Basque rider Mikel Iturria wins Stage 11 of La Vuelta on Home Roads
Mikel Iturria dug deep to secure his first ever professional win as the breakaway dominated Stage 11 at La Vuelta
Iturria (Euskadi-Murias) pulled clear of a group that came in 18 minutes ahead of the peloton in the final kilometres and the 27-year-old held on for an impressive win in the Pyrenees. Another Spaniard Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural) was second, with America's Lawson Craddock (Education First) coming in third, both part of a chasing pack that finished six seconds behind.
None of the 14 breakaway riders posed a threat to Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), the Slovenian who retains the overall leader's red jersey ahead of stage 12 on Thursday. Roglic remains 1min 52sec ahead of Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and 2 min 11sec in front of Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) in the general standings, all of whom finished in the same time.
Iturria, whose hometown of Urnieta is around 50km from the finish, admitted he had to fight for his success. "I am so happy," said Iturria. "I have never won as a professional so to win here at the Vuelta a Espana, so close to home, in a stage I used to come to see, is a dream come true. I attacked at full speed, with all I had, there were a lot of kilometres left and it was a bit of a gamble. I opened up a gap and from there to the finish line, it was just about holding on, holding on and holding on."
With more strenuous tests to come, the peloton saved their legs across the 180-kilometre route between Saint-Palais in France and Urdax-Dantxarinea in northern Spain.
The breakaway group was established after 40km, with Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Ben O'Connor (Dimension Data), Alexander Aranburu (Caja Rural) and Gorka Izagirre (Astana), as well as Iturria, among those stretching the early lead to seven minutes. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Lastra were chasing while O'Connor and Madrazo were dropped, falling away on the third-category climb of Col de Otxondo.
With 16km left, Iturria was alone with a lead of 45 seconds over an 11-strong group, which itself was splintering and reforming until finally it was down to four. But despite gaining ground, the chasers were unable to catch Iturria, who closed out his surprise victory, the peloton crossing the line 18min 35sec later.
A hilly stage 12 begins in Circuito de Navarra and consists of three category three climbs before a dramatic final descent into the city centre of Bilbao. The peloton saved GC battle for another day, especially ahead of Stage 13 to the mountain finish Los Machucos on Friday.
VIDEO: 2019 La Vuelta Stage 11 Highlights
2019 La Vuelta Stage 11 Top 10
1 Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 4:36:44
2 Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:00:06
3 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First 0:00:06
4 Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:06
5 François Bidard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:06
6 Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data 0:00:09
7 Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:12
8 Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:12
9 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:12
10 Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:12
2019 La Vuelta GC after Stage 11 Top 10
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 41:00:48
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:52
3 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:02:11
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:00
5 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:05
6 Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal 0:04:59
7 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:05:42
8 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:05:49
9 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 0:06:07
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:06:25