Paolini makes his World's bid
Just as his Liquigas teammate Danilo Di Luca did in the first week of the Vuelta, Luca Paolini has impressed Italian selector Franco Ballerini by winning today's 12th stage of the Vuelta. Paolini attacked a breakaway of a dozen with 4 km to go and was unable to be caught. A reaction by Bart Dockx (Davitamon) was effectively neutralised by Paolini's probable World's captain Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), with Bettini not working with the Belgian to close the gap. Dockx finished second at five seconds, with Bettini third. The peloton came in almost nine minutes behind, but there were no significant changes to the general classification.
The stage saw a very fast first hour (50.8 km/h) with an early breakaway of eight going after 16 km. But Milram worked to bring it back, and a new move went after 78 km with Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel), Paolo Bettini and Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step-Innergetic), Luca Paolini (Liquigas), Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Bart Dockx and Björn Leukemans (Davitamon-Lotto), Bernhard Eisel and Ian Mcleod (Française des Jeux), Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner), Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R Prevoyance) and eventually David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears). Arroyo was the best placed on GC at 14'09, meaning Caisse d'Epargne could afford not to chase hard. Eventually, when the gap got out to 11'30, Astana went to the front of the bunch and eliminated the threat of Arroyo.
The attacking in the front group started with 13 km to go, and despite some good team riding by Kevin Hulsmans for Bettini, it was Luca Paolini who was able to place the winning move with 4 km to go.