Vuelta a España 2011

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

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer

The penultimate Vuelta stage – and today the final winner will be decided! Will Cobo hold on to his narrow lead over Froome?  And it all takes place in the Basque country!

  1. 14:56:01 CEST

    187 km and four ranked climbs in the Basque Country today will decide the winner of this year's Vuelta a Espana. With only 13 seconds separating numbers one and two, excitement is guaranteed!

  2. 15:06:56 CEST

    We have another huge escape group – 26 strong!  Caruso (LIQ), Roche (ALM), Mondory (ALM), Toribio (ACG), Van Avermaet (BMC), Isasi (EUS), Txurruka (EUS), Howard (THR), Horrach (KAT), Karpets (KAT), Vorganov (KAT), Marzano (LAM), Mori (LAM), Perez (LAM), Bennati (LEO), Lastras (MOV), Bakelants (OLO), Van De Walle (OLO), Kiserlovski (AST), Barredo (RAB), Kruijswijk (RAB), Marycz (SBS), Nuyens (SBS), De Kort (SKS), Le Mevel (GRM), and Carrara (VCD).

    They currently have 3:20 on the field.

  3. 88km remaining from 187km

    15:13:41 CEST

    After 99km, the gap is 4:10.

  4. 15:15:06 CEST

    Here's what we have to look forward to today:

    First intermediate sprint: Eibar, Km.41

    Alto de Karabieta - 2nd category, 6.3 kilometers
    Start: 41.5 / End: Km.47.8

    Alto de Elosua - 1st  category,  7.3 kilometers
    Start: Km.57 / End Km.64,3

    Feed Zone: Km.100

    Alto de Kanpazar - 3rd category, 5.4 kilometers os
    Start: Km.106,6 / End Km.112

    Second intermediate sprint: Elorrio, Km.119,2

    Puerto de Urkiola - 1st category,  5,5 kilómetros
    Start:  Km.133,1 / End: Km.138,6

  5. 15:17:28 CEST

    The first intermediate sprint went to Roche ahead of Lastras and Txurruka.

  6. 15:19:43 CEST

    We've passed the first two climbs already, too.  The first one went to Mori ahead of De Kort and Txurruka.  The second one was Mori again, followed by Righi, Lastras, Barredo and Txurruka.


  7. 15:22:19 CEST

    And we have two changes in the make-up of the group:  Not Horrach but Paolini (both Katusha) and for Lampre, Righi instead of Perez.

  8. 15:25:06 CEST

    Anybody remember all the way back to 1972?  Legendary Asturian rider José Manuel Fuente was in a class of his own in 1972. Although he only won a single stage, his margin of victory at the Pyrenean resort of Formigal was a staggering nine minutes, catapulting him into the lead. He was equally strong on the penultimate day’s stage to Vitoria. Seeing his Kas team-mate Miguel Lasa’s second place under threat from Frenchman Désiré Letort, Fuente went on the attack on the Orduña clumb, blowing the bunch apart, catching the break, then Letort. At the summit he sat up, enabling the bunch to regroup and Lasa to retain second place.

  9. 101km remaining from 187km

    15:26:52 CEST

    looks like we had some false info earlier when we said there were only 99km left. They are now only 86km into the stage, and the gap has plummeted to two minutes. And HTC-Highroad sprinter Howard is having trouble keeping up with the group on the many cimbs.

  10. 15:28:38 CEST

    This stage is typical of the Tour of Basque Country, winding back and forth over iconic climbs before heading south into Vitoria. There is something for everyone on the route today, from steep ascents to open plains where rouleurs will be in their element. Today’s five climbs should count against the sprinters, most of whom will be out of the equation even before the Urkiola, which is the last categorised mountain of this year’s race. It’s almost 50km from the top to the finish, mostly on straight, flat roads where escapees will be vulnerable to counterattacks from behind.

  11. 15:31:04 CEST

    Our top ten coming into the stage:

    1     Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC     77:59:12      
    2     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:00:13      
    3     Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:01:41      
    4     Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team     0:02:03      
    5     Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC     0:03:48      
    6     Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek     0:04:13      
    7     Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale     0:04:31      
    8     Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto     0:04:45      
    9     Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team     0:05:20      
    10     Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi     0:05:33      

  12. 15:33:53 CEST

    The race for the points jersey is still nip and tuck.  Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) has 110 points, and Bauke Mollema of Rabobank is only two points behind him.  Cobo is third.

