard - 5th over the summit - showed again that his experience and class are unrivalled in the pro scene, and remains fully in contention after spending two-and-a-half Grand Tours among the top guns.


The squad directed by José Luis Arrieta and Chente García Acosta - which suffered an early crash (10km in), with only minor blows and bruises (knee, hip and elbow for Quintana), for Quintana himself as well as Rory Sutherland - took command in the field with 60km from the end. The relentless duo of Sutherlamd and Imanol Erviti pushed hard in the flat before the Mirador del Fito (Cat-1) and on the section between the penultimate climb and the foot of the ‘Santina’, where Jonathan Castroviejo took the relay from the two big rouleurs. With the gap quickly shrinking from 2’30”, which the day’s break held at the bottom of the climb, Castroviejo, José Herrada and a fantastic Rubén Fernández selected the group with big turns in the first half of the ascent. With 6km to go, the decisive moment came: an acceleration from Alberto Contador (TNK) forced Quintana to react.


Quintana’s two attacks helped him to drop Contador, leave Chris Froome (SKY) behind and close in on solo leader Gesink (TLJ), eventually overtaking the Dutchman to win the stage with twenty-five seconds on Froome. The Briton, dropped at the beginning of the climb, started progressing in his usual, consistent style to reach Alejandro Valverde, who always rode at his own pace. The two ended up pretty much close to the Colombian from the Movistar Team, which takes the Blues up to 33 victories in 2016 and leads both the GC and Combination standings. Valverde has taken over the 1st place in the Points ranking.


The 58-second gap between Nairo and Froome in the overall classification means Quintana will have to keep attacking in the second part of the race, looking towards the decisive stage 19 TT in Calpe. For the moment, the Blues will enjoy a much-deserved first rest day in Asturias on Tuesday.


Nairo Quintana said: 


“Let’s hope this one is a jersey we can keep for a longer period! What I felt and saw today was wonderful - it really makes me confident that I can fight to win this Vuelta. I felt well all over the day, leaving aside that crash in the beginning. The great work by the whole team was visible today, and made for a bigger motivation to win and reward them with the stage. I had always dreamt to win here and I could make that dream come true today. It really makes me happy to put my name under this stage, and especially how we did it, together with the team. It would have been impossible without them.


“I felt strong in the beginning of the climb and it was easy to get into the right position, thanks to the fantastic pace by all of my team-mates, above all Rubén Fernández. He made it look easy and prevented all previous attacks. As I saw he was running out of gas, Alberto’s (Contador) attack came - I followed him and jumped twice to open the gaps with Froome and seek for the stage win.


"I felt good. I saw that there weren’t many of us left, then the attacks came and I went with Alberto. Froome is still very close when you look at what’s to come.


“Chris remains pretty close for the remainder of the race. We must continue to pick up the pressure, doing the same we’ve done until this point: attacking and attacking to distance him further. Should we keep this minute we have when the Calpe TT looms, he’ll be the main favourite. I think three minutes would be a reasonable gap to tackle the time trial with calmness.


”It's a bit difficult to understand the way he rode but maybe their strategy was to start slowly. But little by little I'm getting used to the way he rides and I hope that we can find a way of opening up even more of a gap on GC.


"I'm very pleased to get the victory here, in what is such an iconic climb. I was dreaming of winning on a summit of champions. I checked out the climb beforehand because I knew it was so important. I was dreaming of having my name alongside compatriots like Herrera and Rincón, together with other magnificent riders.


“It feels great to lead the race. I always trusted my abilities, but sometimes you feel better while other times your body reacts worse. Now that everything goes through the right path, I enjoy and live everything with great excitement.


”It is a great pride and joy to win here. For me it was a big dream to win in a place where so many great riders have won, and to have my name associated to them is a honor. Great riders and climbers have won here.


“The team has done a great job, not only today but from the start. They trust their leader and their leader responded today. I am very proud of them. I want to thank them all, because without them it would not have been possible to win.


”I'm not really fresh. I rode the Tour and a lot of of races before the Tour. I can feel it. At this point, I can feel the fatigue of the whole year but I still feel good and I hope to defend the jersey.


”From now on, every day is danegrous. There are tricky days ahead, it'll be very difficult until the last day. I knew this was a decisive stage but there are more difficult times ahead in which we must be careful.


”In the Tour, I was not in good health, I was affected by allergies. Here I have not had any problems so far and is very important. The body is back to normal and back to his best.


”I feel pretty sore from a crash, I hope it won't be too bad. I have a nasty blow to the hip and elbow, the knee hurts a little too, but hopefully it won't be a major problem. Luckily, now is the rest day.


There was a pile-up in front of the pack. We were forced to brake hard and we got tangled together in the crash.


“What my body asks from me at this point is saluting my whole family, especially my mum. She always prays for me so everything can go right. I just love her - she’s the best mum I could ever dream of having.


“Also, this goes for the team - they’ve made possible for me to fulfil these dreams. It’s not only about those in the Vuelta, but the whole group in general.


”Tomorrow? We’ll have to keep our legs rolling for a while and trying to recover after the early crash.”


Alejandro Valverde: I surprised myself

“So, the Lagos? They were tough! (laughs). I really feel happy about today. Winning the stage with Nairo, finishing right behind Froome… I’m super happy. I’m even surprising myself. It’s my third Grand Tour of the year, already 10 stages in, many demanding ones… and we’re still in the mix. I’m ‘enjoying’ the bike, between quotation marks as you endure lots of suffering. Results have been good up to this point, we’re offering spectacle to the fans and I just hope they’re enjoying our efforts. It’d be great to continue this way for long.


“I knew that Froome would come really fast from behind, and as Nairo attacked, I kept my own pace and stayed with Rubén, who set a fantastic pace. I was conserving some energy so as to follow Froome when he came past - even after his furious pace at the end, I only lost three seconds to him.


“Froome isn’t surprising: he always drops back, he was even trailing by 40” halfway through the ascent, yet he overcomes riders at an impressive pace. It’s not the first time - we all know about his excellent abilities.


“It was a phenomenal day for us. A bit hard at the beginning with the crash in which Nairo also fell down, but he was OK. At the end, Etixx has done a bit of work and we were great, so we could win the stage thanks to the great work of the whole team.


”There’s always a sporting battle with Team Sky, and for the moment we are ahead. Let’s take it day by day. Nairo has shown that he’s in a great level of form, and we hope to continue like this.


“Tomorrow we have a rest day which will be great for all the riders. We are already thinking about the next stage. We will see how much time we can take to Froome. We all know he is better than us in the TT, so as much time as we can gain to him, the better.


”GC-wise, this minute Nairo has on Froome isn’t much, but there’s a lot of mountains ahead. God knows we’ll give our all to increase that gap.”


Robert Gesink after great comeback: It gives me a good feeling

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Robert Gesink finished second in the Vuelta a España’s stage 10 to Lagos de Covadonga today. Gesink made the escape with his team-mate Victor Campenaerts and was the last rider to hang on, finishing behind winner Quintana (Movistar) and holding off Chris Froome (Sky).


"This was a nice day, it’s not fun that another rider was faster, but it gives me a good feeling,” said Gesink.


He marked the attacks and then left his former escape companions behind.


"It is not about who is the first to attack and who goes the fastest immediately, so I set my own pace and I quickly noticed that I could drop the others.


"Campenaerts did a good job, too. He ensured the speed stayed high when there was a lack of collaboration in the break. Even I went to the front a few times to set the pace because the majority were mainly concerned with the last climb, instead of maximising the lead we had.


Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo, 2nd): "I did what I could. Cooperation in the group wasn't good, we didn't take enough time. We knew it was going to be close. This is cycling. But this was really good. And I hope to feel that good in the third week."


The stage began with a bit of chaos and some falls.


"We saved ourselves in the first two hours of the race. We avoided the crashes, as well,” said Sports Director Addy Engels. "We made the break of 16 with our men. Victor Campenaerts did a lot of work so that Gesink could go free. The only thing Robert could do is ride as hard as possible, and he did that.”


"My goal is to be good in the second part of the Vuelta,” Gesink continued. “My feeling is that today, the second part of the Vuelta began.


"We all were in a difficult spot after Kruijswijk had to abandon. It lasted for days, but now we have turned things around."




"The last few days were a lot better,” Engels said. “It is nice to see that the team has picked itself up. It took a while but we are back on track."


Behind the escape, George Bennett rode among the favourites for a long time. The New Zealander finished 23rd and remained in the classification’s top twenty.


"Bennett held up well during the final climb, but it’s not our plan to keep him in the GC,” Engels added. “We want to ensure that, like today, we can create a chance to win a stage. I also see an opportunity for Bennett."


Chris Froome: I had learned from my mistake on La Camperona

Chris Froome bravely battled to a thrilling third place on stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana.


