But "Froomey" had the final say before quite a theatrical punching of the air...
Colunga - Peña Cabarga
Vuelta a España - 31 August 2016
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 12:21 on 31 August 2016. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Here's the moment QUintana's attack saw him and Froome surge past Chaves and into the lead in the final kilometre.
Correctiom: Valverde was third, ahead of Konig, at 6 seconds, with Contador fifth on the same time.
The four bonus seconds will see Froome move into second place 54 seconds behind the Colombian, who will stay in red tonight. What a battle we have on our hands...
Five years after his victory here in the 2011 Vuelta, Chris Froome strikes again to give Sky their first victory of the race - just ahead of Nairo Quintana. Leo Konig took third place as well - great day for the British team.
Victory for Chris Froome of Team Sky!
Froome leads out the sprint...
A brief ceasefire for Froome and Quintana ahead of the final ramp - and the others are returning...
Chaves is past by Quintana and Froome! And now Froome attacks!
Now Quintana goes! Froome holds his wheel with Contador just behind...
Under the flamme rouge for Chaves - and it's Valverde who leads the chase.
No one seems willing to chase down Chaves and the Colombian has 15 seconds to play with - this stage may well be his, and he could make some inroads back to the top three in this race... that said, he's gritting his teeth and looks more of a gargoyle than his usual cherubic self.
This is a big attack from Chaves and no-one has taken it up as yet. Konig is the first to react with Valverde in his wheel and Froome just behind.
And here we go - and it's an attack by Esteban Chaves of Orica-BikeExchange!
We're onto that little downhill segment ahead of the final ramp to the line - a welcome break for the riders, but expect fireworks afterwards.
Hermans is about to be caught and soon he'll be riding alongside Andrew Talansky on the back of this main pack... Contador is on the wheel of Froome who is following the wheel of Quintana... near the front is David de la Cruz, who wore red for one day earlier in the race.
Hermans will get a combativity award for this but not much else. The pack is thinning out but it's still about 30 strong.
It's Ruben Fernandez who sets the tempo for Quintana while David Lopez comes to the front for Chris Froome.
Still 16 seconds for Hermans, the last man standing besides Domont...
Hermans is riding clear of Domont and the other remaining escapees. The Movistar train is zipping past the break one by one. Froome, in white, is about 10 riders back and measuring his pace.
Domont has joined Hermans on the front - but the pack is just 15 seconds back.
After all that. Contador is now alone and without any Tinkoff team-mates. Quintana, however, is surrounded by his Movistar domestiques, including Valverde in green. Already the main pack is thinning out.
Madrazo is the first to attack from the break but he's reeled in as a small group led by Hermans zips past.
Last roll of the dice for two of the escapees as Arroyo and Frohlinger have a pop. They're reeled in just before the climb. And here we are, the Cat.1 Pena Cabarga (5.6km at 9.8% and a maximum of 18%).
The teams of the big GC favourites are preparing themselves for this final climb - coming i) at the end of a long, flat stage, and ii) after the rest day - means that anything can happen, and we might see some oddities and outliers. The gap is 40 seconds for the leaders with all Contador's remaining seven team-mates on the front for Tinkoff.
Pierre Rolland still rooted to the back of the break, which is just 50 seconds ahead of the peloton now. The final climb is less than 6km long but it has an average gradient of almost 10% so it should be a real test for the riders. It's hard to see beyond Quintana, Froome, Valverde, Contador or Chaves for the win - but who knows, maybe someone will surprise us while the GC favourites mark each other out.
After all this the pressure is on Alberto Contador to deliver on the climb to Pena Cabarga. Three of the four winners on this climb have gone on to win the Vuelta - the only exception being Froome, who beat Cobo in 2011 but lost the overall by 13 seconds.
The relative calm before the storm... the gap is still around the 55-second mark for the 23 leaders. Still Tinkoff lead the chase although their man Jesus Hernandez is off the back.
Just one minute now for the escapees, who have reeled in Machado but still look doomed.
Now Tiago Machado has a pop - the Portuguese zips off the front, repeating his effort from the opening week when he dropped fellow escapee Julien Morice in stage 5.
Tinkoff's relentless tempo has the gap down to 1:35 now. There's no cohesion in the break at all and their time out ahead is almost over. The fact that no one has had the gumption to counter-attack suggests that these guys know that there really is no point in wasting the energy.
Zdenek Stybar won the intermediate sprint ahead of Jan Bakelants and Christoph Pfingsten - not that it was exactly contested.
Tinkoff are still leading the chase with their riders split in two groups either side of the Movistar train. The gap has stabilised at 2:15 for the 23 escapees, who may make it to the foot of the final climb, but surely won't hold on all the way. It looks like the GC battle will also be the stage tussle today.
Pierre Rolland is rooted to the back of this break as they zip down a descent after an uncategorised hillock. The Frenchman has a reputation for not helping out in breaks - one that he's further solidifying today. You have do raise your chapeau to his brazenness.
With Quintana in red that means Chris Froome of Team Sky is now wearing the white combined jersey in the Colombian's place. Valverde wore it for much of the opening phase but he's now back in the green jersey he has won on numerous occasions.
