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Vuelta a España 2014: Stage 11

Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana.

We join the action in the early kilometres of the 153.4km stage from Pamplona to
San Miguel de Aralar (Navarre).

Sadly Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has abandoned the Vuelta after being involved in an early crash, that compounded the injuries he sustained his crash during Tuesday's time trial.

Initial reports from the Movistar team indicate that Quintana has injured his right shoulder. He currently being taken to hospital for treatment.

The loss of Quintana means that Alejandro Valverde is now the sole leader of the Movistar team. He is second overall, 27 seconds behind Alberto Contador. (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Steve Morabito (BMC) was also involved in the early crash and has also abandoned the Vuelta.

For information on Quintana's crash, check out our breaking news story here.

We will update the story when we have further information.

113km remaining from 153km

Meanwhile the racing continues and at a high speed. A break of 12 riders has been pulled back after 40km of fast racing.

We have another attack of 24 riders. That's a big group but it could stick.

Today's stage started in Pamplona, the home to five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain, who was at the start.

The race is exploding, with race leader Alberto Contador now apparently in the front group of 31 riders.

103km remaining from 153km

After a super fast 50km of racing, the race is back together and Contador is in the peloton.

The Movistar team was forced to chase down the move that included Contador. After a super fast first hour of racing, it seems the race pace has eased. However there is still no break of the day.

Today's stage ends with a nasty mountain finish that climbs for 9.9Km at an average of 7.5%. It is a new climb for the Vuelta and has a narrow concrete surface. However some of the locally-based riders know the climb.

“We’ve never raced up there (San Miguel de Aralar) but I know the climb very well as I’ve lived in Pamplona for a few years (during his time at Caisse d’Epargne and Team Sky)," Rigoberto Uran said at the start. 

"It’s hard today but it won’t be the hardest part of the Vuelta. There are many more mountains to come. I’m happy with where I stand on GC. It’s been a good day for me and the team yesterday with Tony Martin winning. For many years, I haven’t been confident in my time trialling but I’ve worked hard to improve this weak point and it pays off now.”

With the overall classification so close, it seems Contador was chasing bonus seconds at the early intermediate sprint.

He got them, winning the sprint ahead of Valverde, and so took three seconds. Valverde took two seconds and Ivan Rovny (Katusha) one second.

A break of four riders has finally formed and got a gap.

88km remaining from 153km

The four are Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida), Johan Le Bon (FDJ.fr), Pim Ligthart (Lotto Belisol), and Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky).

They have a 30 second lead.

 

As well as Nairo Quintana and Steve Morabito (BMC), thee is news that Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) have abandoned the race.

Pinot had an incredible Tour de France but has been suffering with illness at the Vuelta.

Peio Bilbao (Caja Rural) is working to get across to the break of the stage.

We said that Ivan Rovny rides for Katusha, of course he actually rides for Tinkoff-Saxo.

 

After 70km of racing, the gap has risen to close to 4:00.

It will be interesting to see who will lead the chase and if Alberto Contador is willing to let the leader's jersey go.

Philippe Mauduit, DS of Tinkoff-Saxo was vague about Contador's stage strategy.

“We haven’t decided to let the jersey go away or not. For sure, Alberto didn’t bluff before the Vuelta. He never told us that he’d be competitive. He only wanted to try. Now with Jesus Hernandez, Chris Anker Sorensen, Oliver Zaugg and Sergio Paulinho, he has the team he needs to defend the red jersey in the mountains. It’s wonderful for all of us to experience this unexpected situation with him.”
 

The Katusha team is leading the peloton to control the breakaway. By placing Rovny in the move, Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team do not have to do any work today.

70km remaining from 153km

The riders have reached the only feed zone of the stage, with the break leading by 3:45.

Today's stage finish to Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar is tough.

Read a detailed analysis by Alasdair Fotheringham here.

It is day of breaking news. The latest is that Jens Voigt has announced he will attempt to set a new hour Record on the track on September 18.

The German veteran retired after the USA Pro Challenge but has revealed he as been testing equipment and his form in recent weeks and months.

Read about Voigt's announcement here.

Back at the Vuelta, the Kstusha team has pulled the break back into sight and so Kryienka has attacked alone.

As we enter the final 50km of the stage, Kryienka has a 40-second gap on Favilli, Bilbao and Le Bon. Ligthart has been dropped and is about to caught by the peloton.

Kiryienka has pushed out his lead to 1:00. The peloton is 3:00 behind. Can the Team Sky rider make it to the finish?

Cadel Evamns (BMC) suffered an untimely puncture at the start of the puerto de Lizarraga climb but is back in the peloton.

The climb is long but steady. It is followed by a fast descent, a short valley road and then the climb to the finish. All in 35km.

The Katusha team is still leading the chase for Purito Rodriguez. 

If Kiryienka is caught, Team Sky will ride for Chris Froome. He admitted that he started too fast in the time trial and so lost time to Contador.

“I had a good gearing yesterday. My only mistake was to start too fast. I was 24 seconds ahead of my team-mate Kiryienka at the first check point we had and I blew up," he said.

"Today, I want to just follow. It doesn’t change anything for me really with Tinkoff-Saxo leading the race and not Movistar anymore but Saxo doesn’t have their strong team like Movistar and they’ll have a lot of work in days to come.”

It's Katusha who are setting the pace at the moment with Contador's men tucked in behind. We have 32km to go, with the gap to the break at 3;15.

After this climb there's 10km of descent, about 12km in the valley and then the final 9.8km of climbing to the finish.

Kiryienka, still out in front, is climbing well and holding the bunch at just over three minutes. There's still a long way to go but he's doing his job and giving Froome and Sky a rest back in the bunch.

Kiryienka knows these roads. He lives in Pamplona and trains around here. As for Froome, he has to bounce back today and at the very least hold the  Spanish trio of Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez.

There's a headwind in the last part of the climb so that could see a few riders hold their attacks until the very end.

25km to go and the bunch are also on the fast descent towards the valley. Katusha are all over the front but  Movistar have come into the play as well as they look to protect Valverde.

As for Contador, he's sitting a few wheels. Right at the back, Sagan is a few bike lengths off the bunch.

Kiryienka has lost about 30 seconds of his advantage and it's down to 2:38 with 23km to go.

Katusha are setting a furious pace on the descent of the last climb. They're looking to set up Rodriguez for the finish.

 

A reminder of where we stand on GC:

 

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 36:45:49
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:27
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:59
4 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 0:01:12
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:18
6 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:37
7 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:41
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:27
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:38
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:02:59

Uran is rider to really watch today. He had a great TT yesterday but the real test of his credentials will be seen on the final climb.

Inside the final 18km and Katusha lead the bunch, the gap at 2:15 as they pick up more riders from the early break.

15km remaining from 153km

Just over 15km to go and less than 5km until we start the final climb. Caja Rural are also moving up, Omega too, as more and more GC teams position near the front. The gap to the lone leader is at 1:21.

It brings Sky closer to the front as well, with Froome riding close to Contador. Even Trek are getting in on the action.

Froome has at least four men with him, Cancellara leads Arrendondo but Contador doesn't have too much help.

11km remaining from 153km

11km to go and Contador is going to have to do this all on his own once the climbing starts. He can't follow every move but there's a chance, if he's feeling strong, that he attacks from the front and puts his rivals on the back foot.

I'm sure Contador can find some support in the peloton from some angle though.

Kiryienka has 37 left with the climb now starting.

It's Cannondale who set the pace at the moment.

And the peloton hit the foot of the climb with Katusha and Sky leading the race. Arrendondo looks dangerous. He wants to attack.

The Katusha team are going so fast that the Trek is forced to wait. There are huge splits already in the bunch.

8.9km to go and Kiryienka has been caught and has been dropped.

Contador is near the front but it will be interesting to see who he marks.

Contador is near the front but it will be interesting to see who he marks.

Contador has Valverde on his wheel with Froome also close by.

That looks like Deignan on the front for Froome. He lifts the pace and the lead group is down to less than 30 riders.

