Vuelta a España 2011

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

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer

Things are looking up today in the Vuelta:  literally!  Four ranked climbs, including one very nasty one at the end, are expected to turn the GC upside down.

  1. 15:05:52 CEST

    Hello and welcome back!  Things got underway about two hours ago and the action has been fast and furious.

  2. 15:08:36 CEST

    Here's how things look now.  Approaching the top of the day's first ranked climb, Heinrch Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Matteo Montaguti (AG2R) are in the lead.   1:10 behind them are Julien Fourchard (Cofidis) and Adrian Palomares (Andalucia Caja Granada).  4:05 back is Koen De Kort (Skil-Shimano).  The peloton is at 7:32.

  3. 15:14:15 CEST

    Things have changed just before reaching the top of the climb.  De Kort has been caught by the field, and the first two groups have come together.

  4. 15:15:38 CEST

    Well, actually De Kort was caught just after the peak.

  5. 15:16:29 CEST

    Montaguti took the mountain points ahead of Haussler, Fouchard, Palomares and De Kort.

  6. 15:18:35 CEST

    Haussler and Montaguti took off at the 25 km mark.  Palomares and Fouchard attacked about 10 km later, and De Kort went shortly thereafter.

  7. 117km remaining from 183km

    15:20:34 CEST

    The gap had at one time been over 8 minutes.  It is now down to 6:30.

  8. 15:24:27 CEST

    There were a number of escape attempts early on, including some very large groups.  GC leader and red jersey Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) even tried to get away! 

  9. 15:30:01 CEST

    The two original victims of yesterday's finishing crash have had to throw in the towel.  Michel Golas of Vacansoleil received 17 stitches in his face and did not take the start.  Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Cervelo, who apparently caused the crash, started today but 36km into the stage decided to abandon.

  10. 15:33:59 CEST

    We have four ranked climbs today.  The first one was the Cat. One Puerto de Mijares, followed by Cat. two Collado Mediano and Hoyo de Guija.  Things end up with the Cat. Three San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

  11. 15:37:19 CEST

    The San Lorenzo, which is hosting a finish for the first time, is a short but steep climb with ramps up to 27 and 28%.  Ouch......

  12. 15:40:48 CEST

    • Feed

    The four leaders have passed through the feed zone. 

  13. 15:43:10 CEST

    Today's stage ends in the shadow of El Escorial.  As the Vuelta website describes it, it is an “incomparable Monastery, built by Philip II at the end of the 16th Century. It is the most grandiose building in the Community of Madrid and one of the most singular, not only in Spain, but of the entire European Renaissance.”

  14. 95km remaining from 183km

    15:44:22 CEST

    Nicolas Edet of Cofidis has just abandoned the race.

  15. 15:48:59 CEST

    • Rabobank Cycling Team's 2011 Jersey

    Oscar Freire has decided not to tackle the mountains. The Rabobank Spaniard is the next to abandon the race.

  16. 15:50:30 CEST

    The first climb was the Cat. One Puerto de Mijares.  It featured a 19.7 km long climb with an average gradient of 5.3%, starting at km 37,3 and finishing at km 57.

  17. 15:53:25 CEST

    The next two climbs, according to the Vuelta website:

    Alto de San Bartolomé de Pinares - cat. 2
    16.2 km
    Start: Km. 104.5 - Finish: Km. 120.7

    Alto de Santa María de la Alameda - cat. 2
    4.4 km
    Start: Km. 141.2 Finish: Km. 145.6

  18. 80km remaining from 183km

    15:55:57 CEST

    80 km still to go, and the gap is holding steady.

  19. 15:57:53 CEST

    The hero of the start line was Tyler Farrar. After yesterday’s crash, he intended to keep racing but as he felt bad again two hours before the start today, he was sent back to hospital and everyone thought he was pulling out of the Vuelta. But ten minutes prior to the start, he showed up on the start line, asked for a bike and a helmet and hit the road again!  He was only able to go 35km, though.

  20. 16:02:07 CEST

    Vincenzo Nibali was ok to keep racing. “I have bruises on my thigh and my back but I slept well”, he said. “I’d love if the rules of racing allowed us to lose time within three kilometres to go. If so, we could let the sprinters fight for the stage win and we could reach the finish line safely without the worry of avoiding a split and time losses.”

  21. 16:05:14 CEST

    The gap has dropped to under six minutes.  It is now 5:58.  The temperature has gone up and is now at 28°C.

  22. 16:08:42 CEST

    The lead group is within 5 km of the top of the day's second climb, and the gap has fallen to 5:40.

  23. 16:12:13 CEST

    Euskaltel's Igor Anton and Gorka Verdugo are behind the field.

  24. 16:16:11 CEST

    The Vuelta website tell us that Edet, who dropped out earlier, "has been transferred to the Hospital of Ávila, though he has nothing serious."

  25. 16:16:58 CEST

    • Puncture

    HTC-Highroad's Leigh Howard has punctured.

  26. 16:18:37 CEST

    Michele Scarponi also didn’t have any consequence of yesterday’s crash. “Today, I think the finish suits me”, he commented. “I’ll stick on Purito’s wheel.”

  27. 16:25:30 CEST

    Katusha is of course leading the chase.  "Purito", or Joaquim Rodriguez, is THE top favourite to win today.

  28. 16:26:31 CEST

    Looks like we have a split in the field.  15 or so rides look to be chasing the big group.  There was a crash a little bit ago, they may have been caught up in or by that.

  29. 61km remaining from 183km

    16:26:52 CEST

    The gap continues to drop, and is now at 4:30.

  30. 16:29:02 CEST

    The third group is larger than we thought (closer to 30 riders), and is 33 seconds behind the peloton.

  31. 16:30:57 CEST

    Dan Martin said: “It definitely suits me. On the flat, I’ve showed at Sierra Nevada that I can beat Rodriguez, but uphill, I’m not sure if I can.”

  32. 16:31:41 CEST

    The chase group is getting closer to the peloton.  The gap is now only 11 seconds.

  33. 16:36:05 CEST

    Lots of to-ing and fro-ing right now, with water bottles being in great demand.

  34. 54.5km remaining from 183km

    16:36:58 CEST

    The gap continues to fall and is now at 3:43.

  35. 16:38:21 CEST

    We somehow missed the last ranked climb.  Montaguti took it ahead of Fouchard and Palomares.

  36. 16:39:03 CEST

    The pace has really picked up.  The peloton is now strung out along the road. 

  37. 50km remaining from 183km

    16:43:33 CEST

    50 km left -- a very bumpy 50 km, we might add -- and only 3.5 minutes for the leaders.

  38. 16:45:25 CEST

    Super favourite “Purito” Rodriguez said: “I’ve slept very well, so I have no consequence after yesterday’s crash. I can’t say that I’m unbeatable in a stage finish like today. Last year, I only came 4th at Valedepenas de Jaén.  Every bike race is a different one.”

  39. 16:48:01 CEST

    Jakob Fuglsang said: “Rodriguez is the favourite, I can imagine Katusha putting pressure on Liquigas today because they also have Moreno who is almost just as good as Rodriguez for this kind of stage.”

  40. 16:51:57 CEST

    The field is bunched up again.

  41. 16:54:36 CEST

    Chris Anker Sorensen said: “It’s a day for riders like Rodriguez and me. In a finish like this, 9 times out of 10, Rodriguez wins.”

  42. 41km remaining from 183km

    16:55:55 CEST

    The gap is holding steady around the 3:30 mark.

  43. 17:00:06 CEST

    Fredrik Kessiakoff said: “As a former mountain biker, I love uphill finishes like this. The stress generated by a stage like today’s is the only thing that I don’t like.”

  44. 17:03:15 CEST

    Sky is now helping with the lead work -- Bradley Wiggins would like to make his mark today.

    They are all approaching the next climb.  It is shorter, only 4.4km but with an average gradient of 7%.

  45. 17:04:57 CEST

    Fouchard falls back fro the lead group on the climb.

  46. 17:05:39 CEST

    The gap is now under three minutes.

  47. 17:07:18 CEST

    The leaders can look down the mountain and see the peloton.

  48. 17:08:10 CEST

    Bradley Wiggins said: “I’ll try to limit the losses to Rodriguez and these guys. Only Philippe Gilbert is able to beat him in a Mur de Huy type of finish. Cadel (Evans) is also pretty good for that but he doesn’t have the acceleration.”

  49. 17:09:16 CEST

    Katusha still pulling the field along.  Quick Step is probably just as happy to let someone else do the work.

  50. 33km remaining from 183km

    17:10:16 CEST

    • Rabobank Cycling Team's 2011 Jersey

    Rabobank's Carlos Barredo attacks out of the field.

  51. 17:12:57 CEST

    Haussler too has now dropped out of the lead group.  Behind them, the peloton is falling apart.

  52. 17:13:50 CEST

    Barredo is back in the peloton.

  53. 17:14:39 CEST

    Montaguti takes the points and thus takes over the mountain jersey.  Palomares is second.  Haussler is third, nine seconds back.

  54. 17:16:31 CEST

    THe peloton crosses the mountaintop at 2:12 down.

  55. 17:17:07 CEST

    Haussler now catches up again with the two leaders.

  56. 28km remaining from 183km

    17:18:28 CEST

    The gap is now under two minutes, at 1:58.

  57. 17:19:19 CEST

    Montaguti attacks out of the group, and Palomares goes with him.  Haussler, too.

  58. 17:20:41 CEST

    Fouchard is still danglig somewhere between the leaders and the peloton.

  59. 17:22:59 CEST

    The organisers squeezed in two intermediate sprints near the end today.  The first is coming up.

  60. 17:23:32 CEST

    That was it for Fouchard.  He is now back in the peloton.

  61. 17:25:50 CEST

    The three leaders are riding through a rare wooded and shaded section.

  62. 17:27:59 CEST

    Martin Kohler (BMC) and Amets Txurruka (EUS) attacked out of the peloton.

  63. 17:28:28 CEST

    Palomares takes the first sprint ahead of Montaguti and Haussler.

  64. 17:30:43 CEST

    Kohler and Txurruka are less than a  minute behind the leading trio, with the field at 1:17.

    Txurruka takes off and leaves Kohler behind him.

  65. 17:31:57 CEST

    Wout Poels said: “This stage today is a goal like Valdepenas de Jaén was and I finished 2nd. Our team will try to have one rider or more in today’s breakaway. We’ll decide during the stage about the strategy for me to do well again. I shouldn’t have been doing the Vuelta but my abandon at the Tour because I was sick after four days has changed the plans and I’m very happy. This is in reality my first Grand Tour and I believe I can do a good GC.”

  66. 17:33:00 CEST

    Txurruka now only 30 seconds behind the leaders. Kohler is back in the field.

  67. 17:34:34 CEST

    31 seconds back to Txurruka, 1:10 to the peloton.

  68. 16km remaining from 183km

    17:36:53 CEST

    16km to go, and the field is really flying along.

  69. 17:38:25 CEST

    The gaps are actually not getting any smaller.  39 seconds back to Txurrukay, and about the same from him to the peloton.

  70. 17:41:38 CEST

    THe peloton is no longer by full strength.  Katusha has put uon such a high pace that the field has gotten much smaller.

    so has the gap -- nly 22 seconds now.

  71. 11km remaining from 183km

    17:42:55 CEST

    Haussler has dropped back agai and is now with two riders who have attcked out of the onrusing peloton.

  72. 17:43:50 CEST

    Taaramae has now jumped into the lead. Mathias Frank gives chase.

  73. 17:44:27 CEST

    Taaramae pulls away.

  74. 17:45:25 CEST

    The attacks are coming fast and furious now.  Madrazo of Movistar is the next to come.

  75. 17:45:42 CEST

    Madrazo has caught Taaramae.

  76. 17:46:35 CEST

    The two have a nine-second lead over the field.

  77. 17:46:49 CEST

    Madrazo drops Taaramae.

  78. 17:47:21 CEST

    A Qzick Step rider and a Vacansoleil are the next to go.

  79. 10km remaining from 183km

    17:47:41 CEST

    Madrazo is rolling on alone.

  80. 17:48:36 CEST

    Nice freshly paved road here.

  81. 8km remaining from 183km

    17:50:02 CEST

    Poels (VCD), Bakelants (OLO) and Moncoutie (COF) are the chasers.  But the field is only 17 seconds behind Madrazo.

  82. 17:50:38 CEST

    It looks like tehre is a fourth rider there .....

  83. 17:51:05 CEST

    This is a very narrow, curvy, rolling road.  And lots of shadows.

  84. 17:51:58 CEST

    Madrazo's rear wheel slips on one of those curves, but fortunately he stays upright.

  85. 17:52:23 CEST

    It is Taaramae who has joined the three chasers.

  86. 5km remaining from 183km

    17:52:54 CEST

    5km to go.  Soon the final climb will be upon us.

  87. 17:53:19 CEST

    The chasers now have Madrazo.  The peloton isn't that far back.

  88. 17:54:02 CEST

    Only seven seconds to the peloton.

  89. 17:54:30 CEST

    Moncoutie tries to jump but can't get away.

  90. 17:54:50 CEST

    Only a very few seconds' gap. 

  91. 3km remaining from 183km

    17:55:10 CEST

    Taaramae gives it another go.

  92. 17:55:50 CEST

    The field disappears ito a tunnel under some train tracks.

  93. 17:56:07 CEST

    Taaramae (and the others) have been caught.

  94. 17:56:50 CEST

    Another Cofidis rider tries his luck.  He is caught o n the cobble stones.

  95. 17:57:09 CEST

    Lampre jumps into the lead.

  96. 17:57:41 CEST

    Rodriguez is safely tucked in tihs lead group. 

  97. 17:58:33 CEST

    Final km.

  98. 17:58:44 CEST

    Now it is steeeeeeep........

  99. 17:58:58 CEST

    Still a fairly large group.

  100. 17:59:41 CEST

    20 riders or so grind their way up, with Monfort in the lead at the moment

  101. 17:59:56 CEST

    Steep again.

  102. 18:00:18 CEST

    The Lampre takes off -- Scarponi, on an 18% secontion.

  103. 18:00:32 CEST

    Rodriguez takes off!

  104. 18:00:48 CEST

    21% and cobblestones and Purito is flying up it.

  105. 18:01:16 CEST

    Scarponi is behind him

  106. 18:01:42 CEST

    It is enough though, and Rodriguez takes his second stage. 

  107. 18:02:26 CEST

    In fact  Scarponi was nine seconds behind him.

    Chavanel is still on his way up. This should give Rodiguez the leader's jersey.

  108. 18:02:47 CEST

    Chavanel comes in about a minute down.

  109. 18:03:32 CEST

    That is Rodriguez' second stage win in this Vuelta, and the third for Team Katusha.

  110. 18:05:40 CEST

    Nibali came in at 32 seconds down.

  111. 18:06:44 CEST

    Rodriguez is indeed the new leader, ahead of his teammate Moreno, with Jakob Fuglsang third and Nibali fourth.

  112. 18:08:20 CEST

    Chavanel has fallen to eighth place overall.

  113. 18:11:25 CEST

    Top ten for the stage:

    1 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:49:01
    2 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:09
    3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:10
    4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:10
    5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek  0:00:12
    6 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:15
    7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:16
    8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC 0:00:16
    9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:16
    10 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana  0:00:16

  114. 18:12:13 CEST

    And the new general classification after stage 8 

    1 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team  1/1/1900 8:18
    2 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team  0:00:32
    3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek  0:00:34
    4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  0:00:45
    5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:51
    6 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana  0:00:54
    7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  0:00:56
    8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team  0:01:00
    9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:00
    10 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek  0:01:01

  115. 18:12:56 CEST

    That's it for today.  Join us again tomorrow for another exciting day in the mountains!

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