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Stage 10 report: Trentin takes second stage win
Calar Alto finish “like being on the moon” - preview
Roche gains time in “unplanned” attack
Since the Vuelta's brief traversal of the Pyrenees a little over a week ago, the race has subsisted on a diet of short, punchy climbs on which Chris Froome (Sky) has steadily fortified his overall lead. Today's leg to the summit finish at Calar Alto, in the Sierra de Los Filabres in Almeria promises a different kind of a test and might just shake up the general classification. The peloton is due to roll out at 12.15 local time and is scheduled to hit kilometre zero at 12.28.
The unclassified climb out of the start in Lorca might be a springboard for an early break, but the serious climbing comes later in the day in the form of a stiff double whammy. The summit of the category 1 Alto de Velefique (13.2km at 8.6%) is 30 kilometres from the finish, and it is a tough prelude to the final haul to the line. The race finishes at the Calar Alto observatory after a category 1 ascent of 15.5 kilometres at 5.9%.
The general classification picture is as follows after 10 stages:
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 40:12:44
2 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:36
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:17
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:27
6 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:30
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:33
8 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:52
9 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:01:55
10 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:15
11 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:31
12 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:03:04
13 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:32
14 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:03:45
15 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:04:09
16 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:04:42
17 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:04:46
18 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data 0:05:54
19 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:07:24
20 Jaime Roson Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:08:08
The peloton is making its way through the neutralised zone in Lorca, which hosts the Vuelta for the first time since it endured an earthquake in 2011. Lorca last hosted the Vuelta in 2010, when Tyler Farrar was the stage winner.
The Vuelta last visited today's finish at Calar Alto in 2006, when a young Igor Anton was the stage winner. The Basque remains in the peloton eleven years on, and he talked our man in Spain Alasdair Fotheringham through the finishing climb's characteristics. "There are a few breaks in the climb, there are even a few false flats and downhill sections, and it’s not got too bad a road surface,” Anton explained. “Although it was quite cold and misty when I won there, the heat could be a big factor, and so, too, is the altitude, because we go up to over 2,000 metres.”
Temperatures, it seems, will be rather chilly on the climb up to Calar Alto, but Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) downplayed the impact of the weather. "The weather is pretty bad and it’s more likely that things will happen, but it is the Vuelta. Yes it’s eight degrees [at the finish] but it’s going up rather than descending. Climbing in eight degrees won’t be so bad," he said. The preceding descent, however, might prove testing. "It will be a complicated day because there is a lot of danger. It will be really easy to crash because you can’t stop your bike in the corners."
187km remaining from 187km
Meanwhile, steady rain falls over the peloton as it reaches kilometre zero and the stage begins. For the time being, the temperature is 18 degrees, but that will plummet as the race gains in altitude later in the afternoon.
183km remaining from 187km
Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) is the day's first attacker. The Frenchman opens a small gap over the peloton on the climb out of Lorca.
Alaphilippe is brought back to heel by the peloton as rain continues to fall over stage 11 of the 2017 Vuelta.
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) tested the waters with an attack on the final descent of the Collado Bermejo yesterday, but Nicolas Roche (BMC) was the only GC man to gain ground on stage 10. The Irishman pegged back 29 seconds to draw level on time with Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), though he told Alasdair Fotheringham afterwards that the move had been completely improvised. "I've never been here," Roche said afterwards. "I just said 'let's go.' It was a proper improvisation. I said to myself, I'm not the worst descender in the peloton so it could be a real opportunity particularly as there are a few splits amongst the group. So I thought I'd give everything." You can read the full story here.
167km remaining from 187km
It's been another rapid start to proceedings at the Vuelta. The bunch has covered some 20 kilometres amid a welter of attacks, but as yet no escapee has gained any traction.
A puncture for Fabio Aru (Astana), but the Italian champion gets a quick wheel change and is swiftly back in the main peloton.
160km remaining from 187km
A group of 14 riders has managed to open a small gap over the peloton, though it's not yet clear if the elastic has been definitively broken. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) is among their number.
The Bardet group has a lead of 10 seconds over a peloton which doesn't quite seem ready to let them go.
It seems Michael Woods - 8th overall at 1:52 - is also part of this Bardet group, which might well explain the peloton's reluctance to allow it to sally clear.
152km remaining from 187km
Bardet's break never succeeded in maintaining any kind of a lead, and it has been swept up by the peloton. After 35 kilometres of racing, we have yet to see an escape establish itself off the front.
148km remaining from 187km
Hector Saez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) has a go by himself, but there seems to be no escaping the peloton, which is travelling at a considerable rate of knots in this opening hour of racing. All the while, rain continues to fall heavily over the Vuelta.
142km remaining from 187km
The flurry of attacking continues but still nobody can escape the clutches of the peloton. So much for the third Grand Tour of the year being a more relaxed affair than the two that precede it. Indeed, Vincenzo Nibali has been among those to note the soaring speed on the approach to the final climbs and on the ascents themselves. We're going very strongly and in the bunch, nobody is talking about anything else. Besides, the computers don't lie. We're flying," Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport on the rest day.
138km remaining from 187km
Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) leads a group of escapees off the front of the peloton. Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) and Eros Capecchi (Quick-Step Floors) are among his companions in the 14-man group.
136km remaining from 187km
It finally looks as though a break worthy of the name has formed. The 14 escapees have stretched their advantage out past 30 seconds.
There's plenty of firepower in this 14-man leading group, which includes several riders from earlier, abortive attempts. The attackers are: Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Lennard Hofstede (Sunweb), Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Igor Anton (Dimension Data), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport) and Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon).
132km remaining from 187km
The peloton has finally relented, and the break's lead has mushroomed accordingly. Bardet, Anton, Clarke, Jungels et al already have a lead of 2:50 over the peloton.
128km remaining from 187km
Bardet and company approach Garrucha with a lead of 3:05 over the main peloton. There is some real climbing talent in this group, not least Bardet, but considering Sky's startlingly high speeds on the climbs on this Vuelta thus far, they'll want to build up a heftier advantage than this before the two category 1 ascents to come.
125km remaining from 187km
For the time being, the break's lead has stabilised at around the three minute-mark. Bardet and company are still more than 75 kilometres away from the base of the day's first climb, the Alto de Velefique. The stage is currently - not for the first time on this Vuelta - well ahead of the fastest projected schedule.
Today's stage has a certain resonance for Canadian cycling. As Alasdair Fotheringham points out, the first climb of the Velefique is where Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian to win a stage of the Vuelta back in 2009. His fellow countryman Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) has enjoyed a fine Vuelta thus far, and lies 8th overall after ten stages. "Ryder's palmares is a bit hard to top, you know," Woods says. "He's won the Giro d'Italia, placed well in a number of big events and won two stages of the Vuelta [in 2009 and 2014] too. I'm not quite at his pedigree yet, but it would be sweet to take another victory for Canada." You can read the full story here.
117km remaining from 187km
The 14 leaders, meanwhile, have slightly widened their advantage. It now stands at 3:15 over the main peloton.
Away from the Vuelta, Team Sky has announced its line-up for the Tour of Britain, which gets underway in Edinburgh on Sunday. The on-form Elia Viviani is included, despite his imminent departure for Quick-Step Floors, while Geraint Thomas makes his return to action after crashing out of the Tour de France. Michal Kwiatkowski, meanwhile, will finetune his build-up to the Worlds at the Tour of Britain.
106km remaining from 187km
Bardet and the escapees are slowly augmenting their advantage over the peloton, and it now stands at 3:30.
99km remaining from 187km
Into the final 100 kilometres for Jungels, Bardet, Anton and company, who now have a buffer of four minutes over the peloton. Team Sky set the pace at the head of the bunch in support of Chris Froome. There is no immediate danger from this escape. Igor Anton (Dimension Data) is the best-placed on GC, but he is 5:54 behind Froome. Sky wouldn't want Bardet re-entering the GC race, but as the Frenchman is already 21:14 back, they can offer him plenty of leeway here.
95km remaining from 187km
Something of a calm before the storm in the peloton, where the pace has slackened further with 50 kilometres to go to the base of the Velefique. The break's lead climbs to 4:45.
92km remaining from 187km
Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) punctures in the front group, but the Spaniard should have no trouble in latching back on.
According to letour.fr, the average speed after two hours of racing is a very brisk 45.1kph. There will be a lot of sore legs by the time the road starts to climb on the Alto de Velefique.
84km remaining from 187km
The break hits the intermediate sprint in Sorbas with a lead of 4:30 over the peloton.
78km remaining from 187km
Pedrero is safely back in the front group of 14 ridesr, which continues to grind its way towards the day's climbs through sheets of rain. Team Sky set the tempo in the main peloton with Froome lined up in eighth wheel, a black rain cape covering his red jersey.
