Vuelta: Stage 11

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Chris Froome puts pressure on Quintana to win stage 11 summit finish, his second victory at Peña Cabarga

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Vuelta: Stage 11

Event Race Report


Chris Froome (Team Sky) went full circle to clinch his second stage victory in the Tour of Spain in stage 11 on Wednesday on the very spot where he revealed himself five years ago.

At the top of Peña Cabarga, the Briton outsprinted his leading rival for overall victory, Colombia’s Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who retained his leader’s red jersey and a 54-second lead over the three-times Tour de France champion. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was third in the stage, six seconds adrift, and retained the same place overall, 1:05 behind his team leader.

The peloton left Colunga without Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Silvio Herklotz (Bora Argon 18). Rapidly, another Cannondale-Drapac rider, Patrick Bevin, was forced to call it quits as well with a hand injury.

After an hour and a swift 49.8 kph average speed, a group of 23 riders emerged: Ben Hermans (BMC), Martijn Keizer (Lotto NL-Jumbo), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Koen De Kort and Johannes Fr̦lingher (Giant-Alpecin), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Jan Bakelants and Axel Domont (AG2R-La Mondiale), Tiago Machado and Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha), Sander Arm̩e (Lotto-Soudal), Pieter Serry and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Kristijan Durasek and Ilia Koshevoy (Lampre РMerida), Cesare Benedetti and Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Argon18), David Arroyo and Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural РSeguros RGA).


Some 35 kilometers further down the road at the feed zone, their lead had gone over five minutes. But Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff team-mates took the chase in their own hands and cut the gap down to three minutes with 70 km to go as Jose Gonçalves (Caja Rural) and Laurent Pichon (FDJ) called it quits.

The gap had settled at around two minutes when Stybar took the intermediate sprint of the day at Suances (Km 122). Thirty kilometers from the line, the lead of the 23 had melted down to the minute. And while Janse van Rensburg and Madrazo tried to move on their own, the fate of the breakaway was sealed. At the foot of the climb, the peloton was on its heels.

The stage was then reduced to a 6-km uphill race with Quintana’s Movistar leading the pack. Up front, Hermans and Bakelants were the last men standing but they were reeled in one after the other before and after the 3-km mark.

With 1.7 km to go, Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) launched the hostilities, but while Leopold König worked to lead Froome out, it was Quintana who attacked at the 700 metres mark. The Briton responded 100 metres further up and while they both passed Chaves, the two strong men in this Vuelta declared a ceasefire until the final stretch, when Froome logically outpowered Quintana to take the stage honours.

Reactions

Chris Froome 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.”

Nairo Quintana: “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, into 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 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 into 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 into 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. 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. 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.”

Esteban Chaves: “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.”

Alberto Contador: “Today we had a summit finish and we didn’t know how we would feel after the rest day. We tried to control the breakaway despite the fact it was composed of 25 riders, which made things complicated. We tried but then the legs didn’t respond. There were riders stronger than me.”

“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.”
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Stage
1 FROOME Christopher TEAM SKY 03h 44′ 47”
2 QUINTANA Nairo MOVISTAR TEAM + 00′ 00”
3 VALVERDE Alejandro MOVISTAR TEAM + 00′ 06”
4 KONIG Leopold TEAM SKY + 00′ 06”
5 CONTADOR Alberto TINKOFF + 00′ 08”
6 YATES Simon ORICA BIKEEXCHANGE + 00′ 13”
7 SCARPONI Michele ASTANA PRO TEAM + 00′ 14”
8 CHAVES Johan Esteban ORICA BIKEEXCHANGE + 00′ 19”
9 LATOUR Pierre-Roger AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00′ 22”
10 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ Samuel BMC RACING TEAM + 00′ 30”

17 KENNAUGH Peter TEAM SKY + 01′ 04”
165 CARTHY Hugh CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA + 14′ 18”

Overall
1 QUINTANA Nairo MOVISTAR TEAM 42h 21′ 48”
2 FROOME Christopher TEAM SKY + 00′ 54”
3 VALVERDE Alejandro MOVISTAR TEAM + 01′ 05”
4 CHAVES Johan Esteban ORICA BIKEEXCHANGE + 02′ 34”
5 CONTADOR Alberto TINKOFF + 03′ 08”
6 KONIG Leopold TEAM SKY + 03′ 09”
7 YATES Simon ORICA BIKEEXCHANGE + 03′ 25”
8 SCARPONI Michele ASTANA PRO TEAM + 03′ 34”
9 DE LA CRUZ David ETIXX – QUICK STEP + 03′ 45”
10 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ Samuel BMC RACING TEAM + 03′ 56”
11 TALANSKY Andrew CANNONDALE-DRAPAC PRO CYCLING TEAM + 05′ 03”
12 MORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel MOVISTAR TEAM + 05′ 38”
13 FORMOLO Davide CANNONDALE-DRAPAC PRO CYCLING TEAM + 05′ 44”
14 PARDILLA Sergio CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA + 05′ 55”
15 KENNAUGH Peter TEAM SKY + 06′ 32”
16 PÉRAUD Jean-Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE + 06′ 59”
17 ATAPUMA Darwin BMC RACING TEAM + 07′ 26”
18 LATOUR Pierre-Roger AG2R LA MONDIALE + 07′ 50”
19 BENNETT George LOTTO NL -JUMBO + 07′ 53”
20 MEINTJES Louis LAMPRE – MERIDA + 08′ 10”

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