Lopez Climbs to Victory in Vuelta a Espana
The climbers in this year's Vuelta peloton were eager for the menu of today's Vuelta stage to be served as the route included no less than two category one climbs. The hostilities started early as groups of breakaway hopefuls almost immediately started attacking in order to form a useful lead over the main peloton group.
The attacks and counter attacks carried on for fifty kilometers before a group of fourteen riders finally succeeded at creating a significant gap over the main peloton group. The fourteen riders were Simon Clarke (Team Cannondale-Drapac), Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing Team), Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Lennard Hofstede (Sunweb), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sander Armée (Lotto-Soudal), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), and Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon).
While the front group fought hard to keep its advantage over the main peloton group, Team Sky was controlling the pace behind in order to keep the breakaway group within reach before the riders approached the major climbs of the day. Thus the gap remained below five minutes.
Orica-Scott took over from Team Sky and upped the tempo for Esteban Chaves with 55 kilometers to go and quickly reduced the gap to 01:30 as the front group tackled the Alto de Velefique, 43.5 kilometers from the finish line. Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) accelerated in the climb. At the top, he was with Bardet, Atapuma, Armée and Visconti, enjoying a 01:30 lead over the bunch.
In the last climb, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) were the first to initiate attacks, 11 kilometers from the mountain summit. Chaves quickly got dropped while the hard pace brought the strongest general classification favorites back to Atapuma and Bardet with seven kilometers to go.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), who won last year's Tour de Suisse, accelerated in the final kilometer and crossed the finish line in solo fashion ahead of Froome who keeps delivering stronger performances than his general classification competitors. Froome led the chase and only Vincenzo Nibali and Wilco Kelderman were able to follow him. Alberto Contador lost seventeen seconds. Esteban Chaves lost two minutes and dropped down to 3rd place in the overall rankings. BMC Racing Team duo Nicolas Roche-Tejay Van Garderen is out of the top ten after being dropped early in the final climb.
Nibali is now 2nd, 01:19 behind race leader Froome. Chaves lost two minutes and is in third position.
As general classification favorites Fabio Aru (Astana), Chaves, Roche and Van Garderen all lost valuable time, today's Vuelta stage proved to be another good day for race leader Froome, although he had announced his intention to win the stage before the riders left the start zone.
"I'm very happy with the outcome of today's stage. It was a very selective day for the general classification. Other than stage victory I couldn't ask for more than to finish second," Froome said.
"When Lopez went he was extremely strong. I figured for me the most important thing was to follow Vincenzo Nibali and stay with the favorites. Lopez was the most impressive rider today with his attack to win the stage, but otherwise I was more concentrated on staying with Nibali seeing that (Esteban) Chaves was already dropped and Alberto (Contador) was on the limit," Froome explained.
Romain Bardet, who finished third in this year's Tour de France for his AG2R-La Mondiale team and is focusing on hunting for stage wins in the Vuelta, was satisfied with his performance in today's stage.
"In spite of the difficult weather conditions, this was the sort of day that I love," Bardet told Roadcycling.com. "I was at the front from the first kilometer and managed to get into a strong breakaway after about 50 kilometers. I wanted to go as far as possible to win the stage. Unfortunately the peloton decided otherwise. I am convinced that there will be additional opportunities. Approaching the end of the stage I thought I could go for it again, but I did not possess all the cards needed."
Stage 12 preview and predictions:
Thursday's 160.1 kilometer stage 12 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana from Motril to Antequera Los Dólmenes features one category 1 and one category 2 climb and concludes with a descent, which may turn out to be decisive for the general classification in this year's Vuelta, if downhill experts such as Vincenzo Nibali decide to initiate attacks in this part of the stage. The valley of truth awaits the riders. Will a breakaway group succeed? Will Nibali take the stage victory? Will Contador or Bardet attack again? Will Froome increase his race lead even further? How will the riders fare? Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com to find out.
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2017 Vuelta a Espana - Stage 11 results:
1 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 05:05:09
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky Pro Cycling 0:00:14
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:31
6 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
8 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky Pro Cycling
9 Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:02
10 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:14
11 Michael Woods (Can) Team Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:17
12 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky Pro Cycling
13 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team 0:01:22
14 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:32
15 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
16 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
17 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:02:05
18 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
19 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
20 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates
21 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:03:26
22 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:47
23 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky Pro Cycling
24 Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-Scott
25 Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal
26 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data 0:04:04
27 Hernán Aguirre (Col) Manzana Postobon
28 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:04:17
29 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:05:19
30 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:30
31 Stefan Denifl (Aut) Aqua Blue Sport 0:06:27
2017 Vuelta a Espana - General classification following stage 11:
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky Pro Cycling 45:18:01
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:19
3 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:02:33
4 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:02:36
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:37
6 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:38
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:57
8 Michael Woods (Can) Team Cannondale-Drapac 0:03:01
9 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:55
10 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:04:11
11 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:04:45
12 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
13 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:04:54
14 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:05:01
15 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:06:10
16 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:06:39
17 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:07:47
18 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data 0:09:50
19 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:10:24
20 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:11:00