Stage 11 of Vuelta a Espana 2022 was pretty uneventful, in the racing sense, as it was a good ol’ bunch sprint stage, won by Kaden Groves of BikeExchange. Joined on the day’s podium was Danny van Poppel (Bora-hansgrohe) and Alpecin’s Tim Merlier. The red jersey stays on the ice-tub loving Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep) and none of the other jerseys changed shoulders either. But there were a few developments that could change the face of the race in the coming days …
BikeExchange deliver …
It was 191km long and flat. Yes, flat defined as any other race would define it, not the usual ‘Vuelta flat’ which usually means a couple Cat 3s and a Cat 2 thrown in for good measure. There were NO categorised climbs. And with Sam Bennett out of the race before yesterday’s stage, the victory was definitely up for grabs. BikeExchange were all in for Kaden Groves and they delivered him to the line perfectly for his first Grand Tour stage victory.
Now that is what you call a 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒄 sprint finish 😱@mcewenrobbie is simply in awe of @kaden_groves' 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕 stage victory 👏#LaVuelta22 | @GreenEDGEteam pic.twitter.com/rlf9ZnlnYR
— Eurosport (@eurosport) August 31, 2022
Two riders in the top 10 had to pack their bags and go home today : Simon PHILIP Yates (BikeExchange) and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) didn’t start this morning due to positive Covid tests. Already surpassing the total Covid casualties from the Tour de France (17), 21 riders have now left the race due to the virus. One thing we can say for sure is that they won’t be the last. It might very well be the last rider still on his bike to ride in Madrid. Could that lone rider be … Marc Soler???
But the big (bad) news of the day was the crash of Julian Alaphilippe. From the footage of him being taken into the ambulance, we thought it might have been a season-ending injury, but word from the team says it’s a dislocated shoulder, so perhaps, just perhaps, LouLou will be able to defend the rainbow at the end of September.
It's been a year to forget for Julian Alaphilippe
The studio discuss the world champion's "heartbreaking" crash – which ended his race at La Vuelta 💥💔#LaVuelta22 | @discoveryplusUK pic.twitter.com/XqkAIhn9GB
— Eurosport (@eurosport) August 31, 2022
No fractures, just a dislocated shoulder. https://t.co/yHGoPucetZ
— Susan Westemeyer (@WestemeyerSusan) August 31, 2022
What now for GC?
It really does look like it’s going to be the last man standing, what with teams losing riders left, right and centre. Remco Evenepoel is still 2.41 ahead of Primoz Roglic, and has five teammates left, but the loss of Alaphilippe must surely feel like the heart of the team was bundled into the back of the ambulance. It’ll be just that much harder for Evenepoel from now on. And, I daresay for cycling fans as well, who will miss LouLou’s panache and sparkle in this Vuelta.
Roglic has lost two teammates along the way, including Sepp Kuss, who is such a key mountain domestique. Whereas Jumbo still has the stronger team, the fact that Evenepoel is in top form while Roglic’s condition is still in question, might just even things out between the two.
Third placed Enric Mas of Movistar has only lost one rider from his team so far, but other than Alejandro Valverde, I challenge you to name any of his remaining teammates. He’s been able to hold his own in the mountains, but I’ve not seen him with much help when the GC race hots up. And it feels like he’s not going to risk losing his podium by trying anything audacious against Remco.
Ineos Grenadiers came into the race with, what, 15 co-leaders, including Ethan Hayter, Pavel Sivakov, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richard Carapaz. With Hayter and Sivakov out because of Covid, Carapaz 19 minutes-plus down in 24th place, and TGH in 8th although I don’t know how other than residual TTT time, it’s up to Carlos Rodriguez – currently 4th at 3.55 down – to salvage this Vuelta for Ineos.
UAE Emirates is the only team in this top 5 list with all their riders still in the race. Juan Ayuso has really come into his own this Vuelta, sitting 5th overall. He’s quietly just got on with riding hard and riding smart, keeping in touch with the other GC contenders in the mountains. Dark horse of the race, without a doubt.
Tomorrow, the riders head back into the mountains.
Remco Evenepoel started to crack on Stage 11 of his last Grand Tour- the 2021 Giro. Will we see any signs of weakness on the road to Peñas Blancas?
Find out what's ahead with our preview.https://t.co/xLbpnV2AAT
— Up the Road Cycling (@UTRcycling) August 31, 2022
Stage 11 results
1 Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) 5:03:14
2 Danny van Poppel (Bora-hansgrohe) same time
3 Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) s/t
4 Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) s/t
5 Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl ) 39:39:04
2 Primož Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +2:41
3 Enric Mas (Movistar) +3:03
4 Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Grenadiers) +3:55
5 Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +4:53
6 João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +6:45
7 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan) +6:50
8 Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) +7:37
9 Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroen) +7:46
10 Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +8:44
All the Jerseys
Leader’s jersey : Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)
Points jersey : Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)
King of the Mountains jersey : Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Young Rider Jersey : Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)
Team competition : INEOS Grenadiers
For the full stage review, go to cyclingnews
Go here for the official La Vuelta website