"Froome's abandon is the bad news of the day. The race will be less spectacular without him, but with a fractured foot it was never going to be possible for him to continue," Aru said. "I know he will have a hard time accepting he had to abandon, and I wish him a speedy recovery."
As for another top name in the battle for the overall who is currently just 30 seconds behind the Italian, Holland's Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), Aru hinted strongly that as happened in Andorra, he would be trying to gain more time on the former race leader on the upcoming climbs. Indeed, given next week's time trial in Burgos, which favours the Dutchman, the Italian is all but obliged to do so.
"He's very strong, you never know what he can do, but the mountain stages are better for me," Aru said.
Aru's first full day as race leader of the Vuelta was "calm, but not that calm. It was a very fast finale, Giant were working very hard to try and get the break back. But I was well-supported by my teammates throughout."
The consequences of Wednesday's mammoth mountain stage were still being felt by the peloton. "The Pyrenees were very demanding, and we all noticed the effects of today," Aru said. "It's the 12th stage, too, so by this point in the race we're tired. But we're very satisfied with what we've achieved, too."
"The next few stages are difficult, but more so the ones at the weekend" - when the Vuelta reaches to the mountains of northern Spain. "In any case, we have to take this on the day by day."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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