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Vuelta a Espana 2016: Stage 13


Live coverage of stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana, 213.4 kilometres from Bilbaro to Urdax-Dantxarinea.


The peloton is gathering on the start line in Bilbao for the longest stage of this Vuelta a España, a hilly trek through the Basque Country to Urdax, by way of four category 3 climbs and plenty more rugged terrain besides. Roll out is at 11.45 local time, with the peloton scheduled to reach kilometre zero and the official start at 12.04.

Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange) won into Bilbao yesterday at the end of a stage that saw a couple of frissons - Sky put two men in the early break and Alberto Contador put in an exploratory dig on the final climb - but no real threat to Nairo Quintana's red jersey, and the GC contenders all finished safely together in the front group. You can watch video highlights of stage 12 here.

General classification:

The peloton is navigating the neutralised zone in Bilbao. As ever when a bike race comes to these parts, there are boisterous crowds on the road side. Igor Anton's stirring 2011 victory in Bilbao was the Vuelta's first visit to the Basque Country in 33 years, but the great cycling heartland is now becoming, thankfully, a regular on the parcours.

At a press conference before today's stage, Vuelta director Javier Guillen confirmed that the 2017 edition of the race will begin in Nîmes and spend at least two days in France before crossing back into Spain, possibly by way of Andorra. It will be just the third foreign start in the Vuelta's history, after Lisbon in 1997 and Assen in the Netherlands in 2009. The 2017 Vuelta will begin with a team time trial and Alasdair Fotheringham has more details here, including the prospect of a Tour de France visit to Bilbao in the not too distant future.

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The first categorised climb, the Alto Monte Igueldo, doesn't arrive until almost 100 kilometres have passed, but there's some typically rugged Basque terrain before then, including an unclassified ascent near Eibar after 40 kilometres. 

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The twelve riders off the front are: Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep, Michael Gogl (Tinkoff), Gatis Smukulis (Astana), Tom Stamsnijder (Team Giant-Alpecin), Sergey Lagutin (Katusha), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Danilo Wyss (BMC), Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM Cycling), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18), Romain Cardis (Direct Energie).

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Robert Millar has cast an expert eye over the state of play at this Vuelta, including an examination of what Contador needs to do to pull himself back into contention. Read the latest Millar blog here.

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Nairo Quintana warned yesterday that there are no quiet days on the Vuelta a Espana, but the race leader will be content with the way things are shaping up here on the eve of the race's entry into the Pyrenees. The final 100 kilometres of this stage offer scope for attackers, mind, so the red jersey and his team will have to be vigilant throughout.

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Sergey Lagutin (Katusha) is the only member of this break who has already tasted success on this Vuelta, claiming victory at La Camperona last weekend. It was the first Grand Tour stage win of a long career for the 35-year-old, who won the under-23 world title for Uzbekistan in Hamilton back in 2003. He switched his nationality to Russia on signing for Rusvelo in 2014, and then joined Katusha in 2015.

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Alberto Contador lies 5th overall, some 3:08 down on Quintana, but is refusing to lay down arms as he seeks to maintain his record of having won every Vuelta he's started. He will need to conjure up something to match his heist at Fuente De if that is to happen, mind. He put in a tentative attack in the finale in Bilbao yesterday, and explained his thinking afterwards. "I went for it to try to set up something for a descent," he said.

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Away from the Vuelta a Espana, the Tour of Alberta got underway yesterday, with Colin Joyce (Axeon Hagens Berman) beating Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac) to the honours on the opening stage. 

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Gogl, Wallays, Lagutin et al are approaching the summit of Monte Igueldo, still with an advantage in excess of 17 minutes over the peloton.

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Away from the Vuelta, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has decided to call a halt to his season. The Frenchman hasn't raced since abandoning the Tour de France due to a viral infection, and he has opted not to line out again in 2016.

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Chris Froome (Sky) spoke to Eurosport before the start in Bilbao and hinted his main aim for the stage would be to save as much energy as possible ahead of tomorrow's tough leg to the Aubisque. “It could be an interesting stage, but for us it’s going to be about saving energy for the tough stages coming up, especially tomorrow, which I think will be the queen stage of this Vuelta,” Froome said. “For me it’s about saving energy for tomorrow. Today won’t be super selective and Movistar won’t be under too much pressure. But in a stage race any time you make an effort you pay for it later.”

Movistar sit on the front of the peloton as it passes gently through San Sebastian. The break are some 10 kilometres up the road.

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The temperature at the finish in Dantxarinea is a sweltering 35 degrees. Cycling fans will recognise the area as the site of Tony Martin's solo stage win at the 2014 Tour of the Basque Country, but in Spain the area is famed for  witches, smugglers (the French border being so close) and chocolate with almonds.

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Alberto Contador was one of many riders at the start in Bilbao hoping for a relatively gentle day of racing ahead of tomorrow's leg to the Aubisque. "213 kilometres across the Basque Country today is quite different to a regular 213 kilometres, because you're climbing and descending all the time and that takes a lot of effort," Contador said. "Tomorrow is tougher, but I want to be good on the Aubisque. I’m motivated."

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Lagutin, incidentally, was first over the climb once again, ahead of Rossetto and Wallays.

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Movistar have shaved the break's lead back to 19:12, though in truth they haven't made any real injection of pace.

