Vuelta a Espana: Danny van Poppel wins stage 12

Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory) won a hectic last-gasp sprint in Lleida on stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana after an intense chase by the peloton caught the five-rider breakaway in sight of the finish line.

Van Poppel flatted with 10km to go but managed to get back into the peloton and then timed his sprint to perfection, passing his sprint rivals in the final twenty metres. Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) was second with Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) third. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) was again thwarted after being blocked in in the sprint.

Trek Factory Racing had done much of the work in pursuit of the breakaway on the fast downhill roads from Andorra and van Poppel paid them back with his first ever Grand Tour victory.

“We pulled all day with the Italian guys, and in the end it was a really nice sprint,” van Poppel said immediately after his victory.

“It was not really a puncture, it was just slowly going down. I changed it and I came back really well. My teammates did a great job to bring me back. I suffered a lot yesterday (during the mountain stage in Andorra) and I really wanted to win today.”

Fabio Aru (Astana) finished safely in the peloton and so kept the race leader’s red jersey for a second day. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) remains second overall at 27 seconds, with Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) third at 30 seconds. Chris Froome failed to start the stage due to a fractured foot he sustained on stage 11.

Aru should be able to enjoy another quiet day on Friday. The 168km stage is a hilly affair between Calatayud and Tarazona and seems perfect for a breakaway to try its hand yet again.

How it happened

Following the suffering on the six climbs during the Andorra stage, the riders were happy to enjoy the largely downhill run to Lleida.

There were some tired legs at the start but also some proud smiles for having made it though what has been described as he hardest ever stage in a Grand Tour. Despite threats to quit the race after Sergio Paulinho’s incident with a television motorbike, the Tinkoff-Saxo riders rolled out with the peloton after securing extra safety assurances from the race organisers. Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) did not start after a morning MRI scan revealed a fracture in a bone in his foot. Mikel Nieve is now the British team’s protected rider.

With the stage widely expected to finish in a sprint, the overall contenders were looking for a recovery day and it was no surprise that the break formed early. After a few attacks, Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step), Miguel Ángel Rubiano (Colombia), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) got away, with the Astana team hitting the front of the peloton to control any chase.

The five did not hesitate or look back and worked together to establish a three minute lead. They defended their advantage on the long but gradual Coll de Bóixols climb and kept working together. The five were all breakaway experts with Lindeman and Gougeard having made several attempts even in this Vuelta, and with the Dutchman winning the stage to La Alpujarra. They were not a threat to Aru’s lead, with Bouet best placed at over 20 minutes back. The five worked smoothly and efficiently together and so managed to hold off the peloton for much further than the sprinters’ teams would have liked.

With Astana not interested in leading the chase of the five it was up to the sprinters’ teams to pick up the pursuit. Giant-Alpecin did their share for Degenkolb, and so did Trek Factory Racing, with the black and white jerseys often alternating on the front. However the five battled on, making it a tough day for the domestiques doing the work in the peloton.

Trek Factory Racing’s hopes of success seemed in vain when van Poppel punctured with 10km to go. But he quickly fought back. He got a rapid front wheel change and chased back on in the slipstreams of the convoy of team cars. Several teammates helped him move back through the peloton in the final kilometres, while others continued to chase the five ahead. Their gap seemed enough on the flat roads outside of Lleida but then came down dramatically. That sparked several attacks with Bouet and then Gougeard surging ahead. However the peloton could see they were fading.

