Tomasz Marczynski won his second stage of this Vuelta a Espana after attacking his breakaway companions over the final climb and maintaining his minute lead on the chasers on the descent into the finish at Antequera.
Marczynski was part of the day’s breakaway but on the final climb of the Puerto del Torcal he made the decisive move which dropped his companions, soloing away down the descent despite several chase groups trying to reel him in.
Chris Froome finished in the bunch with the rest of the GC riders but the big winner in the GC was Alberto Contador who attacked on the Torcal and stayed away on the descent to come in ahead of Froome and the rest of the GC, decreasing his deficit to Michael Woods in the GC.
Similar to Stage 11, this stage was one that could easily be won by a breakaway if it was large enough and had the right makeup and time gap going into the final 80km, where the Cat climb of the Puerto del Leon leaped up out of the flat terrain, followed by the Cat 2 Peurto del Torcal which topped out at 142km, leaving a descent of 20km into the finish.
The breakaway took a long time to go clear with a fast start to the stage being instrumental in bringing back most attacks until 40km when a group of 14 riders were able to move off the front and go clear of the peloton. Manzana-Postobon had missed out on the break and tried to bring the move back but after a few km of chasing made no dent in the margin, they gave up and the pace in the peloton eased.
With 100km to go the break had managed to push their lead out to 4′ on the peloton; it was made up of Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Pawel Poljanski, Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julien Duval (AG2R), Brendan Canty (Cannondale-Drapac), Michael Morkov (Katusha-Alpecin), Stef Clement (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jan Polanc (UAE), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal), Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), Anthony Pérez (Cofidis), David Arroyo (Caja Rural) and Peter Koning (Aqua Blue Sport). Aqua Blue Sport were very active throughout the early stages as they showed defiance in the face of their team bus being the victim of an arson attack overnight, completely destroying it and leaving them relying on a standard passenger bus.
The pace in the peloton was casual as the break was allowed a lead of more than 7′ as they began the early slopes of the Puerto del Leon, the only danger to Froome’s red jersey being Rojas who was more than 30″ behind the race leader. The easy pace continued as the break went over the top and began the descent, followed by the peloton with no sign of an attack or inclination to attack by anyone at this stage.
With 50km left to race and only the Cat 2 Puerto del Torcal remaining the break had 8′ on the peloton and, save for an intense reaction from the peloton, it looked like the stage would belong to the breakaway once again. The break continued to go out to 9′ with just 25km remaining as the leaders worked their way up the climb, all of them watching each other carefully and waiting for the attacks to start.
Once the attacks did come they came thick and fast, with Clement the first to go which immediately jettisoned Duval out the back and put Morkov, Schillinger, Theuns and Konig in trouble as Canty, Fraile, Poljanski, Rojas, Marczynski and Arroyo were able to make it up to Clement to create a group of seven riders in the lead.
In the peloton the pace that seemed so benign from Team Sky had served to reduce the peloton to just an elite group of 20 or so riders, with all GC contenders and their domestiques present. Despite the pace, Contador decided to launch an attack taking Nicholas Roche with him and opening up a gap of around 20″ as Team Sky continued to set a steady pace, unworried by the former champion going away.
Roche wasn’t able to stay with Contador for long as was soon absorbed back into the GC group as Contador’s lead swelled to 35″ as he went over the top of the climb with still no reaction from the peloton behind.
Out in front Marczynski had attacked over the top and had managed to get 1′ ahead of a group of three chasers that included Rojas, Clement and Fraile, with 9 riders from the breakaway chasing a further 1’10” back with Poljanski in no-mans-land between the two chasing groups. Marczynski had already won a stage of this Vuelta and was able to add another one to his palmares as he maintained his gap with right to the finish, coming in 60″ ahead of the chasers on the line.
Contador was able to link up with teammate Theuns from the breakaway and the pair worked to gain Contador as much time on the GC as possible. Despite all of their efforts Contador was only able to put 22″ into Froome and the GC, not enough to move him up the GC but enough to close the gap to Michael Woods.
Froome suffered a mechanical in the closing kilometres and as he tried to get back up to the GC group crashed heavily; his Team Sky colleagues had to pace him back but he never reached the GC group and came in 20″ behind them which was enough time to bring Nibali within 1’00 of the red jersey, his deficit to the Italian now just 59″.
Vuelta a Espana 2017 Stage 12: Motril>Antequera 160.1km
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal – Pol)||3:56:45″|
|2||Omar Fraile (Dimension Data – Spa)||+52″|
|3||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar – Spa)||s.t.|
|4||Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe – Pol)||s.t.|
|5||Stef Clement (LottoNL-Jumbo – Ned)||s.t.|
|6||Brendan Canty (Cannondale-Drapac – NZl)||+1’42”|
|7||Anthony Perez (Cofidis – Fra)||+2’50”|
|8||Jan Polanc (UAE – Pol)||s.t.|
|9||Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Hansgrohe – Ger)||s.t.|
|10||David Arroyo (Caja Rural – Spa)||+3’00”|
Vuelta a Espana 2017: General Classification
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||49:22:53″|
|2||Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida – Ita)||+59″|
|3||Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott – Col)||+2’13″|
|4||Davide de la Cruz (Quick-Step – Spa)||+2’16”|
|5||Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb – Ned)||+2’17”|
|6||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin – Rus)||+2’18”|
|7||Fabio Aru (Astana – Ita)||+2’37″|
|8||Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac – Can)||+2’41″|
|9||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo – Spa)||+3’13″|
|10||Miguel Lopez (Astana – Col)||+3’51”|