A day for the breakaway: Gaudu wins Vuelta stage 11

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Frenchman David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) was the best of the break in stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana, taking his first Grand Tour stage win ahead of Marc Soler (Movistar). Primoz Roglic finished with his rivals to retain the overall lead, tied on time with Ineos’ Richard Carapaz.

Gaudu and Soler were survivors of the day’s breakaway, and Soler jumped to sixth overall.

“It was okay, it was a hard day in the mountains,” Roglic said after the finish. “The first one, for now, tomorrow is something more and everything is under control.”

How it happened

The stage began with a rider protest over late changes to time gap rules in stage 10. The UCI released a statement halfway through stage 11 saying the decision would stand, leaving Roglic in the red jersey, tied on time with Carapaz.

Five categorized climbs challenged the peloton from the stage’s tip to tail, culminating atop the category 1 Alto de la Farrapona. A strong breakaway separated early, but the gap hovered under two minutes, inspiring bridge attempts from the peloton. Two groups came together before the Alto de Colladona, creating a break of 13 riders. Attacks on the Colladona and down the descent afterward sent riders back to the peloton, and others up to the break. Gaudu attacked and caught the group on the descent, as did Soler. The group was then nine.

The gap was at three minutes by the base of the final climb. Movistar pushed the breakaway onward throughout the day, and Gaudu and Soler separated themselves when Soler attacked with 5 km to go and only Gaudu could follow.

At the finish, Gaudu hit the afterburners inside the final 200 meters and Soler couldn’t respond.

“When Soler attacked me he was quite quickly down back onto his saddle,” said Gaudu. “So I just waited and waited until the last 500 meters and I went for it and 75 meters from the line I knew he was dropped.”

Lucky for the front group, the GC tapped away a moderately high pace, fearful perhaps of Sunday’s difficult mountain stage, and only accelerated in sight of the finish line. The pace set by Jumbo-Visma did serve to isolate Carapaz, who lost his last teammate, Andrey Amador, inside the final two kilometers.

Esteban Chaves had a rough day, suffering a mechanical on the penultimate climb, forcing a hard chase that led to him losing 3:15 to the other GC favorites. He’s now more than 5 minutes down on the overall in 14th place.

More to come.

Stage 11 results

1 – David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 4:54:13
2 – Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team at 0:00:04
3 – Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb at 0:00:52
4 – Mark Donovan (GBr) Team Sunweb at ST

Overall results

1 – Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma in 45:20:31
2 – Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers at ST
3 – Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation at 0:00:25
4 – Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling at 0:00:58

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