Froome found himself distanced on the early slopes of the hors categorie Lagos de Covadonga but he fought back in fine fashion and, once he found his rhythm, he scythed back through the field on the 14 kilometre final climb.


At one stage he was a minute back on the elite GC group yet he remained composed and worked his way back to the bunch inside the final four kilometres.


He was then able to put time into rivals Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) but he couldn't get back on terms with Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who stayed away to take the stage win and move into the race lead.


Froome was pipped to the line by Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the battle for second, 25 seconds back on Quintana, leaving the Colombian with a 58 second lead over Froome and a 57 second lead over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who sits second.


Leopold Konig dug in to finish 15th, one minute and 31 seconds back, and he is now sixth overall, two minutes 57 seconds off the lead. Pete Kennaugh did a lot of work for Froome on the climb before coming home just over two minutes down, and is now 17th, five minutes back.


“I just rode the climb at the best pace I felt was the efficient way to get up there and according to how I thought the legs were feeling,” Froome told Cyclingnews and Cyclingweeklu.


“Nairo is in great form and we’ve seen that over the last few days. I’ve got to be happy with where I’m at, just keep doing my thing and hope that over the next few days I find either an opportunity to go for it or defend my position that we’re in and wait for the time trial.”


“regardless of what was going on around me. I was just riding at the pace that I felt was most appropriate for a climb, for a 35 minute effort and I could see guys I was going past being blown from the front and they maybe started off a bit fast, so I used my team-mates the best I could and they did a great job today.


“It was good for the morale but I knew that Quintana was a good 45 seconds up the road and that was pretty tough too, not having to chase after that and respond straightaway. But for this point in the season, after the Tour or the Olympics , I'm just hanging on to what I have left and I'm trying to get through the best I can.


"I was riding more by feeling today, just riding with what I felt I could do on the climb in the most efficient way to get up there and not to lose every more time.


“I mean, who knows, maybe if I'd gone and really pushed myself at the beginning, I would've lost even more time. I felt like that was the quickest way for me to get up there today and I think at this point I really have to calculate my efforts.


“Like I saw a couple of days ago when I really got stuck into the climb earlier on, I paid for it afterwards. I think today was definitely a more measured effort. Also in the past, every time I have ridden this climb, I have blown, so I feel like today was a better effort than I have done in the past.


”It is a big gap. If I can get more time back that would obviously be ideal, but if not, I will have to make do with what I have got.”


Peter Kennaugh: Froome’s confidence is incredible

Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) said:


"God that hurt. It was a kind of a plan to not go into the red and risk too much. David Lopez did a great job as well in the first couple of km. I did the best I could trying to ride at Froome's pace as long as possible. I was able to keep going at my own pace for the rest of the climb but I didn't have that extra edge. It was a  good team ride. I haven't seen the results  but it sounds like Quintana is flying.


”Froome was just encouraging me the whole way up there to make sure we didn't go too hard. The confidence he's got to let the guys go in the first couple of km is incredible. If I was riding for myself, I would almost certainly do the opposite thing and stay in the wheels for as long as possible but if you see Contador, he ended up blowing just like Valverde, it  goes to show what Froome does.


”There's still a long way to go in this race. Anything can happen. Today was the first proper mountain stage. The Vuelta is supposed to be the most exciting race and I think it showed up again. It was a crazy stage from the start. 


”That crash in the beginning was really nasty. I don't know what it is with the riders these days. Maybe it's the pressure from the team directors: stay in the front, stay in the front!"



Excellent Omar Fraile mixes it up with the grand tour stars

The first big summit finish of this year’s Vuelta a Espana turned out to be an exciting race and a terrific day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. After a big battle to find the break of the day, Omar Fraile, the Basque climber, was able to infiltrate the 16 rider lead group that went clear after 70km’s of racing.


Movistar and Etixx-Quickstep kept close tabs on the breakaway, but the gap was still able to reach the 5’30” mark. While the 12.2km Lavos da Covadonga was the big finishing climb of the day, riders would also have to deal with the 6km category 1 Alto de Fito at 42km to go. When the big lead group began the first climb, the peloton was just 3’20” back but Fraile had one immediate target, and that was to take maximum King of the Mountain points at the summit.


Fraile attacked the group just inside of a kilometre from the top and Luis Angel Mate followed the Basque climber. A 2nd effort just before the line saw Fraile secure the 10 points on offer at the top. Fraile and Mate began the descent together as the chasers started to pull back the 25” gap the leading duo had opened up at the top of the climb. It was only in the valley between the two big climbs where Fraile and Mate were brought back into the fold.


