Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) showed promising form heading into the second half of the Vuelta a Espana with a second-place finish behind stage 10 winner Nairo Quintana on the famed climb to Lagos de Covadonga.
"My goal is to be good in the second part of the Vuelta," said Gesink, who is still recovering from a concussion sustained in a crash at the Tour de Suisse. "My feeling is that today, the second part of the Vuelta began. We all were in a difficult spot after [Steven] Kruijswijk had to abandon. It lasted for days, but now we have turned things around."
Gesink was part of a 16-man breakaway that formed along the coast in the early stages of the 188.7km race from Lugones to Lagos de Covadonga.
He was the last rider left of the original move on the final ascent to the finish line when Quintana caught and passed him for the stage win. He hung on to finish second on the day, 24 seconds behind the Colombian but one second ahead of third placed Chris Froome (Team Sky).
"This was a nice day, it's not fun that another rider was faster, but it gives me a good feeling," Gesink said, who was joined in the move by teammate Victor Campenaerts. "It is not about who is the first to attack and who goes the fastest immediately, so I set my own pace and I quickly noticed that I could drop the others [breakaway riders].
"Campenaerts did a good job, too. He ensured the speed stayed high when there was a lack of collaboration in the break. Even I went to the front a few times to set the pace because the majority were mainly concerned with the last climb, instead of maximising the lead we had."
LottoNL-Jumbo lost their primary overall contender Kruijswijk in the early stages of the Vuelta. He first lost time during stage 3 on the Mirador de Ézaro finale because of illness and then crashed during stage 5 and was taken to hospital.
The team will move ahead with a little more confidence after placing two in the day's decisive breakaway, Gesink taking second place, while George Bennett placed 23rd on the day and sits in 20th overall.
"The last few days were a lot better. It is nice to see that the team has picked itself up. It took a while but we are back on track," said Sports Director Addy Engels.