The cold weather and rain certainly made a difference in the 2017 Vuelta a España‘s first high-mountain finish to Calar Alto on stage 11.
Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) slipped from second to third place, losing 2-05 minutes, and Irishman Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) went down from third to 11th, losing 4-17. Chris Froome (Sky) remains on top with the red jersey after 11 stages.
“Those two words exactly, cold and suffering, they characterise my day,” Roche said sitting in the team car waiting to descend to his team’s hotel.
“I suffer temperature differences. It happened to me already in 2013 in Andorra when it was much more extreme. Today I just felt feeling those very bad with the weather and the difference in temperatures from the last few days and I paid a high price.”
His team-mate Tejay van Garderen lost time too. He now sits 12th overall.
“I was well dressed up and the lads are keeping me warm with new arm warmers and rain jacket,” Roche added.
“There are riders who suffer in 40 degrees, which I enjoy, but today I suffered more from the cold than just from the rain. The feeling in my legs are just rock hard.”
Australian WorldTour team Orica-Scott paced the lead group with Froome. They sent Simon Yates up the road and appeared to be readying a Chaves launch, but he went the other direction instead.
“Yes [Yates was] part of the plan today,” Chaves explained when he finished next to the observatory above the Andalusian coast. “We tried to put a plan in place but did not work out today but the important thing is we tried.
“It’s really cold for everybody. Like always, the team worked really well. Sometimes you have a plan and the final goes well sometimes it goes bad, but it’s important to try. Jack Haig stayed with me and we tried to keep the pace and limit the losses.”
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) moved to second overall at 1-19 minutes. Chaves sits third at 2-33.
“I still keep fighting but obviously it’s a big blow for the podium chances but still there’s time in the Vuelta,” Roche continued.
“I always knew today was going to be one of the hardest days. Today wasn’t a catastrophe and there’s still a lot to be done so I’m going to fight for it.”