Nicolas Roche, who was forced to abandon the Vuelta a Espana after a heavy crash on stage six, will be sidelined for longer than expected after tests revealed he had suffered a fractured left patella.

Team Sunweb physician Camiel Aldershof said Roche should be back on his back in four to six weeks and the Irish rider said: "After going through the big disappointment of leaving the Vuelta, I held hope that I would still be able to continue riding my bike and compete in the Italian classics once the edema had healed.

"But this news has just hit me again - now my priority is to look after my rehabilitation in the best way possible so that I can get back healthy and on the bike ASAP." 

Mikel Iturria 

As for events on the road, Mikel Iturria staged a successful breakaway to win the 11th stage of the Vuelta.

Iturria (Euskadi-Murias) was part of a 12-strong group that had been allowed to go clear by the peloton and attacked 25 kilometres from the finish of the 180km stage between Saint Palais and Urdax-Dantxarinea.

With one kilometre to go, it looked as though Iturria would be caught but the chasing group failed to get organised and the Spanish rider held on to cross the line six seconds ahead of Jonathan Lastra, with Lawson Craddock in third.

The contenders for the general classification finished more than 18 minutes behind the winner as they regrouped following Tuesday's individual time trial.

Slovenia's Primoz Roglic maintained his lead of one minute 52 seconds over Alejandro Valverde.

In quotes reported by Cyclingnews.com, Iturria said: "When I was asked in the pre-race presentation which stage I wanted to win, I said this one, with my family here.

"I've always dreamed of something like this because I'm a worker not a winner. Before the Vuelta, I had come to recon the stage. I dedicate it to those who were with me."