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Vuelta a España 2012: Stage 13


The last sprint stage for a while. Will anyone be able to challenge John Degenkolb?

Stage 13 and on a Friday – anyone superstitious?  We doubt that John Degenkolb is. He will probably be looking for is fifth stage win here, but the other sprinters will all want to have a word to say about that!

100km remaining from 172km

Today's 172.7km from Santiago de Compostela to Ferrol are called rolling. There are in fact no ranked climbs at all in this stage, but as always, two intermediate sprints.

Here is the CN preview for this stage. 

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) rather easily galloped past Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) with a few hundred meters still to go yesterday, and built up his lead in the overall rankings.

1     Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team     44:50:35      
2     Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank     0:00:13      
3     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:00:51      
4     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team     0:01:20      
5     Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team     0:02:59      
6     Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team     0:03:29      
7     Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale     0:04:22      
8     Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp     0:05:17      
9     Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team     0:05:18      
10     Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team     0:06:01     

87km remaining from 172km

That stage win also put Rodriguez atop the points ranking, with Contador moving into second and former leader Degenkolb dropping to third.

1     Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team     119     pts
2     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team     106      
3     John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano     103      
4     Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank     86      
5     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     79      
6     Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan     66      
7     Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat     57      
8     Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team     55      
9     Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale     53      
10     Allan Davis (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge     46    

The lead group has now passed through the first intermediate sprint, with De Gendt taking the points ahead of Viviani and Gerdemann.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) leads the mountains ranking, just barely ahead of Rodriguez.

1     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team     22     pts
2     Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team     20      
3     Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge     16      
4     Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank     12      
5     Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team     11      
6     Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne     10      
7     Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team     9      
8     Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep     8      
9     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     7      
10     Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Andalucia     5      


And it will probably be no surprise that Rodrigez also leads the combination ranking.

1     Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team     4     pts
2     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team     7      
3     Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank     10      
4     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     17      
5     Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale     36      
6     Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team     45      
7     Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team     79      
8     Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team     79      
9     Marcos Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural     84      
10     Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge     99     

Rabobank is the top team.

     Rabobank Cycling Team     134:06:59      
2     Sky Procycling     0:02:55      
3     AG2R La Mondiale     0:03:40      
4     Movistar Team     0:03:49      
5     Katusha Team     0:06:44      
6     Euskaltel - Euskadi     0:08:22      
7     Astana Pro Team     0:14:43      
8     Lampre - ISD     0:14:51      
9     Radioshack - Nissan     0:15:25      
10     Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team     0:16:50    

70km remaining from 172km

Looking at the other end of things, Orica-GreenEdge is the lowest ranked team, nearly two hours down. And Joost Van Leijen is the last ranked rider, and he is over two hours down, at 2:21.41.

189 riders were at the start today.  Haydon Roulston of RadioShack-Nissan and Morris Possoni (Lampre-ISD) did not start.

Everyone has gone through the feed zone and the gap has dropped to just under three minutes.

Happy Birthday today to Matti Breschel, who has turned 28! He is with Rabobank this year, but the question of where he will ride in 2013 is still unanswered.

Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp got the stage off with a bang – he punctured after only 500 meters.

59km remaining from 172km

Only nine riders have left the race so far, and they are from nine different teams.

More lovely landscape today, the ocean on one side and the mountains in the background.

Alejandro Valverde doesn't have to win this Vuelta, just being anywhere on the podium would be fine with him.  He is currently fourth overall.

Before the stage today, Former world champion Alessandro Ballan said: “It’s a very nice place for a start of a stage. There are a lot of people watching. Cycling is great in Spain. I’m here to prepare for the world championship. I’m a really good shape. But this race is closed and it’s not easy at all to break away. I think there will be some possibilities in the third week, not before.”

This lead group is still working well together, but they don't really stand a chance. The sprinters are too jealous of their few opportunities to give one away.

Nacer Bouhanni has just abandoned the race. The French champion said earlier today,“Yesterday I got caught in the crash with Zandio and Possoni but I fell on a slow motion. My knee hurt my handlebar and I feel it a bit now. I hope it’ll be all right because I recover really and I know that today my team-mates will do a perfect job to lead me out.”

There is no end to the news about Lance Armstrong. The French Cycling Federation kicked in with its opinion on things, and the USADA denied claims that witnesses had been bought off.

Rabobank veteran Grischa Niermann falls back to the team car to stock up on fresh drinks for the guys.

Argos-Shimano is still leading the charge. Degenkolb wants that next win!

The biggest news, however, comes from Tyler Hamilton's soon-to-be-published book, in which he claims Armstrong provided him with EPO, says that Armstrong threatened him, and that Bjarne Riis introduced him to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.

It is always astonishing to see the fans standing in the street as the field approaches, only to realize that the riders take up the whole road, and that they have to move back....