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Movistar remain at the front of the peloton, but still without any urgency. Contador sits ensconced in a group of Tinkoff riders as they hit the top of the Aguiña some 19:29 down on the escapees.

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Gogol and Benedetti set the tempo on the lower slopes of the climb. The twelve in front are all singing from the same hymn sheet, and though their advantage is insurmountable, they seem content to work together for the time being.

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Smukulis is wearing the white jersey of Latvian champion, which is a rather less distinctive garment than the one worn by Romans Vainsteins at the turn of the century. The 2000 world champion is pictured below in that year's Omloop Het Volk.

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Back in the peloton, meanwhile, Zico Waeytens (Giant - Alpecin) has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana. 170 riders remain in the race.

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Lagutin was first to the top of the Lizaieta ahead of Cardis and Conti, and he thus moves to the top of the king of the mountains classfication.

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Smukulis presses down on the pedals as the break tackles a short incline and stretches out the 12-man break. Their lead over the peloton is now 20 minutes.

Smukulis' bout of forcing briefly discommodes Rossetto, but the Frenchman quickly battles his way back up to the rear of the group.

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Lampaert drops back to his team car and picks up some energy gels ahead of the finale. The tension is growing in the break even if they are all still rowing in the same direction for the time being.

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Wallays and Gogl have put daylight into the rest of the break, while Lagutin and Smukulis attempt to marshal the chase. Others, like Conti, seem to be struggling.

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Wallays has been content to do almost all of the work thus far, barely seeking the help of Gogl as he piles on the pressure at the front. Smukulis is the man most committed to leading the chase behind and the gap remains at 12 seconds.

Wallays has been content to do almost all of the work thus far, barely seeking the help of Gogl as he piles on the pressure at the front. Smukulis is the man most committed to leading the chase behind and the gap remains at 12 seconds.

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Conti hits the front and stretches out the break. Smukulis and Benedetti have been distanced at the back.

The break keeps reforming and fragmenting as Conti and Wyss swap accelerations, but for now, the selection seems to be coming from behind rather than the front.

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Our five chasers have stuck gamely to their task but they can't peg back anything on the flying Conti, who remains 41 seconds clear.

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Gogl rips out of the saddle on the climb but can't rid himself of his companions and he can't claw back so much as a second of Conti's buffer, which is now 44 seconds.

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Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) wins stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana. He shakes his head in disbelief in the finishing straight and then points to the Lampre logo on his jersey as he crosses the finish line.

Danilo Wyss (BMC) takes second ahead of Sergey Lagutin (Katusha), 54 seconds down on Conti.

Lampaert did well to make it back up to the chasers in the final kilometre but he was thwarted in his attempt to snag second place. The remnants of the break spill across the line in ones and twos, but the day belongs to Valerio Conti.

The main peloton, meanwhile, is still out on the road, and at the last check were some 25 minutes down on Conti.



As shadows lengthen over Urdax, Movistar continue to lead the peloton at a relatively gentle clip. Almost half an hour will have elapsed by the time they reach the finish line, where Miguel Indurain is among those on hand.

Michael Gogl (Tinkoff) speaks about his day off the front and his fourth place finish. "It was a long, long day, the longest of Vuelta, of course. The last two stages were really tough too, so it was hard, hard, hard. When Jelle Wallays went, I went with him but they caught us and then Conti was very strong, he deserved to win,” Gogl says. “In a team like Tinkoff we really want to take the general classification with Alberto but I had a chance today and I took it, and I’m also happy with my result.”

Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) speaks as he waits to mount the podium: "I knew the break would go all the way because we’d taken an enormous gap. I’d picked out today as one to go in the break and it was a good break. It’s my first win in a Grand Tour. I didn’t have best legs at the start today but I kept getting better as the day went on and I took my chance in the finale."

Fifteen minutes have passed since Conti crossed the line, and the peloton still has more than 9 kilometres to go, with Movistar setting a gentle pace on the front.

Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) struggled in the finale, but still battled on to finish 6th on the stage. "My aim today was to try to be in the attack," he says. "The cooperation was good, the guys were strong and in the end it was a hard final. With the big gap we could ride our own tempo, it was not very hard except in the final, but it was still 213k and that’s a long day in the saddle. It was very hot too so I hope I can recover for tomorrow."

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will, of course, remain in the red jersey tonight, still 54 seconds ahead of Chris Froome (Sky) and 1:05 up on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). But we will confirm the top ten in full when the peloton crosses the finish line sometime in the next three to four hours... 24 minutes have passed since Conti's win, and the bunch is only just entering the final 7 kilometres.

Shades of Montelimar at the 2006 Tour de France, where the peloton came in 29:57 down on the break on a day when Floyd Landis' Phonak team was happy to concede temporary hold of the yellow jersey to Oscar Pereiro. There would of course be a few more twists and turns before possession of the garment was decided.

Movistar leads the peloton into the final kilometre. They'll be more than 33 minutes down on the stage.

Valverde leads the peloton across the finish line 33:56 down on stage winner Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida).

General classification:

Thanks for joining our live coverage this afternoon. We'll be back with more tomorrow on Cyclingnews as the Vuelta tackles the demanding Pyrenean stage to the Col d'Aubisque. In the meantime we'll have all the news and reaction from that long, long stage 13 and you'll find a full report, results and pictures here.

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