Skip to main content

Live coverage

Vuelta a Espana 2016: Stage 11


Live coverage of stage 11 of the Vuelta a España, 168.6 kilometres from Colunga to the summit finish at Peña Cabarga.

Vuelta a España race hub on Cyclingnews
Stage 10 report: Quintana takes control at Lagos de Covadonga
2016 Vuelta a España start list
Quintana calls for power meter ban
Contador vows to fight on
Analysis: A Quintana-Froome duel in prospect?

For 100 miles or so, stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana seems a rather gentle re-introduction to racing after Tuesday's rest day, but there is quite a sting in the tail this afternoon. The short but wickedly steep Peña Cabarga - 5.6km at 9.8%, with slopes of 18% in the finale - promises to provide another important shake-up of the general classification.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) carries the red jersey into today's stage after he soloed to victory at Lagos de Covadonga on Monday. His teammate Alejandro Valverde lies second overall, but third-placed Chris Froome (Sky) seems the dangerman. The GC picture is as follows:


1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 38:37:07
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:57
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:58
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:09
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:02:54
6 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:02:57
7 David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:03:03
8 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:03:06
9 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:14
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:03:20


The peloton rolls out of Colunga at 1.12pm local time, and should reach kilometre zero by 1.21pm for the offical start.


Things have a habit of changing very quickly on the Vuelta, but for the time being, it certainly feels like a Quintana-Froome duel is in store for the remainder of this race. They resume hostilities on the bike this afternoon, but during Tuesday's rest day, Quintana lobbed a thinly-veiled barb in Froome's direction by voicing his opposition to the use of power meters in races. "I'd be the first in line to say they should be banned," said Quintana. Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.


Quintana's call came just a day after Froome had ridden up Lagos de Covadonga in the manner of the 800-metre runner Yuriy Borzakovskiy, by travelling at his own pace and seemingly divorced from the race early on, before making a late surge. As is his wont, Froome's gaze was fixed on his power meter for most of the effort, but he insisted afterwards that he had been racing according to sensations rather than watts.  "I was riding more by feeling today, just riding with what I felt I could do on the climb in the most efficient way to get up there and not to lose even more time," he said.


The peloton is negotiating the neutralised zone around Colunga, with the stage departing from the town's Museo Jurasico. It would be trite to make some tired pun about this stage being something of a summer blockbuster, wouldn't it? 


The Vuelta's last visit to Pena Cabarga came in 2013, where Vasil Kiryienka took stage honours and a 41-year-old Chris Horner put a major down payment on his very surprising overall victory by putting 25 seconds into red jersey Vincenzo Nibali. Horner's time of 16:44 up the climb, incidentally, is the quickest recorded in the Vuelta's four trips to Pena Cabarga.


168km remaining from 168km

The flag drops as the Vuelta peloton reaches kilometre zero, and stage 11 is underway. 


There are two non-starters to report after Tuesday's rest day, as Silvio Herklotz (Bora-Argon18) and Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) have withdrawn from the Vuelta. Clarke rode up Lagos de Covadonga one-handed after crashing on Monday, but resolved to continue in the Vuelta until he was diagnosed with a fractured scapula. Read the full story here.


165km remaining from 168km

The route is a primarily flat one as it hugs the Cantabrian coast before turning inland for the haul up Pena Cabarga. There have been a few attacks but no break has formed just yet, though one would expect an early escape to drift away without too much resistance. Conditions are relatively still today, so there seems little prospect of an ambush by one of the GC men before the final climb. 


160km remaining from 168km

It's been a brisk start to proceedings, but as yet, no breakaway attempt has gained any traction. 


Meanwhile, there's another abandon to report from the Cannondale-Drapac camp. Patrick Bevin, who was a late call-up to the Vuelta squad to begin with, has dropped out. Like Clarke, the New Zealander was a faller on Monday, and although he gamely took the start today, his injuries have forced him out.


151km remaining from 168km

There has been no gentle reintroduction after the rest day here. 17 kilometres into the stage, the pace is still blisteringly high and the day's early break has still to go clear.


147km remaining from 168km

A group of 14 riders manages to put a little daylight into the peloton, but after a couple of kilometres they desist and are swept up once again.


