The riders spent less than three and a half hours on the saddle on Wednesday, in stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana, which brought them to the steep finish of Valdepeñas de Jaén. However, the day was very intense once again and Primoz Roglic eventually won the stage. The Groupama-FDJ cycling team is already looking to the next stages.
Barely 133 kilometers were on the menu of stage 11 of the Vuelta this Wednesday, making it the shortest road stage of this 2021 edition. Due to a rather hilly profile and the short day to come, there were again loads of riders willing to take the lead and fight for victory. Logically enough, a fierce fight took place at the start before Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Nippo), Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) managed to open a gap after thirty kilometres or so. “It was the shortest stage, but it was still very intense,” said Thierry Bricaud. “It was very fast today, and it was difficult to enter the breakaway. The guys were in the mix at the start, but only five guys eventually went away. From then on, we knew what to expect and that it would be hard for such a small breakaway to make it to the end, even if one of them almost did. We knew that a small peloton would go for the win in the final, and in that case, it was going to be very hard for us. From then on, the plan was very simple: stay safely in the bunch and just wait for things to come. We knew that we were not going to win against Roglic in such a finish”.
“We need to manage our efforts in anticipation of the next days”, Thierry Bricaud
Although Magnus Cort managed to stay away for a very long time, as he did in stage 6 when he got the victory, it was indeed the Slovenian rider from Jumbo-Visma who won the stage on the steep slopes of Valdepeñas de Jaén, ahead of all the GC contenders. Kevin Geniets got to the line about four minutes later, after he fought for some time in the penultimate climb of the day. “Kevin and Rudy were the last one to drop, but we didn’t want to take any risks on the downhill and they finished a little easy, thinking about tomorrow,” added Thierry Bricaud. “We need to know when we need to manage our efforts in anticipation of the next days, in which we really can aim for something. It may be the case tomorrow, with a breakaway that might go until the finish”. Arnaud Démare also completed the stage with Ramon Sinkeldam, eleven minutes after the winner. “It went well for them,” concluded Thierry. “They show that they are in pretty good shape even if these are not easy days. As far as they’re concerned, they are already focused on the next sprint, on Friday”.