The race's general classification was reshuffled on the mythical climb of the Asturias.
Etixx – Quick-Step started stage 10 of the Vuelta a España (Lugones – Lagos de Covadonga, 188.7 kilometers) with David De La Cruz in the red jersey, following his emphatic win atop Alto del Naranco, the squad's third victory at this edition of the race. The most successful team in Grand Tours this season, with 8 successes to its name, Etixx – Quick-Step was prepared for a tough day, which became difficult right from the beginning, when several crashes took a couple of riders out of the race. Gianluca Brambilla, Gianni Meersmn and Niki Terpstra were among those to hit the ground, but the three quickly returned on the bike and chased the peloton, rejoining it after 20 kilometers.
On Monday, the usual break consisted of 16 riders, who had a 5-minute advantage over a bunch controlled by Etixx – Quick-Step, helped inside the final 40 kilometers by Movistar. After leaving Alto del Mirador del Fito behind, the bunch started to gain ground on the escapees , and by the foot of Lagos de Covadonga, which was featuring on the course for the 20th time, it was obvious that the break will be nullified and the stage will be played among the GC contenders.
Paced by his teammates on the first part of the 12.2-km long Hors Catégorie ascent, David De La Cruz stayed with the best until things started to heat up and the gradient to stiffen up, splitting the pack into different groups. Then, despite suffering on the double-digit gradient, the 27-year-old showed panache and grit, refusing to give away the red jersey without a fight. The stage was won by Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who also climbed to first place in the overall standings, while David concluded the day a few minutes later and is now 7th in the general classification, 46 seconds ahead of teammate Gianluca Brambilla.
"It was a really tough day and the last climb was much harder than I expected. I did my best there, I went into red to limit the time losses, but the effort of last week and especially of yesterday took its toll and made things very difficult", said a tired David De La Cruz after one of Vuelta a España's most grueling stages. "I enjoyed leading the race and wearing the red jersey, but on top of all I appreciated the fans' fantastic support, who encouraged me from the start of the day and cheered for me on Lagos de Covadonga. These are things I will always remember and keep in my heart."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele