• Fabio Aru is now in red after the 11th Stage of the 2015 Vuelta a España (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Astana's Fabio Aru emerged as the new Vuelta a España leader after a punishing 11th stage in the Pyrenees won by team mate Mikel Landa snuffed out the hopes of several challengers, including Chris Froome.
By
Reuters

3 Sep 2015 - 5:50 AM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2015 - 7:40 AM

Billed as one of the toughest ever challenges in a grand tour, the so-called Queen stage included six classified ascents and more than 5,000 metres of climbing.

After Landa surged clear around nine kilometres from the steep finish into Cortals d'Encamp, Aru left some of his main rivals trailing to take second place, with Team Sky's Ian Boswell third.

Boswell's team mate Froome suffered a crash shortly after the start at Andorra la Vella from which the Tour de France champion never recovered and he limped over the line nearly nine minutes behind Landa.

Aru leads second-placed Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), who helped design the stage, by 27 seconds on the general classification.

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), who was first heading into Tuesday's rest day, is a further three seconds behind in third.

"The team was incredible today," Aru said. "This morning we agreed that Landa would go for the stage and he managed to get into the right break and went on to win what was a really difficult stage.

"It was a real demonstration of strength and I’m really happy to be in the leader’s jersey. There’s still 10 stages to go and so we’ll take things day by day but we’ll try to defend it."

Froome's bid for a rare Tour-Vuelta double after his second triumph in France in July is over and he is now seven and a half minutes off the lead in 15th place.

Movistar's Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana also lost ground on the stage 11 slopes and will have to craft a new plan to pull themselves back into overall contention.

Valverde is better placed at 1min 52sec behind Aru but Quintana, now at 3min 7sec, is in danger of slipping entirely off the pace.

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