  13. 15:37:32 CEST

    David Moncoutie (Cofidis) doesn't have the mountain jersey wrapped up yet.  He came into the stage leading that ranking with 63 points, but AG2R's Matteo Montaguti is only seven points down in second place.

  14. 15:40:28 CEST

    Cobo not only leads the GC but also the Combination classification, ahead of Froome and Mollema. Geox looks to have a lock on the team ranking.

  15. 87km remaining from 187km

    15:41:26 CEST

    • Feed

    100km are now done, and the escape group has hit the feed zone.  It's another hot day:  already 35.5°C. 

  16. 15:44:34 CEST

    And now a little climbing direct after lunch:  the category three Alto de Kanpazar.

  17. 15:49:42 CEST

    One thing we can count on today is that Christopher Froome of Sky will attack!  He is so close to winning this race that he refuses to concede defeat.  “I feel like I've got nothing to lose and all to gain,” he said yesterday afternoon.

  18. 15:55:26 CEST

    Yesterday’s hero Igor Anton admitted that it was hard for him to fall asleep after his stage win on home soil. “I was still impressed by what happened when I woke up this morning”, said the rider who was going to pass in his village of Galdakao only 3km after the start.

  19. 15:59:09 CEST

    Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel) is from the Basque province of Alava where stage 20 arrives in Vitoria. “I’d like to win on home soil like Igor yesterday but I don’t feel good enough, so I’m not the card for Euskaltel to play today”, he said.

  20. 70km remaining from 187km

    16:00:28 CEST

    The gap is now down to 1:27.  The third climb has been climbed, and once again it was Mori who took the points, ahead of De Kort and Txurruka.

  21. 16:08:25 CEST

    Gap holding steady at 1:28, with RadioShack leading the chase.

  22. 16:09:54 CEST

    Race leader Juan Jose Cobo of Geox is sure ready for Froome's attacks.  But of course he plans to maintain his lead and take home the red jersey.

  23. 16:12:09 CEST

    Juan José Cobo said: “I’m nervous, but yesterday, I was nervous too and all the days since I took the jersey, it’s been the same. My tactic will not change: I’ll stick on Froome’s wheel.”

  24. 56km remaining from 187km

    16:14:26 CEST

    Under a minute now for this large group.

  25. 16:15:53 CEST

    What did it mean to Igor Anton to win yesterday? “To win here, in front of my fellow Basques and my friends is extraordinary," he said.

  26. 53km remaining from 187km

    16:18:56 CEST

    It won't be long now, as the gap is only 47 seconds.

    Is it our imagination or has the sun disappeared?

  27. 16:20:22 CEST

    Barredo attacks out of the lead group, as they start up the final climb.

  28. 16:20:58 CEST

    They aren't going to let hm go, though.

  29. 16:21:36 CEST

    Barredo now leads a group of about 10.

  30. 52km remaining from 187km

    16:22:08 CEST

    Only 36 seconds now.

  31. 16:23:16 CEST

    This climb has some nasty sections in it.  Right now the leaders are at an 11% section.

  32. 16:24:03 CEST

    Le Mevel leads the break group and tries to keep the pace as high as possible.

  33. 16:25:12 CEST

    Seven in the lead grou now:  Roche, LeMevel, three Rabos....

    More and more riders are being overtaken by the peloton.

  34. 16:26:36 CEST

    A Rabo rider jumps to try and grab the mountain points.  Sorry, we still don't have the names yet. The gaps aren't that huge at the moment.

    It is Barredo.

  35. 16:28:13 CEST

    An 8% section now for Barredo.

  36. 16:29:22 CEST

    Yesterday's winner Anton is at the back of the field.  The field is now 50 seconds behind Anton.  Not real sure if they have caught everyone from the break group or not.

  37. 16:32:16 CEST

    We now have Barredo in the lead, followed by Le Mevel, Kiserlovski, Roche and Txurruka.

  38. 16:32:57 CEST

    The Spaniard is building up his lead, now over a minute.

  39. 16:34:44 CEST

    Lots of fans along this climb, cheering all the riders on.

  40. 46km remaining from 187km

    16:35:15 CEST

    Barredo now has 1:15 over the field.

  41. 16:35:56 CEST

    Sastre and Menchov lead the field up the climb, helping their teammate Cobo.

    The fans are making this narrow road even narrower!

  42. 16:36:55 CEST

    Barredo finally hits the top of the climb.  He still has over 46km to go.

  43. 16:37:41 CEST

    The gap to the four chasers is 35 seconds.

  44. 16:38:42 CEST

    The peloton is now slogging its way through the narrow fans-filled section.

  45. 16:39:44 CEST

    CAruso and Kruijswijk are also in the chase group.

  46. 16:41:27 CEST

    Chris Froome (Sky) said: “Most of the Vuelta is over. I’ll try and stay out of trouble and see if there is an opportunity to win but I doubt it. I really enjoy the support and the passion there is in the Basque Country for cycling. It’s extremely positive for our sport. It would be good to see more bike races here.”

  47. 16:42:12 CEST

    1:45 for Barredo, over the peloton.

  48. 16:42:52 CEST

    To be exact, the chasers are 43 seconds back, and the peloton another 1:01 behind them.

  49. 16:45:02 CEST

    A moto has gone down.  The driver is on the road, and this doesn't look good.

  50. 16:45:49 CEST

    Barredo takes a drink of something blue.....

  51. 16:48:40 CEST

    Bakelants is also in the chase group.

  52. 16:49:36 CEST

    Leopard Trek is doing a lot of work in the peloton?  Why?  In the hopes that Bennati can win today.  He very much wants a win going into the Worlds.

  53. 16:51:04 CEST

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) as a cycling connoisseur said: “I’ve done the Tour of the Basque Country only once but I wasn’t surprised to see the crowd yesterday. It was hostile two days ago but not yesterday. People here just love the racing.”

  54. 16:51:36 CEST

    Only 34 km to go.  When will Sky attack?

  55. 16:52:18 CEST

    One of the special jerseys has finally been decided.  Moncoutie has once again won the mountain ranking.  Congratulations!

  56. 16:53:22 CEST

    Leopard Trek's work is effective, the gap is now only 1:07.

  57. 16:55:08 CEST

    Danish champion Nicki Sorensen of Saxo Bank has a jersey full of water bottles.

  58. 16:55:54 CEST

    Barredo's gap is now 33 seconds to the chasers, with the field only 17 seconds behind them.

  59. 16:59:49 CEST

    The chase group is caught and the field is only 34 seconds behind Barredo.

  60. 26km remaining from 187km

    17:02:33 CEST

    • Rabobank Cycling Team's 2011 Jersey

    39 seconds for Barredo now.

  61. 17:03:56 CEST

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is on a mission to defend the green jersey. He has only two points advantage over Bauke Mollema (Rabobank). “I have a lot of fans in the Basque country and I hope the people who are waiting for me on the climb of Urkiola will give me the inspiration for taking enough points and win this jersey”, Purito said.

  62. 17:05:21 CEST

    Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) said that he was ready for the fight. “It’s a bit strange to have climbers fighting for the green jersey at the end of a Grand Tour”, said the Dutchman. “I’ll give it a go. Even if it’s a mass sprint at the end, probably there’ll be a sprint between Rodriguez and me.”

  63. 17:06:44 CEST

    This is Barredo's sixth Vuelta.  He is fighting hard to maintain his led and win this stage.

  64. 17:08:23 CEST

    Laurent Bezault who is one of the three technical directors of the Vuelta, spoke last night with his former coach Michel Thèze who is in charge of the riders coming to the UCI world cycling centre from the unconventional countries. “He told me that of all the riders he’s had, Chris Froome is one of the biggest engines he tested. The two others were Rafa Chtioui from Tunisia and Daniel Teklehaimanot from Eritrea.

    “Michel is not surprised at all by what Froome is doing at the Vuelta. This rider only needed time to find his way to express his qualities in the world of pro cycling.” Froome was at the world cycling centre when he was a Kenyan before he switched to British nationality.

  65. 17:09:08 CEST

    We gather that the final intermediate sprint has been moved to the 16km marker.  It was supposed to have been between the final two climbs.

  66. 17:11:04 CEST

    Froome is now in the middle of the Leopard Trek riders.  Is he trying to disguise himself amongst the similar jerseys?  Cobo must keep a good eye out.

  67. 17:11:36 CEST

    Barredo is building up his lead second by second, now at 0:44.

  68. 17:12:21 CEST

    Froome attacks with just over 20 km to go.  But Cobo is glued to his rear wheel.

  69. 17:14:33 CEST

    And now the gap is coming down, to about 33 seconds.

  70. 16km remaining from 187km

    17:15:47 CEST

    Barredo hits the sprint and takes the points.  Not that he really paid any attention to it.

  71. 17:16:37 CEST

    Wiggins takes the points for the second place at the sprint, with Lagutin third, we think.

  72. 15km remaining from 187km

    17:17:51 CEST

    Barredo chats with the TV moto and knows that he will be caught momentarily.

  73. 17:18:20 CEST

    Barredo is now caught by..... who the heck is that?

  74. 17:19:18 CEST

    Ah Carlos Sastre!  He took second at the sprint by the way, with Wiggins third.

  75. 17:20:40 CEST

    Eusebio Unzue, manager of Movistar: “Our team is based 90km away from Vitoria, so we’d like to imitate Euskaltel but we have only four riders left after food poisoning: Lastras has a sore knee, Bruseghin might have not recovered from yesterday, Intxausti is tired, so our breakaway rider for today is Imanol Erviti.

    “Race leader Juan José Cobo was in our team last year but he never fitted. He did his best but he didn’t manage to adapt to our group. I’m surprised to see him riding at this level now. He didn’t win the Vuelta at the Angliru but at Pena Cabarga. Normally, he would have cracked mentally when Froome attacked him. In 40 years, I’ve never seen such a rider able to go in such a quick period of time from very high to very low level. I’m waiting for Alejandro Valverde to come back from holiday for signing a contract with us for next year.”

  76. 17:21:11 CEST

    The two Spaniards in the lead are working well together.   They have 33 seconds on the field.

  77. 17:22:27 CEST

    Barredo has been named most aggresssive rider of the day.  The gap is increasing slightly, 40 seconds.

  78. 10km remaining from 187km

    17:25:01 CEST

    Only 10km left for Sasre and Barredo.  Do they really have a chance?  Their gap is 31 seconds.

  79. 8km remaining from 187km

    17:27:52 CEST

    The field has now cut the gap to 23 seconds. 

  80. 17:28:13 CEST

    Sastre now alone in the lead.

  81. 17:29:04 CEST

    7km to go and only 15 seconds for Sastre.

  82. 17:29:41 CEST

    Eros Capecchi (Liquigas) has been a team-mate of Juan José Cobo at Saunier Duval. “When I saw Cobo in Benidorm, I told my team-mates that he’d make the top 5 overall because I had never seen him so fit”, said the Italian. “I don’t think he can lose the Vuelta now.”

  83. 17:30:40 CEST

    Still Leopard Trek leading the way, with an Astana rider in there, too.  14 seconds.

  84. 5km remaining from 187km

    17:31:44 CEST

    Monfort leads the field under the 5km marker 10 seconds behind Sastre.

  85. 17:32:23 CEST

    Bonus seconds are 20, 12 and 8.  So Froome would have to win with Cobo finishing no higher than fourth, for the Sky rider to take over the lead.

  86. 17:33:25 CEST

    Less than 4 km and the field is close behind Sastre now.

  87. 3km remaining from 187km

    17:34:16 CEST

    They will have him soon.....

  88. 17:34:41 CEST

    And that's it.  Sastre is caught!

  89. 17:35:15 CEST

    Astana now in the lead with the finish rapidly approaching.

  90. 17:35:38 CEST

    Another mass sprint today!  Will Bennati finally take his win?

  91. 17:35:59 CEST

    Leopard back in the lead now.

  92. 17:36:19 CEST

    Last km!

  93. 17:36:38 CEST

    A big left hand curve.... Bennati now in fourth

  94. 17:36:59 CEST

    Bennati goes!

  95. 17:37:18 CEST

    Gasparotto behind him, but Bennati takes it!

  96. 17:37:34 CEST

    Leopard Trek's hard work has finally paid off.

  97. 17:39:08 CEST

    Bennati had a good bike's length lead over his nearest rival.  Third was a Liquigas rider....

  98. 17:39:29 CEST

    Caruso was third, with Vanmarcke fourth and De Kort fifth.

  99. 17:41:00 CEST

    That will be a major relief to Bennati, and help him enormously with his chances for the Worlds.

  100. 17:42:19 CEST

    An all-italian podium in the Basque country today!

  101. 17:43:39 CEST

    Here is the top ten from the stage:

    1 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek
    2 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana
    3 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
    4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo
    5 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano
    6 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD
    7 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
    8 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
    9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
    10 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale

  102. 17:44:21 CEST

    And the top ten in the GC, going into tomorrow's final stage:

    1 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC   82:38:32
    2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling   0:00:13
    3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling   0:01:39
    4 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team   0:02:03
    5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC   0:03:48
    6 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek   0:04:13
    7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale   0:04:31
    8 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto   0:04:45
    9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team   0:05:20
    10 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi   0:05:33

  103. 17:46:26 CEST

    That's it for today.  Join us again tomorrow for the exciting finale of this year's Vuelta a Espana!

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