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Vuelta’11 St.12: Sagan Gets His Second!

Today was billed as a sprinters’ day, which in the end it was, but as most of the top sprinters had gone home and due to the toughness of the stage, the winner was going to be one of the strong-men of the peloton. Like a Philippe Gilbert sort of rider…Peter Sagan is that type of rider!

Today’s stage 12 is not as hard as yesterday’s and on paper it looks like a sprinters’ stage, but there are two 3rd Cat climbs and the run-in to the finish in Pontevedra is anything but flat. The roads in Galicia are hard going and the weather could play an important part with the cross winds and possible rain. 167.3 kilometres with a big starting loop from Ponteareas and then a big finishing loop to Pontevedra.

The usual hopeful early break of four riders had nearly 2 minutes after only 20 kilometres of racing. The four were Russian Pydgornyy (Vacansoleil-DCM), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Josй Luis Roldбn (Andalucia-Caja Granada) and Adam Hansen (Omega Pharma-Lotto). By the 30 kilometre mark they had over 5 minutes on the bunch and after 40 kilometres they had 7:24.

The four reached a maximum lead of 9 minutes and 8 seconds, with 100 kilometres to go; Sky, Lampre-ISD, Leopard-Trek and Skil-Shimano started the chase and brought the gap down to around 7 minutes.

At the top (400m alt.) of the climb of the Alto de Moscoso (3rd Cat) Pydgornyy was first ahead of Mate and Roldбn. With 80 kilometres to the finish, the lead was back to 6 minutes.

The feed zone came after 81 kilometres, the leaders were at 5:20 and the second climb of the day; Alto Ponte Caldeas started its ascent to 320 meters altitude. Pydgornyy was first again, Hansen and Mate next.

62 K’s left and the lead kept coming down and the gap was just over 4 minutes with Stuart O’Grady (Leopard-Trek) on the front of the peloton.

60 Kilometres to Pontevedra
The four were holding their own at 4 minutes 10 seconds as the race passed through Pontevedra for the start of the big loop out of town and back again.

More teams started to add their weight to the chase and with 40 kilometres left on the stage the lead had dropped to only 2:14. Skil-Shimano, HTC, Lampre-ISD and Garmin-Cervelo were stretching the peloton to one long thin line, Sky were sitting behind the workers keeping the Red jersey of Bradley Wiggins well to the fore.

Adam Hansen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) decided that the four were going nowhere and attacked on his own; the other three didn’t seem sure what to do and looked at each other to make the chase. Hansen gave it 100% on the long straight Galician roads and at the sprint in Cambados (30K’s out) he had 9 seconds to the three chasers and 2:20 to the bunch.

Hansen was reeled back by the other three and immediately dropped at 26 kilometres, Lampre were on the front of the bunch.

20 Kilometres Out
Pydgornyy, Mate and Roldбn pushed on with Pydgornyy and Mate doing most of the work they were still hovering around 2 minutes and Hansen was caught by the fairly fast moving peloton, but they were not full on…yet.

The speed started to lift, or the three escapees were tiring, and the lead was 55 seconds coming into the last 15 kilometres. US Champ Matt Busche (RadioShack) had to work his way back after going the wrong side of the race barrier.

First to attack was Mate, Pydgornyy chased and Roldбn struggled, but the peloton were within sight as they entered the last 10 kilometres.

Ag2r-La Mondiale came to the front and it was all together under 6 kilometres. Cofidis sent Fuchard up the road, this failed and Santo Anza (Vacansoleil) took his place. Leopard-Trek chased him down to hold the race together into the last 3 K’s. BMC, HTC and Leopard kept the speed very high into the last kilometre.

The Last K
Tony Martin lead out, then Fabian Cancellara for Daniele Bennati, Peter Sagan first got on the wheel of Marcel Kittel and then jumped to the rear of Degenkolb, he came off the German’s wheel to go round them all for his second stage win. All the others were safe, Wiggins still in Red.

Vuelta a Espaсa Stage 12 Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale in 4:03:01
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Highroad at 0:01
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard-Trek
4. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
5. Juan Josй Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank-Sungard
6. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
8. Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank
9. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick-Step
10. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Vuelta Overall After Stage 12:
1. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky in 46:53:47
2. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:07
3. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana at 0:09
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 0:10
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard-Trek at 0:19
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 0:36
7. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek at 1:06
8. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC at 1:27
9. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack at 1:53
10. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack at 2:00.

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