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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 26, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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It's easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top. - Henry Ward Beecher

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Vuelta a España stage 11 reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has won the eleventh stage of the Vuelta a España. On the steep finish in Valdepeñas de Jaén, the 31-year-old Slovenian sprinted away from his competitors in the last metres.

Primoz roglic

Primoz Roglic wins stage 11. Sirotti photo

After another fast start, five riders escaped from the peloton. Team Jumbo-Visma kept the gap to the leading group small to compete for the stage win. The stage exploded on the very steep last climb. The GC riders hid their intentions for a long time, after which it came down to a sprint. Roglic proved to be the strongest. The number three of the general classification took seven seconds on Enric Mas.

Roglic was pleased with his second stage victory. “It was a tough day. Short, but very hot. Fortunately, I had enough energy left at the end to win today. It’s always nice to win a stage. Today’s finish suited me and it was an enjoyable challenge. The team did a fantastic job. They kept the speed up so the leading group was kept in sight, for which I want to thank them. We will evaluate the general classification day by day. The decisive stages are still to come. It is still a long way and the best will win.”

Sports director Addy Engels was proud of the team. “It was a spectacular final and everyone was close together. We wanted to go for the stage win if we could control the race. It was difficult, but with a final like this, everyone has to go flat out. I’m happy we won here.”

Here's the report from GC leader Odd Christian Eiking's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team:

After conquering the lead of the general classification in the tenth stage of the Tour of Spain (2.WT, 14/08-5/09), Odd Christian Eiking shone in his red kit on the first start row in Antequera this Wednesday. Being only 133 kilometers, the eleventh stage was the shortest of this Vuelta, a parcours which was already used in 2013. With the Puerto de Locubin (8.8km at 5%) in the final as the only categorized climb, the stage was just like the day before suited for a breakaway. However, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert and the teams of Primoz Roglic and Michael Matthews joined forces to prevent a breakaway of five riders from winning the stage. Even though Magnus Cort resisted until the final hectometers.

On the top of the Puerto de Locubin, 8 kilometer before the finish, the Norwegian rider Odd Christian Eiking and the South African rider Louis Meintjes maintained themselves in the first group of a scattered peloton. The descent quickly brought the riders to the steep and explosive finish towards Valdepeñas de Jaén, where a stage finish in the Vuelta was held for the fourth time in the last decade. The favorites accelerated from the bottom and fought for the stage victory on slopes up to gradients of more than 20 per cent.

In the end, Primoz Roglic showed his dominance. Odd Christian Eiking defended the red leader’s jersey by crossing the line 11 seconds later in 10th place. He finished next to Guillaume Martin, his main contender for the general classification. Also Louis Meintjes followed behind the favorites and climbs to 14th place in the provisional classification, before the twelfth stage with start in Jaén. The stage of 175 kilometer will be fast and downhill in the beginning towards a first passage on the finish line in Córdoba. From there, a climb of second and of third category need to be covered in the final 65 kilometer.

Odd Christian Eiking

Odd Christian Eiking just after crossing the finish line. Sirotti photo

"Today was a blend of pure joy and suffering. I'm exhausted but happy, to pursue my red dream one day longer. The stage was harder than I expected because of the tailwind and the desire of several teams in the peloton to fight for the stage win. I limited the time loss and I even managed to finish in the top 10, just ahead of my main contender for the GC Guillaume Martin. I kept an eye out for him today, just like for Primoz Roglic. I take this Vuelta day by day and together with the team we're determined to defend the jersey again tomorrow!" - Odd Christian Eiking

Here's the report from second-place Enric Mas' Team Movistar:

They really left the impression that anything is still possible in this year’s La Vuelta. The Movistar Team continued its streak of good presence and results during stage 11 of the Spanish Grand Tour -a scorching route, on hilly roads for most of the 133km journey between Antequera and Valdepeñas de Jaén-, and again came close to a win with Miguel Ángel López and most notably with a sensational Enric Mas.

The positioning work from Imanol Erviti, José Joaquín Rojas, Nelson Oliveira and Carlos Verona made most think there weren’t any riders missing from the Telefónica-backed squad’s lineup, despite the two recent losses of Valverde and Jacobs. The four were able to keep Enric and ‘Superman’ always well placed in the approach to the Puerto de Locubín (Cat-2), always at the front with the top contenders before the last descent and the brutal Chaparral ascent, where Mas, who launched several attacks ahead of Roglic (TJV), was ultimately beaten by the Slovenian, with López in 3rd place.

Enric Mas

The start of the final part of the ascent to the finish and it's a drag race between Enric Mas and Primoz Roglic. Sirotti photo

With Eiking (IWG) and Martin (COF) still ahead in the standings, the gap between Roglic (third) and Mas (fourth) is now 35″, with López, still fifth, 57″ down on his team-mate and almost half a minute on Haig (TBV), sixth. Thursday’s stage 12 should be one for the breakaway, with the climbs of San Jerónimo and 14% towards Córdoba, in a day that, together with a likely sprint in Villanueva de la Serena (Friday), will precede the two mountain stages on the weekend.

Enric Mas: “I’m so happy, but sincerely, and excuse my French, when I took that final turn left with 100 meters to go and saw that fucking ‘wall’, I put my head down and thought, ‘Ay, ay, ay… it’s not going to be today’. I had watched the video from ‘Purito’ winning here in 2015 (it was actually 2011 – ed.), but I don’t know what I saw – he was too fast or I wasn’t as fresh as him. That touch with Roglic? It’s just a race incident. He didn’t see me coming and I couldn’t brake there, because otherwise he would have taken a couple of meters on me. It was either touching him or braking. When I saw him again after the finish, he apologised. Our relationship is good.”

“The best form of my career? I think so. Roglic is, together with Pogacar and not many other riders, the reference in the peloton nowadays, and being able to contest a race, this year’s La Vuelta, toe-to-toe with him is the biggest thing yet for me. The team continues to do really well – I must continue saying that not having Alejandro adn Johan here is a big loss for us, but this great team, and that’s the feeling I have every day, has a shot at doing great things in the race.”

Miguel Ángel López: “As I’ve said over this race, the most important thing is getting through these early hurdles safely, and we did really well today. This finish wasn’t as good for us as it was for Roglic, with this short, sharp ascent, and we still managed to get really close. Thanks to the whole team for the great job they did. Too long of a race for Roglic? Well, it might be too long for either him or us. We must stay focused, go one stage at a time – for the time being, it’s all good for us.”

And here's the report from Felix Grossschartner's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Although today's course through Andalusia was only 131.6 km long, it culminated with the climb of the extremely steep Puerto de Locubín, which was to be taken on only 8 km ahead of the finish. After cresting the summit, riders went along a 6 km long downhill stretch before tackling the short final ramp of Valdepeñas de Jaén. which reached gradients of up to 20 percent in some sections.

Just like yesterday, the escapees were keen to take their chances again today and after 20 km of racing, a breakaway managed to go clear. Their lead never stretched to more than two minutes during the stage, and at the foot of the last climb they were almost all reeled back in. At this point Cort launched a strong attack from the lead group, but he was ultimately caught by Roglič and Mas over the last few hundred metres of the stage.

In the finale, Felix Grossschartner managed to stay up front and crossed the finish line in a strong 7-man group only 7 seconds in arrears of the eventual stage winner Roglič. He thereby retains his 10th place in the general classification.

From the Finish Line:
"The feeling was quite ok today. I crashed around the middle of the race but it didn't have any serious consequences, just some abrasions. In the finale it became really stressful. I lost a bit of confidence in the corners. In the end, I think I have to be satisfied with 7th place. After all, I gave my best and the others were just stronger. But we'll see. Hopefully everything will stay pretty calm tomorrow, to allow some recovery from the past few tough stages." - Felix Grossschartner

"On today's 133km long stage, which featured 2700 metres of elevation gain, we wanted to make it into the leading group. We managed to achieve that at the beginning with Patrick Gamper, who was in a group of seven for the first 25km. However, they were then caught and afterwards, a quintet went clear with Cort Nielsen, who almost made it to the end today. Otherwise, it was important for us to get through the race well with Felix. Unfortunately no one was with him in the finale, but he rode a strong finishing part of the race, and we can be very happy with his 7th place. He still keeps his top-10 in the GC and it's another tough day in Spain that's now behind us." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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