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VUELTA’21 Stage 12: Cort Sprints in Córdoba!

Odd Christian Eiking Still in Red

Vuelta Stage Report: A day of breaks and counter-attacks ended in a group sprint from what was left of the race. It was EF Education-Nippo’s hero of stage 11, Magnus Cort Nielsen who out-sprinted Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates). Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) held he overall lead.

The final kilometre of stage 12

The twelfth stage of the Vuelta a España was won by Magnus Cort Nielsen in Córdoba. The Dane, who just missed the victory yesterday on the steep climb to Valdepeñas de Jaén, was the strongest sprinter of a thinned group after a hotly contested final.

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Stage 12 Profile

Technical director, Fernando Escartín: “Another finale that is well-known to La Vuelta. The first half of the stage is milder, the second half is tougher, crossing the finish-line twice, with two climbs in the final part. Yet another sprint finale is expected, although the teams will have to work hard to make it happen.”

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The Cathedral of Jaén

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Easy roll-out, but it soon warmed up

It looked like there would be many opportunities for an escape in Thursday’s stage. Stage twelve went from Jaén to the university city of Córdoba and in the finalé the riders had to tackle two climbs: The Alto de San Jerónimo and the Alto del 14%). It was too hard for the pure sprinters, but not difficult enough for the GC men.

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Early attack from Damien Touzé (AG2R-Citroën)

It was a hard fight to get into the break of the day. After more than 80 kilometres of racing, the peloton was still together. Earlier in the stage there had been many attacks, but they were all closed down. The race covered 50.2 kilometres in the first hour.

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Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) wanted to be in the break

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Simmons attack didn’t make the ‘break of the day’

With more than 90 kilometres covered, three riders managed to get away from the pack. Qhubeka NextHash had Sander Armée, Sebastian Berwick for Israel Start-Up Nation and Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) made the move, but the peloton was not keen on the move. There was a bad crash including Tobias Bayer. The Austrian of the Alpecin-Fenix team was in a lot of pain and looked to have passed-out. He finished the day in an ambulance.

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More attacks and more chases

Several riders tried to cross over to the leading group. Julen Amézqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH), Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën), Chad Haga (DSM) and Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Soudal) formed a leading group of eight, but the peloton was not going to give them too much space. Due to the hard work of UAE Team Emirates for Matteo Trentin, the lead of the eight leaders kept fluctuating around 1 minute. The speed then went at full gas to the foot of the first of two climbs.

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Another hot day, 40ºC at the finish in Córdoba

On the slopes of the Alto de San Jerónimo (13km at 3.3%) the better climbers in the leading group decided to increase the pace a bit, which saw birthday boy Chad Haga sit up. A minute behind the seven leaders, it was still up to the men of UAE Team Emirates to do the work, but they allowed the lead of the front riders to increase their lead again, but there was still more than 50 kilometres to go.

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The break come into Córdoba for the first time

A few kilometres before the top of the San Jéronimo there was a fairly large crash. Jumbo-Visma had a bit of a panic as Primož Roglič was amongst it for the second time in this Vuelta. The Slovenian was soon back on the bike and was brought back to the peloton by his teammates. INEOS Grenadiers was also involved with the biggest victims being Adam Yates and Dylan van Baarle, but they were all able to continue.

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Eiking safe in the peloton

Before the top of the San Jéronimo, Iturria jumped away from the leading group, chasing mountain points, after passing the KOM line, the Basque decided to continue alone. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider, who won a stage in la Vuelta two years ago, was soon caught by the other escapees, who kept working well on the flat road towards the last climb of the day. In the now thinned peloton, UAE Team Emirates continued to work hard and the lead became smaller and smaller.

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Would the break stay away in Córdoba?

With a lead of 30 seconds, the break started the Alto the 14%, a more than 7 kilometre climb with maximum gradients of, not surprisingly, 14%. Van Gils turned out to have the best climber’s legs at the front. The Lotto Soudal rider held his ground for a while, but was caught a few kilometres before the top by the very thinned peloton. Next to try was Romain Bardet, he was joined by Sergio Henao, Giulio Ciccone and Jay Vine.

Bardet went again and collected the KOM points on the top of the Alto and together with Henao, Ciccone and Vine he threw himself into the descent. In the chase group Trentin survived the selection on the last climb and still had a chance in the battle for the stage victory. Michael Matthews and Magnus Cort were also there and would be fighting in a thinned group sprint in the streets of Córdoba. However, Bardet, Ciccone, Vine and Henao wanted to push on.

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The hot sprint went to Magnus Cort Nielsen

In the last 10 flat kilometres to Córdoba the organisation in the peloton was lost and so Trentin counter-attacked. The Italian went after the four leaders with Ion Izagirre, but was quickly caught. The men from BikeExchange were once again in the lead for Matthews and they slowly narrowed the gap. At the start of the last 5 kilometres the difference was still 20 seconds. Would this be enough for the attackers to stay away from the peloton?

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No mistake for Magnus today

It turned out not to be enough for Bardet, Henao, Ciccone and Vine and just before the last kilometre it was all together again. UAE Team Emirates and BikeExchange were the dominant teams, but in the final hundreds of metres it was EF Education-Nippo that shot forward. Jens Keukeleire gave Cort a perfect lead-out in the finishing straight. The Dane jumped at the right time and held off Bagioli to the line.

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It was close between Cort Nielsen and Bagioli

This was the second stage win for Cort in the Vuelta a España. The Dane won the stage finishing on the Alto de la Montaña de Cullera. In the general classification, everything remains the same. Eiking is still 58 seconds ahead of Guillaume Martin, Roglič follows at 1:56.

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Time to celebrate after the line for the Dane

Stage winner, Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Nippo): “We talked in the team and decided to not go for the big bunch sprints. But when the group was reduced, my team-mates believed in me and wanted to support me in this kind of stages. They did an amazing job. I was able to sit at the back for the first few hours whilst people were fighting for the breakaway. Even though I felt the legs a little bit from yesterday, I managed to get over the two climbs. In the end, Jens Keukeleire brought me to the front and positioned me perfectly for the sprint. There were Matthews, Trentin and a few other fast guys there but we wanted to give it a try. I’m super happy to take this win.”

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Cort had the final lunge… and a good lead-out

Overall leader, Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “I was just behind [when Primoz Roglic crashed] but I could avoid it. I hope everybody is ok. I get some respect [moving into the bunch with La Roja on the shoulders] but it’s not a big difference. It’s just nice to ride with this jersey. I expected some guys to attack, which they did. Ciccone tried, but it was a really good day for sprinters like Magnus Cort Nielsen and a few others, so I expected a sprint in a reduced group. It’s nice to hear Thor Hushovd also had the jersey here. It’s cool. Tomorrow is flat, but you never know, so I’ll try to do my best to keep the jersey in the team.”

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Eiking still happy in red

Vuelta a España Stage 12 Result:
1. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo in 3:44:21
2. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal
6. Felix Großschartner (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe
7. Antonio Jesus Soto Guirao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8. Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
9. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
10. Martijn Tusveld (Ned) DSM
11. Steff Cras (Bel) Lotto Soudal
12. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
13. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
14. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
15. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers
16. Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis
17. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
18. Mikaël Cherel (Fra) AG2R Citroën
19. David de la Cruz (Spa) UAE Team Emirates
20. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
21. Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
22. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
23. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
24. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
25. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 12:
1. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in 45:33:18
2. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 0:58
3. Primoz Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 1:56
4. Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar at 2:31
5. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar at 3:28
6. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious at 3:55
7. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:46
8. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:57
9. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 5:03
10. Felix Großschartner (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 5:38
11. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 6:08
12. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 6:20
13. Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious at 6:54
14. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 7:11
15. David de la Cruz (Spa) UAE Team Emirates at 7:15
16. Juan Pedro Lopez Perez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 9:35
17. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:13:18
18. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 15:33
19. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 16:55
20. Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis at 21:58
21. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 25:20
22. Rafal Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates at 26:14
23. Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar at 26:38
24. Martijn Tusveld (Ned) DSM at 32:29
25. Fabio Aru (Ita) Qhubeka NextHash at 33:23

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