Aru Climbs to Victory in Stage 11 of Vuelta a Espana
Fabio Aru (Astana) has won Stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Italian surged away from the red jersey group in the last two km to win the 153.4-km ride from Pamplona to Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar in 3:41:03. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) outsprinted Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) for second at 0:06. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) remains the red jersey, albeit with a reduced lead.
From the start, the racing was aggressive. During the first hour, the peloton covered 50 km. Numerous large escapes occurred, and Contador jumped into one of them. During the early part of the stage, a crash took Steve Morabito (BMC) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) out of the race, the latter with a fractured scapula. In addition, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) abandoned because of illness.
Movistar shut down all of the early moves. At the first intermediate sprint at 59 km, Contador surprised Valverde by contesting the intermediate sprint, but the Movistar man pipped his Tinkoff-Saxo Bank rival, taking three bonus seconds to two for Contador. After the sprint, Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida), Johan Le Bon (FDJ.fr), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol), and Vasili Kiryienka (Sky) attacked. They led the field by a little more than four minutes at 85 km.
Katusha paced the peloton, which reduced the fugitives’ advantage to two minutes with 55 km remaining. Kiriyienka attacked his companions, whom the bunch reeled in on the Category 3 Alto de Lizarraga. At the summit, the Belorussian led the field by three minutes.
Katusha continued chasing, and at the base of the Category 1 climb to the finish, Kiriyienka’s lead was down to 0:37. With nine km left, the Sky man was reeled in, and his teammates took over at the front. Their pacemaking put captain Chris Froome in difficulty, however. With six km left, Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) attacked, and Robert Gesink (Belkin) joined him.
Movistar paced the red jersey group. Froome hung on for dear life at the rear of the group. With 5.3 km to go, Gesink dropped the Frenchman. The Dutchman led the red jersey group by 0:30 with three km left.
Attacks came from the red jersey group Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) had a dig, and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) made several attacks. The Irishman’s moves dropped Froome and Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida). Froome clawed his way back on. Martin closed to within 0:15 of Gesink.
Froome suddenly accelerated and attacked. Contador followed, and burst past the Briton with 1.8 km left. Aru countered, but Contador caught him. Martin was reeled in, and Navarro put in an attack that overtook Gesink.
Aru tried again at the one-km banner. The other members of the red jersey group watched each other while the Astana man rode up the road. Contador led the group into the last few hundred meters, where Valverde uncorked his sprint to take the six-second bonus for second place, bringing him that much closer to the race leader.
In the overall, Contador leads Valverde by 0:20 and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 1:08. Stage 12 will not change this state of affairs. The eight-lap, 166.4-km circuit race is tailor made for a sprinter. Who will take the stage? Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr)? John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano)? Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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