Vuelta a España 2011

August 20 - September 11, 2011, Benidorm, Spain, Road - HIS (Historical Calendar)

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer

There is some major climbing on tap, and the mountains this weekend are expected to decide the Vuelta. Will today's stage give us a major change in the leadership?  Who will crack, who will shine and who will hang on by the skin of their teeth?

  1. 14:57:25 CEST

    As Het Nieuwsblad put it, the Vuelta starts today and ends tomorrow.  We have some very serious climbing before us, and many expet to know the name of the overall winner by Sunday evening.

  2. 77.2km remaining from 173.2km

    15:00:31 CEST

    Once again we have a big escape group.  Today' selection is:  Guilluame Bonnafond (AG2R), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank), Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Saxo Bank), Lloyd Mondory ( AG2R), Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervelo), Alberto Benitez (Andalucia-Caja Granada), Karsen Kroon (BMC), Yohan Bagot (Cofidis), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel), Jorge Azanza (Euskaltel),  David De La Fuente (Geox), Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad), Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Katusha), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas), and Daniele Righi (Lampre).

    Leigh Howard was the first to go, taking off about a half a km into the stage.  he was soon joined by the others, and after giving chase for nearly 30 km, the peloton finally decided to let them go.

    Right now the gap is at its highest, 7.38.


  3. 15:08:26 CEST

    There are only three climbs in today's stage:  the category two Puerto de la Ventana at km.111.1, the category one Puerto de San Lorenzo at km 142.1 and then to top it all off, the mountaintop finish at La Farrapona, Lagos de Somiedo.

  4. 15:11:10 CEST

    We have already had the first intermediate sprint today.  Mondroy won it ahead of Bonnafond and Sanchez.

  5. 15:14:22 CEST

    180 riders signed on today.  We had two abandons yesterday, Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Andres Klöden (RadioShack).  And we already have one today, Michele Scarponi of Lampre.

    Scarponi finished second on the eighth stage, which moved him up to fifth overall.  Things went downhill from there, and he lost an astonishing 21 minutes yesterday.

  6. 15:17:24 CEST

    San Lorenzo is an easy climb, right?  Well, except maybe for that 11% average gradient over the last 5km .....

  7. 15:19:46 CEST

    The final climb may not have the bone-breaking high gradients, but does include some nice little 10 to 13 percent sections.  And it is some 17 km long.  Should be fun to tackle that at the end of the stage!

  8. 15:20:30 CEST

    The leaders are now approaching the top of the day's first ranked climb.  The two Euskaltel riders, Isasi and Azanza, are leading the way.

  9. 65km remaining from 173.2km

    15:24:05 CEST

    The gap is dropping slightly on this climb, now at 6:48

  10. 15:26:24 CEST

    • Climb

    There was no real race for the mountain points, they just sort of rolled through.

  11. 15:28:14 CEST

    They are flying down this descent, at 70km/h.  The gap is down to 6:08.

  12. 15:31:19 CEST

    And the gap continues to fall as the peloton hits the top of the mountain only 5:28 behind the leaders.

  13. 15:33:01 CEST

    De La Fuente took the mountain points, ahead of Bagot and Howard.

  14. 15:35:42 CEST

    Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) went to reconnoitre the final climb “It’s a large road like at the Tour de France”, he said. “The last seven kilometres are really hard. There’s nowhere to take a breath.”

  15. 15:36:16 CEST

    Azanza has a few nervous moments after he drops his chain, but he is able to get it back.

  16. 15:38:31 CEST

    With 50 km to go and a five minute gap, we would ordinarily start debating whether this group will come through to the end.  But they have lost so much time in the last few kms, and the upcoming kms are going to be very difficult, so our gut feelilng right now is:  not a very good chance of it.

  17. 51km remaining from 173.2km

    15:39:26 CEST

    52km to go, and exactly five minutes.

  18. 15:43:23 CEST

    oh this is not good.  A rider has gone over the edge.  Someone from Garmin.  It is a wooded section.  He is walking and looks pretty shaken up, we hope that is all.

  19. 15:43:43 CEST

    It is Sep Vanmarcke of the lead group.  He is limping.

  20. 15:44:58 CEST

    Another one!  Karsten Kroon of BMC!  He too is climbing up.

    I do so hope there are no more down there....

  21. 15:45:21 CEST

    Kroon's shorts suffered greatly.  He too is quite shaken up, naturally enough.

  22. 44km remaining from 173.2km

    15:46:30 CEST

    The race is of course still going on,and the gap has dropped to 4:00.

  23. 15:47:39 CEST

    No word yet on Vanvmarcke and Kroon.

