SANTUARIO DE SAN MIGUEL DE ARALAR, Spain (AP) - Fabio Aru of Italy won the 11th stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Wednesday while Alberto Contador hung on to the overall race leader’s red jersey.
Nairo Quintana, one of the race favorites, had to withdraw with a broken shoulder blade after crashing just 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the stage, his second fall in two days.
Aru, a 24-year-old Astana Pro rider, climbed to the finish line at the summit of the Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar peak after a 153-kilometer (95-mile) ride from Pamplona in 3 hours, 41 minutes, 3 seconds.
“This is indredible,” Aru said. “I’m really happy as I never thought I’d be able to win here. I prepared really well after the Giro to be here.”
Quintana’s fall marred celebrations at the finish line, and Contador said the Colombian’s accident and departure from the race was a blow for fans hoping to see him fight for the title.
“It’s a real shame for the race,” Contador said. “The effort one has to make to prepare for a race like the Vuelta is so great that it’s awful to be so badly affected by such falls.”
Alejandro Valverde of Spain crossed the finish line six seconds behind Aru, followed by fellow Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez on the same time.
“The final ascent was really hard,” Valverde said. “The climb was taken at a very fast pace and Aru deserves his win, but I’m happy to have come second.”
“It’s a bit bittersweet because of Nairo’s fall,” said Valverde.
Contador leads Valverde by 20 seconds overall. Valverde clawed back seven seconds from Contador during the stage.
Rigoberto Uran of Colombia is third overall, 1 minute, 8 seconds behind, with Christopher Froome of Britain still in touch 1:21 back.
Thursday’s 12th stage is a largely flat 166-kilometer (103-mile) ride starting and ending in Logrono.
The 21-stage event ends in Santiago de Compostela on Sept. 14.