Alessandro De Marchi secured his third individual stage victory at the Vuelta a España after an impressive solo attack in the closing kilometers of stage 11.
A battle to make the breakaway was brewing even before the start of stage 11 with riders and teams sensing the opportunity for the day’s successful attackers to go all the way to the line on the hilly 207.8-kilometer course that included one category two and three category three climbs.
The intensity at the start of the day saw the peloton cover 49 kilometers in the first hour of racing and despite various strong moves trying to go clear, the breakaway was yet to form.
BMC Racing Team continued to be active at the front of the main bunch and this tactic paid off with De Marchi, Nicolas Roche and Dylan Teuns all making it into the 19-rider breakaway that eventually went clear approaching the 100-kilometer to go mark.
25 kilometers later, the group’s advantage had extended out to 4’30” but with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), who started the day 2’33” behind race leader, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) on the General Classification, making the selection, the main bunch reacted behind on the penultimate climb, the Alto do Trives.
Teuns looked strong as he went on the attack alongside Pinot with 65 kilometers remaining however the rest of the group, which still included Roche and De Marchi, was chasing hard and as a result they came back together around 3’30” ahead of the peloton with 50 kilometers to go.
The breakaway split once again after a solo move from Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) saw a more select eight-rider group, with De Marchi and Roche, drawn out at the front of the race while, behind, Teuns remained in the first chasing group and Movistar Team continued to lead the peloton around three minutes back.
On the day’s final categorized climb, the 8.8-kilometer long Alto del Mirador de Cabezoas, which had an average gradient of 4.3%, De Marchi went solo before being joined by Jhonatan Restrepo (Team Katusha Alpecin) just before the top of the KOM.
The duo’s advantage over the first chasing group was still over 50 seconds inside the final five kilometers before De Marchi showed his grit and determination to launch an impressive solo attack which eventually saw him punch the air with delight as he secured the stage victory.
Behind De Marchi, Teuns and Roche continued to ride their own tempo and, after a strong day of teamwork from the BMC Racing Team trio at the front of the race, they crossed the line fifth and eighth respectively.
The Winner’s Interview with Alessandro De Marchi
Congratulations, Alessandro! Talk us through the moment you decided to attack inside the final five kilometers?
“If I waited for the sprint then I think I would have been second. The only option was to try everything on the last climb. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had the best legs but the win was mine.”
It took around 100 kilometers of racing for the breakaway to form today. How were you able to find the right move?
“At one moment today, I said to myself that I just needed to keep trying and going because every moment was a battle. Every move was looking like the good one and then they would come back. It was really difficult and I just thought I would do the maximum that I could and we would see.”
What does today’s victory mean to you?
“For a rider like me who tries a lot, you need to be first at the line sometimes. You need to be there in the results. I have missed a few good results in the last season but now I can say that I understand what I have to do. Sometimes you think you are missing something of yourself and you lose the feeling [of winning] but you need to be patient and the right moment will arrive.”
“I had the feeling of liberation in the last kilometer. I waited a long time for this moment and the last three years have been up and down a lot. Today, I found myself again.”
Was it important to have two teammates in the breakaway with you?
“The presence of Dylan and Nico in the breakaway was the key as I could play in the front and I was sure they were helping me to control from behind. The whole day was full gas and each move looked like the right one. So, you couldn’t lose concentration for one second. It was a fight for five hours. I think it was the hardest win I have ever had. Sometimes it’s more about luck. First of all, you have to be lucky and then you have to have the legs. I was not sure if I would be able to drop Restrepo because he is quite fast, and that attack I did was really the only option. I was lucky in the end that it was ok.”