Tough day for ORICA-SCOTT as GC leaders lose time on stage 11 of La Vuelta

Wed 30 Aug 2017

Stage 11 proved to be a tough day in the office for ORICA-SCOTT as the team’s leaders lost time despite an aggressive approach to today’s stage at La Vuelta

Starting the day in second overall, last year’s podium-placer Esteban Chaves has dropped to third after he lost almost two-minutes to the general classification favourites. The 27-year-old now sits two-minutes 33seconds behind leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) moving into second place, one-minute 19seconds off the pace.

2016 Tour de France best young rider Adam Yates also lost time, finishing nine-minutes 13seconds down on winner Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) to drop to 20th overall.

A composed Chaves admitted that sometimes races don’t always go to plan.

“It was really cold for everybody but like always the team worked really well,” Chaves told media at the finish line. “Sometimes when you have one plan, in the final it’s good or it’s bad but the important thing is that we tried.” 

“At the bottom of this last climb Bahrain attacked, Nibali attacked and (Alberto) Contador attacked and I lost the wheel. Jack (Haig) was with me and we tried to take one pace and minimise the time lost.”

Earlier in the stage, ORICA-SCOTT sent Chris Juul-Jensen and Magnus Cort to the front of the peloton and the pair set an aggressive tempo that brought the day’s breakaway back from four-minutes 30seconds to under a minute.

With an aggressive plan for the day, Simon Yates then launched an attacked and bridged to four remaining leaders on the first and penultimate climb of the day but was unfortunately dropped on the final ascent. 

“It was part of the plan (for Simon to attack),” Chaves explained. “But as I said, sometimes the plan works out well like last year’s 20th stage and sometimes it’s like today.” 

“But we tried and we will continue to try.”

How it happened:

Rain for the second consecutive day didn’t deter the peloton as another mammoth effort was required to make the day’s breakaway which took over 50km to form.

14 riders made the cut and they rode out to a maximum four-and-a-half-minute lead with 75km to go.

ORICA-SCOTT hit the front with Juul-Jensen and Cort with 55km remaining and the gap to the breakaway quickly diminished to under one-minute on the lower slopes of the first climb. 

Simon Yates used the effort to launch a counter attack and he quickly bridged with one other to four leaders remaining from the day’s early breakaway to form a group of six at the front with 37km to go.

The lead group reduced to four on the final climb, but Simon Yates then also lost touch leaving Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates) at the front. 

Behind, the attacks from the general classification group started at the bottom of the last climb by Nibali and Contador and Chaves lost the wheel, replying on teammate Haig to set him a tempo to minimise the damage.

The favourites caught the two leaders before Lopez broke free in the final kilometre to claim the stage by 14seconds to Froome.

La Vuelta – Stage 11 Results:

1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) 5:05:09
2. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +0:14
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +0:14
17. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) +2:05

La Vuelta – General Classification after Stage 11:

1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 45:18:01
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +1:19
3. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) +2:33

Photo courtesy of TDWsport.