Stage 12 of the Vuelta a España saw the race visit the brutal Asturias climb of Alto de l'Angliru for the eighth time in its history, this time with EF Pro Cycling climber Hugh Carthy prevailing on the 20-per-cent-plus gradients to seal the stage victory.
The Briton joined the likes of Roberto Heras, Alberto Contador and José María Jiménez in winning atop one of the toughest climbs in pro cycling, moving up from fourth to third on the general classification in the process.
Carthy finished 16 seconds ahead of his nearest rivals, also taking a 10-second bonus to move from 58 seconds down to 32 seconds down on the race lead. Israel Start-Up Nation leader Dan Martin, who finished seventh on the stage, 26 seconds later, dropped down to fourth, 35 seconds behind the new race leader.
That leader is Ineos Grenadiers' Richard Carapaz, who will enjoy his second spell in red. Carapaz finished in the second group on the road along with Astana's Aleksandr Vlasov and Movistar's Enric Mas, gaining 10 seconds on red jersey holder, Jumbo-Visma's Primož Roglič, but missed out on time bonuses for second and third.
Roglič dropped down to second overall, 10 seconds back and 22 up on Carthy. Mas, meanwhile, stayed in fifth overall at 1:50 while Vlasov leapt up six places to ninth. The Russian is still 6:41 down, though.
Wout Poels, who leads Bahrain McLaren in Spain, was best of the rest behind the major favourites. His ride, 1:35 behind Carthy, put him up three places to sixth overall, 5:13 back. The Dutchman took big gains on those who had previously been ahead of him, including Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), who was 2:15 down but stayed seventh at 5:30, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who finished 13th at 2:54 but stayed eighth at 6:22.
The biggest loser of the day, though, was Valverde's teammate, stage 11 winner Marc Soler. The Spaniard was dropped on the penultimate climb of the day and then again on the early slopes of the Angliru. He eventually trailed in over 14 minutes down in 42nd place and fell from sixth to 19th overall.
After 12 days of racing, and with a rest day and time trial next on the menu, the race is still finely poised, even if Roglič looks to take a big chunk of time out of Carapaz on Tuesday.
Carthy is the strongest against the clock of the Slovenian's challengers, but it looks as though the remainder of the top four – now separated by just 35 seconds – will have to attack the defending champion hard on the remaining mountain stages.
|Place||Rider (Country) Team||Result|
|1 (+1)||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers||48:29:27|
|2 (-1)||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:00:10|
|3 (+1)||Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling||00:00:32|
|4 (-1)||Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation||00:00:35|
|5||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||00:01:50|
|6 (+3)||Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren||00:05:13|
|7||Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||00:05:30|
|8||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||00:06:22|
|9 (+6)||Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team||00:06:41|
|10||Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott||00:06:42|
|11||George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:07:40|
|12||David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||00:08:27|
|13||David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates||00:08:34|
|14 (+6)||Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:10:49|
|15 (+1)||Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) UAE Team Emirates||00:11:15|
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