Cape Town - Stage 11 of the La Vuelta on Wednesday covered more than 5 000 metres of climbing over 138 kilometres.
According the supersport.com website, the peloton had to tackle no less than six major climbs on a day that reshuffled the general classification.
MTN-Qhubeka's young South African Louis Meintjes kept it cool and rode strong all day. At the end he came home in 17th, just 4.19 minutes short of stage winner Mikel Landa (Astana).Meintjes now sits 10th in the GC.
The race started fast with Darwin Atapuma (BMC) attacking from the gun. Natnael Berhane tried to bridge across, but couldn’t quite match the speed when more riders went up the road. Eventually 19 riders moved clear with Landa among them.
Back in the peloton it was Sky who led the chase after Chris Froome had taken a tumble in the early part of the race. Yet, they weren’t to be the ones to watch out for in the end. The reigning Tour de France winner was dropped with the finale still to come.
With about 40 kilometres to go the break was down to five riders. Two minutes behind them a group with outgoing race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) tried to put time into Froome.
Being surrounded by the likes of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Fabio Aru (Astana), Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) this group was the right one forMeintjes He managed to stay in there and cover all attacks until the race reached the final climb. With 8,7 kilometres in length and a 12 percent maximum gradient this was the one to decide the stage.
At the front Landa attacked his breakaway companions and moved on to win the stage ahead of Aru. The Italian rode clear from Rodriguez and the other GC contenders in the last five kilometres, when the competition was blown into pieces. He took over the GC lead and now sits in front of Rodriguez and Dumoulin.
Behind them Meintjes rode at his pace with the favourites in sight. He now ranks 10th with another few tough days to come.