photo credits @ ASO
Chris Froome (Sky) brought the curtains down on chief rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to win stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana at Peña Cabarga today, subsequently stealing back precious time on the Colombian rider in the battle for the race’s red jersey.
The two top GC riders exchanged blows along the final 5.6 kilometer before Froome accelerated around the final bend to take the spoils and snatch four bonus seconds over Quintana, who was forced to settle for second place.
As a rout of this victory, Froome leapfrogs Quintana’s Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde. – who finished six seconds back in third place, to second spot in the overall standings.
A great day for Team Sky also saw Leopold Konig of the Czech Republic take fourth place ahead of Spaniard Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) – both riders finishing in the same time as Valverde.
Froome now trails Quintana by 54 seconds on GC with Valverde dropping to third at 1:05.
The day’s breakaway was steadily reeled back in, with Tinkoff working hard on the front for well over 60 kilometers in aid of team leader Alberto Contador.
The majority of the escapees were caught almost as soon as the race hit the brutal gradients of the day’s only real climb with six kilometres to go to the finish.
Gradients of over 15 per cent for most of the climb meant it was a scrappy affair. Tinkoff shed almost all of their domestiques at the foot of the climb, while Movistar had three men at the head of the peloton for Quintana.
BMC’s Ben Hermans stubbornly held on at the head of the race but was finally snapped back up with three kilometers to the summit, with former red jersey wearer Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) setting a fierce pace in the peloton.
Fernandez’s pace was so high that there was not even a sniff of an attack in the first four kilometers of the climb, but Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) put in a huge effort with 1700 meters to the line.
There was no immediate response from Quintana but his teammate Alejandro Valverde made the biggest effort to bring the Colombian back. But Valverde’s pace didn’t do much to bring Chaves closer to the peloton, with the Orica man gaining 20 seconds with a kilometre left to the line.
Froome wasn’t happy to let Chaves go, though, sending Leopold Konig to the front to drive the pace.
Quintana then showed his hand, attacking to catch Chaves with Froome on his wheel. Froome had a dig with 600 meters to go, but the pair both slowed during the final run up to the line.
Froome had the last laugh, though, out-pacing Quintana to the line to gain a four second advantage over the Colombian rider, thanks to the bonus seconds, and move into second place in the overall classification.
Top 20 Finishers
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 3:44:47
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:06
4 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:00:08
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:13
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:14
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:19
9 Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:22
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:30
11 David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:36
12 Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:00:38
13 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:47
14 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:51
15 Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
16 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:52
17 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:04
18 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:09
19 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:12
20 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:21
General Classification after stage 11
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 42:21:48
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:54
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:05
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:34
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:03:08
6 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:03:09
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:03:25
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:34
9 David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:03:45
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:03:56
11 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:05:03
12 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:38
13 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:05:44
14 Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:05:55
15 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:06:32
16 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:59
17 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 0:07:26
18 Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:07:50
19 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:07:53
20 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre – Merida 0:08:10
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