  24. 15:48:05 CEST

    Today’s hot favourite “Purito” Rodriguez has put a special gear for La Farrapona: 36x27. “This is a hard climb”, the green jersey said. “The race is gonna be a mess. Today and tomorrow, it’s not impossible for me to recover the three minutes deficit I’ve got on GC.”

  25. 15:49:16 CEST

    The gap is melting quickly now.

  26. 15:50:08 CEST

    Righi must also have gone down.  He has some nasty looking cuts on his right forearm.

  27. 15:51:12 CEST

    We hear that Vanmarcke is back on his bike.  haven't heard a report on Kroon.

  28. 15:52:54 CEST

    Katusha is really turning on the pressure. They want Rodriguez to win today and move up in GC.

    Howard has dropped out of the lead group.

  29. 15:53:38 CEST

    They are now heading up the day's second climb, the fearsome Puerto de San Lorenzo.

  30. 15:55:15 CEST

    Losado of Katusha jumps from teh field.  A Movistart rider follows, as does Sylvain Chavanel.

  31. 15:55:45 CEST

    Six riders in this little group, which is maybe two or three seconds ahead of the field.

  32. 15:56:44 CEST

    Kroon has abandoned the race.

  33. 38.6km remaining from 173.2km

    15:58:22 CEST

    Intxausti and bruseghn of Movistar have now attacked out of the field.  The gap is now 2:46.

  34. 15:59:08 CEST

    The two movistars have 16 seconds over the field.

  35. 15:59:54 CEST

    Taaramae has attacked out of the lead group, with De La Fuente chasing.

  36. 16:01:19 CEST

    This climb has lived up to its expectations.  The lead group is falling apart, and the peloton is moving closer.  At least some of it is, it too is getting smaller and smaller.

  37. 38.2km remaining from 173.2km

    16:01:40 CEST

    De La Fuente has finally caught Taaramae.

  38. 16:04:19 CEST

    The two Movistars are doing well.  They are 2:35 behind the leaders, and the field is at 3:05.

  39. 16:05:26 CEST

    The examples of Mollema and Nibali who went for hot spot sprints in the past two days don’t seem to inspire the other GC contenders. “I’m not up for it”, said Jakob Fuglsang. “My tactic is simple: it’s suffering. I’m prepared to go as deep as I can.”

  40. 16:05:56 CEST

    The two leaders are both up out of the saddle as they hit a 9% section.

  41. 16:07:13 CEST

    The peloton has really shrunk.  The main group is notably smaller.

  42. 16:07:55 CEST

    3 km to go to the top for Taaramae and De La Fuente, who are still up out of the saddle.

  43. 16:08:56 CEST

    Wiggins looks to be riding easily near the front of the chasing peloton.

  44. 16:09:48 CEST

    Fabian Cancellara pulls the peloton up this fierce mountain.

  45. 34km remaining from 173.2km

    16:12:31 CEST

    3:25 for the peloton, as Moreno attacks out of the field.  And no one chases.

  46. 16:13:36 CEST

    Moreno is currently ninth overall, only 1:52 down.

  47. 16:14:20 CEST

    And Purito Rodriguez sneaks up the left side and tries to get away.  Cancellara doesn't like that idea and picks up the speed.

  48. 16:14:54 CEST

    That was enough for Cancellara.  He drops out of the lead.

  49. 16:16:49 CEST

    Rohregger has moved into the lead work, with Fuglsang on his wheel.

  50. 16:17:32 CEST

    Moreno catches and passes Howard, who has dropped out of the lead group.

  51. 16:17:57 CEST

    Ditto Kuchynski.

  52. 16:18:50 CEST

    Liquigas moving into the head of the field.

  53. 16:19:39 CEST

    RadioShack's Brajkovic has dropped out of the peloton.

  54. 16:20:12 CEST

    Moreno is now riding together with Kuchsynski and Bagot.

  55. 16:20:57 CEST

    • Climb

    10 points for Taaramae atop the mountain, with six points to De La Fuente.

    Rodriguez tries again.  Menchov goes with him, and another Geox rider.

  56. 16:22:03 CEST

    Seven riders in the Rodriguez group, which has a slight gap on the field.  Let's see if we can't get those names.

  57. 16:22:41 CEST

    NO matter, they are caught again. Wiggins isn't going to let this race slip away so easily.

  58. 16:23:18 CEST

    Moreno is alone again and crosses the mountain at 2:21 behind Taaramae.  But the field is only 13 seconds behind him.

  59. 16:24:12 CEST

    Taaramae takes off on the descent, with De La Fuente riding a bit more conservatively.

  60. 16:24:57 CEST

    Moreno is fiving his all, and hs now nearly caught Intxausti and Bruseghin.

  61. 28km remaining from 173.2km

    16:25:25 CEST

    This threesome is 2:16 behind the leaders.

