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"We tried to make the race harder. And it was. It was the hardest stage in all the grand Tours that I rode. Really the hardest. I had never ridden a stage like this."

Photo: Sirotti


02.09.2015 @ 23:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

"The team worked a tactic today to be together when we could and to coordinate our actions. This shows we have a strong, thinking team with 10 more stages to go. To defend the Red Jersey is now our main objective."


Those were the words of Astana's Fabio Aru after stage eleven at the Vuelta a España. Aru finished second behind teammate Mikel Landa and jumps into the overall race leader's Red Jersey with 27 seconds ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain.


Mikel Landa won the stage in dramatic style, escaping into a day-long breakaway in the mountains with six categorized climbs on a stage with major changes in General Classification. Aru chased a 7-minute gap to eliminate all of his contenders from a group of nearly 20 at the start of the last two of six climbs on the day.


Teammates Luis Leon Sanchez, Dario Cataldo and Diego Rosa worked in separate groups during the stage to set a high pace and remove rival teams from control of the race.


Aru leads Rodriguez and further back Alejandro Valverde among the main contenders, but favorites Chris Froome of Great Britain and Nairo Quintana of Colombia both lost important and large time chunks at the end of the day.


"They were 140 very hard kilometers," Aru said. "At the start, we discussed that we would need to put Mikel (Landa) in the breakaway. He rode a very brave race at the front and he got a wonderful victory. I’m very happy for him because we already helped each other at the Giro. He’s a tough guy, very talented, and he deserves this victory. 


"All the other guys helped me today: Vanotti, Zeits, Cataldo, Rosa, Luis Leon (Sanchez). All of them were perfect. I want to thank them for their work the whole day.


"I was going for my own race. When I saw the others looking at each other, I attacked with the idea to give it all until the finish line. It was 10 very painful kilometers. The whole stage was super hard. I attacked with eight kilometres to go and when I saw that Rodriguez and Moreno made it back, I attacked again.


"I wasn’t expecting that kind of result. I worked a lot for this. We were a bit unlucky in the first days, we lost Vincenzo (Nibali), we lost Paolo (Tiralongo). But it gave us the will to do good today. We showed we’re a great team, even with two guys down. We’ve been racing a very hard stage, with Mikel ahead. Hats off to Astana.


"We tried to make the race harder. And it was. It was the hardest stage in all the grand Tours that I rode. Really the hardest. I had never ridden a stage like this.


"The race is far from over. There are still a lot of days and still a lot of great riders for whom I have a lot of respect. I have to look at the GC to see where we stand. But first I need to rest.


"I worked very well since the Giro. I made the Vuelta my goal. Spain is a country I like a lot. I'm friends with many Spanish riders and the public likes me. It's always a pleasure to ride here."



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