Curious things can happen the day after the rest day at the Vuelta, as Alberto Contador showed en route to Fuente De in 2012. The terrain is more suited to a straight shoot-out in the finale than a mid-stage ambush this afternoon, mind, though the Spaniard has voiced his determination to battle on at this Vuelta. Currently 5th overall, 2:54 down on Quintana, Contador acknowledged yesterday that "things are not going to be straightforward from here on in." Read Alasdair Fotheringham's full story here.


139km remaining from 168km

The Vuelta peloton reaches Belmonte slightly ahead of the fastest predicted schedule. It's been a rapid start to the day thus far, and that pace won't abate until a break manages to bludgeon its way clear.


Temperatures this afternoon are a pleasant 23 degrees, though the skies are overcast and there is a lingering threat of rain before the day is out. The deadlock remains firmly in place in the pelootn.


We’re very much in Juan José Cobo country this afternoon. The 2011 Vuelta winner hails from nearby Cabezón de la Sal, and was involved in a keenly-fought battle with Chris Froome on the slopes of Peña Cabarga in that year’s race. Froome won the day, but Cobo held tough to carry the red jersey to Madrid, though their careers have diverged somewhat since. Cobo’s career petered out during an unhappy spell at Movistar, though it’s worth remembering that, at the time, the Spaniard was the less surprising of that Vuelta’s wholly unforeseen top two finishers. Funny old game, cycling.


126km remaining from 168km

Some 44 kilometres have been covered inside the first hour of racing and still now break has formed. 




120km remaining from 168km

Almost 50 kilometres into the stage, some 30 or so riders have a small gap over the peloton, but one imagines that group will have to be whittled down to more manageable proportions before its day pass is stamped., incidentally, reports that the bunch covered a remarkable 49.6 kilometres in the first hour of racing today.


112km remaining from 168km

Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Ben Hermans (BMC) and Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling) are among the 23 riders who currently hold a small advantage over the peloton.


108km remaining from 168km

The day's break has finally forged clear. Our 23 leaders have 1:50 in hand on the peloton.


The riders in front are: Ben Hermans (BMC), Martijn Keizer (Lotto NL-Jumbo), Pello Bilbao, Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural – RGA Seguros), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Koen De Kort and Johannes Fröhlicher (Giant - Alpecin), Kiel Reijnen (Trek - Segafredo), Jan Bakelits, Axel Domont (AG2R - La Mondiale), Tiago Machado, Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha), Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), Pieter Serry, Zdenek Stybar (Etixx - Quick Step), Pierre Rolland (Cannonade - Drapac), Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Jonas Van Genechten (IAM Cycling), Kristin Durasek (Lampre - Merida), Cesare Benedetti, Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Argon18),


105km remaining from 168km

The pace slackens in the main peloton and the escapees augment their advantage accordingly. 2:43 the gap.


The riders at the head of the race are: Ben Hermans (BMC), Martijn Keizer (Lotto NL-Jumbo), Pello Bilbao, Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural – RGA Seguros), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Koen De Kort and Johannes Fröhlinger (Giant - Alpecin), Kiel Reijnen (Trek - Segafredo), Jan Bakelants, Axel Domont (AG2R - La Mondiale), Tiago Machado, Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha), Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), Pieter Serry, Zdenek Stybar (Etixx - Quick Step), Pierre Rolland (Cannonade - Drapac), Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Jonas Van Genechten (IAM Cycling), Kristin Durasek, Ilya Koshevoy (Lampre - Merida), Cesare Benedetti and Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Argon18). 

103km remaining from 168km

The break's advantage stretches out still further, and the gap now stands at 3:30.


97km remaining from 168km

Quintana's Movistar teammates have taken up the reins at the head of the peloton as the gap stretches out towards four minutes.


Chris Froome spoke to Eurosport about the climb of Pena Cabarga during yesterday's rest day. "I’ve got some really special memories. It’s where I won my first race as a professional. The 2011 Vuelta was special for me, because it was the first time I was able to ride for GC in a Grand Tour," Froome said. "It’s a tough climb. It’s short but it gets steeper near the top. It's definitely a day when you don’t want to have bad legs coming into that climb."


90km remaining from 168km

Movistar sit en masse at the head of the peloton through without any particular urgency, and the break's lead now stands at 4:51.


86km remaining from 168km

Contador is surrounded a by a phalanx of Tinkoff riders and tucked in behind the Movistar delegation on the front. After the ferocious opening to the stage, there's a detente of sorts ahead of that final haul to Pena Cabarga.


