The Tour Take | Vuelta a Espana Stage 12
1st – Alexander Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale)
2nd – Dylan Van Baarle (Team Sky)
3rd – Mark Padun (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team)
Red - Jesus Herrada (Cofidis)
Green - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Polka Dot - Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)
1st - Jesus Herrada (Cofidis)
2nd - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT) @ 3:22
3rd - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) @ 3:23
4th - Nairo Quintana (Team Movistar) @ 3:36
5th - Jon Izagirre (Bahrain Merida) @ 3:39
6th - Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) @ 3:46
7th - Emanuel Buchmann (Bora - hansgrohe) @ 3:46
8th - Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) @ 3:49
9th - Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) @ 3:54
10th - Steven Kruiswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 4:05
Stage 11 provided another deceptively hard route from Mononedo to Faro de Estaca de Bares. Racing along the northern coast of Spain for the majority of the day, the route was far harder than a glance at the profile would tell you (there was nearly 3000m of climbing over the course of the day)
The two categorised climbs came after 10 and 132 kilometres, before the last 20 kilometres included a series of short punchy climbs.
The Key Point
In the final 20km, the riders tackled five climbs less than 3km long, giving a chance for punchy riders to get away. The final 1.2km climb topped out with 3km to go, before a downhill run all the way to the finish, including a couple of tricky switchbacks and a very narrow finishing road.
After yesterday's 19 riders breakaway, 18 men formed today's break. It took less than 10 kilometres for them to establish themselves, and it was another classy group, with Vincenzo Nibali, Thomas De Gendt, Tiago Machado, Alexander Geniez, Dylan Van Baarle, Mark Padun, Victor Campenaerts, Davide Formolo, Jesus Herrada and several others;
Herrada was the highest placed on GC (22nd @ 5:45), which became relevant as the group found around 11:00 gap over the peloton. There wasn't a lot of motivation to chase them, with some tough stages to come in the mountains over the next few days, and Mitchelton-SCOTT looking to offload the Red Jersey.
With 60km to go, the break realised their advantage was enough that they wouldn't be caught, and started to race themselves. Formolo, Nibali, De Gendt and others were all frisky, but nobody could establish a gap until much later.
With around 15 km to go, the front of the race was down to eight men, with a group consisting of Geniez, Formolo, Campenaerts, Teuns, Brambilla, Van Baarle, Devenyns, and Padun, with Herrada and the others 1:00 back, and the peloton a further 10:00 back.
The leading eight attacked each other relentlessly on the hills in the finale with Teuns, and Formolo looking the strongest.
With 5km to go, Mark Padun attacked, taking Teuns, Campenaerts and Formolo with him initially, while Van Baarle and Geniez bridged up soon after. That sextet contested the finish, descending down to the line.
With 400m to go, Geniez went for a long one, coming from the back of the pack. It was a narrow finishing straight, barely a car wide, and though Van Baarle was on his tail, he couldn't find a way through as the frenchman Geniez took the win.
Behind, Herrada rolled in 2:32 later, and he had done enough to take the Leader's Jersey in his home grand tour, with the peloton finishing 11:39 back from Geniez.
3 - Alexander Geniez. A class win as the Frenchman noted the narrow finishing road and committed early.
2 – Jesus Herrada. Herrada did today what Pinot couldn't do yesterday - pull on the Red Jersey.
1 – Dylan Van Baarle, Geniez probably has Van Baarle to thank for this win; Van Baarle rode the two back onto the leading group when they were distanced briefly with 5km to go.
Leaders: Valverde (6), King (5), Herrada, Mate, Viviani (4), Bouhanni, Clarke, De Marchi, Dennis, Gallopin, Geniez, Kwiatkowski, Mollema, Sagan (3), De Plus, Mollard, Postlberger, Rhestrepo, S Yates, (2), Campenaerts, Cortina, Pinot, Porte, Quintana, Rolland, Van Baarle, Woods (1), De Gendt (-1)
The Next Stage
Stage 13 sees the race head back into the mountains, with a key summit finish at La Camperona after 175km. After starting in Candas Carreno, the peloton will head up the Cat 3 Alto de la Madera, before a long uphill grind leading into the Cat 1 Puerto de Tarna, which comes after 105km. A brief descent leads into a valley all the way to the bottom of the final climb to La Camperona.
La Camperona is the most difficult climb the peloton will have faced so far, lasting for 8.5km and averaging 6.5%. That includes short pitches at 25% and 20% early in the climb though, while the final 2.5km averages 17%. It's an absolute wall and will produce a massive selection
We still haven't really seen who's good yet, with only the La Covatilla finish on stage 9 producing any real gaps. This is one for the flyweight climbers though, so we'll take the safest option with Nairo Quintana.
See you back at the social club,