Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) won Stage 11 of the Vuelta a España 2023 with an impressive last-ditch counter-attack at the summit of the Category 1 climb to La Laguna Negra.
The Spanish rider was part of a large early breakaway with 100 km of the stage to go which contained a few high-profile riders such as Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, yesterday’s time-trial victor Filippo Ganna (both Ineos), and Jonathon Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost).
The breakaway worked together in a relay for much of the flat part of the stage to increase their lead to a maximum of nearly six minutes and easily avoided being caught by a somewhat tame peloton.
On the climb, however, the pace was drastically increased, resulting in a thinning-out of the front group. Filippo Ganna put in much of the hard labor in, decimating the group in an attempt to aid Ineos leader Geraint Thomas to the stage victory.
But it was the Ecuadorian Champion Jonathon Caicedo who made the attack, which was reeled in by Thomas himself after Ganna’s shift had ended. The riders in the front group tussled for a while to gain advantage before Caicedo launched his second attack.
Caicedo’s second attack looked to have won it, as the EF Education-Easypost rider dropped the rest of the breakaway and put around 100 meters between himself and the now perseguidores.
However, with just a few hundred meters to go, those in the front group with the legs launched a sprint, with Herrada, Kron, and Grégoire looking by far the strongest and quickly closing the gap to the stage leader Caicedo.
It was Herrada, however, whose powerful effort left the other riders in his dust as he claimed his first stage victory by a margin of three seconds at the Vuelta a España.
It was a mixed day for Ineos Grenadiers and Geraint Thomas in particular, as he edged closer to the top ten in what has been a somewhat disappointing performance from the Welshman so far in this year’s Vuelta, but failed to deliver a morale-boosting stage win to continue Ganna’s success from the previous day.
The large breakaway gave the impression that there would be two sub-races of the day, and, given that tomorrow’s stage isn’t as demanding, and the relatively short effort of the final climb, it was thought that the GC group would be racing hard to close time gaps on Laguna Negra.
However, the fast pace resulted in a stalemate in the peloton, with no one able to sustain any significant accelerations to drop the rest of the group.
The white jersey, Remco Evenepoel, “couldn’t help himself” and launched a final effort in the last 100 m to drop the majority of the bunch, but the red jersey stayed glued to his wheel and the two crossed the line together.
Sepp Kuss remains in red and the GC is fairly unchanged, with the notable exception of Geraint Thomas’ rising up the ranks, as the peloton rolled in together with few attacks on the final climb.
Another Successful Breakaway In A Tame Day For The General Classification
This year’s edition of the Vuelta a España has had a huge amount of breakaway success already, and today was no different.
Once again, a large early breakaway was allowed to form by the peloton due to there not being any serious GC contenders in the group.
The breakaway success of this year could likely be attributed to the huge group of possible contenders in the General Classification.
Any attack launched by a group comprised of lower-ranked riders is allowed to go with little resistance, in order to conserve energy for the GC battle.
But it wasn’t a particularly exciting day in GC, with no change to the overall standings in the top 10.
The rider most likely to attack the red jersey is defending champion Remco Evenepoel, but Jumbo-Visma’s high pace setting nullified any possibility of reducing his time gap today.
Jumbo-Visma has three genuine contenders to win this Grand Tour, and while one of those – Sepp Kuss – sits in red, they have very little motivation to attack at the risk of losing time to a counter by Remco Evenepoel.
Instead, Jumbo-Visma have become masters of defense, setting consistently high paces in order to squash any attacks by the Evenepoel & co. before they form.
Of course, this isn’t just between Evenepoel, Kuss, Roglič, and Vingegaard, as Soler, Martinez, and Almeida could all still be considered contenders with a week and a half to go.
Another serious GC shake-up could massively change things and if Evenepoel finds himself in the red jersey again, he could have to defend each and every stage against a team of three possible contenders working together.
Vuelta A España 2023: Stage 11 Results
1. HERRADA Jesús (Cofidis): 3:29:17
2. GRÉGOIRE Romain (Groupama – FDJ): +0:03
3. KRON Andreas (Lotto Dstny): +0:08
4. CAICEDO Jonathan Klever (EF Education-EasyPost): +0:12
5. THOMAS Geraint (INEOS Grenadiers): +0:19
6. SÁNCHEZ Pelayo (Burgos-BH): +0:24
7. MOLARD Rudy (Groupama – FDJ): +0:24
8. PRODHOMME Nicolas (AG2R Citroën Team): +0:27
9. GODON Dorian (AG2R Citroën Team): +0:58
10. GANNA Filippo (INEOS Grenadiers): +1:16
Vuelta A España 2023: General Classification Standings After Stage 11:
- KUSS Sepp (USA/Jumbo-Visma): 39:27:45
- SOLER Marc (SPA/UAE Team Emirates): + 0:26
- EVENEPOEL Remco (BEL/Soudal-QuickStep): + 1:09
- ROGLIČ Primož (SLO/Jumbo-Visma): + 1:36
- MARTINEZ Lenny (FRA/Groupama-FDJ): + 2:02
- ALMEIDA João (POR/UAE Team Emirates): + 2:16
- VINGEGAARD Jonas (DEN/Jumbo-Visma): + 2:22
- AYUSO Juan (SPA/UAE Team Emirates): + 2:25
- MAS Enric (SPA/Movistar): + 2:50
- VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe): + 3:14
Vuelta A España Jerseys After Stage 11:
Red Jersey: Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma)
Green Jersey: Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Polka-Dot Jersey: Eduardo Sepúlveda (Lotto Dstny)
White Jersey: Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep)
Stage 11 Combativity Award Winner:
DÍAZ José Manuel (Burgos-BH)