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Vuelta a España 2013: Stage 13

Stage 13 of the Vuelta a España, 169km from Valls to Castelldefels.

108km remaining from 169km

The race is all together as we pick up the action 61 kilometres into the stage. It's been a high-octane start to proceedings, with a number of breakaway attempts forming and dissolving at the head of the peloton, but thus far, none of them have been able to stick.

The early exchanges were marred by a crash after ten kilometres, with Pablo Lastras (Movistar) and Laurens ten Dam (Belkin) the worst affected. Both men have since abandoned the Vuelta.

David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura) has also been forced out of the race, citing a knee injury.

Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano) have managed to claw out a lead of 15 seconds over the peloton, but the early indications are Omega Pharma-QuickStep are keen to keep things under control in support of Gianni Meersman, hopeful, perhaps that he alone of the fast men can survive the inevitable cull on the category 1 climb of the Alto del Rat Penat.

96km remaining from 169km

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) attempted to bridge across to Barta and Van Rensburg, but his efforts were in vain. The peloton has recaptured the escapees.

93km remaining from 169km

Bauke Mollema (Belkin) accelerates on the front and brings Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Egoi Martinez (NetApp-Endura), Iker Camano (NetApp-Endura) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) clear with him.

93km remaining from 169km

Bauke Mollema (Belkin) accelerates on the front and brings Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iker Camano (NetApp-Endura) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) clear with him.

The group off the front has now swollen to 18 riders, and with a 30-second lead over the bunch, there is finally a possibility that a break might establish a foothold in this stage.

The bunch has tackled some rolling but not especially rugged terrain over the opening half of the stage, including the category 3 Coll de la Torreta, where Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) led over the top. The road flattens as it heads towards the coast before tackling the short but steep Alto del Rat Penat (4.3km at 10%) with 50 kilometres remaining. Tough though the climb is, the descent is even trickier, laden as it is with twists, turns and an unforgiving road surface. Imanol Erviti used his head to slip away for a clever stage win in nearby Vilanova i la Geltrú back in 2010.

The good news for the riders in the break - and at the back of the peloton - is that it now features Gianni Meersman, whose presence ought to assuage the dogs of war in the Omega Pharma-QuickStep ranks.

Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iker Camano (NetApp-Endura) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) have been joined by a group including Beñat Intxausti (Movistar), Mikael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) at the head of the race. There’s a decent spread of teams in there and if they organise themselves well, they have a chance of staying clear.

84km remaining from 169km

So far so good for our escapees, who have managed to stretch their lead out to two minutes over a peloton glad of some respite after the relentless attacking earlier on.

The closest thing to an overall threat in this break is Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) but the Italian is over ten minutes down in 24th place overall, and won't unduly concern the Astana team of race leader Vincenzo Nibali.

Nibali will be hoping for a relatively quiet afternoon ahead of the Vuelta's entry into the Pyrenees on Saturday for a troika of stages that should see the gaps in the top ten begin to stretch out. The general classification picture this morning was as follows:

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 45:26:06
2 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:31
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:46
4 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard
5 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:02:33
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:44
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:02:52
8 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:03:35
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:03:46
10 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 0:03:56

 

Nibali is over the worst of the effects of the wasp sting he suffered during the rest day on Tuesday. Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli reportedly threatened to pull the team out of the Movement for Credible Cycling as a response to the rules barring Nibali from using cortisone to treat the sting, but MPCC president Roger Legeay has looked to diffuse the polemics, saying that the rules are also applied by the UCI and

.

71km remaining from 169km

The break's lead has now stretched out to three minutes over the peloton. Incidentally, Meersman has some company in this break - his teammate Serge Pauwels was one of the last men aboard the bus.

The 18 escapees are: Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iker Camano (NetApp-Endura) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Beñat Intxausti (Movistar), Mikael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge), Xabier Zandio (Sky) and Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM).

 

Laurent Mangel has wheeled to a halt at the roadside and abandoned the Vuelta. His FDJ teammate Sandy Casar this morning announced his decision to retire at the age of 34. Casar had planned to ride all three Grand Tours this year, but an early crash at the Giro d'Italia scuppered that plan. Casar has also suffered from allergies and a nagging back problem during the season, and decided to call time on a career that saw him win three stages of the Tour de France and finish 6th at the 2006 Giro.

63km remaining from 169km

The 18 escapees are rocketing towards the foot of the Alto del Rat Penat, still with three minutes in hand on the bunch. The Rat Penat is the final categorised climb on the stage, but the finishing straight is uphill, the kind of sprint where Michael Matthews might fancy his chances, hence Orica-GreenEdge is leading the pursuit behind the break.

Contrary to our earlier information,  lavuelta.com notes that Serge Pauwels is not part of the leading group.