40km remaining from 172km

At least we are seeing lots of fans along the way. We don't always see that at this race.

All eyes are on John Degenkolb today. The German has already won four bunch sprints out of four and he needs to win more as he has lost the lead in the points classification to ‘Purito’ Rodriguez. “My goal today is to get the green jersey back”, he said. “I’ll do everything for that. People tell me about winning for the fifth time to equal Cavendish at the Tour de France but I don’t have that in mind at all. You can’t compare Tour and Vuelta.”

36km remaining from 172km

At the end of the field, Philippe Gilbert has called for a new bidon.

Half of the Lotto-Belisol team is down with a virus. That’s why Joost van Leijen finished last yesterday. Sprinter Gianni Meersman seems to be in a better health than most of his team-mate. “Hopefully there’ll be a bunch sprint finish but we won’t be able to help Argos-Shimano to pull behind a breakaway”, said Olivier Kaisen who is himself affected by the virus.

Lotto has now moved into the lead work, ahead of Argos.

29km remaining from 172km

A long, low bridge here.  Could be some wind.  Will we see echelons when the peltoon is here?

Cofidis’ sprinter Leonardo Duque said: “There aren’t many successful breakaway at the Vuelta but today I strongly believe that it won’t be a bunch sprint.”

Yes, it looks like the wind has had an effect.  We see a gap forming in the field. We will try to find out if all the top names and top sprinters are in the first group.

23km remaining from 172km

We just saw an Argos rider drop off the back of the second field. One less helper for Degenkolb. Last year's winner CCobo is also in that lagging field, as is Dani Moreno.

That group has about 20-30 riders in it, so much of the field is still together.

21km remaining from 172km

Just a reminder, the escape group consists of Linus Gerdemann (RadioShack-Nissan), Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Stephen Cummings (BMC).  They got away at km 42.

The group chasing the peloton looks to have fallen apart.  Six riders, including two Astana plus Cobo are still pretty far back.

Bingen Fernandez, DS of Garmin-Sharp: “We have three sprinters: Michel Kreder who is better on flat finishes, his brother Raymond and Koldo Fernandez can sprint in false flat finishes. We’re speaking about sprinters today but there’s a high chance of breakaway to succeed. Only Orica and Argos will control but if about ten riders go clear, their task will be almost impossible. I’m not sure they’ll manage to let a small group go.”

The riders are away from the coast but the wind is still there. The lead group is going up a climb on a very rolling section.  One of them could perhaps try to take off and go for the win -- or not....

AS we said, the course has left the coast and the towns, and is now out in a rural area, with fields, forests, and so on. And wind.

13km remaining from 172km

Astarloza now has to watch all the team cars pull past him.

Just as the leaders must have thought they have a chance to stay away, the gap drops again. With 12km to go, it is around the 40 second mark.

They are now slogging their way up one of the final small climbs of the day.

Astana's Tiralongo got impatient and pushed the speed of the field. A few riders straggling off the front now, we will try to get the names.

10km to go and 27 seconds. The chasing field is all together, but strung out single file, flying along. Degenkolb has even moved to eh front of things. But now another Astana rider takes off.

Three riders with a small gap now, actually not so small a gap. We surely would like to know who they are.... Kashechkin, Moreno and an Orica-GreenEdge.

The Orica-GreenEdge rider is Steegmans.

The lead group has 31 seconds over the three chasers, with the field another 9 seconds back.

Gerdemann has taken off out of the lead group and Cummings goes with him. 5km to go.

The chase trio still has a small lead over the field. The lead group is together again.

4km for the lead group and they still have about 30 seconds. The group is not working at the moment.  Cummings takes off again.

43 seconds, in fact.  They might just make it!

Cummings pulls away and sweeps his way around a roundabout.

The others are giving serious chase, though.  Two rider are approaching him, one looks like Gerdemann.

Two km and Gerdemann and another are about to catch Cummings.

Contador, Mollema, near the head of the peloton.

Cummings charges along towards the finsh, passing under the 1 km marker. Gerdemann and Cam Meyer realize they won't catch him.

So no sprint today! A British solo victory for Cummings, the second stage win for BMC!

Degenkolb is near the front of the peloton as it crosses the finish line.  He would be looking to pick up as many points as possible.

That was the black kit of Sky, not the black kit of RadioShack. So Flecha and not Gerdemann. We are still wiating to hear which of them took second.

Meyer took second place ahead of Flecha, both of them at 4 seconds. Gerdemann and Co. came in at 14 seconds, with the peloton at 40 seconds.

The sprinters won't be happy. They gave away one of their few remaining chances today.

Top ten for the stage:

And top ten in the GC, looks like no changes:

Look for quite a few different kinds of stages coming up, as the race returns to the mountains over the weekend!

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