83km remaining from 168km

Ben Hermans (BMC) is the best-placed rider in the break on general classification. The Belgian began the day 22nd overall, 6:55 off Quintana, hence there is no particular urgency from Movistar to peg the group back just yet.


As the peloton hits San Vicente de la Barquera, Tinkoff join Movistar in setting the tempo at the head of the bunch.


The break's lead drops inside five minutes thanks in part to Tinkoff's pace-setting, but also because the escapees have just passed through the feed zone and eased their speed accordingly.


78km remaining from 168km

A breakaway group of this size can often be difficult to manage, but thus far, the 23 riders seem to have struck up some manner of working alliance. Their lead is dropping, however, because of this surprising stint of pace-making from Tinkoff. 4:13 the gap.


75km remaining from 168km

Tinkoff are not simply going through the motions here. Their injection of pace has strung out the peloton and continues to shave seconds off the break's lead.


This could be a very long and very painful run-in to the foot of Pena Cabarga if Tinkoff continue at this rhythm. The break's lead drops to 3:30.


70km remaining from 168km

Tinkoff clearly have a plan in mind as they peg the break's lead back to three minutes, but it remains to be seen whether it's something more complex than simply ensuring Contador is in contention for the stage win on the final climb.


There is a mild breeze today and a few changes in direction near the sprint at Suances with 45 kilometres to go, but on paper, it hardly seems enough to split the race into echelons before the climb.


66km remaining from 168km

No matter, Tinkoff stick determinedly to their task and break another chunk off the escape's lead. The gap now stands at 2:30.


Orica-BikeExchange directeur sportif Neil Stephens is invited by Eurosport to weigh in on the power meter debate. “I think it’s great to have science in cycling and sport, and power meters are part of that. You can never lose the passion of the race, you attack when you feel you can attack. You use power meters to help decide when you attack not to control it," Stephens said, adding that his rider Esteban Chaves prefers not to consult the numbers during a stage. "Esteban doesn’t like to see the data. He has a look back at the hotel but when he’s on the bike, it’s all passion."


63km remaining from 168km

On a false flat so false that it's almost qualifies as a climb, Tinkoff make further inroads into the break's lead. The gap drops still further, to 2:10.


At first glance, the stage profile suggests a flat run-in to the climb of Pena Cabarga, but on closer inspection, the road is made up of false flats, and little undulations. The Vuelta road book estimates that there is a total altitude gain of 2,500 metres on the stage, so there should be some heavy legs in the bunch come the final climb - all the more so thanks to the intensity Tinkoff are bringing to the occasion.


60km remaining from 168km

The run-in to the base of Pena Cabarga is sure to be a fraught one. It certainly was in 2010, when overall leader Igor Anton crashed out of the Vuelta on the flat approach to the ascent. The Euskaltel-Euskadi man was in the form of his life on that Vuelta, having won stages at Valdepenas de Jaen and Pal, but his period of aristeia was brought to a sudden halt on stage 14. Anton, incidentally, abandoned this year's Vuelta at the weekend after struggling with illness.


57km remaining from 168km

The break tackles an unclassified climb near Oreña with a lead of 2:17 over the main peloton, where Tinkoff are sticking resolutely to their task.


52km remaining from 168km

This has been a very stiff reintroduction to racing after the rest day, and two more riders have abandoned this Vuelta. Laurent Pichon (FDJ), who had been ill in recent days, brings his race to a halt, as does Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).


49km remaining from 168km

Michael Gogl, Manuele Boaro, Sergio Paulinho and Ivan Rovny are the men banging the drum at the head of the race for Tinkoff, with Boaro particularly active. The gap has stabilised in recent kilometres at around about the 2:15 mark.


46km remaining from 168km

Zdenek Stybar leads the break through the intermediate sprint at Suances. The gap remains locked at 2:17.


41km remaining from 168km

There have been cracks in the break's unity since that intermediate sprint, with the group briefly fragmenting. They's back together for the time being, but their lead has been slashed to 1:32.


38km remaining from 168km

Tiago Machado (Katusha) attacks alone from the front of the break and opens a small gap.


After Machado is pegged back, Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) is the next member of the escape to take a flyer alone. WIth Tinkoff still forcing behind, they must know they have no real future as a unit.


33km remaining from 168km

The gap continues to tumble inexorably downwards and drops beneath the minute mark for the first time. It's still Tinkoff and Tinkoff alone forcing the issue at the front of the peloton, with Movistar happy to maintain a watching brief.