Once the break was all back together though, the cohesion ended as a number of riders started to skip turns. This resulted in the peloton bringing the gap down to just 2’30” by the time Fraile and co. reached the foot of the Covadonga. A few early accelerations from the break saw Fraile dropped and it was thought, this was the end of his day. Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) and Gesink were the two riders who then led the way up the climb from the break but the peloton, being led by Movistar, was closing in fast.


With 6km to go the attacks from the favourites group came as Quintana and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) surged ahead of the rest. Their acceleration brought them up to the wheel of Fraile who then latched on to the wheels of the two favourites as Gesink now led the race alone, 45” up the road. Incredibly, Fraile was able to hold the wheel of Quintana and Contador as they went on to catch and pass the majority of the breakaway that had left Fraile behind at the start of the climb.


Quintana then attacked Contador and Fraile with 3km to go and this was just as Froome came back into contention from behind. There was no catching Quintana though, he went past Gesink who was snapped up by Froome & Fraile in the final kilometres as well. Fraile crossed the line in 4th place, a great result in its own right but his efforts today also saw him take the lead in King of the Mountains competition.


Omar Fraile said:

“The break took a really long time to go away today. For 70km it was just attack after attack, it was very fast and a difficult start. When we finally went away it was easier and then in the final I had a good feeling. I knew my form was good so I was just being patient and riding a good rhythm. When the favourites came, it was possible to hold their wheel. I am really happy with this ride as I could move into the climber’s jersey which was the goal I had for the day. The jersey gives me good motivation which I will take into the next stages.”


Strong Michele Scarponi: I rode defensively

"I started with the right spirit,” said Michele Scarponi who was brilliant sixth on top of the Lagos de Covadonga , “and I rode defensively, succeeding to arrive with Froome and Valverde and not far behind Quintana.


"We have arrived at the midpoint and my ninth place in GC satisfies me fully. I am going forward.”


"Today Michele was really strong and what surprises me is that his condition is improving day by day,” - commented sport director Alexandr Shefer.


Esteban Chaves still looking for opportunities at the Vuelta

A famously tough summit finish on stage ten of the Vuelta a Espana today saw the race for the general classification spring to life again with Esteban Chaves andSimon Yates now fourth and eight respectively for ORICA-BikeExchange.


The Lagos de Covadonga climb has decided many Vuelta a Espana results and came right at the end of today’s demanding mountain stage with the race duly splitting apart after a series of brutal attacks from the favourites' group.


Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the stage and reclaimed the race lead ahead of tomorrow’s rest day with Chaves recovering well to take seventh on the day and move into fourth overall.


Stage six winner Simon Yates again finished close to Chaves and has crept up to eighth on the general classification.


Sport director Neil Stephens recognised the difficulty of the stage and praised the team’s efforts.


“It was a really hectic stage right from the start,” said Stephens. “Simon (Yates) got caught up in one of the early crashes but thankfully there were no problems and the team went on to do another great job.


“We were very focused on holding a good position onto the final climb and we did that very well. Once we actually hit the slopes we thought the breakaway would be caught before the finish and knew it was important to stay near the front.


“Hats off to Esteban and Simon for the way they performed together today, they both fought very hard and rode with strength and intelligence.


“We are gradually solidifying our positions in the top ten and that’s really pleasing to see. Of course there is still a long way to go, but the race is starting to take shape and we will continue to look for any opportunities that come our way to move up.”


Alberto Contador: I made the wrong decision when I tried to follow Quintana

The Tinkoff leader, Alberto Contador, today showed the fighting spirit that has made him one of the most successful riders in the professional peloton. With the race’s first top category climb coming the day before the race’s first rest day, the Spanish rider surged forward in the final 10km of the stage to finish a strong 8th position that saw him jump to a top five position in the GC.


Having started the day 7th in the GC, Contador saw an opportunity to take some time as the race entered its final 10km and the pace rose substantially. In spite of his injuries, he took up the chase for the line with two of his GC rivals to reel in the last members of the break. The drizzle in the air didn’t dampen his spirits as he crossed the line in 8th position – his strong placing pushing him up to 5th overall after excelling on the hardest day of the race so far.


The Spanish rider gave some insight into how the ascent of Lagos de Covadonga unfolded. 


