Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) showed talent, craft and mastery to win stage 11 of La Vuelta 23 on the slopes up La Laguna Negra. The Spanish puncheur made his way into a hard fought breakaway and eventually powered to victory with a perfectly timed acceleration on the most gruelling slopes of the final climb.
He takes his third victory in the Spanish Grand Tour, after he won in similar circumstances in Ares del Maestrat (2019) and Cistierna (2022). At 20 years old, Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ) came 2nd and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was 5th. Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) accelerated but his rivals matched his pace.
After a key individual time trial in Valladolid, the peloton of La Vuelta 23 face new summits with an uphill finish on the slopes leading to Laguna Negra, overlooking the city of Vinuesa. Dan Martin won there in 2020, ahead of Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz. And attackers are inspired to succeed the Irish puncheur.
Ayuso crashes, Thomas attacks
The start is slightly delayed after Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) crashed on the way to km 0. Once the flag drops, a flurry of attacks ensue, but baroudeurs are caught one after another.
The peloton cover 47.7km in the first hour. Then a group of 26 eventually manage to get away, featuring two previous stage winners in La Vuelta 23 – Andreas Kron (Lotto Dstny) and Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) – as well as established stars such as Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) or Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Qazaqstan) and up and coming youngsters like Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ) and Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost).
Jumbo-Visma drive the bunch. The gap gets over 5’ as the riders enter the last 50 kilometres. And up to 6 minutes ahead of the final climb.
Paul Ourselin (Total Energies) attacks his breakaway rivals with 10 kilometres to go and reaches the bottom of the climb to Laguna Negra (6.5km at 6.8%, with the steepest slopes in the final kilometre) with a lead of 25’’.
Ganna drives the chase and Ourselin is caught with 5km to go. Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost) attacks twice but Geraint Thomas reacts himself. The Ecuadorian is caught inside the last 300 metres. And nobody can react when Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) puts the hammer down.
In the GC group, Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) accelerates. Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) sprints. And everyone finishes together.- www.lavuelta.es