Vuelta a España (st. 11)
Ecuatorian takes 13th place, just over a minute behind the top GC contenders, at Vuelta's big mountain day atop Calar Alto. Pedrero again into the break
The first day of long climbs and altitude racing in the 2017 Vuelta a España brought the talent that is Richard Carapaz to the fore, and confirmed the good average level by the whole Movistar Team. The Ecuatorian finished 13th at Calar Alto, closing climb of stage 11 -187km from Lorca-, after a route soaked in rain with lots of early fighting for the day's break, which again had one of the Blues inside.
Antonio Pedrero made it into a 14-rider move much controlled by Sky -the gaps never going further than 4'30" for the leaders- and specially by Orica, which reduced the advantage to barely one minute at the botoom of the Alto de Velefique (Cat-1). With Pedrero soon dropping back at the first climb, it was down to four of his team-mates -Richard himself as well as Soler, Oliveira y Moreno- to keep the GC group's pace. They succeeded for the entire ascent and also through the first 4km uphill in Calar Alto, before Bahrain-Merida tore the race into pieces with a strong acceleration.
An attack by Nibali (TBM) made the real selection, with the favourites ahead of a pursuit group including Carapaz. The Ecuatorian's group stayed just over half a minute behind for most of the climb, before the decisive moves by López (AST) into the steep zone 2k from the finish opened those margins even further. Richard, who went past a move from De la Cruz (QST) as he tried to bridge back due to a puncture early into the climb, had to cover the final kilometers alone, ending up with a good result just 1'22" behind winner López.
With four from the Movistar roster within the top 40 of the day -Dani Moreno finished in 22nd spot, 3'47" down; Soler was just over 5' down; and Oliveira closed his stage 11' apart-, the Blues remain on top of the Vuelta's team GC before two more open stages prior to the weekend's tough mountain-top finishes. Thursday's action will see riders cover 160km from Motril to Antequera, with the Alto del León (Cat-1) and the Torcal (Cat-2) into the second half of the race.
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez