Wiggins takes Vuelta lead
Moncoutie solos to stage victory
Last Updated: September 4, 2011 12:38pm
Wiggins: Moved into race lead after a powerful surge on the final climb
Bradley Wiggins moved into the red leader’s jersey at the Vuelta a Espana after a powerful performance from the team on stage 11.
The Brit moved into the race lead by seven seconds over team-mate Chris Froome as Team Sky moved into a superb 1-2 at the top of the general classification.
In scenes that resembled those of stage nine on La Covatilla where the combination of Wiggins and Froome took the fight to the favourites, the duo were once again on the offensive as action resumed after the rest day.
With a breakaway up the road to contest the stage win a group of elite contenders, led by overnight leader Froome, were left to fight it out on the run up to Estacion de Montana Manzaneda.
Froome kept a cool head and set a strong tempo on the front in aid of Wiggins as a number of riders launched attacks on the final climb.
For the second mountaintop finish in succession Wiggins then came to the fore and put in a considerable effort on the front, stringing out the group with a burst that dropped the man who had split the Team Sky riders going into the rest day, Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek).
Despite being distanced temporarily by the powerful effort, Froome dug in to produce a gutsy final two kilometres, losing the race lead but clinging to second overall on the leaderboard after a selfless display.
With the duo now occupying the top two spots on GC, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) remains a threat 11 seconds back on Wiggins, while Fuglsang slipped back to fifth on the day, 19 seconds off the British National Champion.
While the battle for the race lead was being fought out David Moncoutie timed his attack to perfection to take an impressive solo victory as the race entered Galicia.
The Cofidis rider made his way into the day’s break before attacking his fellow escapees on the final climb, powering clear to win by a margin of one minute and 18 seconds at the line.
Benat Intxausti (Movistar) held on out of the break to claim second place with Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) narrowly edged into third as escapees filled out much of the top 10.
The final climb always looked likely to be decisive, with Team Sky hitting the 1750m test at the front of the bunch after controlling the peloton for much of the day.
Froome saw off a number of dangerous attacks before Wiggins again showed his climbing form, stringing out the bunch on the steep final ramps in a move that saw him climb into red, his second leader’s jersey in Team Sky colours.
Day for a breakaway
A climb straight out of the blocks meant a tough start to the day as the stage kicked off, albeit in cooler conditions, from Verin.
After cresting the opening third category Alto de Fumaces a large group pushed clear, with its numbers swelling to 16-strong over the undulating terrain.
Three further riders bridged across with Fabio Duarte (Geox) the best-placed man in the move at 7:04 back on leader Froome.
As the break hit the bottom of the final climb Adrian Palomares (Andalucia) made a solo break for victory, powering clear with Jonas Aaen Jorgensen (Saxo Bank) before continuing on his own.
Further up the climb fellow escapees Moncoutie, Mathias Frank (BMC), Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack) and Intxausti jumped clear to form an elite quartet.
Moncoutie attacked again and had a gap of 20 seconds as he went under the 10km-to-go banner and pushed on to extend a margin which quickly spun out to over a minute.
Back in the bunch the attacks began, Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) first to take up the baton and leap out of the bunch, driving the pace in a move that saw team-mate Daniel Moreno hitch a ride.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) was another to attack, quickly latched onto by Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) in a move that forced Wiggins into action to send him into the race lead.