Brutal Weather and Tough Climbs Shake Up Vuelta a España GC30. August 2017, Observatorio Astronómico de Calar Alto (ESP) — Road Team
Heavy rain and cold weather made an already tough stage 11 of the Vuelta a España that much more difficult and caused a shake up of the General Classification with Nicolas Roche and Tejay van Garderen dropping out of the top ten to 11th and 12th respectively.
In a repeat of stage 10, it took more than 50km of the 187.5km stage for the breakaway to form and once again Alessandro De Marchi was in the mix for BMC Racing Team.
With a battle of the General Classification contenders predicted for the final two climbs, the peloton didn’t allow the 14-rider move to gain more than four minutes’ advantage.
In the peloton, Roche and van Garderen’s teammates had the duo well-positioned at the front, particularly on the run into the first category one climb, the Alto de Velefique.
De Marchi’s advantage had been halved to just over two minutes with 50km remaining, before attacks in the breakaway split the group on the Alto de Velefique and De Marchi wasn’t able to follow the moves.
While the size of the peloton was significantly reducing, a reshuffle at the front of the race saw six riders go clear before it was just Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) who were in front.
Roche and van Garderen were in the group of favorites as they reached the final climb 15km before the finish line but as the pace picked up and attacks started after the first few kilometers, they lost contact with the group and were forced to ride at their own pace in the final 10km.
After catching the leading trio, the fight for the stage win came from a small group featuring race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) and eventually it was Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) who took the win.
Van Garderen crossed the line first for BMC Racing Team, 3’26” down on Lopez and Roche followed behind, 4’17” behind.
The brutality of stage 11 saw a big shuffle in the top ten and Roche and van Garderen now trail Froome by 4’45” in 11th and 12th place overall respectively, with 10 stages still to come.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“There was obviously some very hard racing from the gun as we expected. Today I knew that if the rain was going to continue like that it was always going to be a tough day. Unfortunately, I know myself so well. But, even though I was trying to always ride in front, even on the first climb I was struggling a bit but I fought to stay as much as I could in the front part of the group. Once we hit the last climb and the pace went up, my legs were like two blocks of cement, so I just had to limit my losses. Obviously, it’s quite disappointing but it’s bike racing. It’s happened to me before in the Vuelta in 2013 but I had lost six minutes, so maybe four minutes isn’t too bad.”
“The gaps now are starting to be quite consequent whereas the last few days there were still 15 riders in less than two minutes. For sure the weekend is going to be really tough and stage 15 is probably, with today, the queen stage of the race.”
Yvon Ledanois, Sports Director:
“We hoped for a good day before the start of the stage. It was a very hard day with bad weather but we don’t have an excuse, it was bad weather for everybody. I think today the strongest guys were in the front but the Vuelta a España is far from over. We need to keep the morale and we need to keep doing what we are doing. A lot of leaders were dropped early today and anything can happen here.”
“We will look and see between tomorrow and the time trial and see if we can take some places back. We want to get Nicolas Roche and Tejay van Garderen back into the top ten but also more than that. When you have two riders in the top five for ten days, you can imagine a good result. Every Grand Tour is not just one week of racing, it’s three weeks. So now we keep trying, we maybe take some risks. I don’t want to see 11th and 12th on GC as our result. It’s not a bad result but it’s not what we expect from ourselves.”
Vuelta a España
Stage 11 Lorca › Observatorio Astronómico de Calar Alto (187.5k)
Top 3: 1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team), 2. Chris Froome (Team Sky), 3. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 21. Tejay van Garderen, 28. Nicolas Roche, 79. Rohan Dennis.
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.