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Vuelta a España 2011: Stage 12


The sprinters get another of their rare chances today. We have a relatively flat stage today, with only two category three climbs throwing up some bumps in the road.


Tired of climbing? Maybe the peloton is, too. At any rate they have an easier day today. There are only two small climbs in roughly the first half of the stage , and we expect to see a mass sprint finish. Or will an escape group take advantage of things and stay away until the end?

105km remaining from 160km

96km remaining from 160km

Hansen, Mate and Roldan got away 14km into the stage, with Pydgorny catching them a bit later.  There were a number of break attempts before this group got away.

It was spitting rain at the start this afternoon. It is cooler today, too, only 19.5°C.

The first intermediate sprint of the day came quite early, and Bauke Mollea sneaked out to pick up the win (and bonus seconds!).  The Rabo rider took it ahead of Nelson Oliviera (RadioShack) with – according to the Vuelta website – Kanstansin Sivtsov of HTC-Highroad taking third.  But they have also  told us he abandoned the race yesterday.....

We have also already had the first climb of the day, the Alto de Moscoso (cat. 3).  The points went to Pydgorny ahead of Mate and Roldan.

87km remaining from 160km

Just a reminder of the top ten in the race at the moment:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 42:50:41
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:11
4 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana 0:00:14
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:00:19
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:47
7 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:01:06
8 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC 0:01:27
9 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 0:01:53
10 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack 0:02:00

81km remaining from 160km

We still have six riders within one minute of the lead. The upcoming mountan stages are going to be decisive in determining the final winner.

A look at the other rankings: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) lead the points ranking; Bauke Mollema of Rabobank is tops in the combination classification; Matteo Montaguti (AG2R) best n the mountains; and RadioShack is the best team.

Yesterday's rider of the day was, of course, stage winner David Moncoutie (Cofidis). But the most aggressive rider was Adrian Palomares of Andalucia-Caja Granada.

75km remaining from 160km

Of the 11 stages so far, we have nine winning teams. Only Katusha has won more than one stage, claiming three. Joaquim Rodriguez is the only rider with mulitple stage wins, having won stage five and eight.

71km remaining from 160km

68km remaining from 160km

Does David Moncoutie  (Cofidis) want to win a record-breaking fourth King of the Mountains title at the Vuelta?  Silly question.  He is only in second place right now, one point down, and is looking forward to his chances. 

This is only the second stage finish of the Vuelta in Pontevedra. In 1980, Belgium’s Etienne De Wilde preceded in a bunch sprint Italy’s Orlando Maini who is a directeur sportif at the Vuelta today with Lampre-ISD.

Here is some transfer news for you:  BMC Racing Team has announced the signing of Marco Pinotti and Tejay van Garderen, both of HTC-Highroad.

The four leaders are now in the finish city of Pontevedra, and are now ready to set off on a loop which also goes along the coast before coming back for the finish.

Eros Capecchi (Liquigas-Cannondale) said on the start line: “My compatriot Daniele Bennati would have some reasons to keep the race all together. He’s the favourite for today, with my team-mate Peter Sagan. It might be a bit too hard for Marcel Kittel. Heinrich Haussler is another man to watch.”

And who do we see at the tail end of the peloton but the above-named Haussler!

The four leaders are putting in some climbing here.  Nothing major, but a pretty big hill in town.

“Oldie” Stuart O'Grady (Leopard Trek) is having an excellent Vuelta so far, which even he himself calls “a really good surprise”.  The Australian is returning home next season, so to speak, as he has signed to ride for the newly-formed team GreenEdge.

Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) said: “On paper, this is a good stage for me. Let’s hope that I’ll have the legs for winning. I feel good. We’ll control the race with a few other teams who want a bunch sprint finish as well. Wagner and Vigano will set up the sprint for me.”

The gap is now holding steady at just above the four minute mark, and the peloton seems happy to keep it there.  For the time being, at any rate.

Bradley Wiggins of Sky thinks it is “fantastic” to be leading the Giro. He plans to hold on to that lead all the way to Madrid.

The gap is now down to 3:20.

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) said: “I hope it’s really a good finish for me. In the past few stages, there were too many hills for me to try and win a second time at the Vuelta. But in the grupetto, I was going much better than Marcel Kittel.”