“Following Nairo in the final climb took its toll because he kept changing the rhythm. I had two options on how to do the race. The first one was to try to go with Nairo and the second one to follow Froome because I thought that Froome in 2012 and 2014 had problems at the finish. I played the Nairo card and I made an error. He was very strong, he changed the rhythm and that made me blow up. Afterwards, I had trouble getting back my pace. We know how Froome rides on the climbs, he focuses on his watts and sticks to that and everybody now knows his tactics but it worked brilliantly for him.


“The climb was very long for me. I tried to hold on and not lose too much time, but for one reason or another the differences became enormous. Now the most important thing is to keep on trying to recover from my injuries.”


From the finish, Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, saw that his crash had slowed him down, but his rise up the GC showed promise for the race to come.


“Today we saw the crash cost Alberto, but he fought hard. When Quintana attacked, he couldn’t follow and he set his own pace. We have to look ahead – he’s 5th on the GC now and I’m sure we can move up in the stages to come.”


Going into the first rest day in Oviedo, Contador will be concentrating on recovering after ten hard days in Spain, as well as to allow his injuries to continue healing. With a long way to go until the finish in Madrid, this Vuelta is far from over, and tomorrow the whole team would be taking a well-deserved opportunity to rest, explained De Jongh.


“We have to see now day by day – luckily tomorrow is a rest day so can recover. The other guys made it through today – Jesús had a fall early and had a few cuts but he should be fine.”

Contador echoed his Sport Director’s comments, and was concentrating on recovering before tackling the remainder of the race day by day.


“Tomorrow we have a rest day and on Wednesday we resume the battle, hoping it gets better for us. The differences, for various reasons, are enormous and this makes the rest of the Vuelta an uphill struggle. However, we'll keep on, taking it day-by-day in order to see what we can do.”


When the race returns on Wednesday, the flatter start to stage 11 will gently ease riders back into the race after their rest day. The 168.6km stage sees the race tackle a fairly flat parcours until the last 10km of the stage, where the day will end on the first category Peña Cabarga – a 9.8%, 5.6km final push that the GC riders will doubtless be saving themselves for.


There were some hard days ahead, but the Tinkoff leader was committed to the fight.


“I still think it's too early to make a judgment on the Vuelta. I think we need to be calmer in order to take a decision. We have to assess the pros and cons, the circumstances and based on that decide what the best strategy will be. Obviously, my goal isn't just to ride a good race, my goal is to fight for the overall win. It's true though that right now this is quite difficult, I don't want to use the word impossible because I don't like it. We are still halfway through the Vuelta and on a day you have a crisis you can lose quite some time but we'll keep on fighting."


 “We’ll see what we do from here on in. I really want to make the most of the rest day, because on Wednesday we’ve got another big uphill battle in Peña Cabarga. It’s too soon to say whether I should go for other objectives if I don’t go for the overall, although there are factors for and against deciding to do that.


“I’m here to win the Vuelta and we’re only halfway there. People can crack when they least expect it and I can take advantage of that.”


Fabio Felline impresses in high mountains, bad crash for Markel Irizar

It was a long and hard fight before the breakaway formed in stage 10, and when 16 men forged ahead after over 60 kilometers had been raced, Fabio Felline was part of the strong mix of riders. 


With two tough climbs tucked into the latter part of the 188.7-kilometer race, including a punishing 12-kilometer summit finish, the GC contenders were prepared to flex their muscles for the first time and the breakaway group was never granted a significant lead.


"We knew today that it would be more difficult for the breakaway to make it to the end," explained director Dirk Demol. "Fabio said he had wanted to try today if it was the right move, and at the moment when a break goes on a climb, Fabio is the only one able to go with it, and I was happy that he was there today. But it was unlucky that they did not gain enough time to make it – they needed at least five minutes by the bottom of the last climb."


With less than three minutes in hand, the breakaway started the Lagos de Covadonga climb, and Fabio Felline fell off the pace as soon as the accelerations began. 


As the breakaway leaders surged ahead and traded blows, the general classification rivals roared into their battle behind, while Felline continued to climb at his pace, slowly clawing his way upward and back to the wheels of his compatriots. 


When the foreseeable catch was made by the GC rivals, Felline did not throw in the towel; instead, he valiantly tried to grab their wheels and continued to fight his way to the finish. 


"I know that I am not a pure climber and that I need to take my rhythm," explained Felline. "It was impossible for me to follow the attacks in the first part, but at the top, I was only one minute and 10 seconds from Quintana. 


"I was a little bit unlucky when the GC groups caught me, like Froome, because they always caught me on a steep part of the climb. If I could have taken their wheels in a good point, we might have arrived together. But in general, I am really happy with what I did today."


Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the stage and assumed the overall lead, while one minute and eleven seconds later Felline crossed the line in 10th place – third best from the breakaway.


Felline moved into 18th place overall (+5'50") ahead of the first rest day tomorrow.


"It has been a very difficult start to the Vuelta this year, and we have to be clear that we do not have our best riders here, and so we cannot be represented every day in the the breakaways," pointed out Demol. "However, I was 99% certain that the last two days a breakaway would make it, and we were not there; yesterday I was really, really disappointed and made that known to the team in the meeting for today. 


"Tomorrow we have a rest day, and we will sit down together to see what we will do for the second half of the Vuelta. In general, we can say it is not bad so far - a second and third place with Fabio - but we have not reached our goal of a stage win. Fabio is not in the GC game, but he is not completely out of the game either, and who knows what can happen if he can go with another breakaway another day? 


"I was disappointed that (Niccolo) Bonifazio abandoned too easy – he had a hard time in his head when he was feeling so tired. Unfortunately, we also lost Markel today in a bad crash. He landed on his face, and it looked bad. He did lose a few teeth, and they will keep him overnight for observation."


The incident happened shortly after the start of the race after rain had begun to fall and Irizar was an unfortunate victim of the crash that involved between 10 and 15 riders. 


"I had a few tough minutes after Markel crashed," added Felline, recalling his bad crash last April. "I remembered clearly the situation when I had crashed on my face, and I had a period in the race when I was very emotional knowing what Markel was going through. I want to wish Markel the best recovery to come back." 


"Markel is a very popular and well-liked rider in the peloton," added Demol. "After he crashed and the peloton slowed down, many riders from other teams came to the car to ask about his condition. I want to wish him a good recovery; we will miss him, that's for sure."


The team doctor gave an update:


“His helmet protected him a lot. He broke three teeth and will have to have surgery to fix that. The CT scan was good, no fractures, nothing serious. He was conscious and remembers everything about the crash. All good points. We decided to stay the night in hospital for observation with the concussion. But he's ok. At the end, we we're lucky, because when you crash like that you never know."


Ben Hermans: I thought I was one of the strongest

The mythical climb to Lagos de Covadonga on stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana didn’t disappoint with a showdown of the General Classification contenders playing out, which saw Samuel Sánchez cross the line in 11th place.


The last stage before the first rest day was billed as one of the toughest of the first ten days of racing and a nervous start saw multiple crashes and no successful breakaway attempts.


After almost two hours of racing a 16-man breakaway formed, including Ben Hermans. The peloton kept the group close at first before letting the gap stretch to more than five minutes.


Despite the strength of the breakaway and good work by Hermans, the gap at the base of the final climb was down to less than three minutes and it looked likely that the storming peloton would catch the group.


Sánchez remains in tenth place overall heading into the first rest day and Darwin Atapuma dropped down to 15th.


Ben Hermans said:


“It was a big fight to go into the breakaway, which was the last chance before the first rest day, so there were a lot of guys who wanted to be there. And then there was this crash and we had to basically start again. I think it took 70km before the break went but I saw directly that it was a very strong group with a lot of good climbers. It was also because it was such a big fight to be in the breakaway so there are always good riders there. I still thought that I was one of the strongest guys but when we hit the last climb I took my own tempo and I knew that we couldn’t make it for the stage win because we had less than three minutes at the bottom. So if Quintana and Contador accelerate you know you need more than two and a half minutes. I think we would have needed at least four or five minutes and this we didn’t have.


“I think the hardest block is done already. The second block is really hard also but it’s only six stages and the last stage is not so hard, so there’s five hard stages to survive. And if you survive this, you will survive the Vuelta a Espana.”


Samuel Sanchez: It’s going to plan

Samuel Sánchez said:


“It was a very, very hard day. Not only for the legs but all of it. Until kilometer 66 it was more than 46km per hour average so it was a crazy day. And then there was also the three crashes. It was a stage of pure suffering, but that’s cycling! This is cycling suffering a lot. The rhythm and speed was very strong from the bottom of the final climb to Lagos de Covadonga. I think I did well and I’m still in the top ten so it’s still going to plan.”


