Stage 11 of the Vuelta a España was an action-packed Andorran epic, with no fewer than six hefty climbs crammed into 138 kilometres. Mikel Landa (Astana) was the winner on the day, with teammate Fabio Aru moving into the lead on GC, while Chris Froome lost a stack of time and many others suffered on the brutal terrain.
“The team was incredible today. This morning we agreed that Landa would go for the stage and he managed to get into the right break and went on to win what was a really difficult stage.
“I’ve got to thank the whole team who worked for me. [Alessandro] Vanotti, [Diego] Rosa, [Dario] Cataldo, [Andrey] Zeits and Luis León [Sánchez] all did some incredible work for me. It was a real demonstration of strength and I’m really happy to be in the leader’s jersey. There’s still 10 stages to go and so we’ll take things day by day but we’ll try to defend it.”
"I suffered. I spent too much energy on the downhill of the 4th climb because I was putting my rain jacket on. I lost some positions and I was behind a gap in front of me, and I couldn’t close it. That was really a mistake, I lost some energy there and that was not necessary.
"But I think I did well, I lost the jersey but I think that’s normal on a day like this. I didn’t really surprise myself like with that win [on stage 9]. I think in the Tour de Suisse for example I could also do something like this. But still I’m happy with my shape and my position in GC.
"That [the time trial on stage 17] is still my biggest chance of a second victory here. And also a possibility if I’m still in GC to take some time back on the important contenders. But first we’re getting some more mountain stage this week so I still have survive those then we’ll see after the rest day."
“He [Froome] obviously had a heavy crash, he said his foot was quite bad, but he said his legs were OK. Just on that special category climb he was starting to suffer when Astana really lit it up. He got dropped then, I was about to get dropped myself anyway so I sat up waited for him. He seemed to come round on the last climb but we just had to keep going. Froomey always keeps fighting.
"I think he was certainly suffering, certainly in pain. But that’s Froomey - he keeps fighting, he doesn’t want to give up. He’s still in the race, he can still go for stages, but obviously it's disappointing to be out of the GC. I think Mikel [Nieve] is still there or thereabouts, but not a good day for Froomey.
"Not the ideal day but great to see Boz [Ian Boswell] get up there and get a little result for himself."