Here are the details on Pinotti and Van Garderen to BMC.

42km remaining from 160km

The sun is shining by the way.  Not terribly many people out on the beach though.  Guess they are all standing along the road watching the race!

Tom Boonen is having a difficult time, with an open wound in a very delicate area.  Ouch ouch ouch!

123km remaining from 160km

Stage 7 winner Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano) has his last chance today because he plans to quit the Vuelta tonight, as he’s very tired. He’s one of the very few riders who know the finale of Pontevedra, as the Dutch team was staying in an hotel two kilometres away from the finishing line on calle Estreda.

The four leaders are still gamely hanging on.  But the peloton now knows it will have them soon and is really speeding along in chase.

It looks like Hansen has made contact with the road at some point today, as he has some suspicious-looking smear marks on the back of his jersey.

Hansen took the points at the final intermediate sprint.  He is 8 seconds ahead of the chasing trio.

Podgornyy, Mate and Roldan want to catch Hansen, but he is hanging tough a bit ahead of them.

26km remaining from 160km

The trio catches and passes Hansen.

The leaders have 11 seconds on Hansen, with the field another 2:04 back.

Garmin-Cervelo, Lampre and HTC-Highroad now at the head of the field.

The leading trio builds up its lead over Hansen (16 seconds) with the field at 1:54 behind the Australian.

And now it is 21 seconds to Hansen and 2:00 exactly to the peloton.

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) said: “The finale might suit me today, but the way I was feeling yesterday, I’d just be happy to make it to the finish today.”

Sprinter star Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) hasn’t been much under the spotlight so far in the Vuelta but he hasn’t said his last word: “I’ve passed the climbs of the previous days in a good shape. I’ve seen today’s course on the map only but it looks like the hill preceding the finish is
less hard that the one of stage 2, and there isn’t the same kind of dangerous descent before, so I’m up for winning.”

Skil now shows up at the front of the field.  They want to see Marcel Kittel repeat his sprint success.  This the German's last stage, he is exhausted and said he would abandon this evening.

19km remaining from 160km

Hansen has now been caught by the peloton.

Technical problems for RadioShack's Busche.  Looks like gear problems.    Oops, somehow he ended up on the wrong side of the barrier.  How did he do that??

1:02 now.

The peloton weaves it way through a town, with many turns.

15km remaining from 160km

13km remaining from 160km

WE have a new group taking off out of the peloton, three riders including Martin Velits of HTC.

The other two with Velits were Marangoni (LAM), and Gavazzi (LAM). They have all been caught, though.

Skil doing a team time trial at the end of the feld. Evidently Kittel had dropped back.

Garmin-Cervelo leading the peloton with HTC-Highroad right behind them.

9km remaining from 160km

And it is Highroad's turn to take the lead and push the pace as much as possible.  Not only do they want to catch the leaders, they want to keep Kittel from getting up to the front.

7km remaining from 160km

Podgornyy and Mate are doing their best to stay away.

But with Bert Grabsch leading things, they have no chance and are caught with 6km to go.

Now riders are trying to get away.  Cofidis' Fuchard wasn't successful, but now Anza of Vacansoleil has a small lead with 5 km to go.

Skil is now up near the front of the field.  Will Kittel -- who has said he is exhausted -- still have enough power to take another mass sprint win?

3km remaining from 160km

2km remaining from 160km

Highroad still putting down a blistering pace in the lead.  They have two options, John Degenkolb and Leigh Howard.

Garmin-Cerveo jumps in the lead.

This is a slightly upill finish....

Around a final curve.

Cancellara opens for Bennati.

Sagan jumps into the lead and takes it from way out!

Degenkolb is second, with third place going to Bennati.

That is two stage wins here for young Peter Sagan of Liquigas.

Petacchi took fourth.

A group of 12 or so is just now coming in to the finish.

Boonen placed sixth on the stage -- good for him! He's been having some extremely painful problems.

Don't know what happened to Kittel, he wasn't in the top twenty.

No changes in the GC.  Sky's  Wiggins continues to lead Sky's Froome.

Here's the top ten for the stage:

And ditto for GC:

That's it for another day.  Join us again tomorrow for some exciting climbing action!

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