Optimistic Ego Silin: I am getting better and better

With the rest day coming tomorrow, stage 10 turned into a real battleground on Monday as riders for the general classification rose to the occasion and attacked relentlessly all the way to the finish line in the region of Asturias. Part of the day’s action was Team KATUSHA rider Egor Silin who managed to make the original break of the day and then rode strong when the reduced groups went away on the final 12km climb, eventually placing 14th on the stage. Also part of the action was young Matvey Mamykin who also rode himself among the GC group and finished the day in 27th for the stage ending in Lagos de Covadonga after 188,7km.


”I attacked to win the stage. Lagos de Covadonga is a big name in cycling history. I had good legs today, despite being in a crash earlier in the stage – I recovered nicely. Machado, Losada, Kochetkov and Mamykin pulled a lot and then I was able to go in the break on the climb. Thank you to Team KATUSHA,” said a happy Egor Silin. Also Sergey Lagutin was involved in the same crash.


“This was a good job from Silin. Unfortunately the peloton was too fast today and came back to him. But the plan was good. This is the only way for us to win a stage and will continue to be our plan until Madrid. We will just keep trying,” said sports director José Azevedo.


Silin was 14th at 1:31 and teammate Mamykin was 27th (+2.55).


“I was in front with Alberto, Froome and Quintana – also two days ago I was with Quintana. We then just missed something in the last 1,5km. For me it is going better every day. At the start of the Vuelta in the TTT I was very bad, but every day since then I have felt better. Let’s hope after the rest day I will be even better,” concluded Silin.


Jose Gomcalves comes up short on Lagos De Covadonga

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA was in the mix yet again on stage 10 of Vuelta a España as José Gonçalves put up a brave fight on the uphill finish to Lagos de Covadonga.
Gonçalves was part of a big breakaway, which almost made it all the way to the finish. Despite not being a pure climber, the 27-year-old Portuguese fought hard to stay with the top riders at the front on the final climb. However, as the GC favorites started attacking each other in the peloton, Gonçalves’ chances of success quickly diminished. Instead, Sergio Pardilla put in another great performance to follow the GC riders and distance the red jersey. Pardilla finished 17th on the stage and he’s now 16th in the general classification.
Sergio Pardilla said:


“This was a very long and very hard climb. I stayed in a group with strong riders and I did what I could not to lose too much time. I think I did well today”.
José Gonçalves added: 


“After yesterday’s stage, I really wanted to be in the break and try to do something on this stage. I managed to get into the front group and I gave it my all to get the team a good result. It just wasn’t enough today”.

On a negative note, Caja Rural - Seguros RGA, once again, suffered bad luck as no less than four of the team’s riders crashed on today’s stage. Ángel Madrazo, Eduard Prades, Pello Bilbao and Hugh Carthy all went down. Luckily, all four riders finished the stage and are expected to stay in the race.


David De La Cruz: I pushed myself to the limit to honor the jersey

Etixx – Quick-Step started stage 10 of the Vuelta a España (Lugones – Lagos de Covadonga, 188.7 kilometers) with David De La Cruz in the red jersey, following his emphatic win atop Alto del Naranco, the squad's third victory at this edition of the race. The most successful team in Grand Tours this season, with 8 successes to its name, Etixx – Quick-Step was prepared for a tough day, which became difficult right from the beginning, when several crashes took a couple of riders out of the race. Gianluca Brambilla, Gianni Meersmn and Niki Terpstra were among those to hit the ground, but the three quickly returned on the bike and chased the peloton, rejoining it after 20 kilometers.


On Monday, the usual break consisted of 16 riders, who had a 5-minute advantage over a bunch controlled by Etixx – Quick-Step, helped inside the final 40 kilometers by Movistar. After leaving Alto del Mirador del Fito behind, the bunch started to gain ground on the escapees , and by the foot of Lagos de Covadonga, which was featuring on the course for the 20th time, it was obvious that the break will be nullified and the stage will be played among the GC contenders.


Paced by his teammates on the first part of the 12.2-km long Hors Catégorie ascent, David De La Cruz stayed with the best until things started to heat up and the gradient to stiffen up, splitting the pack into different groups. Then, despite suffering on the double-digit gradient, the 27-year-old showed panache and grit, refusing to give away the red jersey without a fight. The stage was won by Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who also climbed to first place in the overall standings, while De La Cruz  concluded the day a few minutes later and is now 7th in the general classification, 46 seconds ahead of teammate Gianluca Brambilla.


"It was a really tough day and the last climb was much harder than I expected. I did my best there, I went into red to limit the time losses, but the effort of last week and especially of yesterday took its toll and made things very difficult", said a tired David De La Cruz after one of Vuelta a España's most grueling stages. "I enjoyed leading the race and wearing the red jersey, but on top of all I appreciated the fans' fantastic support, who encouraged me from the start of the day and cheered for me on Lagos de Covadonga. These are things I will always remember and keep in my heart.


