We return to one of the most legendary climbs of the Vuelta two years later. The climb up the Lagos de Covadonga never goes unnoticed in the race and, in this occasion, it could well make big differences to the general classification. The first part is a pleasant ride through the Asturian coast, departing from Lugones, that will become much less relaxed as we arrive at Fito Peak, a 6.2km climb with an inclination of 7.8%, 40 kilometers from the finish. After this, the main attraction will be the spectacular climb up the Lagos de Covadonga, one of the most iconic Vuelta climbs with a route of 12.2km and an inclination of 7.2%, including the famous La Huesera stretch, with a slope of 13%. If the weather is good, this stage could provide some spectacular images. Asturias is always a natural paradise.
Despite a crash early in the stage, Nairo Quintana climbed back into the overall lead Monday at the Vuelta a España. Movistar’s Colombian cracked Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador on the summit finish at Lagos de Covadonga in stage 10, winning the 188.7km day in Spain. LottoNL – Jumbo’s Robert Gesink out-sprinted Chris Froome of Sky for second place, not far behind.
“A day like this gives me great confidence to continue,” Quintana said. “We have a deserved day’s rest [on Tuesday] then we will prepare well and continue on the same road.”
Stage 10, top 10
- 1. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, in 4:50:31
- 2. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :24
- 3. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, at :25
- 4. Omar FRAILE MATARRANZ, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :28
- 5. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :28
- 6. Michele SCARPONI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :28
- 7. Jhoan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO, ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE, at 1:02
- 8. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF, at 1:04
- 9. Simon YATES, ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE, at 1:09
- 10. Fabio FELLINE, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 1:11
- 1. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, in 38:37:07
- 2. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :57
- 3. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, at :58
- 4. Jhoan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO, ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE, at 2:09
- 5. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF, at 2:54
- 6. Leopold KONIG, TEAM SKY, at 2:57
- 7. David DE LA CRUZ MELGAREJO, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 3:03
- 8. Simon YATES, ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE, at 3:06
- 9. Michele SCARPONI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 3:14
- 10. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at 3:20
As usual, a large breakaway of opportunists animated the early kilometers of the race.
Over the day’s first categorized climb, Alto del Mirador del Fito, Dimension Data’s Omar Fraile and the “Andalusian Lynx,” Luis Angel Mate of Cofidis, attacked the day’s escapees. Fraile was first to the top, and moved into the lead in the mountains classification after stage 10. The duo descended off the category 1 climb but were soon caught in the valley before the hors categorie finish.
Froome was dropped about 10 kilometers from the top of the finish climb, but the Brit wasn’t done fighting, not yet. Movistar’s Ruben Fernandez set a fierce pace up the Mirador de la Reina, eventually dropping the red jersey, David de la Cruz (Etixx – Quick-Step), as well.
Inside of the final nine kilometers, Pierre Rolland slipped off the front of the quickly disintegrating breakaway. About one kilometer later, Robert Gesink of LottoNL – Jumbo joined the Frenchman on the front and then cracked the Cannondale – Drapac rider.
Contador and Quintana attacked out of the remainder of the GC group on the climb’s steepest slopes. Quintana made his move about 4km from the top, going into a slight descent toward the top of the climb. He caught and passed Gesink in short order.
Contador had Fraile for company into the final three kilometers. Froome was not far behind, having found a second wind, and towed Quintana’s teammate, Alejandro Valverde back up to the two Spaniards.
Just before the final two kilometers, Froome dropped Contador and Valverde. The Sky rider seemed to grow stronger as the 12.2km climb continued. However, he could not get the better of Gesink at the line when they sprinted for second-place bonus seconds.
“[Froome] continues to be very close given what is to come,” added Quintana, who said he will only be comfortable with a three-minute lead ahead of the time trial. “We have to look to continue what we have done until now to distance ourselves from him because if he stays at this time [behind] he is still the favorite.”
The Vuelta will enjoy its first rest day Tuesday before diving right back into the mountains with a category 1 uphill finish in stage 11.