  62. 16:27:40 CEST

    Taaramae and De La Fuente are together.

  63. 16:28:23 CEST

    The peloton is strung out flying down the hill.  Wiggins had fallen back but now joins them again.

  64. 16:28:57 CEST

    The Wiggins group has maybe 40 riders in it.

  65. 16:30:00 CEST

    Moreno and the two Movistars have now caught up with Vorgondy, out of the former lead group.

    Taaramae takes off again and tries to drop De La Fuenta.

  66. 16:30:42 CEST

    The two leaders have 2:09 on the Moreno group, with te Wiggins group another 29 seconds back.

  67. 23km remaining from 173.2km

    16:32:02 CEST

    The Moreno group goes carefully around some curves, with Moreno actually seeming to have some problem staying with the other three.

  68. 16:33:36 CEST

    Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack): “Everyone must be tired after yesterday. I’m ready for a hard day but I’m motivated as well. I’m not talking about targeting the top 3 anymore. I prefer to look for the top ten, and maybe the top five in a couple of days if everything goes well.”

  69. 16:34:28 CEST

    The two leaders are together again, with the Cofidis car pulling up to give Taaramae some bottles.

    Rabobank has moved into the leadwork of the Wiggins group.

  70. 16:35:06 CEST

    The Moreno group is now five, as they have caught Righi.

  71. 16:36:48 CEST

    The two leader just went through the second intermediate sprint.  They have 1:38 on the Moreno group, which looks to have lost someone -- Vorgondy, most likely.

  72. 16:37:08 CEST

    The Wiggins group is 46 second behind Moreno.

  73. 16:40:21 CEST

    Less than 20 km to go.  Won't be long until the final climb starts.

    The Moreno group catches more of the former lead group.  And it looks like Vorgondy is indeed still there.

  74. 16:41:20 CEST

    About 30 riders in the Wiggins group.

  75. 16:42:00 CEST

    And maybe 10-12 in the Moreno group?

  76. 16:42:39 CEST

    1:13 to the Moreno group, wit the Wiggins group 0:48 behind them.

  77. 16:43:42 CEST

    The two Movistar riders are doing the majority of the leadwork in the Moreno group.

  78. 16:44:05 CEST

    A tunnel for Taarame and De La Fuente.

  79. 16:45:16 CEST

    Enough for Intxausti.  He has done his duty and drops back.

  80. 16:46:19 CEST

    Everyone is climbing now.  No one is having any fun.

  81. 16:47:18 CEST

    Bruseghin suggests that Moreno do his share of the lead work.  Moreno turns the offer down.  Hmm, interesting.....

  82. 16:48:51 CEST

    The Bruseghin-Moreno group is 1:02 behind the leadng duo.

  83. 15km remaining from 173.2km

    16:49:56 CEST

    Again, Rabobank is at the head of the Wiggins group. They are 2:05 behind Taarame and De La Fuente.

  84. 16:50:35 CEST

    The three Rabos at the head of things are Mollema, Sanchez and Barredo.


  85. 16:52:19 CEST

    Bruseghin continues to do all the work.

  86. 16:53:09 CEST

    A Euskaltel rider takes off out of teh Wiggns group, Gorka Verdugo.

  87. 16:53:31 CEST

    But he doesn't get away.  Or sees that it is pointless. 

  88. 16:54:42 CEST

    The Wiggins group is less than a minute behind the Moreno group.

  89. 16:55:20 CEST

    Verdugo pulls the field up the mountain at a fast pace.

  90. 16:56:20 CEST

    All the work is taking its toll on Bruseghin.  But Moreno still hangs on his wheel and won't take a turn.

  91. 11km remaining from 173.2km

    16:56:47 CEST

    The two leaders still look relatively fresh.

  92. 16:57:13 CEST

    Righi drops out of the Moreno group.

  93. 16:57:56 CEST

    Liquigas now at the head of the Wiggins group, followed by Euskaltel and Rabobank.

  94. 16:58:12 CEST

    This is a nice, newly asphalted road.

  95. 16:59:09 CEST

    De La Fuente shakes his legs.

  96. 10km remaining from 173.2km

    16:59:33 CEST

    The two leaders have 10 km to go.  What will the gap be?

  97. 17:00:34 CEST

    It is 57 seconds.  Will they catch the two in front?

  98. 17:01:04 CEST

    And the Wiggins group is at 1:41.

  99. 17:02:38 CEST

    Bruseghin continues to pull Moreno up the mountain.  They still have trees around them. But they won't have any at the finish, it is above the tree line.

  100. 9km remaining from 173.2km

    17:03:24 CEST

    1:23 for the Wiggins group at the 9km marker, only 20 seconds behind the Moreno group.