Froome lies 36 seconds clear of Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and Nicolas Roche (BMC) atop the overall standings, while Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) lies 1:17 down in fourth. The final haul to Calar Alto will be a major test of the credentials of the GC contenders, though Froome says he is not familiar with the climb. "I don't know it at all. I'll have to ask Alberto Contador about it, I think it's his training ground around there, so he knows the area very well," he said yesterday. "But I imagine with it being the first really high, mountain top finish, we'll see a very aggressive race towards the final and guys like Contador will want to try and make up time on some their rivals. I imagine Alberto will be very aggressive tomorrow."
72km remaining from 187km
Christian Knees and Ian Stannard are in their familiar positions at the head of the peloton on behalf of Team Sky, 4:20 down on the 14 escapees.
70km remaining from 187km
Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana, and this might well be his final act in the colours of AG2R. The Italian will join Vincenzo Nibali at Bahrain-Merida in 2017.
62km remaining from 187km
Rain is still general all over Almeria and the peloton is a sea of race capes and grim expressions. The temperature atop the Alto de Velefique is reportedly 8 degrees Celsius.
60km remaining from 187km
The escapees are approaching the long, uncategorised preamble of climbing that brings them to the base of the Alto de Velefique proper. 4:27 the gap to the peloton.
The lanterne rouge of this Vuelta, Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue), is part of this break. The Irishman has contributed prominently to its success so far, though he will expect to be among those to struggle once the road begins to climb in earnest.
55km remaining from 187km
The pace is beginning to ratchet upwards in the main peloton, as Orica-Scott take over from Sky on the front. The gap to the escapees has dropped to 3:45.
52km remaining from 187km
The Danish duo of Magnus Cort and Chris Juul-Jensen sit on the front of the peloton for Orica-Scott, and their injection of pace has pinned the break's lead back to 3:15 on the approach to the Alto de Velefique. As well as the second-placed Chaves, Orica-Scott have Adam Yates poised with intent in 9th overall, 1:55 down on Froome. Alasdair Fotheringham caught up with the Bury man on the rest day and you can read his thoughts here.
50km remaining from 187km
Into the final 50 kilometres, where Cort and Juul-Jensen's pace-making has slashed the break's lead back to 2:27.
47km remaining from 187km
The escapees are 4 kilometres from the start of the category 1 Alto de Velefique (13.2km at 8.6%). They will be dispirited to learn that their lead over the peloton will be less than two minutes by the time they hit the base of the climb.
43km remaining from 187km
Bardet, Jungels, Anton and the escapees hit the foot of the Alto de Velefique with a lead of 1:29 over the main peloton. This is unlikely to be sufficient for any of their number to hold off Froome, Chaves et al over the two climbs to come.
Conor Dunne is distanced by the break as the road begins to climb in earnest. 1:20 the gap to the red jersey group.
Bardet sets the tempo at the front of the break, and his pace is proving too much, too, for Lennard Hofstede (Sunweb) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC).
41km remaining from 187km
De Marchi flits on and off the back of the leading group. Orica-Scott continue to turn the screw in the main peloton, and a number of riders are beginning to be jettisoned off the back.
Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) is the next man to be dropped by the front group, which has fragmented under the weight of Bardet's forcing. Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Matej Mohoric (UAE-Emirates) are also losing contact.
41km remaining from 187km
Bardet is riding at a decent clip at the front, but the peloton continues to draw closer. 50 seconds the gap.
40km remaining from 187km
Six riders remain at the front of the race after a couple of kilometres of climbing: Armee, Bardet, Anton, Jungels, Tolhoek and Reyes. They have just 40 seconds in hand on the peloton.
Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) attacks from the main peloton and immediately opens a gap. Team Sky take over the pace-making in this reduced red jersey group.
40km remaining from 187km
And then there were two. Bardet forces the pace once again in front and only Reyes can follow. This duo has 55 seconds in hand on the peloton, with the fragments of the break scattered across the mountainside behind them. Simon Yates, meanwhile, is picking his way through the remnants of the early escape.
39km remaining from 187km
The red jersey group is reduced to some 30 or so riders as a mass of Sky riders force the issue on the front. All of the GC contenders are still present and correct alongside Froome.
39km remaining from 187km
Anton and Armee have clawed their way back up to Bardet and Reyes. This quartet is 8.5km from the summit of the climb, with a lead of 55 seconds over the red jersey group. Simon Yates is somewhere in the no man's land between the bunch and the break.
Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) and Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon) have struck up a decent working alliance now, and their advantage over the peloton creeps up towards a minute once again.
38km remaining from 187km
Dawin Atapauma (UAE-Emirates) attacks from the peloton with a rider from Manzana-Postobon on his wheel. They open a small gap as Sky continue to tap out their rhythm on the front.
Simon Yates, incidentally, has caught up to Giovanni Visconti, and they are in the process of bridging up to Bardet, Reyes, Armee and Anton.
36km remaining from 187km
Simon Yates and Visconti have bridged up to Bardet and company, to bring the leading group back up to six riders. Atapuma and Hernán Aguirre (Manzana-Postobon) will hope to swell it to eight riders before the summit, which is still some 5 kilometres away.
Simon Yates hits the front of the leading group and his injection of pace proves too much for Reyes and Anton, who are promptly dispatched out the back. Only Bardet, Armee and Visconti stay with him.
34km remaining from 187km
Four kilometres from the summit of the Alto de Velefique, and there are four riders in front: Bardet, Simon Yates, Visconti and Armee. Two pairs of riders are chasing them - Anton and Reyes, and Atapuma and Aguirre - while the Sky-led red jersey group is at 1:05.
The rain has eased slightly on the climb, but it is still a rather grim afternoon. Atapuma, meanwhile, has ride himself of his company and is chasing the four leaders alone.
33km remaining from 187km
Romain Bardet attacks alone from the front group and opens a small lead over Simon Yates, Visconti and Armee, who are about to be joined by Atapuma. The Sky-led peloton, reduced in number, is now at 1:15.
Simon Yates, however, drags Visconti and Armee back up to Bardet's rear wheel. The net result is that Atapuma has a bit more work to do to bridge back up to the front group.
32km remaining from 187km
Atapuma joins Bardet, Simon Yates, Visconti, and Armee at the front of the race. This quintet now has 1:25 in hand on the red jersey group of 30 or so riders, where Sky continue to set the pace.
30km remaining from 187km
Romain Bardet channels his inner David Moncoutie and claims the king of the mountains points atop the Alto de Velefique. Atapuma is second over the top, followed by Yates, Visconti and Armee.
Nicolas Roche (BMC) drops back to the team car near the top of the climb but he is quickly back up to the red jersey group, which trails the break by 1:34.
The escapees are beginning to attack one another on the descent off the Alto de Velefique, with Sander Armee taking a flyer. Atapuma sets off in pursuit with Bardet on his wheel.
27km remaining from 187km
Visconti was briefly distanced by his breakaway companions, but he battles his way back onto the wheels. The quintet has 1:35 in hand on the red jersey group.
25km remaining from 187km
Armee kicked off the attacking on the descent, but now the Lotto Soudal man is the rider struggling to follow the wheels on the drop off the Alto de Velefique. The break has stretched its lead back out to 1:45 over the peloton, and Bardet et al are giving themselves a fighting chance of winning the stage.
Armee is descending rather gingerly and he has been clearly distanced by Bardet, Visconti, Simon Yates and Atapuma.
22km remaining from 187km
Bardet, Visconti, Atapuma and Simon Yates have stretched their lead out to two minutes. One imagines Yates attacked to serve as a foil for Esteban Chaves, but for now at least the gap between the break and the bunch is a little too wide for the Colombian to bridge across.
Visconti, like Armee, is beginning to lose ground on this descent as Simon Yates pushes on the pace.
19km remaining from 187km
The break's lead has yawned out to 2:10 over the Froome group. Bardet, Atapuma and Simon Yates will start to believe in their prospects of victory if they can hold this through the steep early section of the climb to Calar Alto.
17km remaining from 187km
The final ascent to Calar Alto is a category 1 climb. 15.5 kilometres in length, it has an average gradient of 5.9%..
16km remaining from 187km
As the dust settles at the base of the descent, Bardet and Simon Yates have established a small lead over Atapuma. Visconti is the fourth rider on the road, while Armee - at 53 seconds - seems to have been irretrievably distanced. 2:30 the gap to the bunch.
15km remaining from 187km
Atapuma catches Bardet and Simon Yates just as the road begins to climb. The three strongest climbers in the break remain in front as they approach the final ascent. Visconti gives forlorn chase alone, 32 seconds back.
Bardet, Simon Yates and Atapuma have 2:50 in hand on the Sky-led bunch as they begin the climb to Calar Alto. They have more than a fighting chance of holding on to dispute the stage honours.
Atapuma leads the trio on the mist-shrouded lower slopes of the climb. Visconti grinds on alone, but it is clear that the Sicilian will not make it back to the front today.
