Vuelta – Stage 11


Quintana crashes out of the race as Aru wins the stage and Froome is in trouble in the GC battle – round up of rider reactions

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Vuelta – Stage 11

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Astana’s Fabio Aru took the stage win 6 seconds ahead of the GC group behind him after the final 10k climb of stage 11 became a tactical stop-and-go affair with several attacks.

Stage 11 Aru wins

The race leader, Alberto Contador was satisfied with his ride even though many felt he had the chance to take time off Froome. “I’m happy with how the stage went. It was a very tactical battle on the final climb and I arrived at the finish line together with Alejandro and Joaquim and Froome a couple of meters behind us. They are very fast so they overtook me in the sprint, but I’m satisfied”, says Alberto Contador.

Satisfied perhaps but after Froome repeatedly found himself in difficulties off the back of the lead group on the San Miguel de Aralar summit finish and then digging deep to ride back into contention, finishing alongside his main rivals, one can only spectulate as to what may have happened if the rest had managed to break him.

The relatively flat first part of the 153-kilometer long stage started with a frantic pace taking its toll on the riders of this year’s Vuelta a España. The race came to a sad end for Nairo Quintana (Movistar) after the former leader crashed for the second day running, abandoning the event.

Stage 11. Kiryenka

Five riders finally went clear including Team Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka among the motivated escapees. The peloton shared that motivation, however, and with the gap starting to fall too rapidly, Kiryienka decided to push on solo.

The Belarusian launched one of his famed long-range attacks on the Puerto de Lizarraga yet back in the peloton, Katusha upped the pace significantly, ending any hopes of a breakaway win.

That didn’t stop Kiryienka trying, but he was finally caught with 8.6 km to go deservedly winning the combativity award. Contador meanwhile was looked after by his team and the ever shrinking peloton kept a high tempo on the first part of the climb, instantaneously creating a selection of GC favourites.

The climb to Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar (Navarre) was used for the first time in professional cycling on a less than perfect narrow road to the top.

Stage 11. Contador

Reeling back lone breakaway rider Vasil Kiryienka near the start of the climb with 9,9 km to go, Katusha riders worked for Rodriguez in the group of GC contenders. Attacks came from Robert Gesink (Belkin) and Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp) but it was the effort from Fabio Aru (Astana) near the 1 km to go banner that really sparked the group to come alive.

Rodriguez was right in the middle of the chase, along with race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar. Alberto Contador tested his rivals with a series of brief attacks but it was Astana’s Fabio Aru who held his lead to the finish line.

Nairo crashes out of Vuelta
More bad luck ended Nairo Quintana’s chances in the 2014 Vuelta a España after a crash at the beginning of stage eleven. A pile-up after 20km into the stage hurled the Colombian to the ground less than 24 hours after his fall during the Borja TT.

Suffering pain in his right-hand shoulder, the telephone squad’s leader was moved by ambulance to Pamplona’s Clínica San Miguel, where X-rays confirmed a displaced fracture in his shoulder blade which will undergo surgery tomorrow.

Stage 11. Quintana injured

Alejandro Valverde, second on the stage and second overall, said afterwards “Nairo’s crash happened just to my side; he was riding just behind me. We were riding around 40th position in the bunch: Imanol, Nairo and myself. Some riders crashed in front of us – while I was able to watch them come to my side and avoid them, he just couldn’t and fell”.

“I want to send him all my support from here, and also all my team-mates’. Things went bad for him yesterday with his crash, and many times, when such things happen, there’s almost no way to turn things around”.

“Apart from that, should things go like today until the end of the Vuelta – I’d sign up to them. I didn’t plan to sprint in the intermediate, but some kilometres before Contador attacked, I went for him and I took the bonus seconds. Aralar was a tough climb: partly because of the rough roads, but especially because the pace from the foot of the ascent was really high”.

“Aru went for the win – he really deserved it, he did a great climb. I finished second, with another bonus. Finishing a mountain stage with seconds won on Contador rather than lost is something to be happy about”.

“Now I’m leading the team – one more time. I’ve spent many Grand Tours leading the squad and this doesn’t change anything for me. I don’t like that it all happened nor this new situation – I preferred how things were going before Nairo’s crash, but you have to face things”.

“I already changed my mentality into the race: I was up-front today, I actually was up-front all Vuelta, but having Nairo by my side was way better – now we have to tackle the end of the race on my own – with my great team-mates, but it comes down to myself and I’ll keep fighting. It will be hard for me to stay away on the climbs, but I must keep strong there, and if I’m able to win some time, the more the better.”

Quickstep in the mix
Third overall, Rigoberto Uran (Omeha Pharma Quickstep)  said of his ride, “Today was a super fast start, full gas at about 50 kilometers per hour. Then there was a big crash involving Nairo Quintana (Movistar). I’m sorry for him, that he crashed and had to withdraw from the race. I really hope that it’s nothing serious, but two crashes in two days hurts a lot for sure.”

“I wish him a fast recovery and I hope to see him back on the road as soon as possible. On the climb I felt good. If you consider the three uphill finishes so far, today was probably the best for me. I felt better and it showed I recovered well from my effort at the time trial yesterday”.

“I am happy also because the team was really good today, supporting me always. We’ll continue to take this race day-by-day and we will see what can happen. Tomorrow is a day on paper that we can maybe recover a bit. But we will see. You never know what can happen each day at La Vuelta.”

BMC’s Samuel Sánchez meanwhile continued his climb up the standings. On a day when Sánchez lost teammate Steve Morabito to injuries suffered in a crash, the past Olympic road race champion kept pace with a select group chasing solo stage winner Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team).

“My goal before the start in Jerez was to fight for the first positions of the GC in the second part of the Vuelta and here we are. I feel good, but I also have to hope that someone ahead of me fails on some of the remaining stages.”

3rd for Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez

The final was long, hard and very fast. Maybe we expected it to be a bit harder, but I’m happy in the end. I stay in the running and took a time bonus. Especially good is that my good sensations are still there. When Aru attacked, I tried to stay with him, but honestly he’s a very explosive rider. His attack was a bit too fast for me”.

Today is a day for the sprinters, one of the few remaining in this year’s Vuelta that still has five summit finishes to come.

1. Aru Fabio, Astana Pro Team 3:41:03
2. Valverde Alejandro, Movistar Team 0:06
3. Rodríguez Joaquim, Team Katusha
4. Contador Alberto, Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Froome Christopher, Team Sky
6. Uran Rigoberto, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 0:13
7. Sánchez Samuel, BMC Racing Team 0:15
8. Martin Daniel, Garmin Sharp
9. Navarro Garcia, DanielCofidis, Solutions Crédits :16
10. Gesink Robert, Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:21

78. Evans Cadel, BMC Racing Team 9:03
94. Craven Dan, Team Europcar 11.34
113. Millar David, Garmin Sharp
117. Rowe Luke, Team Sky 13.04
164. Kennaugh Peter, Team Sky 17.44
174. Yates Adam, Orica GreenEDGE 17.50
DNF Quintana Nairo, Movistar Team

1. Contador Alberto, Tinkoff-Saxo40:26:56
2. Valverde Alejandro, Movistar Team0:20
3. Uran Rigoberto, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step1:08
4. Froome Christopher, Team Sky1:20
5. Rodríguez Joaquim, Team Katusha 1:35
6. Sánchez Samuel, BMC Racing Team1:52
7. Aru Fabio, Astana Pro Team2:13
8. Anacona Gomez Winner, Lampre-Merida2:22
9. Gesink Robert, Belkin-Pro Cycling Team2:55
10. Caruso Damiano, Cannondale 3:51
11. Martin Daniel, Garmin Sharp3:59

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