53km remaining from 169km

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) takes over the lead at the head of the break at the foot of the Rat Penat and his forcing is putting his companions under pressure.

52km remaining from 169km

Scarponi edges his way clear of the leading group, mindful that the gap is dropping rapidly behind. The peloton is just 1:30 behind as it approaches the foot of the climb.

52km remaining from 169km

Scarponi is alone and unfettered by company at the head of the race, but Katusha are upping the pace in the peloton behind.

51km remaining from 169km

Katusha pair Joaquim Rodriguez and Giampaolo Caruso have punched their way off the front of the peloton, with Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) for company. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) are keeping a watching brief at the head of a dwindling red jersey group, just around 50 metres further back.

51km remaining from 169km

The Katusha pace-setting has burnt off the sprinters and there are just twenty riders or so in the red jersey group, which is beginning to pick off the remnants of the break.

50km remaining from 169km

Scarponi is continuing to tap out a steady tempo out in front, and his lead over the red jersey group stands at 1:50.

50km remaining from 169km

Scarponi looks over his left shoulder to check who is chasing behind. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is leading the chase from his former breakawaay companions, the Nibali-Horner-Valverde-Basso group has recaptured Rodriguez and Roche, and is 1:50 down the road.

49km remaining from 169km

Scarponi crests the summit of the Rat Penat with a descent lead but he will be hard pressed to hold onto this lead over 50 kilometres.

Scarponi has 35 seconds in hand on the first of his chasers, and 1:47 on the Nibali group, which is beginning to absorb the remants of the large earlier break.

Scarponi has opted to sit up and wait on the descent, and we have a nine rider group on the front, as he is joined by Nocentini, Barguil, Mollema, Santaromita, Txurruka, Coppel, Marczynski and Zandio.

44km remaining from 169km

The nine leaders have a gap of two minutes over the red jersey group, which has lost some of its impetus on the way down Rat Penat.

The red jersey group has picked up several riders from the earlier break, including Gianni Meersman, and a number of riders are desperately trying to latch onto the back on the way down the descent. A trio of Astana riders leader the group in defence of Nibali. His teammate Tanel Kangert slipped his chain on the way down, but the Estonian is safely back on.

40km remaining from 169km

Benat Inxtausti (Movistar) is also in this front group, which in fact contains ten riders and has stretched its lead out to 2:38 over the red jersey group.

There's a sting in the tail at the bottom of the descent of Rat Penat, with a short but nasty uncategorised climb that could catch some riders unawares. Jelle Vanendert has been recaptured by the main peloton.

This ramp is particularly cruel for the riders who were hurtling down the Rat Penat in pursuit of the red jersey group. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was almost in contact with the red jersey group when the road began to rise, but the world champion is refusing to give up the chase.

37km remaining from 169km

Gilbert has managed to latch back on to the red jersey group, which now numbers around 30 riders. After breaking his duck as world champion yesterday, Gilbert's morale is up and he would love to test out his pre-Florence form once again on the stiffly climbing finishing straight this afternoon.

This red jersey group will have its work cut out to bring back our ten leaders, however. There's a lot of quality in the break and their advantage is now a very healthy three minutes.

33km remaining from 169km

It appeared on Rat Penat that Katusha were hoping to whittle down the peloton to set things up for Daniel Moreno at the finish, but the Russian squad has melted away from the front of the red jersey group since the top of the climb, leaving all responsibility for the chase to Nibali's Astana teammates.

The ten leaders are collaborating smoothly at the head of the race, and their gap has stretched out to 3:30 with a shade over 30km to go. It looks as though the stage winner is going to come from this group, with Astana content simply to control affairs in the peloton behind rather than lead a whole-hearted chase.

30km remaining from 169km

Nibali sits in sixth wheel behind a gaggle of Astana teammates, with Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) also positioned near the head of the peloton.

A reminder of the ten riders in the break - Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Xabier Zandio (Sky), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), Beñat Intxausti (Movistar), Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural).

 

27km remaining from 169km

Cannondale have joined Astana in setting tempo at the head of the peloton, perhaps to ensure that Scarponi doesn't leap too far up the overall standings as a result of his foray off the front.

25km remaining from 169km

FDJ have now joined Cannondale on the front to help keep a slightly tighter rein on the break. At the front of the race, the ten leaders are still collaborating smoothly, but expect that unity to begin to fragment as they draw closer to the finish and they realise that the peloton will not catch them.

For now, however, the small inroads FDJ and Cannondale have made into the gap is keeping the break honest, and they continue to ride through and off at the front.

21km remaining from 169km

After passing through Sitges, the race hugs the coast line before turning back inland for the finish in Castelldefels

19km remaining from 169km

FDJ's chase efforts have chipped away some more of the break's lead and the gap is down to 2:15 inside the final 20 kilometres.

