Vuelta a España: Mas gains a place after frantic day
For the second time in three years, the race visited Luintra, the small town in the Orense province.
As soon as the flag dropped, attacks began at the 207.8km-long stage 11 of the Vuelta a España, regarded by many as one of the toughest of this edition, despite featuring just five minor climbs: Puerto del Padornelo, Alto do Covelo, Alto de Trives, Alto del Mirador de Cabezoas and Alto de Pombal, the latter playing an important role in the outcome despite being uncategorized.
Until then, dozens of riders tried to make it into the breakaway, including Quick-Step Floors' Laurens De Plus, who gave it a go on two occasions, but ended up each time back in the peloton, who rode as if their bikes were stolen in the first two hours, at a staggering 46 km/h average speed. Things settled down only after the second ascent of the stage, where 19 riders snapped the elastic, a move which succeeded in keeping the pack at bay, despite the gap hovering at all times around the four-minute mark.
As if what happened in the first part of the stage wasn't enough, several teams decided to drop the hammer in the final, on the fifth climb, just as some heavy summer shower were making their appearance, whittling down the peloton to around 15 riders, one of whom was Enric Mas. This strong group arrived in Luintra two minutes behind winner Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), drawing the curtain over what's been a nervous and leg-sapping day, whose effects could be seen later in the race.
"It was full gas from the start, a crazy stage from start to finish, which you don't see very often nowadays. There weren't too many moments of respite, but I'm glad I came through this brutal stage and I take a lot of heart from the way I felt and responded in all those critical moments", said Enric after moving up to 11th in the general classification, which continues to be a tight affair ahead of this weekend's gruesome mountain triptyque.
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