All the GC favourites are still with us with around 8km to go.

Contador has a few teammates with him now. Some relief for the race leader.

Still Deignan on the front with 7.5km to go.

Arredondo attacks. Gains about a bike length and is then caught. Deignan picked him up straight away.

Now Cataldo takes over.

It's all going well for Froome at the moment. He leads Valverde and then Contador.

7km remaining from 153km

7km to go and this is 11 per cent. Cataldo is still working on the front.

We're down to around 20 riders left in the lead group. Caruso is there. Kelderman hanging on. Sanchez is there but I cant see Dan Martin at the moment. And Froome has been dropped.

Froome is near the back of the lead group. He's trying to hold on but Cataldo is dropping his team leader.

Froome is hanging at the back of the lead group so he's still there but the pace lifts once more with Cataldo still setting the pace.

Worrying signs for Froome but is he bluffing?

6km to go and Barguil has attacked.

Dan Martin is there by the way as Gesink now links up with Barguil to make it two leaders out front with 5.8km to go.

Anacona is in the group with Contador. Froome is still riding at the back as the road flattens for a moment.

Gesink and Barguil have about 6 seconds.

It's Movistar set the pace with Contador second, then Valverde and the Rodriguez. As up ahead Gesink drops Barguil, who is then caught.

5km remaining from 153km

Just over 5km to go. Aru and Martin are still present. Froome still near the back of the group though.

Gesink now has 9 seconds on the red jersey group. He's riding well but it's only a matter of time before more attacks come.

Movistar line out the bunch. The road is about to kick up once more.

Gesink now has 15 seconds. He's riding well.

Around 15 riders left in the Contador group.

Chaves is in there for Orica as well.

Froome is out of the saddle and he's still hanging in there. Kelderman is suffering though.

4km remaining from 153km

4km to go with the toughest parts of the climb still to come. Gesink has 21 seconds.

And Navarro has attacked. The leaders don't react.

Froome is moving up in the Contador group and now Martin has attacked.

Contador marks the Garmin rider and Navarro is caught. The Irish rider goes again.

Navarro follows Martin.

And Froome loses a bit of ground when the pace jumps up. Martin is now clear with Katusha chasing him.

Froome is losing ground as Martin pushes  on in pursuit of Gesink.

Gesink has 19 seconds with 3km to go. Martin only has a couple of seconds on the rest.

Froome might be coming back once again.

2.4km to go and the road is about to jump up once more.

Just over 2km to go for Gesink.

And Froome is right near the front of the Contador group.

Huge effort from the Sky rider.

Froome is going to attack.

he;'s moved to the front and now sets the pace.

Froome is out of the saddle and he leads from Contador and Valverde.

But Contador just opens up and blows right by him with 1.8km to go.

Contador is matched by his main rivals as we see Sanchez dropoped. Gesink still leads from Martin. Contador and about 5 riders a few seconds back.

Aru attacks and Contador matches him.

Uran is there. Martin has been caught as Froome loses a few seconds.

1.3km to go and Gesink has been caught.

Navarro picks it up and Contador follows. They want to drop Froome if they can.

Aru has attacked with 1km to and he's clear.

No real chase and Aru is heading for the stage win.

Aru has a few seconds as the rest of the favourites watch each other.

Katusha lead the chase for Rodriguez and Froome has made it back.

Six riders in the chase with Froome leading them but they're not going to catch Aru.

Aru takes the stage win after a perfectly timed attack.

Valverde takes second, Rodriguez and Contador close by with Froome and Uran just behind them.

The provisional top ten from the stage:

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
6 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
7 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team
8 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 3:41:04
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:06
3 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:07
6 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:14
7 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:15
8 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:00
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:18
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:21

General classification after stage 11

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:20
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:08
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:21
5 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:35
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:52
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:13
8 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 0:02:22
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:55
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:03:51

Only time will tell if Contador and Valverde see today's stage a missed opportunity. Froome was on the ropes at times but he fought back and only lost one seond in the end. The GC guys marked each other for the most part with Aru taking advantage to win the stage.

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our report, results and photos, right here.

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