14km remaining from 187km
Four Sky riders set the tempo on the front of the red jersey group with Froome tucked in behind them. There are around 25 riders still in contact as they begin the final ascent.
14km remaining from 187km
And then there were two... Bardet accelerates, Atapuma follows and Simon Yates is distanced.
13km remaining from 187km
Atapuma and Bardet swap turns at the front of the race, while Yates climbs in and out of the saddle as he battles to limit his losses. The bunch is at 2:22, and is now being led by Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team.
13km remaining from 187km
Bardet and Atapuma are combing well at the front, and have built up a lead of 25 seconds over Simon Yates. The Briton's travails might yet prompt his brother and Chaves to go on the offensive behind.
Giovanni Visconti continues to grind on alone, just ahead of the red jersey group, but one wonders how much help he would be able to offer his leader Nibali at this juncture.
12km remaining from 187km
Bardet and Atapuma's lead over the red jersey group has dropped to 2:07 as they enter the final 12 kilometres. A struggling Simon Yates, meanwhile, is now at 50 seconds.
A mechanical issue for David de la Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) who is forced to stop on the roadside. He remounts and give chase, but he has a gap to close.
11km remaining from 187km
Franco Pellizotti sets the pace on the front of the red jersey group for Bahrain-Merida, laying the groundwork for Vincenzo Nibali, whose brother Antonio has just swung off. They trail Bardet and Atapuma by 1:45.
11km remaining from 187km
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) attacks and he is joined immediately by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
Gianni Moscon (Sky) continues his startling Vuelta, and he pegs back Contador and Nibali. The Italian's acceleration stretches out the red jersey group and a number of riders are in difficulty at the back, including Nicolas Roche (BMC).
Nibali and Contador dance clear once again, and open a small gap over the Sky train. The red jersey is fragmenting behind, and Nicolas Roche is beginning to lose ground.
Moscon and Wout Poels set the tempo for Team Sky, around 30 metres behind Contador and Nibali, and 1:08 behind Bardet and Atapuma.
The red jersey group is down to just five riders: Moscon, Poels, Froome, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana). They are about to catch Contador and Nibali.
10km remaining from 187km
Contador and Nibali are caught by Froome, Moscon, Poels, Zakarin and Lopez. Chaves and Aru are among those battling to get back on terms as the peloton has splintered to pieces. Roche and Van Garderen have also been dropped.
9km remaining from 187km
Sky's response to the Nibali-Contador attack has reduced Bardet and Atapuma's lead to just 46 seconds. Mikel Nieve sets the tempo in this group which contains 9 riders in total - Froome, Moscon, Zakarin, Nibali, Contador, Kelderman, Lopez and Zakarin.
Esteban Chaves is in a group with De La Cruz about 30 seconds back on the Froome group. Aru, Van Garderen and Roche are even further back...
8km remaining from 187km
Chaves is conceding significant ground to the Froome group. He is 45 seconds behind Froome et al, and 1:00 down on Bardet and Atapuma.
7km remaining from 187km
Nieve swings over and Froome has only Moscon for company in the red jersey group. Never the most graceful of riders, Froome appears to be betraying some signs of struggling here. But others are in a far worse state. GC contenders are scattered across the mountainside...
7km remaining from 187km
Atapuma and Bardet have been joined by Kelderman, Froome, Moscon, Nibali, Contador, Pellizotti, Zakarin and Lopez at the head of the race. They have 34 seconds in hand on a group featuring Fabio Aru and Michael Woods, and 48 seconds in hand on the Chaves group.
5km remaining from 187km
The gradient grows gentler on the upper reaches of the climb, and it will be difficult for a lone attacker to forge clear here. Pellizotti winds up the pace on the front of this elite leading group, which has 42 seconds in hand on Aru and Woods, and 53 seconds on Chaves.
4km remaining from 187km
Correction: Nieve is the sole Sky rider with Froome in this leading group, which is still being led by Pellizotti. Nibali, Contador, Zakarin, Lopez, Kelderman, Bardet and Atapuma are the others in the front group.
4km remaining from 187km
It's every man for himself in the chasing group, where Woods is pulling away from Aru, 42 seconds down on Froome et al. Chaves is at 1:00.
3km remaining from 187km
The Aru portion of the group makes its way back up to the Woods attack. They are conceding ground to Froome and Nibali, but gaining on Chaves, Nicolas Roche and Tejay van Garderen.
2km remaining from 187km
It's still Pellizotti on the front of the leading group on the shallow slopes that lead towards the summit. The Italian launches an acceleration that, initially at least, nobody follows.
