Yesterday’s rest day will soon feel a distant memory as the peloton hurtle into the second week of 2016’s La Vuelta a España and immediately face another summit finish to test their legs. The 168.6km trip from Colunga’s Museo Jurasico to the steep gradients of the Peña Cabarga will be a sharp reintroduction to life at this year’s race with another brutal finale awaiting the riders. Almost an entirely flat day in the saddle, Stage 11 will see everyone focused upon the Category 1 Peña Cabarga which looks poised to crown today’s winner in dramatic fashion. It may only last for 5.9km, but the average gradient of 9.9% does little to reveal the true nature of this beastly climb. Double-figures for the most part, riders will have to battle with several ramps hitting 17% – 18% as they struggle their way to the top in hope of glory. Whoever does win here, will no doubt see today’s achievement pinned firmly atop their palmarès for years to come.
Tejay van Garderen is here to win stages and will surely hope to feature on a day which finishes with a testing climb few can match him on. Much like many, the issue will be making the day’s breakaway after what will be a hectic start to the day’s racing. The BMC rider has kept a relatively low profile up until now and may fancy his chances to strike out for victory during the first stage back from a day’s rest. Van Garderen will have focused upon performing beyond the first week of racing, with this looking like the ideal opportunity to test the water in hope of victory.
Andrey Zeits has already demonstrated his current form by joining a few breakaways with mixed success, but still often appearing one of the strongest present regardless. If his luck is favourable once again when trying to join the early move, then he is a definite threat to a climber such as Tejay van Garderen once they hit the slopes of Peña Cabarga.
Mathias Frank shall still be hunting stage wins at La Vuelta and has already proven that he knows which are the best breakaways to join at this year’s race. The tough finale should play to his strengths well, though there are certainly doubts as to whether he is truly in his best condition right now.
Robert Gesink impressed many with his performance on Stage 10 and will now be an obvious man to back on day’s for the break like this. The Dutchman is still progressing upwards to his best form, but Sunday’s performance should be considered a warning shot to anyone who finds themselves alongside him towards the end of today. Whereas Nairo Quintana snatched victory from him atop Lagos de Covadonga as a result of the Columbian’s need to gain time, today should allow the breakaway to establish a big enough advantage to stay out of reach from the general classification fireworks up Peña Cabarga.
Alberto Losada‘s performance during the opening week has given many the belief that he has the potential to win a stage at 2016’s La Vuelta a España and it is hard to argue otherwise right now. He will be confident of catching the breakaway today and will prove difficult to distance on Peña Cabarga once the slopes shoot skywards again near the summit.
Omar Fraile was anticipated to be challenging for the King of the Mountains jersey at this year’s race, but got off to a slow start which left people wondering if that really was the case. However, after his efforts on Stage 10, Fraile now has the jersey upon his shoulders and may well fancy taking another haul of points today. This shorter summit finish and steeper slopes will drag the race into his favour, but the predominately flat start to the day may hamper is hopes of getting into the break.
Angel Madrazo gives hope of a local win, having been born in Santander, thus making him a clear wildcard possibility to give it everything to take stage honours near home. Madrazo is also a talented climber and should perform well on the Peña Cabarga‘s steep slopes if reaching it first as part of an earlier move.
1st Tejay van Garderen 2nd Omar Fraile 3rd Angel Madrazo