John Degenkolb took his third stage from a reduced bunch sprint, ahead of Tom Boonen and Jacopo Guarnieri, after a frantic, crash-marred finish on the eight-lap Logrono circuit.
The general classification and jersey holders are unchanged after stage 12.
Only the lonely
The race had just got underway when Matthias Krizek (Cannondale) took off and rapidly opened a few minutes’ advantage. As the peloton dawdled along at 32km/h as if they were on a Sunday club run, the gap grew to nine minutes. Circuit races are great for spectators, not so much for the riders, it seems.
However, with few opportunities remaining for the pure sprinters in this year’s Vuelta, they weren’t going to be denied by a lone Austrian. FDJ and Giant-Shimano started the slow process of reeling the man in lime-green back into the fold, making the catch at just 12km to go.
Working for the man
Heading into the technical finale, the GC teams kept the pace high to protect their main men as they headed into the ten bends to the finish, which strung out the bunch behind.
Manuel Quinziato (BMC) was the first to jump, with just over 2km remaining, in a short-lived bid for glory. Once under the flamme rouge, Lampre-Merida’s Roberto Ferrari took a flyer, closely followed by Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r La Mondiale), which split the chasing pack. The pair faded and a crash, which held up favourites including Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE), left a reduced field to contest the sprint finish.
Giant-Shimano’s Ramon Sinkeldamm provided the perfect launch pad for Degenkolb, who won on this same circuit in 2012’s Vuelta and cruised to his third victory in this year’s race. With the win, he strengthened his grip on the points jersey, 34 points ahead of his nearest rival, Bouhanni.
VeloVoices rider of the day
My choice also gets the Most Combative Rider award. But I’m really not sure about that haircut!
Stage 12 result
1. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) 4:11:18
2. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) same time
3. Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana) s/t
4. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) s/t
5. Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) s/t
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 44:38:14
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:20
3. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +1:08
4. Chris Froome (Sky) +1:20
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +1:35
6. Samuel Sanchez (BMC) +1:52
7. Fabio Aru (Astana) +2:13
8. Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) +2:22
9. Robert Gesink (Belkin) +2:55
10. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) +3:51
Points leader: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano).
King of the Mountains leader: Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural).
Combined jersey: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Team classification: Movistar.