Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 12 of the 2015 Vuelta a España, which takes the riders 173km out of Andorra and back down into Spain. See the links below for some of our recent coverage from the race.
Stage 11 report: Landa wins Andorran epic
Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone, depending on where you are in the world. After the madness of yesterday's stage, today we should be in for a slightly calmer affair, which may well come down to a sprint. The riders are currently rolling out of Escaldes-Engordany through the neutral zone, and racing will begin in around 25 minutes.
This stage is pretty much identical to the one in 2010 which was won by Mark Cavendish. The sprinters' legs will be tired after yesterday's efforts in the mountains but their teams should be confident of bringing things back together after that early second-category climb.
Froome is out
The big news this morning is that Chris Froome has been forced to leave the Vuelta following the crash he suffered at the start of yesterday's stage. Froome battled on to finish the stage but checks and scans have revealed a fracture in his foot.
Cyclingnews broke the news this morning and you can read the full story here:
Another big bit of news this morning is that Louis Meintjes, who is here at the Vuelta with MTN-Qhubeka, has signed for Lampre-Merida for 2016.
The promising young South African was on the verge of extending with MTN and Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson describes the move as "one of the transfer coups of the season".
And they're off! There's a slightly extended neutralisation after a few punctures but the flag has dropped and the race is underway.
There are plenty of riders eager to get away on this early downhill section. It's no surprise to see a Europcar jersey the first to launch an attack, but it's all together for now.
A group of five riders has now managed to carve out an advantage. We'll soon see if the peloton is happy to let them off the leash.
The five riders out in front are: Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step), Miguel Ángel Rubiano (Colombia), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
Cofidis and Caja Rural have missed the boat and are on the front of the bunch, so this may yet come back together.
This is our break for the day. The leaders have an advantage of a minute as Astana come to the front of the bunch and the pace eases.
As things settle down on the road, here's a look back at an interesting story from yesterday's stage. Astana's leadership issues between Mikel Landa and Fabio Aru at the Giro d'italia were well documented and it was feared the same thing might play out in Spain. Well, Aru took the race lead yesterday but Landa won the stage and it seems he may have ignored team orders in order to do so...
Alasdair Fotheringham has the story: 'I needed a win so I took my day,' says Mikel Landa
The Astana team has no problem with the break today, with Bouet the nearest threat to Aru's lead but over 20 minutes back.
It is perhaps no surprise that Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) is again in the break. He has been one of the most aggressive riders so far in the Vuelta.
Bert-Jan Lindeman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) is also in themove. This is the fourth time he has been in the break. His aggression paid off when he won the stage to Alpujarras.
134km remaining from 173km
The peloton has let the break go away and the gap is now over 3:00.
It seems that UCI president Brian Cookson was at the start of the Vuelta stage in Andorra.
According to Danish journalist Rasmus Staghoj, he dismissed Tinkoff-Saxo's threat of quitting the Vuelta but agreed that safety has to be improved with the interaction between all parties. He said it is not just a question of motorcycles.
For the full details of Tinkoff-Saxo decision to stay in the Vuelta, read our story by clicking here.
The break is now on the Coll de Boixols climb. It is a 2nd Category climb but is 15.8km long at 5%.
The downhill start has allowed the riders to make a fast start to the stage. The average speed for the first hour is 43.7 km/h.
The rest day in Andorra was apparently important moment for several riders future.
Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson broke the news that Louis Meintjes will leave MTN-Qhubeka and ride for Lampre-Merida in 2016.
Click here to read the full story.
The breakaway's lead continues to grow and is now 3:30.
The riders in the break face a further 3km on the long climb before they can enjoy the long descent.
The dust is still settling on yesterday's tough and dramatic stage around Andorra.
Chris Froome is out of the Vuelta after his crash and Mikel Landa openly rebelled against his Astana team.
Read how he admitted he ignored team orders to wait for Aru before the finish and instead went on to win the stage
Click here to read what Landa said.
Bouet leads the breakaway over the Coll de Bóixols with an advantage of five minutes over the peloton behind.
With that climb out of the way, attentions now turn to controlling the breakaway. Giant-Alpecin are doing just that on the front of the bunch, looking to tee up John Degenkolb for a sprint later.
So, what now for Team Sky in the absence of Chris Froome?
DS Gabriel Rasch had this to say to lavuelta.com:
"Froome is going back home. It's a pain but we have to focus on other things. Mikel Nieve is well placed on GC and we are going to help him in the same way we'd have done with Chris. Ian Boswell was a big surprise - yesterday he rode the stage of his life. He has worked hard on his diet this past year. Nicolas Roche still has grazes but his form was there before his crash and it can't have gone anywhere. It will take him three or four days to return to his level."
