Vuelta a Espaņa - Moncoutie on song as Wiggins takes red
Wed, 31 Aug 15:43:00 2011
The 36-year-old Cofidis climber soloed his way to a trademark win in the empty ski station of Manzaneda after attacking his fellow escapees on the final of four climbs in the 167km stage 11.
Team Sky's Wiggins finished the stage in a select group three minutes and eight seconds down on Moncoutie. The 31-year-old Briton takes over the race lead from team-mate Chris Froome after both the Kenyan-born rider and the young Dane Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) lost time in the closing kilometres.
Wiggins now leads Froome by seven seconds in the general classification, with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) poised in third, just 11 seconds off the pace.
"Today I felt fantastic and the team did an amazing job," Wiggins said. "It's always difficult after a rest day but I managed to get over the tops of the climbs and I'm really happy. It's going to be very tough, but I'll fight all the way and see what happens."
Mouncoutie was part of a 17-man break that formed after 30km and built up a maximum lead of eight minutes over the undulating and isolated country roads of Galicia in north-west Spain.
The Frenchman put in a series of attacks during the first third of the long 19km final climb to Manzaneda, riding alone in pursuit of glory for the final 12km on what was the first cloudy and cool day of the 66th Vuelta so far.
A beaming Moncoutie crossed the line with four fingers of his right hand raised to symbolise the fourth Vuelta win of his career. He has now won a stage in every Vuelta since 2008 - and by taking maximum points over the final two climbs of the day, Moncoutie moves within just one point of the top of the King of the Mountains competition, which he has won for the past three successive years.
Spaniards Benat Intxausti (Movistar) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) took second and third respectively, 1:18 behind Moncoutie, before the remaining remnants of the initial break crossed the line.
Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), the former race leader who lost more than four minutes on Monday's time trial, put in a late attack from the select group of GC riders - but the two-time stage winner only managed to take back seven seconds from the likes of Wiggins and Nibali, who came home 3:08 down.
Fuglsang finished in a group at 3:35 and drops to fifth in the GC, 19 seconds down on Wiggins, while the impressive Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) is fourth at 14 seconds. Dutch youngster Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) completes a tight top-six, 37 seconds down on the Team Sky leader.
Red jersey Froome had a strong day in the saddle, but appeared to be working for his designated Sky team leader. The 26-year-old faded in the closing kilometres and finished in the same group as Fuglsang to drop to second in the GC.
The Vuelta continues on Thursday with the 167km stage 12 from Ponteareas to Pontevedra that is largely flat with the exception of two third-category climbs in the mid section. The race finishes in Madrid on Sunday 11 September.
Vuelta a Espaņa : Stage 11