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Vuelta a Espana 2018 Stage 11: Alessandro Di Marchi takes solo win

Martin James
5 Sep 2018

Eventful stage sees BMC play the numbers game in the break, Simon Yates still in red jersey

Italian Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) produced a late turn of speed to distance breakaway compatriot Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) to take the spoils on Stage 11 of the 2018 Vuelta a Espana – the longest stage of the race.

After a relentlessly fast day of riding through undulating and lumpy terrain, the pair had slipped clear from a large breakaway group of 19 that had established a gap over the second half of the stage.

With Restrepo the faster finisher of the two, Di Marchi knew he couldn't take his Colombian rival to the line and jumped clear on a late ramp in the final 5km as heavy rain played havoc at the end of a long day's riding. Restrepo finished second, 27 seconds back on the line.

The sudden downpour proved a nightmare situation to try and manage for red jersey Simon Yates and his Mitchelton-Scott teammates, but the Englishman managed to stay with his rivals to retain the race lead.

Stage 11 in detail

We're halfway into the 2018 Vuelta now and still we wait for a selection of GC contenders to make itself known as the real favourites to take the red jersey into Madrid next Sunday.

It will all be decided by a massive third week that includes loads of mountains, a time-trial and potentially game-changing climbs right up to Saturday's penultimate stage finish on the Coll de la Gallina.

Given the mighty challenges that are looming ever nearer on the Spanish horizon, there can't have been too many in the peloton who were looking forward to today's 209km run from Mombuey to Luintra – the longest stage of the race.

Long, lumpy and difficult, this was a stage made for the breakaway, yet anyone chancing their arm would deserve their success should they make it stick.

Yet far from taking it easy, the pace was electric from the start, helped in part by weather conditions that continue to cool as the days go by.

Bahrain-Merida's Vincenzo Nibali was an early animator, continuing to show improving form ahead of the World Chamnpionships at the end of the month even if he's too far down now to feature in the GC reckoning in this year's Vuelta.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) were predictably active too as clutches of riders continued to try their luck throughout the first hour of racing, thwarted either by the terrain or the pace at the head of the peloton.

In fact it took until nearly halfway through the stage for the day's main breakaway to come together, and it was a formidable group of 19 who finally got a move to stick.

The biggest name in GC terms was Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FdJ), who started the day 16th overall , just 2'33" down on Yates. Other notable names included Mollema, Rafal Majka (Trek-Segafredo), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac), Dylan Teuns and Nicolas Roche (both BMC).

The peloton was shepherded along by the Movistar ranks of Alejandro Valverde, second overall just a second behind Mitchelton-Scott's Yates – even if the Spaniard had made it clear that he wasn't interested in taking the jersey from Yates's shoulders.

The gap to the lead group fluctuated between three and four minutes for a good hour, putting Pinot in the virtual red jersey – something you imagine Yates had no problem with considering how vocal he's been about wishing he didn't have the unwanted complications of the race lead at this point.

And Pinot was doing his best to oblige. With the gap steadily coming down as the peloton started to flex its muscles, he struck off on his own on the 2nd category Alto de Trives, driving the pace up again and stretching the advantage.

Pinot was eventually caught, but the attacks continued from the likes of Mollema, Teuns and Rolland as the terrain made it impossible to establish any kind of rhythm.

Yet the same was true in the peloton, and soon it was clear that they weren't going to bring the break back. The last categorised climb – though far from the last of the climbing – came on the 3rd category Alto del Mirador de Cabezoas 18km from the finish, and De Marchi – the third BMC rider in the 19 up front – made a big push to go clear that only Restrepo could match.

The pair worked together over the final 10km to ensure the victory would be decided between them, before Di Marchi pounced as the rain came down to push on for the win.

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