Nieve follows the Pellizotti attack and then tacks on an acceleration of his own. It's a strange tactic considering his leader Froome is dangling towards the back.
2km remaining from 187km
After Bardet brings Nieve to heel, Vincenzo Nibali launches a fierce acceleration of his own just as the gradient stiffens again to 10%.
Nibali opens a small gap as Kelderman, Bardet and Lopez give chase. Froome, meanwhile, is struggling to stay on the wheels towards the rear of the group.
Nibali is just ahead of the red jersey group,grinding his way through the wind and against the gradient. Froome, Contador and Zakarin are at the rear of this leading group for the time being.
1km remaining from 187km
Froome rips his way from the back towards the front of the group in a remarkably low gear. At the same time, Lopez manages to bludgeon his way across to Nibali at the front.
Lopez passes Nibali and hits the front alone. Froome kicks again and joins the Sicilian.
1km remaining from 187km
Lopez leads into the final kilometre and this could well be a winning gap over Froome and Nibali. The rest of the red jersey group is scattered across the mountainside.
Kelderman claws his way up to Froome and Nibali, but this trio won't catch Miguel Angel Lopez...
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) wins stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana at Calar Alto.
Froome wins the sprint for second ahead of Nibali and Kelderman, 16 seconds down on Lopez.
Contador, Bardet, Zakarin and Nieve come in at 33 seconds.
De La Cruz and Woods come across the line 1:15 down on Lopez, and a minute down on Froome.
Aru crosses the line 1:32 down on the stage. Roche, Chaves and van Garderen have incurred even greater losses...
Chaves loses 2:05 to Lopez - and thus something approaching 1:50 to Froome - on the stage.
Second place on the stage will also give Froome a 6-second time bonus, but of greater significance will be the ground gained on Chaves, Aru et al.
Nibali has marked himself out as Froome's greatest challenger at this Vuelta on today's stage, and the Sicilian is now 2nd overall, 1:19 down on the Sky rider. Chaves drops to 3rd, 2:33 down, while de la Cruz now lies 4th at 2:36. It was a very good day for Wilco Kelderman, who is in 5th, at 2:37, and is, lest it be forgotten, a man who will not fear the Logrono time trial next week.
1 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 5:05:09
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:14
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:31
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky
9 Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:02
10 David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:14
General classification after stage 11:
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 45:18:01
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:19
3 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:02:33
4 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:02:36
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:37
6 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:38
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:57
8 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:03:01
9 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:55
10 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:04:11
It was a disappointing day for BMC. Tejay van Garderen lost 3:26 and now lies 12th overall at 4:45. Nicolas Roche conceded 4:17 and drops from 3rd overall to 11th, also 4:45 down on Froome.
Mikel Nieve pauses to speak to Eurosport before he descends towards the Sky bus. "For us it’s been a really good day. We took time on [Esteban] Chaves, on [Nicolas] Roche, and also on [Vincenzo] Nibali, so it’s good for us."
It was a trying day for Esteban Chaves, but the Colombian, as is his wont, takes any disappointment in his stride. Simon Yates' attack, he says, was part of a planned grand offensive that never quite came off. “That was part of the plan, but sometimes the plan is really good and the final is well, and sometimes it’s like today,” he says. “But the important thing is to try.”
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) speaks after winning the stage: "It was a very complicated stage with the rain, which made it even more exhausting. But I'm really happy because the team has worked so well through this whole Vuelta a España. My teammates have been very attentive to Fabio [Aru] and me. This is a big achievement. In the final we found ourselves with good legs, and I knew a bit of the final so I was relaxed. I preferred to wait to attack until the last one or one and a half kilometres, which were really hard."
Chris Froome (Sky) on extending his lead atop the overall standings: "Very happy with the outcome today. I think it was a very selective day for the GC, and to finish second - I couldn't have asked for much more than that other than a stage victory. When Lopez went, he was extremely strong and at the top, I figured for me the most important thing was going to be to follow Vincenzo and to stay with the real favourites. I think Lopez was the most impressive today with his attack to win the stage. But, otherwise I was more concentrated on staying with Nibali, seeing as Chaves was already dropped and Alberto [Contador] was on the limit. For me, the main objective was to stay with Nibali and stay up front."
A full report, results and pictures from today's stage are available here, and we'll have reaction from Froome, Nibali, Chaves and more to come in due course.
You can find the quotes from stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana here.
Thanks for following the Vuelta with us. Join in again tomorrow for full coverage of stage 12.
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