Sky and Astana are lined up behind Tinkoff in the main peloton, though the scramble for position ahead of the final haul to the finish has yet to begin in earnest.


30km remaining from 168km

The 23 riders in front are back together once again and they already seem resigned to the inevitable. Serry is frustrated when he attempts to encourage a small splinter group to go clear.


25km remaining from 168km

After three hours of racing, reports, the average speed is a searing 46.1kph, and we still have a very stiff finishing climb to come...


23km remaining from 168km

Another few seconds are clipped off the break's advantage and the gap is now at 52 seconds.


Peña Cabarga is a climb of two halves, both of them short and tough. There’s a long section of 18% in the first kilometre and sections between 11 and 17% follow before the road flattens out after three kilometres. After that, it’s a case of rinse and repeat. The road kicks up to 14% again shortly afterwards, and then reaches 18% in the final kilometre, barely dropping to 11% before the line. The bare statistics – 5.6 km at 9.8% - don’t fully explain the difficulty of this category 1 climb.


20km remaining from 168km

Jacques Janse van Rensburg makes another attempt to slip clear of the break, but he is again brought to heel.


It's still all Tinkoff all the time at the head of the peloton, which is now closing in on the escapees at a rate of knots.


16km remaining from 168km

There are barely ten kilometres to the base of the finishing climb and the Tinkoff-led peloton are almost within sight of the escapees on a long straight.


15km remaining from 168km

Tinkoff lead the peloton into the final 15 kilometres, 48 seconds down on the break.


13km remaining from 168km

The escapees have done well to maintain so much of their advantage on the fast approach to Pena Cabarga, but they surely won't be able to survive the vicious accelerations of Froome, Contador et al once the climbing starts.


11km remaining from 168km

It's remarkable that the break has survived intact to this point, even though their lead is so slender. 45 seconds the gap.


10km remaining from 168km

Red jersey Nairo Quintana moves up a couple of positions in preparation for the final haul to the line. A delegation from Astana are looking to marshal Michele Scarponi into position.


9km remaining from 168km

Tinkoff maintain their fierce pace at the head of the peloton, as they lead the race through a succession of roundabouts.


8km remaining from 168km

Into the last 8 kilometres for the escapees, but 5.6 of those are uphill and their lead has dropped to just 31 seconds.


7km remaining from 168km

Back in the main peloton, Orica-BikeExchange, Sky and Movistar look to move up alongside Tinkoff. The transition from big to little ring is as brutal as they come at the base of Pena Cabarga.


6km remaining from 168km

Orica-BikeExchange have taken over at the head of the peloton. 20 seconds the gap to the escapees.


5km remaining from 168km

Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) Leads the break onto the climb with a lead of 18 seconds on the speeding peloton.


5km remaining from 168km

Angel Madrazo slips clear as the gradient bites to 18% but he won't last too long, as the bunch closes in.


5km remaining from 168km

Three Movistar riders lead at the head of the peloton with Quintana bobbing on their wheels.


5km remaining from 168km

Ben Hermans (BMC) is at the front of the race but Movistar are already picking off the remnants of the break.


4km remaining from 168km

Hermans and Bakelants are at the front of the race, while Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) leads the reduced peloton, 16 seconds down the road. 


4km remaining from 168km

All of the GC contenders are lined up behind the Movistar train. Contador is tucked in right behind Quintana, but none of their number has seen fit to attack just yet.


4km remaining from 168km

Hermans presses on a lone at the front as Bakelants sits up. But the real drama should come 15 seconds down the road, where Movistar are still imposing their tempo on the main peloton.


4km remaining from 168km

Movistar's brisk pace-making is picking off the remnants of the break, but they're not making huge inroads into Hermans' lead, which stands at 13 seconds. 


3km remaining from 168km

The selection is coming from the rear for the time being, as Movistar's forcing reduces the peloton to barely more than 20 riders. Hermans is alone in front, just 9 seconds up the road.


3km remaining from 168km

Contador, Froome and Valverde are all safely installed in this reduced red jersey group with Quintana. The contenders are being cagey for the time being.


3km remaining from 168km

Hermans is pegged back by the Ruben Fernandez-led red jersey group with a shade under three kilometres to go.


2km remaining from 168km

Froome is locked on Quintana's wheel, while Contador sits just behind him. The road flattens out shortly and it seems the GC contenders will hold their fire for the vicious final kick towards the line.


2km remaining from 168km

The road descends briefly. Ruben Fernandez's stint of pace-making has dissuaded all would-be attackers to this point.


1km remaining from 168km

As soon as the road kicks up once again, Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) accelerates from the red jersey group and opens a small gap.


1km remaining from 168km

Valverde sets off in pursuit of Chaves. Froome, Quintana and Contador are lined up behind him.


1km remaining from 168km

Chaves has a lead of 14 seconds over the reduced red jersey group, which is being led by Valverde.


1km remaining from 168km

A seated Chaves has a lead of 18 seconds over the Quintana group, which contains 10 riders and is now being led by Leopold Konig (Sky).


1km remaining from 168km

Into the final kilometre for Chaves, who has a lead of 15 seconds.


Konig leads Valverde, Froome, Quintana and Contador - in that order - on to the final 18% ramps.


Konig swings over, and Valverde accelerates, but the gradient is so steep that he's travelling in slow motion and opens only a tiny gap over Froome et al. Chaves is 12 seconds ahead.


Quintana accelerates with  600 metres to go, and only Froome can follow. This is the high speed train...


Quintana and Froome catch and pass Chaves. They closed that gap remarkably quickly.


Quintana jumps but can't shake Froome...


And Froome responds in kind with a long drive of his own. Quintana doesn't yield an inch but they're gaining on everyone else...


Froome sits up and looks back Quintana. A brief respite before they pick up the pace again... Konig is the man closest to them, having passed Chaves...


Froome rips up the final ramp towards the line. Quintana hangs on for dear life.


Chris Froome (Sky) wins stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana, just ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar). 


They should be awarded the same time on the stage, though Froome will gain four seconds in time bonuses on the Colombian.


Valverde recovered to take third on the stage, 6 seconds down on Froome. Konig and a battling Contador finished in the same time as Valverde in 4th and 5th. 



1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 3:44:47
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:06
4 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:13
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:14


Chaves looked set for stage victory but struggled once he was caught and passed by Froome and Quintana, who already seem locked in a private battle of their own. Quintana retains the red jersey, while Froome moves up to second overall, 54 seconds behind.



1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 3:44:47
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:06
4 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:13
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:14
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:19
9 Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale 0:00:22
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:30


General classification after stage 11:

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 42:21:48
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:54
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:05
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:34
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:03:06
6 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:03:09
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:03:25
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:34
9 David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:03:45
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:03:56

Chaves lost 19 seconds in those final 500 metres or so, having opened a similar gap over Froome and Quintana when he attacked with 1.8 kilometres to go. "The important thing is I tried. We tried and this time is was not for us. It’s the first time I attacked in this Vuelta and I had very good sensations," Chaves says. "Tinkoff did a good job all day and made it very hard for everybody but that’s why we were able to reach the breakaway. It was a difficult final climb, every day it’s going to get harder and harder."


Chris Froome speaks behind the podium. "I’ve got some special memories from 2011 here. To add to that here is an incredible feeling. Definitely Quintana is really strong at the moment. he has the leader’s jersey and I’m just trying to do as much as I can day by day to get closer to him. I want as much time as I can get, he wants as much time as he can get and that makes the race exciting.," Froome says.


Asked to weigh in on the debate over whether power meters should be outlawed during races, meanwhile, Froome opts for a deadpan response: "Why not? And then we can also go back to single speed back without gears too, eh?"



Today’s stage confirms some the impressionthat Quintana and Froome are the two strongest riders in the race at this point, though it’s hard to say in what order with any certainty. The Sky rider won out today, of course, as he did in 2011, but this sort of short, explosive climb suits him better than Quintana, and the Colombian would probably have been content enough to limit his losses to four bonus seconds. Saturday's finish at the Aubisque should reveal more.


Elsewhere, Movistar still seem to have the strongest team but Konig might prove a useful foil for Froome. Valverde is still racing to defend his podium berth, while Contador will remain a defiant presence all the way to Madrid, even if he seems at least a notch or two behind Quintana and Froome.


Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Vuelta a Espana today. We'll be back with more tomorrow on Cyclingnews. In the meantime, we'll have all the news and reaction from Cantabria, and you can find a full report, results and pictures here.


Latest on Cyclingnews