On paper a day for a breakaway again, on tarmac there’s a chance for surprises in the finish. Tomorrow’s summit finish will weigh on the mind for the GC contenders but for the others there’s the stage win.
Stage 11 Review: the longest stage in the race and full-on racing from start to finish. Typically you can enjoy Vuelta tapas style with bite-sized viewing of the final 30-10 minutes but this time the stage had a wild start and it stayed lively to the end. They covered 49km in the first hour and that included a 3rd category climb and Miguel Angel Lopez was left trailing and had to chase for a long time.
Finally when a move did go clear for good it contained Thibaut Pinot, still a GC contender and you can imagine the frustration felt by the others, finally they had made a move only to find it was going to be chased down because it contained a threat to the GC ambitions of Movistar, Mitchelton-Scott and the others. Only there was a poker bluff in the peloton for a while until Movistar folded and took up the chase which allowed the 19 rider move to go clear. Pinot was himself very active, possibly too much but so was everyone else with waves of attacks.
Finally Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) got clear with Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha) and the pair formed an awkward tandem as Restrepo is a fast finisher. De Marchi tried to get clear and on the final metres of the final climb of the day he broke Restrepo, leg-pressing a huge gear to go solo for the stage win. It’s only his fourth career win, and his third stage win in the Vuelta. Pinot only gained 12 seconds on the day but might have stirred up things between Movistar and Mitchelton-Scott.
The Route: 181km and a trip to the Punta de Estaca de Bares, Spain’s northernmost point with the finish by the lighthouse on the cape. After 40km the race reaches the coast and there are several short, sharp climbs and it’s exposed although the weather forecast predicts quiet 10-20km/h onshore breeze. The day’s main ascent is above San Pedro, 7km at 5% and all on a narrow road followed by a fast descent and then more climbing before reaching the sprint in Ortigueira and then a quick loop south via a climb and some wooded roads before returning to reach the cape. It’s all on twisty roads that aren’t suited to big sprint trains, it’s more like a early season semi-classic.
The Finish: there’s a sharp left hand turn on a descent with 1.5km to go that leads onto the lighthouse access road. It’s slightly uphill from here until the 1km to go point and then it drops down
The Contenders: breakaway or sprint? The early breakaway can go clear but there’s a good chance that a move forms late in today’s stage and slips away for the win. With a big summit finish tomorrow plenty of riders will hope for a rest day although of course some will be anticipating this and will aim for today because tomorrow doesn’t suit. Punchy riders with good race craft like Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), Omar Fraile (Astana), Enric Mas (Quick Step), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Gorka Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) come to mind for a late escape, while Ivan Cortina Garcia (Bahrain-Merida) is almost a local and Simon Clarke (EF-Drapac) is hunting for a second stage win and could try the early move. We can list more names, the point is this is an open stage.
Otherwise Quick Step will try to keep a lid on it all and set up Elia Viviani for the win, made easier because Nacer Bouhanni has quit the race. Peter Sagan should be the prototype winner today but hasn’t looked convincing.
|Kwiatkowski, Fraile, Gallopin, Viviani|
|Sagan, G Izaguirre, Clarke, Cortina, Felline|
Weather: a cool 19°C and cloudy with showers forecast.
Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST.