David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) beat Marc Soler to the summit finish victory on stage 11 of the Vuelta a España, the Frenchman having been part of the day’s break and surviving to take the victory.
The duo dropped their previous breakaway collaborators up the Farrapona, with Sunweb’s Michael Storer and Mark Donovan finishing third and fourth 52 seconds later, before Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) came across the line in fifth, having taken more points in the polka dot jersey competition throughout the day.
It wasn’t all bad news for Movistar’s Soler, though, as his effort saw him move four places up the overall classification to sixth, no 1-54 down on Roglič.
There was little action from the rest of the GC contenders, with Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) attacking in the final few hundred metres, not managing to distance either race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) or Richard Carapaz (Ineos) but there was a gap to Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) as they crossed the line.
How it happened
The first piece of action on stage 11 was on the start line, specifically, because they wouldn’t leave it.
Chris Froome seemed to be the main instigator of the protest, remonstrating with race organisers over the three-second rule that wasn’t applied on stage 10. But the peloton eventually got going, setting off for a day in the mountains.
Out of the neutralised zone and the attacks came thick and fast, with Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) hitting out near the top of the first climb.
Riders started to try and bridge across to the Belgian, before a group of eight finally settled containing the polka dot jersey of Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Niklas Eg (Trek-Segafredo), Mark Donovan and Michael Storer ( both Sunweb), David Gaudu and Bruno Armirail (both Groupama-FDJ) as well as Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), taking out a gap of 1-40 as it ticked under 100km to go.
Onto the Cobertoria, the first of four category one climbs today, and Movistar’s Marc Soler hit out, lying 10th on GC nearly four minutes down on Roglič. The Spaniard soon found himself in between the two groups, a minute ahead of the peloton.
Having missed out on points atop the last climb, Martin pressed on near the top, with Wellens getting none this time before Eg managed to stay upright despite going off-road on the descent.
Soler had caught up to the breakaway, and now rode away alongside Martin and Oliveira, with the peloton three minutes in arrears, before the escapees all came back together with 50km remaining.
Onto the next climb and much was still the same, Jumbo-Visma leading the peloton behind. Martin once again took maximum points at the summit as Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) suffered a mechanical behind.
The break still had an advantage of over two and a half minutes at the official start of the Farrapona 16.5km before the finish, as UAE Team Emirates came to the front to join Jumbo-Visma.
Froome was one of the first to drop out of the peloton as the gradient increased before the breakaway also started to splinter up ahead, Armirail in trouble.
30 riders remained in the peloton with Jumbo-Visma still drilling the pace and shelling riders out of the back, Chaves soon falling away.
Up the climb they continued, with Soler attacking his breakaway companions with little over 5km to the line. Gaudu followed, Donovan, Martin and Storer all dropped.
Soler and Gaudu soon had 45 seconds on Martin, with the peloton two minutes back, clearly wary of tomorrow’s ascent of the Angliru and biding their time for that considerable effort.
Amador was then dropped with around 5km to go, leaving Carapaz isolated in the Jumbo-Visma-led peloton.
Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and David de la Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) then started trying to make a move off the front of the peloton.
As Gaudu and Soler went under the flamme rouge, Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) attacked the bunch behind. Gaudu led Soler as the pair began to watch each other over the final 700m, their gap dropping to 34 seconds over Martin and a minute and a half over the peloton.
Marc Soler began shaking his head as Gaudu drew level, and then attacked, speeding away from Soler with ease, a smile erupting from his face as he crossed the line first.
Dan Martin then attacked his GC rivals, unable to detach Enric Mas, Roglič or Carapaz but putting a bit of time into Hugh Carthy, who was gapped just before the line.
Vuelta a España 2020, stage 11: Villaviciosa to Alto de la Farrapona (170km)
1. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJm in 4-54-13
2. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at four seconds
3. Michael Storer (Aus) Sunweb, at 52s
4. Mark Donovan (GBr) Sunweb, at same time
5. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), at 55s
6. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana, at 58s
7. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 1-03
8. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar
9. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
10. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time
11. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 1-10
General classification after stage 11
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 45-20-31
2. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos, at same time
3. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 25 seconds
4. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 58s
5. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 1-54
6. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 2-44
7. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-31
8. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 3-44
9. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-McLaren, at 3-54
10. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Mitchelton-Scott, at 4-43