De Marchi wins stage 11 as Yates clings onto Vuelta lead

Alessandro De Marchi takes victory in stage 11 of the Vuelta

Italy's Alessandro De Marchi held off the challenge of Colombian Jhonatan Restrepo to win the 11th stage of the Tour of Spain on Wednesday, as Britain's Simon Yates held onto the overall lead.

Yates, of Mitchelton-Scott, withstood a series of late attacks, in particular from Movistar's Nairo Quintana.

BMC's De Marchi and Katusha-Alpecin rider Restrepo both pulled clear of a large breakaway group, which had been spearheaded by France's Thibaut Pinot with around 80 kilometres to go.

De Marchi then outlasted Restrepo on the final ascent to finish on his own for a third stage victory in this event, following up those he won in 2013 and 2014.

"If I waited for the sprint, I think for sure I would have been second," De Marchi said.

"The only option I had was to try everything on the last climb and honestly I didn't feel the best (in my) legs, it was just about the mind."

De Marchi crossed the line, with his arms outstretched, 28 seconds ahead of Restrepo.

Italy's Franco Pellizotti was 59 seconds back in third at the end of the longest stage of the race at 207.8 kilometres.

Yates had to dig deep to stay clear of Movistar pair Quintana and Alejandro Valverde heading into Thursday's 12th stage between Mondonedo and Manon.

The 26-year-old, who led this year's Giro d'Italia for long periods before a dramatic late collapse, holds a one-second lead over 38-year-old veteran Valverde, with 2016 champion Quintana only 13 seconds further adrift.

"It was a really crazy race today and the boys rode great again, they're going to be tired now," Yates told his team's website.

"It was ok for me, I was in the peloton just trying to save energy. We worked hard over the first 100km marking and closing the moves, trying to control it, but there comes a point when you can only control it for so long."

Both Movistar leaders, who so often have produced Grand Tour podium finishes but struggled for wins, suggested that Mitchelton had been riding too defensively in the peloton as they tried to reel in Pinot and the other escapees.

"Some other teams might not be racing for victory, but it's not our case," said the 2009 winner Valverde.

"Mitchelton? It's their philosophy. They never push to defend a result, they push when they think they can inflict harm on their rivals."

Colombian Quintana added: "Mitchelton not pushing with us? Well, they just chose to ride that way. It was their way of acting today –- staying on the others' wheels, profiting from their work.

"We thought we had a responsibility here; maybe the others don't care, but we felt we had to work."

The 12th stage is another hilly affair, before the riders head back into the mountains for three straight days from Friday.