La Vuelta 11: AMAZING Aru (and Chris Froome)

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An emotional Fabio Aru after the finish

White, rocky, bald mountains. Summit finish on the Alto de San Miguel de Aralar (1st cat): 9.9 km long, 7.5 % average gradient, 14% max.
Team Sky making the race. Kiryienka solo, caught 8 km to go. Then Cataldo imposes a big selection by a very fast pace. But behind Froome gets dropped, struggles to keep the back of the front group and no mate wait to help him. Broken radios? a smart strategy? 
In front Barguil attacks, Gesink  follows and drops him. He's going solo and the stage victory seems possible. Dan Martin gets out the chasing group, Navarro on his wheel. Caught. From nowhere Chris Froome: he's back to the front, he's leading, attacking. Amazing! Contador reacts. Froome can't follow but hangs on. 
Froome at the start
From the small group, Navarro again. Caught. But Fabio Aru is gone in conter and that's the decisive move. He won solo. Just behind Valverde, Contador and Rodriguez. Then Chris Froome. Then Uran. 

Vasil Kiryienka awarded as Ciclista más combativo: well deserved!

Fabio Aru:
"This victory is an incredible surprise. After the Giro d’Italia, I prepared very well for this second part of the season and I dedicate this victory to my team, my family and to my girlfriend."

Chris Froome:
"Words can't explain how tough that final climb was today, I'm very relieved to have finished where I did! The fight continues... #LaVuelta "

Robert Gesink:
"Not so much with the 10th place, but I am very happy by the way I raced. I was feeling good, and I wanted to give it a go by myself at 5km to go. Maybe in the end, it was a bit too early. If you don't try, you never win. If I feel good, I will try again in the coming days."

Wilco Kelderman:
Embedded image permalink"It's my place, not good, not bad. I think it was a little bit like yesterday. Not really super. It's OK. I think 12th or 13th, that's my place. It was really hard. You had to give it your all, all the way to the top."

Warren Barguil:
“I attacked on the climb because I didn’t find the pace too hard but there was quite a lot of wind and Gesink was pulling hard so I waited for the group behind. I got stuck with two k to go, I was not far from getting back on the group but I dropped back and couldn’t follow the attacks. 
In the end I lost some time but I’ve moved up a bit and there’s still a lot of racing left. I’m still getting better each day and am recovering well from the hard efforts. Hopefully I will have good days on the real difficult stages to come, but I am still attaining my objective here at the Vuelta and I am focused and motivated for this.”

Merhawi Kudus:
"Today was really hard. I tried to get in the break but it was not possible. The pace was too high in the beginning and they kept closing every gap. Eventually the break would only go at 65km. I got over the first climb alright but then there was always a big fight for position leading into the final climb. I lost some power while fighting for a good position so i didn't have too much left for the final climb. It is okay though, my legs are feeling and there are still plenty stages coming for me."

Alejandro Valverde:
"It was a 'good' day, in quotations. Nairo's crash happened just to my side; he was riding just behind me. We were riding around 40th position into the bunch: Imanol, Nairo and myself. Some riders crashed in front of us - while I was able to watch them come to my side and avoid them, he just couldn't and fell. I want to send him all my support from here, and also all my team-mates'. Things went bad for him yesterday with his crash, and many times, when such things happen, there's almost no way to turn things around.
Apart from that, should things go like today until the end of the Vuelta - I'd just sign next to it. I didn't plan to sprint into the intermediate, but some kilometers before Contador attacked, I went for him and I took the bonus seconds. Aralar was a tough climb: partly because of the rought roads, but especially because the pace from the foot of the ascent was really high. Aru went for the win - he really deserved it, he did a great climb. I finished second, with another bonus, and provided that it was a mountain stage and seeing how strong Contador is doing, finishing a mountain stage with seconds won on him rather than lost is something to be happy about.
Embedded image permalinkNow we're leading the team - one more time. I've spent many Grand Tours leading the squad and this doesn't change anything for me. I don't like that it all happened nor this new situation - I preferred how things were going before Nairo's crash, but you have to face things. I already changed my mentality into the race: I was up-front today, I actually was up-front all Vuelta, but having Nairo by my side was way better - now we have to tackle the end of the race on my own - with my great team-mates, but it comes down to myself and I'll keep fighting. It will be hard for me to stay away on the climbs, but I must keep strong there, and if I'm able to win some time, the more the better."

Samuel Sanchez:
"My goal before the start in Jerez was to fight in the first positions of the GC in the second part of the Vuelta and here we are. I feel good, but I also have to hope that someone ahead of me fails on some of the remaining stages".

Steve Morabito (crashed in same crash as Quintana and as well retired):
"I don't understand what happened. I had some riders coming from my right side and a few seconds later the motorbikes ran over me when I was on the ground. It was pretty painful." 
BMC Racing Team Doctor Scott Major said Morabito has a deep hematoma over the head of the femur on his right hip, road rash and bruises to his ribs on his back. "Fortunately, nothing is broken. His shoulder was also dislocated, but he was able to relocate it out on the road." 

Alberto Contador:
“I’m happy with how the stage went. It was a very tactical battle on the final climb and I arrived at the finish line together with Alejandro and Joaquim and Froome a couple of meters behind us. They are very fast so they overtook me in the sprint, but I’m satisfied."

Julian Arredondo
“I was feeling a little better than the first days but still not close to 100%. I was happy to follow wheels today and see what would happen, but I knew that I did not have it to play for the win. I was in second position early in the climb and when the guy in front of me peeled off I increased the tempo a little to see what would happen.  As you can see I am happy that I am beginning to feel better, but I am still not great.”

More to come

Note: Nairo QUintana abandoned

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 3:41:03  
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:06  
3 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha  
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo  
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  
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:18  
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:21
11 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:25  
12 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:49  
13 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:00:56  
14 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida 0:01:14  
15 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka  
16 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:35  
17 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:46  
18 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:02:07  
19 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team  

20 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica Greenedge 0:02:11
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  
11 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:03:59  
12 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:04:26  
13 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:04:56  
14 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:05:00  
15 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:06:10  
16 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:07:19  
17 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica Greenedge 0:08:44  
18 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka 0:08:47  
19 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:09:15  
20 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:10:19

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