David Gaudu secured his maiden Grand Tour win when he claimed the 11th stage of the Vuelta, a 170km mountain trek between Villaviciosa and the Alto de La Farrapona on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Frenchman beat breakaway companion Marc Soler of Spain with a late burst in the final ascent, a 16.5km effort at an average gradient of 6.2%.
Gaudu, who impressed in the 2019 Tour as Thibaut Pinot’s lieutenant, has been promoted as Groupama-FDJ’s sole leader after his teammate pulled out of the race early on and, while he is not a title contender yet, the Breton showed great composure to snatch the biggest win of his career.
The race favourites stayed quiet in the final ascent, reserving their energy for Sunday’s 12th stage, which ends at the top of the feared Angliru – a 12.4km ascent at 9.9% with the last 7km averaging a gradient of 13% and featuring a section above 20%.
The Slovenian Primoz Roglic, of Jumbo-Visma, retained the overall leader’s red jersey, tied on time with Ineos Grenadiers’ Richard Carapaz, of Ecuador, with Ireland’s Dan Martin of Israel Start-Up Nation in third place, 25 seconds behind.
Enric Mas is still Movistar’s best-placed rider in fifth place, 1:54 off the pace, 50sec ahead of his teammate Soler. Gaudu climbed up to 12th, 5:02 behind Roglic.