After yesterday’s time trial there were quite a few tired legs in the peloton and three riders knew it and headed up the road in the first kilometres; Fabio Ferrari (Caja Rural), Romain Zingle (Cofidis) and Cédric Pineay (FDJ) tried their hardest but in the end it was always going to be a sprint finish. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) jumped early and looked to have it in the bag with a big gap, but the rainbow jersey of Philippe Gilbert (BMC) swooped past him for a well needed win for the Belgian.
Stage 12 Course
Stage 12 from Maella to Tarragona is quite short at 164.2 kilometres and is basically a straight line heading downwards towards the sea and looks to be a fast day. Energy levels will already be somewhat low and there are still some very tough stages ahead, so those wishing to see their names in the general classification will not waste their energy just two days before reaching the Pyrenees. The start is quite lumpy and at the half way point there is the Cat 3 Alto del Collet but from there to the finish it’s fairly flat. The problems of the day comes at the end of the stage as there are a lot of round-a-bouts and bends on the run it with a right angled bend 400 metres to go.
Stage 12 Preview with Google Maps Fly Through by Global Cycling Network:
A Very Early Break
184 riders set off from Maella under clear skies and temperatures of around 27ºC without Marco Pinotti (BMC) who is suffering from a sinus infection and Kevin de Weert who crashed during yesterday’s time trial. It didn’t take long for the break to form and after 4 kilometres; Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Romain Zingle (Cofidis) and Cédric Pineau (FDJ) had a lead of 1 minute which grew to 3 minutes by the 10 kilometre mark.
The three riders had nearly 6 minutes after 25 kilometres as they passed through Vilalba dels Arcs, the Astana team were less than interested, so Orica-GreenEdge put some riders on the front.
Cédric Pineau turned Pro with Ag2r and rode for them for 2 years before dropping down to the ProConti Roubaix-Lille Metropole team in 2010 where he had his best year with two wins. He has been with FDJ for two years, riding the Tour de France last year.
Romain Zingle is in his third Vuelta a España and his fourth year with Cofidis and has just signed to ride for them for another year. His best performance in the Vuelta was his second place to Movistar’s Imanol Erviti in a stage in 2010.
Fabricio Ferrari was in a break last week that failed, but the Uruguayan is always looking for a good performance. He has been with Caja Rural since 2010. Roman Zingle is the highest placed in 86th at 1:06:52, Pineau at 1:30:41 and Ferrari at 1:37:49.
The lead came down a bit to 4:30 after 70 kilometres as Lampre-Merida had started to lend a hand to the (half hearted) chase. Two riders with birthdays today; Dani Moreno (Katusha) who is 32 and Chris Anka Sorensen (Saxo-Tinkoff) who is 28. After 2 hours of racing at an average speed of 36.4 kph the lead had ridden slightly to 5:43.
The One Climb of the Day
The Alto del Collet (Cat 3) is 7.5 kilometres long with an average slope of 3.6%, it even has the feed zone 4 kilometres from the summit, so it’s not considered difficult. Zingle took the honours followed by Ferrari and Pineau.
60 kilometres to go and the lead dropped under 4 minutes, the race passed through Montroig del Camp (Catalonia) the birthplace of Katusha’s Xavi Florencio. In the bunch all the sprinters teams were on the front; Belkin, Lampre-Merida, Argos-Shimano, Orica-Greenedge and Garmin-Sharp all having riders near the front with Astana not too far back.
Coming though the town of Ruidoms the road narrowed enough to cause a crash, Imanol Erviti (Movistar) and Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) being the worst affected. Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ) decided to call it a day.
30K To Go
The lead was down and the three escapees had less than a minute, with two intermediate sprints coming 25.2 and 15 kilometres from the finish the peloton had pushed the speed up.
Through the first sprint in Cambrils the gap was 30 seconds. Just before the beach resort of Salou with 18 kilometres to go the escape was over and NetApp-Endura and Belkin were in control towards the next sprint. Before the sprint Ivan Basso (Cannondale) launched himself off with Nico Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) to take the bonus seconds, this sent Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s Tony Martin up the road for another TT of his own.
Martin’s lead was not going to be enough as at 11K’s out he only had 11 seconds and it was soon over. Into the last dangerous 5 kilometres and Orica-GreenEdge were doing the lead-out for Michael Matthews.
4K’s out and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) had a puncture, but as the safety zone was for the last 5 kilometres, he shouldn’t lose any time on GC.
Along the Tarragona sea front and Garmin-Sharp had the lead, but Orica-GreenEdge had other plans and had the helm up the rise to the last bends and out the other side onto the final straight.
Front rider Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol) moved over with around 300 metres to go and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) burst out for a long one and you would have put your money on him for the win. Then World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) closed a gap of four bike lengths to his wheel and in the last metres he had the speed to come past the big Norwegian and had the time for a two arm salute to celebrate his first win of the year in that most special jersey.
The stage winner Philippe Gilbert: “It has been very hard for me this year, but it’s so special to win today. It also special because I have family here in Catalonia. The finish was a little dangerous with bends and bad roads, but it was good for me.”
Keep it dialled to PEZ for all the Vuelta excitement.
Vuelta a España Stage 12 Result:
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC in 4:03:44
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
3. Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
4. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha
5. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Steve Chainel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
8. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Argos-Shimano
9. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
10. Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team NetApp-Endura.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 12:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 45:26:06
2. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff at 0:31
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:46
4. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:33
6. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 2:52
7. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:46
8. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 5:05
9. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky at 5:46
10. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 6:38.