Gaudu climbs to victory on 11th stage of Vuelta, Roglic keeps lead

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David Gaudu enjoyed his first grand tour stage victory.
David Gaudu enjoyed his first grand tour stage victory.

Frenchman David Gaudu won the 11th stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Saturday on the slopes of La Farrapona as Primoz Roglic finished in a group with his main rivals to retain the overall lead.

Gaudu, who rides for Groupama, pulled away from Spaniard Marc Soler of Movistar in the final metres. 

The two were the survivors of a long breakaway on a mountainous ride from Villaviciosa. Soler jumped to sixth in the standings which Slovenian Roglic of Jumbo-Visma tops, although he remains tied on time with Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz of Ineos.

It was Gaudu's first stage win in a major tour.

"At the beginning I wasn't feeling too good," he said. "But in the end I won on a big day like this."

The 24 year-old Breton escaped the peloton on the second climb of the day, the Alto de la Colladona, and caught a large breakaway group on the descent. 

The group had been reduced to five by the fourth and final climb. Gaudu was the only man able to go with Soler, winner of the second stage, when the Spaniard attacked with 5 kilometres to go. 

Soler could not shake Gaudu who was able to launch a late charge which the Spaniard did not have the energy to match.

"When Soler attacked me he was quite quickly down back onto his saddle," said Gaudu. "So I just waited and waited until the last 500 metres and I went for it and 75 metres from the line I knew he was dropped."

Gaudu is the designated leader of French team Groupama-FDJ which has had a disastrous time since racing resumed after the coronavirus interruption.

Their Vuelta started badly when their best-known rider Thibaut Pinot threw in the towel before the third stage.

"For a few days I've not had good legs. The team was complaining. We weren't having a good race. We didn't have a good Tour de France," Gaudu explained. "Then Thibaut had to quit."

The start of Saturday's stage was delayed after Team Ineos led a protest against a decision by stewards the previous day that put Roglic in the overall lead.

On Friday, after Roglic burst clear in the final stretch, the stewards declared that the first eight finishers had created a large enough gap that every member of the peloton would not be awarded the same time.

That meant Ineos man Carapaz lost three seconds, enough with a winning bonus, to put Roglic in the lead. Several other riders in the top ten also lost time, including fourth-placed Hugh Carthy whose Education First team lodged a protest.

Ineos complained they had been 'stung'. Their senior rider Chris Froome, who has won seven grand tours including the Vuelta twice, led the protest at the start at Villaviciosa. Other teams joined in and the whole peloton waited before setting off.

Sunday's route remains in the mountains with a 109.4km ride starting in La Pola Llaviana and ending on the notoriously tough climb up the Angliru.

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