Early crash for Chris Froome sees him struggle through a relentless Vuelta a España mountain stage
- Fabio Aru takes race lead from Tom Dumoulin on good day for Astana
- Photos by Graham Watson and Yuzuru Sunada

Tour de France champion Chris Froome‘s hopes of winning a second Grand Tour looked in tatters after stage 11 of the Vuelta a España. Sky leader Froome crashed early on in the brutal mountains stage, and looked in difficultly with his injuries over the day’s six categorised climbs, dropping out of the top 10 after finishing over eight minutes down.

Astana enjoyed a better day, with Spaniard Mikel Landa winning the stage and Italian Fabio Aru coming home in second to claim the overall race lead from Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). American Ian Boswell handed Sky a consolation prize by finishing the stage in third place.

Mikel Landa wins on stage eleven of the 2015 Tour of Spain

Mikel Landa wins on stage eleven of the 2015 Tour of Spain

Many riders approached the stage with some trepidation, particularly after Tuesday’s rest day. Designed by Spanish climber Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), the stage featured over 5000 metres of ascent.

The day didn’t start well for Froome, who suffered an untimely crash early on in the stage and was forced to fight his way back up to the peloton through dropped riders up the first categorised climb of the day, the Collada de Baixalis. He got back in touch on the descent – but used up valuable energy to do so.

Vuelta a Espana stage 11 profile

Vuelta a Espana stage 11 profile

A large 19-rider escape group formed after three groups joined forces, including King of the Mountains leader Omar Fraile (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) who was on the hunt to extend his lead in the competition.

By the ascent of Coll d’Ordino they led the peloton by around two minutes. Imanol Erviti (Movistar) attacked on the descent of Coll d’Ordino, opening up a gap over his breakaway companions. Team Sky took over the pace-making at the front of the peloton after an early stint by Astana.

>>> Five talking points from stage 11 of the Vuelta a España

Erviti was caught by the chasers on the descent of the Puerto de la Rabassa, bringing the 19-rider group back together.

Froome lost touch with the back of the peloton on the Coll de la Gallina as the rain started to fall, and visited the race medic’s car to attend to his shoulder injury. Geraint Thomas dropped back to try and pace him back up but he quickly lost a minute, then two minutes on the tough climb as Astana took to the head of the bunch.

Up front, the break splintered leaving seven riders over the top of the Coll de la Gallina: Landa, Fraile, Boswell, Romain Sicard (Europcar), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Darwin Atapuma (BMC) and Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo).

The peloton on the Collada de Beixalis during Stage 11 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana

The peloton on the Collada de Beixalis during Stage 11 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

Rodriguez, Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked the peloton on the descent catching up with Erviti and Alberto Losada (Katusha) from the earlier break. They were then joined by Aru, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge). Dumoulin managed to chase back on as the race neared the penultimate climb of Alto de la Comella.

Landa struck out from the lead group at the bottom of the final climb, and behind him Astana team-mate Aru did the same from the favourites group, pulling Rodriguez with him and distancing Valverde. Aru then attacked again with around 6km to go and the steepest part of the final climb.

Aru rode hard up the remainder of the climb as Landa crossed the line to take the day’s honours, and the Italian securing the red leader’s jersey. Froome finished the stage 8-41 down on Landa, and had to be helped off his bike, barely able to stand. Movistar duo Quintana and Valverde also lost time, with both slipping down the overall classification.

Fabio Aru on stage eleven of the 2015 Tour of Spain

Fabio Aru on stage eleven of the 2015 Tour of Spain

Aru now leads Rodriguez by 27 seconds overall, with Dumoulin in third at 30 seconds. Froome sits in 15th overall, at 7-30.

Race motorbike controversy continued to dog the Vuelta after Peter Sagan’s incident, with Sagan’s Tinkoff-Saxo team-mate Sergio Paulinho being hit by a motorbike during the stage and was forced to abandon the race with his injuries.

After today’s climb-fest, Thursday’s stage 12 is much calmer – a 173km trip out of Andorra and into Lleida that is more downhill than up and is punctuated by just one categorised climb 100km from the finish. The day looks like it could be one for an escape.

 

Results

Vuelta a España 2015, stage 11: Andorra la Vella to Cortals d´Encamp, 138km
1. Mikel Landa (Spa) Astana
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1-22
3. Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky at 1-39
4. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 1-56
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 1-58
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2-10
7. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky at same time
8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 2-59
9. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 2-58
10. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana at 3-02
Other
32. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 8-41

Fabio Aru takes the race lead after stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana (Sunada)

Fabio Aru takes the race lead after stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana (Sunada)

Overall classification after stage 11
1. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 27 secs
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 30 secs
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1-28
5. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 1-29
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-52
7. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 1-54
8. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky at 1-58
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3-07
10. Louis Mentjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 4-15
Other
15. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 7-30

  • RobTM

    OK, so Aru lost red jersey by 3 secs today… that means HE has problem to attack and gain time on Dumoulin, who’s actually one a hill top finish agaisnt Rodriguez and Froome.
    Yes Aru, must still be favourite.. but if Aru’s tired, he’s at risk now against a strong rider who finishes very strongly, in a way he wouldn’t be, if he only had to cover Dumoulin’s moves.

  • Aurelio

    Let´s just agree to desagree. Astana choose Aru in the Giro when Landa was stronger and that made him sign with another team, problably Sky. And now he is doing some work for Aru but the team wanted him to let Aru win the Queen stage and he did not do it so he wants to do things for him.

  • RobTM

    He was fetching bidons from team car yesterday 🙂
    Aru’s not lost the GC time Landa did on 2 bad days.. of course their support is for Aru, they want to win the race

  • Tom

    I am sorry but an Astana 1-2 with Aru (in particular) not even puffing up that final mountain stinks…especially with their heritage in doping!

  • Aurelio

    The thing is, he is riding for himself. Astana choose to keep Aru as GC leader when Landa was stronger in the Giro and maybe they lost the race because of that. After that he signed with Sky for the next 2 years so he does not have the team support and can do whatever he wants in the race. And I know that he could attack again in the coming mountain stages. If you watched the race yesterday you could see that he was in the back of the peloton, no riding for Aru. And when I tell you that he is fighting his team it is because they wanted him to wait for Aru and let him take the queen stage, so when he did not do that he was sending a message that he is looking out for himself because the team wants everything for Aru.

  • RobTM

    I heard subsequently he ignored an order to wait for Aru for last climb. Naughty boy! Being in break isn’t “fighting your team”, ignoring the order is understanable, but if Aru loses the Vuelta by <= 4 seconds, it won't look so good. He was carrying bottles yesterday.

  • Aurelio

    Did you read what he said after the race? Google it because I cannot post the link here. But when you read it you will notice that he took the victory without advice from his team, and after what Astana did to him in the Giro, he did what he needed to do.

  • RobTM

    Boswell & Landa were in break for team strategy; Rodriguez had tactical benefit when domestiques dropped back to help pace him after the last descent, for example. When Aru saw Froome drop, he had plenty of guys to ride on front for him. He was only alone <10km, when he attacked for red jersey after enjoying tactical benefit of sitting on Katusha pulling to catch break; Landa made similar attack on the break to, gaining info.
    Great ride, but not fighting against own team, he earned the win, just as Bos earned his 3rd

  • RobTM

    What a load of rubbish on Froome.

  • Aurelio

    Great ride from Landa! He deserved this victory! Fighting against his own team and taking the queen stage! Go #kungfuLanda! Astana will regreat letting him go to Sky in favour of Aru.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Its time CF gave up cycling and got a job with a stunt team.Some fabulous rides today a lot of young riders making the grade.