Vuelta a España (st. 11)
Movistar Team takes to bunch’s front to chase dangerous attack by Pinot (FDJ); Valverde, Quintana remain in 2nd, 3rd overall in tough race, with long fight for breakaway.
The Movistar Team proved on Wednesday they won’t settle with just a good result in the Vuelta a España, grabbing the bull by the horns in one of the most offensive, intriguint stages in the last editions of the race. Day eleven of the Spanish Grand Tour, the longest in this year’s event -no less than 207km from Mombuey (Zamora) to Luintra (Ourense)-, saw the break taking more than hundred kilometers to form, and ultimately becoming a huge danger for the GC result itself, if it weren’t for the Blues’ efforts.
Following dozens of attacks which Erviti, Oliveira, Carapaz and Anacona followed or even provoked, the Unzué-led squad had Winner into the right move, 19 riders, also containing Jack Haig (MTS), Rafal Majka (BOH) and most notably Thibaut Pinot (GFC), sitting just 2’33” behind Simon Yates (MTS) in the overall standings. As Mitchelton-Scott chose to let the gap grow to nearly five minutes, it was up to the Blues to push. Erviti, Oliveira and Amador -plus Anacona, later caught– did an impressive job to limit those margins and reach the final two ascents -Mirador de Cabezoás and Pombal, located into the final 20km- with just 2’30” to the front group, following 80km of strong turns.
Some favourites’ attacks into the last hill and strong pacing at the GC group by Richard Carapaz -even Nairo Quintana went on a brief attack with 2km to go- reduced Pinot’s advantage to just 12″ at the finish over a peloton where Alejandro Valverde and Nairo conserved their 2nd and 3rd places overall, still 1″ and 14″ behind Yates. Thursday will bring the final chance this week for the sprinters at Estaca de Bares (181km), prior to three hellish mountain-top finishes in León and Asturias, Friday through Sunday.
Nairo Quintana: “Our team-mates’ job today was really good, and we finished the day with a good outcome, with no setbacks. We pushed hard through all that second half of the stage to try and keep those GC chances alive, not having that breakaway going too far. Mitchelton not pushing with us? Well, they just chose to ride that way. It was their way of acting today – staying on the others’ wheels, profiting from their work. We thought we had a responsibilty here; maybe the others don’t care, but we felt we had to work. Our attitude was complying with that. Pinot will remain a significant contender for the GC even if he didn’t gain time today – though he also spent a lot of energy in the break.”
Alejandro Valverde: “It was a really tough stage. The hilly route, the high speeds… happily, the weather was lenient with us, even if it rained a couple of times. It was fierce at the front for the first half of the stage, I think there wasn’t a break until 105km in. Just like in most other times, we had to take responsibility at the front of the bunch for nearly hundred kilometers, even if we had Winner at the front. Letting Pinot have such a time gain was adding another potential GC threat to the least, and we weren’t happy about that. Some other teams might not be racing for victory, but it’s not our case. ¿Mitchelton? It’s their philosophy. They never push to defend a result, they push when they think they can inflict harm on their rivals. However, it doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to win the Vuelta by pushing into such moments. There are many strong rivals whose chances still remain equal to ours – it’s just that we put courage on the road today. Some others don’t care about either winning or losing, but it’s not our case. We knew it would be an important day, and we did things right.”
- 01 Alessandro De Marchi BMC Racing Team 4h52'38"
- 02 Jonathan Restrepo Katusha-Alpecin +28"
- 03 Franco Pellizotti Bahrain-Merida +59"
- 12 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +2'02"
- 22 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team "
- 25 Richard Carapaz Movistar Team "
- 77 Winner Anacona Movistar Team +6'22"
- 87 Nelson Oliveira Movistar Team +8'16"
- 88 Andrey Amador Movistar Team "
- 121 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +21'03"
- 169 Daniele Bennati Movistar Team +31'40"
- 01 Simon Yates Mitchelton-Scott 45h57'40"
- 02 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +1"
- 03 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team +14"
- 26 Richard Carapaz Movistar Team +11'35"
- 55 Winner Anacona Movistar Team +34'06"
- 78 Andrey Amador Movistar Team +49'24"
- 80 Nelson Oliveira Movistar Team +50'58"
- 1221 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +1h29'52"
- 137 Daniele Bennati Movistar Team +1h44'48"