Chris Froome (Team Sky) may not have won at Calar Alto on stage 11, but the Briton confirmed that his second place on the Vuelta a España‘s first major mountain finish and the time gaps he had established constituted a “huge step towards securing my lead” in the race.
After the first nine days of skirmishing and a previous maximum GC margin of 36 seconds, Froome has now opened up a gap of more than double that, 1:19, on his closest rival, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
Riders like Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) lost time, while BMC Racing Team’s duo of GC contenders, Nicolas Roche and Tejay van Garderen, had a very difficult day.
The GC is looking more clearly in Froome’s favour after a week where he was in the lead but always by narrow margins.
Asked if this was a big step towards winning the Vuelta overall, Froome said, “Definitely. Given the time gaps today, it’s definitely one of the more crucial stages that shapes this Vuelta a España. I’m really pleased with how it went. It’s a huge step towards securing my lead at the Vuelta.”
The Vuelta has moved into a different phase, Froome pointed out, given you “just have to look at the GC to see how the race has completely opened up now. It’s a very different kind of race, it felt as if we were in the Spring Classics with this kind of weather, not something you expect in Vuelta a España.
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