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“Maybe I just needed one more climb to finish off the job."

Photo: Sirotti

DANIEL MORENO

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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02.09.2015 @ 23:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The most difficult day of climbing came in Wednesday’s stage 11 at the 2015 Vuelta a España with 5000 m of vertical climbing on hand for the peloton of 175 riders. Team Katusha’s Daniel Moreno and Joaquim Rodriquez stayed within themselves and rode near the front on the last of six rated climbs, finally taking 4th and fifth respectively behind stage winner Mikel Landa of Astana.

 

For their efforts, Rodriguez stayed in second place on the general classification, moving up to within 27-seconds behind new race leader Fabio Aru.

 

"What a stage. It was short but so intense and hard. We were constantly up and down with hardly time to eat something in between. We did well but when Aru attacked, we had to let him go. It was smarter to chase him at our own pace. In the last kilometer we gave more than one hundred percent to lose the least amount of time possible to Aru and to gain the maximum time to the other rivals," said Daniel Moreno.

 

Aru went on the attack on the final climb and rode a quick pace to the top at Cortals d´Encamp while his teammate Landa took the stage win from the break with a time of 4:34.54. Aru was second at 1.22 with Ian Boswell of Team Sky coming in at 1.40.

 

Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) fought to preserve his red jersey but slipped to third place behind Rodriguez, making Aru the new leader.

 

 

"There were more attacks than expected. Movistar took the race in hand from the first climb. They wanted to make it hard and they caused some damage to all of us but also to themselves. Aru was extremely courageous, I was able to follow him first but when he went with 6 km to go, I could take no more. When Aru attacked I had no answer to him but tried to keep my own rhythm as high as possible. Dani helped me a lot. In the end we lost some time to one guy, but gained time to many others. It’s been a very hard Vuelta. It's time to recover. I passed Dumoulin but there is much more to be done still. Let's see now day by day. It will be important how we will recover from this demanding and hard day. We all suffered, not only Froome or the Movistar riders," said team leader Joaquim Rodriguez, referring to the loss of 8.41 by Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

 

Although short in length at only 138 km, the stage route featured six-rated climbs and was contested all in the Andorra home region of Joaquim Rodriguez, who was also involved in designing the course. The day started in Andorra La Vella and went straight to climbing with basically no relief for the entire day, making for an epic day of climbing in grand tour history. A break went clear early that included Katusha’s Alberto Losada with Landa later bridging this group in the stage winning move.

 

"We may be happy. Before the stage Joaquim was 57 behind the red jersey and now he’s 27 seconds. Moreover he distanced some big favorites. Of course, we would have preferred to have the leader's jersey ourselves, especially because this stage was important for Joaquim in his homeland of Andorra but we tried everything. I can be very happy with our team. Losada tried and we controlled until the last climb. In the end Aru was stronger but we have no complaints. We passed the first big test. In my opinion, the next test will be the Asturias stage. The other two mountaintop finishes in between will not cause much differences in the GC," said sports director José Azevedo, referring to the upcoming stage 16.

 

Joaquim Rodriguez continues to feel good in the 70th la Vuelta and feels more is still possible for him in this race – “Maybe I just needed one more climb to finish off the job,” he posted to his Twitter account after the race. For most riders, the six on tap were plenty.

 

Stage 12 comes on Thursday with 173 km from Escaldes-Engordany to Lleida. The stage includes a flatter run to the finish line.

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