Fabio Aru turns up
I’d predicted that the final climb on stage 11 would deliver an ‘every man for himself’ scenario. As it turned out, it was Chris Froome for himself and then everyone else together.
Fabio Aru was the one man to successfully detach himself from the leaders’ group. The young Italian, who came third in the Giro, took the win ahead of four riders who finished on the same time: Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez and Chris Froome.
If those names were predictable, Froome’s presence among them was a massive surprise after his performance in the preceding kilometres. In post-race interviews, pretty much everyone was baffled by it. Now he’s there. Now he’s not. Now he’s ahead. Now he’s behind.
It was utterly bizarre. Froome would lose touch with the leaders, fall way back into a second or third group and then the next minute he’d be right at the front of the race, pushing the pace.
The truth is that for all his comings and goings, he was probably the one maintaining a steady pace while the lead group accelerated and decelerated. It takes some willpower to ride as if so completely oblivious to everyone else. However, what it doesn’t take is exceptional form. I’d suggest it was a coping strategy, a means of rationing what he did have. Further mountain stages threaten, rather than encourage.
You’ll also notice a conspicuous absentee from the group Froome finished with. Nairo Quintana crashed out of the race early on, which is hugely disappointing.
Carlos Betancur watch
Finishing a mere 13m52s down on Fabio Aru, Betancur has launched himself up the standings into fourth-to-last place. In your face, Jimmy Engoulvent of Team Europcar!
Flat and also on a circuit – a bit disappointing from the Vuelta, to be perfectly honest. A sprint finish seems almost certain and another Nacer Bouhanni win highly likely.