It's down to almost two minutes now for the break, which looked pretty doomed. Pierre Rolland has picked up a number of gels from his team car - presumably to hand out to his Cannondale team-mates once the leaders are reeled in shortly.
Spain's Omar Fraile of Dimension Data is currently leading the competition he won last year: he moved one point ahead of Thomas De Gendt by virtue of his strong finish at Lagos de Covadonga after picking up maximum points over the previous climb from the break. Former polka dot jersey Alexandre Geniez is tied on 19 points with De Gendt, while Quintana is up to 15 points after his win on Monday.
Yet another withdrawal - Laurent Pichon (FDJ) has pulled out with a stomach bug.
An insight to Tinkoff's motivation comes from their manager Sean Yates, who this morning stressed that Alberto Contador is not content fighting for scraps. "We had a good rest day by the sea. It was a real pleasure for us and the riders. Alberto is still taking things day by day with the goal of improving his GC and make up a little bit of the time he lost. But there's also room for a stage win. The goal for someone like Alberto is not to be third or fourth overall, but to win. If he keeps fighting at the front for the GC, there is also a chance that he can go for a stage win and today looks like a perfect day just to do that."
Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is in the green jersey after leapfrogging double stage winner Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) by virtue of his consistency in the hill finishes. Valverde has 65 points, Meersman has 60 points and Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana has 53 points.
The pace-setting by Tinkoff has seen the gap come down to just three minutes now so it looks like Pierre Rolland once again picked the wrong move. This morning, he told lavuelta.com: "The day when Lilian Calmejane won the stage I was in the break but I knew I was a bit tight. Two days ago I felt good, I tried my luck but when I heard that Quintana and Contador were 50 seconds behind, I knew it was over. There are stages I like, like the one in the Pyrenees to Gourette. But this Vuelta is hard to read, you never know whether the GC leaders are going to fight it out. To focus on a stage is not possible."
Another withdrawal to report: Spain's José Gonçalves (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA) has quit the race. He finished a solid 35th in his debut Vuelta last year and had been involved in a couple of breaks in this year's race.
It's odd to see Contador's Tinkoff team-mates coming to the fore now with a fast tempo that has slashed the gap to four minutes for the escapees. Pergaps Contador feels good today and wants to blow the race apart at Pena Cabarga to slash his deficit and claw his way back into this race? It's worth remembering that Contador crashed badly in the opening week - but that he's never lost a Vuelta, with three wins in three attempts.
A reminder that Quintana leads this race by 57 seconds over his Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde, with Chris Froome (Team Sky) in third place at 58 seconds. There's then a bit of a gap back to fourth-place Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) who is 2:09 down, with Alberto Contador (Tinkofff) completing the top five but 2:54 down.
There's a certain familiarity within the break with many serial escapees featuring. I thinking of the likes of Hermans, Bakelants, Domont, Machado, Restrepo, Armee, Rolland, Serry, Arroyo and Madrazo - who have all been quite attacking in this race, especially that man Bakelants. So far, to no avail: none of these riders has a win to his name, although Restrepo's attack in stage 8 did result in a victory for his Katusha team-mate Sergey Lagutin at La Camperona.
The riders roll through the feed zone and Tinkoff have now come to the front to help out Movistar. The best placed rider in the break is Ben Hermans, who is currently 22nd almost seven minutes behind Quintana.
The advantage of the break is up to five minutes as the Movistar team-mates of red jersey Nairo Quintana come to the front to take control of the pace setting.
It was a fast pace in the opening hour today with the riders swallowing up 49.6km as the break finally formed.
Clarke's loss will be sorely felt by his remaining Cannondale team-mates, for whom the Australian acts as a road captain. Andrew Talansky said: "Simon Clarke's loss is a big one, he had been instrumental in what the team had been doing since he start. Personally I always said that the third week is usually my best in a Grand Tour. I'm where I should be and there are now some mountain stages that really suit me and also the time trial that suits me quite well. I'm still aiming at the best GC position as possible."
RECAP: 177 riders took to the start today following the withdrawals of Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Silvio Herklotz (Bora-Argon18). Clarke crashed during stage 10 and completed the climb to Covadonga with numerous injuries, including a fractured scapula and damaged knee ligaments. The Australian's Cannondale team-mate Patrick Bevin also crashed on Monday and withdrew shortly after the start today.
The 23 leaders are: Ben Hermans (BMC), Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Koen De Kort and Johannes Frölingher (Giant-Alpecin), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Jan Bakelants and Axel Domont (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Tiago Machado and Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha), Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), Pieter Serry and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Kristijan Durasek and Ilia Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida), Cesare Benedetti and Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Argon18), David Arroyo and Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA).
Right, we join today's stage with 110km remaining and a large group of 23 riders currently roll along with a lead of 3:30 over the peloton. And there are quite a few familiar faces in the break...
Before yesterday's rest day, a towering performance from Nairo Quintana saw the pint-sized Colombian move back into the lead of the Vuelta a Espana after dropping all his rivals on the climb to Lagos de Covadonga to win stage 10 with panache. Read all about it clicking the link below...
Hola and welcome to live coverage of stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana - an intriguing 168.6km ride that is pretty much paella flat until the short and sharp decisive climb to Pena Cabarga - where Chris Froome rallied back to beat Juan Jose Cobo in 2011.