 “I have mixed feelings now. Of course, I has been a beautiful experience being able to wear the leader’s jersey of the main race in my country. The public support gave me wings, even more tan the jersey itself. We knew it would be a hard day and a very hard final climb, which turned to be even harder than I thought. I pushed my body to the limit trying to honour the jersey the best I could, but it wasn’t possible to keep the lead. I’m glad of what I’ve done today, I'm glad for what I felt yesterday and I’m sure there will be more opportunities. The Movistar pace was bloody hard, but I also have to say that the teamwork was spectacular. To see riders as good as we have at Etixx working for me was something to be proud of. I hope cycling keeps giving me moments like this as there’s a long road ahead.”


Luis Angel: I have picked the wrong breaks

Luis Ángel Maté (Cofidis) was in the break. He said:


“I knew I loved this stage. My objective was to arrive to the line by myself, but there was no such luck. I took the breakaway the only two days where it didn’t make it. I’m feeling great and my legs are great, so I will keep trying.


”It was a crazy start, there were a lot of crashes and tension. It was a hard break to make and we didn't have a big enough gap at the bottom of the climb. For sure I will try to break again.”


Injured Louis Meintjes limits his losses at the Vuelta

On the way to the summit of Lagos de Covadonga, the top climbers battled for the victory. Unfortunately Louis Meintjes could not be protagonists as he is still recovering from the consequences of the crash in stage 6.

Despite this, he succeeded in limiting the loss to 2'18" and this result made him enter the top 20 of the general classification in the 20th place (+6'40").


Maxime Monfort: I hope to get more freedom

Unfortunately, many crashes took place in the first kilometres of the stage so the peloton eased up for a while. Lotto’Soudal’s Adam Hansen was one of the victims. His lip was stitched and he hurt his shoulder.


After about 65 kilometres a front group of sixteen riders was formed. The 22-year old Louis Vervaeke was part of it and he managed to ride a strong race. Vervaeke showed his climbing skills on the final climb and accelerated from the front group. Several riders were unable to follow his pace but a few moments later it was Vervaeke himself who was dropped.


Thomas De Gendt didn’t take points for the mountains classification and he’s now second at one point of the new leader, Omar Fraile.


Maxime Monfort was the team’s best rider.


"I made ​​a lot of efforts to join the break. But I did not habe success. The stage took place at a very high pace throughout the day. Louis [Vervaeke] was in the break so the situation was not bad for us. Subsequently, I wanted to make beautiful final. I did a colid climb. I am now 9 minutes down on GC and it should give me a little freedom for the future. But first a day of rest is deserved and needed tomorrow. "


Broken collarbone for Bartosz Huzarski, Jose Mendes changes plans

After 10k was a first big crash with around 20 riders involved. Just a few kilometres later again several riders hit the ground hard. Gregor Mühlberger was involved, but could continue the race without major injuries. Bartosz Huzarski was not so lucky. He was brought to hospital with an expected broken collarbone and therefore had to abandon the Vuelta a Espana.


A broken collarbone is confirmed. There is also a problem with his shoulder which was operated last winter. He is back at the team hotel and will fly home tomorrow for further investigations.


In the finale, José Mendes was in a group with Froome at the beginning of the climb. This group was around 30 seconds behind the Quintana and Contador group. But when Froome accelerated, he had to let him go and settle at his own pace.


José Mendes finished stage 10 in 37th place.


“It was a really frantic and very fast stage. The whole day the tempo was high and I was already tired when we entered the climbs in the end. At the beginning of the final climb I was able to stay with Froome, but when he accelerated, I had no chance to follow. We will change tactics now and I will try to go in break the next stages. Still our main goal is to win a stage,” said José Mendes.


Tobias Ludvigsson on the attack on Lagos De Covadonga

Giant-Alpecin had Tobias Ludvigsson in the break. He was the first home for Team Giant-Alpecin in 39th place.


Coach Luke Roberts said after the stage:


“Once again we aimed to put a rider in the breakaway and it was a very hard fight for almost 70km until a group got clear. Tobias did well to be a part of the 16 riders strong group. The break was only given a small advantage and in the end, not enough to fight for the stage win as the GC favorites reeled them in on the brutal final climb. It was a great effort from Tobias today and unfortunately it was not rewarded with a top result.”



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