  101. 17:05:30 CEST

    Taaramae and De La Fuenta are on a relatively flat section at the moment and can turn up the speed.

  102. 7km remaining from 173.2km

    17:06:42 CEST

    57 seconds to Moreno and Co., with the Wiggins group only an additonal 13 seconds down.

  103. 17:07:45 CEST

    The Wiggins group catches the Moreno group.

  104. 17:08:29 CEST

    They are 59 seconds behind the two leaders.

    Perhaps the Moreno group could have stayed away if Moreno and the others had shared in the lead work?

  105. 17:09:08 CEST

    Euskaltel attacks out of the Wiggins group.  It is Txurruka.

  106. 17:09:20 CEST

    He pulls away from the group.

  107. 17:09:43 CEST

    10 percent now for the leading duo.

  108. 17:10:13 CEST

    Txurruka has a decent lead over the field.

  109. 17:10:47 CEST

    Rodriguez is on Wiggins' wheel.  The group is getting smaller.

  110. 17:11:11 CEST

    With 5 km to go, Txurruka is 58 second down, with the field at 1:12.

  111. 17:12:11 CEST

    Wiggins still has Froome with him.  There are 4 or 5 Leopards in the group.

  112. 4km remaining from 173.2km

    17:13:50 CEST

    Four km for the two leaders.  Will they stay together, or will one take off?

  113. 17:14:22 CEST

    Txurruka hits the 4km marker at 1:01.

  114. 17:14:42 CEST

    The group is not far back, at 1: 21.

  115. 17:15:32 CEST

    Moeno atttacks, with Cobo going with him. 

  116. 17:16:15 CEST

    Cobo now alone!

  117. 17:16:47 CEST

    Three km for De La Fuente and Taaramae.

  118. 17:17:29 CEST

    Txurruka s back in teh group, and Cobo is the closest chaser, at 45 seconds.

  119. 17:18:04 CEST

    The Wiggins group just keeps on getting smaller and smaller....

  120. 17:18:28 CEST

    Rodriguez has dropped out of the Wiggins group.

  121. 17:18:57 CEST

    Nibali is having problems too.

  122. 17:20:29 CEST

    De La Fuente vritually stops.  He is apparently waiting for Cobo.  Taraamae keeps on going....

  123. 17:21:23 CEST

    Cobo and De La Fuente, the two Geox riders, take off after the leader.

  124. 17:21:54 CEST

    Froome now does lead work, with Wiggins on his wheel.

  125. 17:22:08 CEST

    Cobo of course is 8th overall and looks to move up.

  126. 17:22:27 CEST

    Now Wiggins is doing the lead work.

  127. 1km remaining from 173.2km

    17:23:08 CEST

    Final km for Taraamae.  he has 24 seconds on the Geox riders, with the Wiggins group another 24 seconds behind them.

  128. 17:24:01 CEST

    Cobo goes, to try to pick up as much time as possible.

  129. 17:24:14 CEST

    Froome again pulls for his captain.

  130. 17:25:07 CEST

    Taarame heads towards his first Vuelta stage win.

  131. 17:25:29 CEST

    He looks back to make sure he really is alone.

  132. 17:25:56 CEST

    He has a big grain on his face as he finally crosses the finish line.  And why not?

  133. 17:26:23 CEST

    Cobo flies over the line 25 secnds down, with De La Fuente close behind.

  134. 17:26:45 CEST

    Wiggins leads his group over the line at 44 seconds. 

  135. 17:27:22 CEST

    Cobo will pick up bonus secons in addition to the time he gained on Wiggins, so he will move up.

  136. 17:28:23 CEST

    Nibali and Kessiakoff will have lost time and will fall back.  That leaves Wiggins and Froome pretty much alone at the top.

  137. 17:29:35 CEST

    Kessiakoff loses 1:58, while Nibali and Rodriguez lose 2:05.

  138. 17:31:04 CEST

    Mollema has moved up to third place, with Cobo now fourth.

  139. 17:33:23 CEST

    Here's how they finished today:

    1 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 4:39:01
    2 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC 0:00:25
    3 David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Geox-TMC 0:00:29
    4 Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:40
    5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:45
    6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
    7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
    8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC
    9 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:55
    10 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:00

  140. 17:34:00 CEST

    And our new GC:

    1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 55:54:45
    2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
    3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:36
    4 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC 0:00:55
    5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:00:58
    6 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana 0:01:23
    7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:25
    8 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:01:37
    9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:02:16
    10 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:02:24

  141. 17:35:17 CEST

    That's it for today!  This stage lived up to expectations.

    Tomorrow should bring us more of the same, along with a lot of suffering.  Be sure to join us again for that.

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