The riders come over a small rise in the road that interrupts the descent. Now for a long and proper stretch of downhill.
Trek Factory Racing contribute to the pacemaking in the bunch. They've already had a sprint victory for Jasper Stuyven but he has gone home with a fractured scaphoid and they'll be working today in the interests of Danny van Poppel.
5:30 is the gap at the moment as the peloton strings out and fragments on this descent.
Tinkoff-Saxo are here in the peloton. There was a chance they wouldn't be as they seriously threatened to quit after Peter Sagan and Sergio Paulinho were taken out of the race by motorbikes.
Talks were held this morning between the team, the race director and UCI commissaires and Stephen Farrand has the full story here: Tinkoff-Saxo continue in Vuelta a Espana despite motorbike accidents
The descent starts to ease up and the peloton are gaining time now on the break. The gap is down to 4:30 as we pass the half-way point in the stage.
Have you listened to the latest episode of the Cyclingnews podcast yet? We have an interview with Dave Brailsford, lots of Vuelta discussion, and we pick our riders of the week. You can listen and download via the link below:
77km remaining from 173km
Trek and Giant are controlling this very nicely. The gap is falling towards the four-minute mark now. They won't want to bring it back too soon as that would only encourage further attacks. They'll keep tapping away at it and look to make the junction nearer the end.
If you have any strong hunches on who's going to take victory today, then please let us know. You can send in your predictions via Twitter: @paddyfletch
There's life outside the Vuelta... The Tour of Alberta is underway in Canada. Kirsten Frattini is out there for Cyclingnews and you can read her latest reports from the race via the following links:
It was never likely that the break would stay away today, and that's how it's playing out. Their lead has been reduced to just over 3:30 now.
Tom Dumoulin has had an outstanding Vuelta so far. Although he lost the red leader's jersey yesterday, he did brilliantly to keep himself up at third on GC at the end of such a mountainous stage. Here's what he had to say to lavuelta.com this morning.
"I can feel myself tiring but I guess that's the same for everyone. I wasn't surprised by my performance yesterday, but rather how I felt when i won the stage . It's great to be third on GC. Of course I'm starting to think about the overall, even if a bad day may well arrive and I lose a lot of time. This Vuelta has already been a great success for me."
The breakaway's lead continues to fall steadily and now ducks under the 2-minute mark.
The breakaway's lead continues to fall steadily and now ducks under the 3-minute mark.
Astana, protecting the red jersey on the shoulders of Fabio Aru, are enjoying a relatively chilled out day. They're sitting there behind Giant and Trek, not having to do any of the pace setting.
Another interesting transfer story from Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson. Joann Offredo has a contract next year with FDJ but he wants to leave and is currently trying to work out a way to do so.
The riders are currently heading uphill. It's not a categorised climb but it's one of those leg-sapping gradual drags.
The five breakaway men crest that climb - the Alto de Fondlonga - and start to descend once more.
The gap continues to fall inexorably and is now under 2:30.
Some breaking news from this afternoon: Bob Jungels will leave Trek Factory Racing to join Etixx-QuickStep for 2016.
Another short little climb for the peloton to negotiate. Now though it's slightly downhill all the way to the line.
A reminder of the stage profile so you can visualise where the riders are up to. We're at kilometre 130 at the moment (43 to go).
The riders covered 40.2 kilometres in the second hour of racing. These next 40km should go a little bit quicker.
It's still Giant and Trek on the front. Here's Trek directeur sportif Dirk Demol on Danny Van Poppel, who will be the American team's man for the sprint today, and the team's ambitions in general.
"I'm convinced Danny van Poppel can win a stage. Yesterday he went over the Andorra stage pretty well and if we'll see at the top of today's climb that it's possible, we'll do our duty. As for Frank Schleck, he was not so bad yesterday, just not good enough to be with the very best but still good enough to feel like going in a break one day. The GC is no longer a goal for him."
The riders pass some pretty stunning scenery as they make their way alongside a Catalonian river flanked by tall jagged cliffs.
Breaking: Fabian Cancellara will miss the World Championships
The Swiss rider won't be going to Richmond due to a season that has been affected by injury and illness. You can read the story right here.
30km remaining from 173km
The breakaway riders are offering up some resistance here. Giant are still pulling pretty hard on the front of the bunch but the gap still stands at 2:20.
Rubiano mops up the points at the intermediate sprint in Gerb, followed by Bouet and Venter.