Ivan Santaromita (BMC) puts in a long turn on the front of the break. There aren't a lot of natural fastmen in this group, so we can expect a bout of attack and counter-attack before the finale in Castelldefels.

17km remaining from 169km

The road is rising and dipping as it winds along the coast, and Santaromita and Mollema have both put in particularly long turns when the road has tilted upwards.

15km remaining from 169km

FDJ have opted to stop their chase, and the peloton spreads across the road. Game over. The stage win will go to one of the ten men at the front of the race.

Astana and Cannondale have picked back up the lead in the peloton, but their pace is visibly slacker than the rhythm imposed by FDJ.

11km remaining from 169km

The question now is which of the ten breakaways will be the first man to open fire in the shoot-out for stage victory in the finale. Warren Barguil risks the wrath of the commissaires to drop back to the Argos-Shimano team car and take an energy gel.

10km remaining from 169km

Michele Scarponi's last victory was the 2011 Giro d'Italia, which he was handed after the title was stripped from Alberto Contador. His last win on the road came at the Giro del Trentino just beforehand.

9km remaining from 169km

Curiously, Omega Pharma-QuickStep have sent a delegation to the front of the peloton. One has to wonder why they didn't take up the chase much sooner than this. Making up over two minutes inside the final ten kilometres is simply too big an ask.

8km remaining from 169km

Benat Inxtausti (Movistar) is the first rider eliminated from the running for stage victory. He overshot a sharp bend in a tunnel and falls off. The Basque appears unhurt but his hopes of the win are gone.

8km remaining from 169km

Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) puts in the first attack, bringing Egoi Martinez with him. Mollema tried to get across alone, and is now leader the chase.

7km remaining from 169km

An Omega Pharma rider was caught out by the same darkened corner as Inxtausti. Up front, meanwhile, Coppel and Martinez are committed to the attack but they have just fifty metres in hand on the chasers.

6km remaining from 169km

Coppel is trying to keep the momentum going, but they'll struggle to stay clear of the chasers.

5km remaining from 169km

Scarponi has taken a flyer and is about to bridge the gap to Coppel and Martinez in front.

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Scarponi joins Coppel and Martinez, and the six chasers behind can't afford any hesitation here. It seems they are reluctant to bring Rinaldo Nocentini to the finish.

4km remaining from 169km

A semblance of order has returned to the six chasers, and they're keeping Scarponi, Martinez and Coppel in sight. The gap is just five seconds.

3km remaining from 169km

There are some tight corners inside these final 5km, but the size of the groups in front means that they shouldn't cause undue problems.

3km remaining from 169km

Coppel puts in a huge turn in front, as he tries to keep his trio clear.

2km remaining from 169km

Coppel, Martinez and Scarponi are caught. Nine men in front once again.

1km remaining from 169km

Coppel refuses to yield and puts in another attack, bringing Barguil, Nocentini and Zandio with him. This could be the decisive move.

1km remaining from 169km

Mollema puts in a huge turn to bring the leading quartet back to heel. Nine riders together again in front.

1km remaining from 169km

Inside the final kilometre, Barguil manages to slip off the front and opens a small gap.

That was a smart move from Barguil and there is hesitation from his breakaway companions as he approaches the final ramp to the line.

Barguil bounds up the ramp. A fine climber, he looks set to take the win. Nobody seems to fancy his chances against Nocentini in the sprint behind...

Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) wins the stage with a canny attack in the final kilometre. A fine victory for the 21-year-old neo-professional.

Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) wins the sprint for second place, 8 seconds down on Barguil.

Nocentini pipped Bauke Mollema for second place, but they were left fighting for scraps because of Barguil's finisseur's move in the finale.

A disappointed Inxtausti comes home almost two minutes down, while the peloton rolls home 2:40 behind Barguil. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) retains the red jersey, 31 seconds ahead of Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) and 46 up on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Hailing from Hennebont in the very heartland of Breton cycling, Barguil has a considerable pedigree, winning the Tour de l'Avenir last year. Barguil told Cyclingnews earlier this year that 2013 would be primarily a year in which

, but he was handed a certain degree of responsibility by Argos-Shimano coming into this Vuelta, and he repaid that faith in style this afternoon.

Result:

1 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano 4:00:13
2 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:07
3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
4 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team
5 Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling
6 Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:24
10 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:34

General classification after stage 13:

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 49:29:02
2 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:31
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:46
4 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard
5 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:02:33
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:44
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:02:52
8 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:03:35
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:03:46
10 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 0:03:56

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage from the Vuelta a España. A full report, results and pictures from today's stage will be available here and we'll be back for more from the Pyrenees tomorrow.

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