Vuelta stage 11: Cancellara wins as Nibali reclaims red

Stage 11: Tarazona to Tarazona, 38.8km individual time trial

In a mouthwatering precursor to the World Championships later this month, RadioShack’s Fabian Cancellara edged out Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to take today’s individual time trial around Tarazona. Vincenzo Nibali (Cannondale) retook the race lead from Cancellara’s teammate Chris Horner.

Vuelta 2013 Stage 11 profile

Cancellara set a blistering pace, and completed the 38.8km course in just 51 minutes. It was enough to see the four-time World Time Trial Champion finish comfortably ahead of the current holder of the rainbow stripes, Tony Martin, by 37 seconds.

However, while the Swiss’ comfortable margin of victory came as a slight surprise, it wasn’t anywhere near as eyebrow-raising as the performance of Ag2r’s Domenico Pozzovivo, The Italian climber rode the time trial of his life to finish third, in a time so unexpectedly quick it prompted many to believe the Vuelta timing systems weren’t being entirely truthful. They were, and he’s up to sixth overall.

Finishing with a time a second slower than Pozzovivo’s was Vincenzo Nibali, who was sufficiently quick to retake the red leader’s jersey from Chris Horner. The American could only manage 20th on the stage, and is now 46 seconds off the general classification lead. Horner is tied on time with third-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who finished seventh on today’s stage.

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Bank) rode an excellent time trial to boost his red jersey hopes, beating Valverde’s time by four seconds. That’s enough to see him move up to second overall, while Joaquim Rodriguez established himself as Katusha’s undisputed team leader by riding significantly quicker than Daniel Moreno. He’s now fifth overall.

VeloVoices rider of the day

Today's rider of the day (Image: Ag2r La Mondiale)

Today’s rider of the day (Image: Ag2r La Mondiale)

Today’s rider of the day award could only go to Domenico Pozzovivo, who defied the laws of time trial science to set such a fantastic time. On a relatively flat course, the 5ft5in pure climber managed to finish within a minute of World TT Champ Tony Martin, and move up to sixth place on GC. It was an incredible ride from a fascinating character – ‘Dr Pozzovivo’ has a degree in economics and a list of outside interests as long as several of his arms. Complimenti, Domenico!

Analysis & opinion

While the effect of this time trial on the Vuelta is obvious – it now means this race is Nibali’s to lose, having put himself in a good position over all of the other favourites – the outcome of this time trial could be more insightful when considering the World Championships coming up in Italy later this month.

The emphatic manner of Cancellara’s victory – a 37 second margin over Martin in a 38.8km TT isn’t to be sniffed at – surely makes the Swiss the strong favourite for the race. Considering, when Martin recorded his second consecutive world title last year, many thought Cancellara would never be able to challenge him again, this is an impressive riposte. Of course, this time trial is far from definitive – and it’s worth noting that the Worlds TT is almost 20km longer than this one – but it could offer an indication that Spartacus is ready to reclaim his stripes in a few weeks’ time.

Stage 11 result

1. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) 0:51:00

2. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +0:37

3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +1:24

4. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +1:25

5. Dario Cataldo (Sky) +1:41

General classification

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 41:22:22

2. Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:33

3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:46

4. Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) same time

5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +2:33

6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +2:44

7. Ivan Basso (Cannondale) +2:55

8. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +03:35

9. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) +3:46

10. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) +3:56

Points classification: Daniel Moreno (Katusha).

Mountains classification: Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard)

Combination classification: Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).

Team classification: Astana.

Link: Official website

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