Venter tried his hand and had a gap inside the final kilometre, with Bouet getting up to him. But they were caught and passed by the sprinters on the rising finish. Impey hit out early as the other sprinters fought for the best line but then van Poppel emerged down the middle and an extra burst of power and speed took him ahead of the pack and gave him his first ever big win.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing4:02:11
2Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdgeRow 1 - Cell 2
3Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 2 - Cell 2
4Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 3 - Cell 2
5John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 4 - Cell 2
6Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 6 - Cell 2
8Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - QhubekaRow 7 - Cell 2
9Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10Leonardo Duque (Col) ColombiaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 10 - Cell 2
12Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-MeridaRow 11 - Cell 2
13Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 12 - Cell 2
14Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM CyclingRow 13 - Cell 2
15Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 14 - Cell 2
16Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ.frRow 15 - Cell 2
17Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdgeRow 16 - Cell 2
18Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 17 - Cell 2
19Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La MondialeRow 18 - Cell 2
20Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team KatushaRow 19 - Cell 2
21Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 20 - Cell 2
22Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 21 - Cell 2
23Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team KatushaRow 22 - Cell 2
24Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 23 - Cell 2
25Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 24 - Cell 2
26Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 25 - Cell 2
27Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 26 - Cell 2
28Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 27 - Cell 2
29Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team SkyRow 28 - Cell 2
30Tony Hurel (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 29 - Cell 2
31Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team SkyRow 30 - Cell 2
32Luis Mas (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 31 - Cell 2
33Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdgeRow 36 - Cell 2
38Damien Howson (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 37 - Cell 2
39Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 38 - Cell 2
40Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 39 - Cell 2
41Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 40 - Cell 2
42Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - QhubekaRow 42 - Cell 2
44Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 43 - Cell 2
45Romain Sicard (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 44 - Cell 2
46Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 45 - Cell 2
47José Gonçalves (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 46 - Cell 2
48Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 48 - Cell 2
50Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 49 - Cell 2
51Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 50 - Cell 2
52David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 51 - Cell 2
53Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - QhubekaRow 52 - Cell 2
54Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 53 - Cell 2
55Juan Pablo Valencia (Col) ColombiaRow 54 - Cell 2
56Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 55 - Cell 2
57Maxime Bouet (Fra) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 56 - Cell 2
58Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team SkyRow 58 - Cell 2
60Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 59 - Cell 2
61Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre-MeridaRow 60 - Cell 2
62Christian Knees (Ger) Team SkyRow 61 - Cell 2
63Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 62 - Cell 2
64Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 63 - Cell 2
65Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - QhubekaRow 64 - Cell 2
66Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ.frRow 67 - Cell 2
69Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
70Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM CyclingRow 69 - Cell 2
71Marcel Aregger (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 70 - Cell 2
72Dominique Rollin (Can) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 71 - Cell 2
73Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 72 - Cell 2
74Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ.frRow 73 - Cell 2
75Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 74 - Cell 2
76Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 75 - Cell 2
77Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team KatushaRow 76 - Cell 2
78Simon Pellaud (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 77 - Cell 2
79Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory RacingRow 78 - Cell 2
80Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 79 - Cell 2
81Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Larry Warbasse (USA) IAM CyclingRow 81 - Cell 2
83Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team EuropcarRow 82 - Cell 2
84Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 83 - Cell 2
85George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 84 - Cell 2
86Walter Pedraza (Col) ColombiaRow 85 - Cell 2
87Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 86 - Cell 2
88Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
89Brayan Ramirez (Col) ColombiaRow 88 - Cell 2
90Tiago Machado (Por) Team KatushaRow 89 - Cell 2
91Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN - QhubekaRow 90 - Cell 2
92Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory RacingRow 91 - Cell 2
93Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-MeridaRow 92 - Cell 2
94Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 93 - Cell 2
95Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 94 - Cell 2
96Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 95 - Cell 2
97Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 96 - Cell 2
98Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 97 - Cell 2
99Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 98 - Cell 2
100Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
101Johann Van Zyl (RSA) MTN - QhubekaRow 100 - Cell 2
102Natnael Berhane (Eri) MTN - QhubekaRow 101 - Cell 2
103Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing TeamRow 102 - Cell 2
104Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team KatushaRow 103 - Cell 2
105Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 104 - Cell 2
106Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team KatushaRow 105 - Cell 2
107Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 106 - Cell 2
108Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
109Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
110Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 109 - Cell 2
111Alex Cano (Col) ColombiaRow 110 - Cell 2
112Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 111 - Cell 2
113Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 112 - Cell 2
114Jesper Hansen (Den) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 113 - Cell 2
115Rodolfo Torres (Col) Colombia0:00:27
116Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team SkyRow 115 - Cell 2