The short 118.5-kilometre stage exploded when favourites Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked in the first 10 kilometres. As a result, speeds were high and many cyclists were left behind.
Froome suffered without his teammates and lost 2-43 to Quintana. His teammates and many others were 53-54 minutes behind stage winner – enough to be eliminated from the race. The jury, however, called a meeting with the organiser and teams’ representatives afterwards and decided it was best to keep the riders in the race for cycling’s image.
“I didn’t make that decision that was the jury,” Froome said. “We weren’t the only team with the riders behind, there were 90 riders back. Direct Energie wouldn’t have any riders left.
“Personally, I think the rule probably should have been upheld, but I understand the jury’s decision and it’s up to them to make that decision. If the rule is there, it is there for a reason.”
The rule, had the jury applied it, would only leave 71 riders to contest the remainder of the Vuelta a España. The race stopped on Tuesday for its second of two rest days and continues with five more stages starting Wednesday.
“It would’ve been a negative image for cycling,” read a jury statement after the stage.
Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx–Quick-Step) won the stage in just over 2 hours, 45 minutes, which put the time cut at 31-24 minutes.
The time cut would have seen the majority of teams lose riders including Sky, Cofidis, LottoNL-Jumbo, Bora-Argon 18, Dimension Data, Lotto-Soudal, BMC Racing, Etixx-Quick Step, FDJ, Orica-BikeExchange, Giant-Alpecin, IAM Cycling and Katusha.
Other riders sided with Froome. Italian Moreno Moser wrote on Twitter, “What about the guys who went full gas, alone, until the finish line?”