Fuji-Servetto's Arkaitz Durán and Juan Jose Cobo were the Spanish ProTour squad's most active riders on the Vuelta a España's stage 12 from Almeria to Alto de Velefique. Durán formed part of the day's main breakaway, while Cobo finished as the team's best placed rider on the stage. As they reflected on the day's events, both indicated that they would continue to attack as the Vuelta enters its final week.
Durán became the 12th and final member of the day-long breakaway after a 20 kilometre pursuit of the first eleven. The Spaniard said afterwards that his involvement in the move, a day after the race's second rest day, hadn't come under ideal circumstances.
"It's been a bummer, because I got into the break on one of my worst days in the race. My heartrate went up ridiculously all the time, and that's impossible to afford in a stage of the Vuelta a España," he said on his team's website. "I don't know if the rest day has made it harder for me, but it's obvious it hasn't done well. The break was created in the flat before the climbs, and we didn't have any riders into it, so I was forced to attack."
Durán started Friday's stage in 20th position overall, 5:48 behind race leader Alejandro Valverde. His position on general classification meant he was the best placed rider in the breakaway. He finished the stage 7:32 down on fellow escapee and stage winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) and slipped to 30th overall, but said a stage win remained his primary objective.
"It was hard to bridge the gap, because they didn't wait for me and I had to take a big effort. I was confident my legs would roll better in the last climb. At least, I've tried it; being 20th or 30th in the general classification wasn't important. I'm satisfied with what I've done in the Vuelta so far, and I'll try again, with better legs I presume."
Durán's day contrast significantly with that of teammate Cobo. The latter finished 21 seconds down on Hesjedal and concequently moved from 14th to 12th on general classification. Despite losing contact with the race favourites in the final metres of the stage Cobo was pleased with his progress throughout the Vuelta.
"Once I saw that winning was impossible, the best thing was to save the most fuel possible by finishing in the favourites' group. I've gone well through the first ten days of racing, and everything is going smoother and smoother."
In his debut participation in his home Grand Tour, Cobo currently sits 4:28 behind Valverde, but is 27 seconds from a place in the top ten. As his team's highest placed rider he said he has a view towards a high overall finish, but is hopeful of a stage victory in the coming days.
"I'm now near the top ten, and no break-ups might mean a place at the top of the overall, but the most important aim remains the stage win. There's two consecutive mountain stages ahead, and I'm going to give it a try."
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