Vuelta a Espana 2017: Chris Froome opens up big overall lead after finishing second on stage 11 behind Miguel Angel Lopez
Team Sky man gains time on all GC rivals on Altor Cala climb
by Colin Henrys
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) attacked in the wind on the Altor Cala climb to claim a solo stage victory on stage 11 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana as Chris Froome (Team Sky) opened up a big lead over his GC rivals by claiming second place.
Lopez accelerated away on the final climb to claim victory, distancing Froome and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) inside the final two kilometres of the stage.
But Froome claimed second place and, with Nibali the only one of his main general classification rivals able to get away with him, the Team Sky man now boasts a big overall lead.
Froome is 1’19" clear of Vincenzo Nibali overall, while former second-placed rider Johan Esteban Chaves lost more than two minutes and is now third at 2’35".
Much like with stage ten, despite the significantly different stage profile, it took some time for a breakaway form, with rain and wind battering the peloton too.
Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport), stage winner Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Tour de France third-place finisher Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Giro d’Italia white jersey winner Bob Jungels (QuickStep Floors) were in the move which did form after some 50km.
Igor Anton (Dimension Data) was the main GC threat, a little less than six minutes back from Froome, but the peloton was always in control.
The Alto de Velefique promptly split the front group up, meanwhile, while Orica-Scott set a high tempo in the breakaway to thin the group out for Chaves.
Bardet, Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon), Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal) and Anton got a gap on the ascent, before Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) attacked from the peloton to bridge across.
On the descent, however, the composition of the group had changed to Yates, Bardet and Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates).
The sting in the tail of the stage proved decisive, however, as the GC group blew apart on the final climb and the gap to the leaders tumbled.
Chaves was dropped as Gianni Moscon and Mikel Nieve protected team and race leader Froome on the ascent, with Nibali, Lopez, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) for company.
Nibali put in a number of attacks – particularly after being joined by team-mate Franco Pellizotti – but could not shake the attentions of Froome or, for that matter, Lopez.
Lopez accelerated away to claim victory inside the final kilometre, while Froome and Nibali were unable to bring him back.
While the opportunity for the stage win evaporated as Lopez celebrated his success, however, Froome did win the sprint for second place and extra bonus seconds some 14 seconds later.
Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) bridged across to Froome and Nibali to also gain time on the day, but Orica-Scott and BMC Racing both saw their GC hopes take a huge blow.
Chaves finished 17th, two minutes behind Lopez, while Tejay van Garderen lost 3’26" on the day.
Nicolas Roche finished 4’17" down on the race winner, while Adam Yates’ GC hopes are over – the Brit also dropping out of the top ten after finishing 34th at 9’13".
Froome was the big winner, meanwhile – the Team Sky man now boasts a commanding lead overall.
Vuelta a Espana 2017: stage 11 – result
1) Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) – Astana – 5.05.09hrs
2) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +14"
3) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida – ST
4) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Team Sunweb
5) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +31"
6) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo – ST
7) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin
8) Mikel Nieve (ESP) – Team Sky
9) Darwin Atapuma (COL) – UAE Team Emirates +1.02
10) David de la Cruz (ESP) – QuickStep Floors +1.14
1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 45.18.01hrs
2) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +1.19
3) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-Scott +2.33
4) David de la Cruz (ESP) – QuickStep Floors +2.36
5) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Team Sunweb +2.37
6) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +2.38
7) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +2.57
8) Michael Woods (CAN) – Cannondale-Drapac +3.01
9) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +3.55
10) Miguel Angel Lopez (ESP) – Astana +4.11