Lampre-Merida now disrupt the duopoly of Trek and Giant on the front of the peloton, coming to the fore the pull their weight. Maximiliano Richeze would appear to be their man for the sprint today.
19km remaining from 173km
The breakaway now have less than 2 minutes as we head into the final part of the stage.
The two Giant riders currently on the front are out of the saddle as the road kicks up slightly. It may have seemed like an inevitability but it has been a hard slog to bring this gap down.
And they'd have liked to have the break a little bit closer to their sights by now. With 13.5km to go they still have 1:05.
Some news on Nairo Quintana. The Colombian has been suffering with a fever and it's not looking good for him in terms of the fight for the overall victory.
Danny Van Poppel suffers a mechanical at a horrible moment. His Trek teammates on the front of the bunch will have to ease off now to get him back in, and that will only play into the hands of the breakaway.
9km remaining from 173km
Giant fall away now - it has been a hard, hard day of chasing. 55 seconds is the gap with 9.5km to go. This is going to be tight.
The gap was tumbling steadily earlier in the day but ever since that uncategorised climb of the Alto de Fondlonga it has failed to come down properly. It was above 2 minutes for a long, long time.
7km remaining from 173km
It's at 45 seconds now - panic and tired legs in the peloton.
How long before the breakaway riders start attacking each other? The longer than can keep cooperating the better their chances.
4km remaining from 173km
Two Trek riders pull on try front now, draining the last of their reserves. The gap accordingly falls to 30 seconds.
Trek pull off, with BMC hitting the front. The quintet out front still working well together.
3km remaining from 173km
Gougeard attacks from the break! The dice has been rolled.
2km remaining from 173km
The other men in the break respond but it's getting fraught up there. Behind in the peloton it's still not very well coordinated. 20 seconds now though the gap.
It's still touch and go!
Venter attacks! but they're in town now and the peloton has the break in its sights. 12 seconds.
1km remaining from 173km
Flamme rouge! Venter ahead, Bouet just behind. Peloton advancing.
Bouet takes the lead.
The catch is made!
Danny Van Poppel takes the win!
Two LottoNL riders opened up the sprint almost as soon as the catch was made. Impey came up on the right but Van Poppel came off the back of LottoNL and was the strongest.
Daryl Impey was second while Tosh van der Sande came up behind Van Poppel for third.
Degenkolb lost his lead-out man in that frantic finale. He was behind Van Poppel but got boxed in and there was no way round.
Remember that Van Poppel punctured with just over 10km to go. That's an amazing effort to get back on and take the win in the circumstances.
Here's the top 10 on stage 12
1 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
2 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge
3 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
6 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
7 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
8 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Leonardo Duque (Col) Colombia
No major changes on GC. Here's how the top-10 now looks:
1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 47:14:30
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:27
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:30
4 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:28
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:29
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:52
7 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:54
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:58
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:07
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka 0:04:15
What a finale! The breakaway was only caught in the final few hundred metres. Nervy, pulsating stuff.
@Andymcgra Thu, 3rd Sep 2015 15:47:55
We have a brief stage report up. We'll have a full report complete with a full photo gallery for you very shortly.
Vuelta a Espana: Danny van Poppel wins stage 12
Here's what Van Poppel had to say after the first Grand Tour win of his career:
"We pulled all day with the Italian guys, and in the end it was a really nice sprint.
"It was not really a puncture, it was just slowly going down. I changed and I came really good back. My teammates did a great job to bring me back.
[Was yesterday hardest day of your life?] "I did the Tour when I was 19, and I suffered also a lot. This came close, but I suffered a lot yesterday and I really wanted to win today."
ICYMI: The latest episode of the Cyclingnews podcast is out and available for you to listen to and download.
We have an interview with Dave Brailsford, plenty of Vuelta discussion, transfer latest, and we pick our riders of the week.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 3rd Sep 2015 15:58:58
There's your finish line shot below. From left to right: Impey, Degenkolb, Van Poppel, Van Der Sande, Maes.
Check out this photo of Van Poppel celebrating. Is that Degenkolb beating his hand in anger behind? His team did A LOT of work today but once again the German comes away empty handed.
Here's what's in store tomorrow
There will be lots of riders keen to get into the breakaway, that's for certain. On paper, there's a chance it could come back for a sprint but after what we saw today you have to doubt whether the sprinters' teams have will have the legs.
That's all from our live coverage today. We'll have all the reaction and news from Spain coming in, so keep an eye on Cyclingnews.com. I'll leave you with our full report and full results from stage 12. See you again tomorrow for more of the same. Hasta luego!
Vuelta a Espana: Danny van Poppel wins stage 12
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