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Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a España stage 12: Richard Carapaz wins on Peñas Blancas, Remco Evenepoel survives crash scare

Ineos Grenadiers rider attacks from the breakaway to take the stage win with Wilco Kelderman claiming second.

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Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) hit a high note on what has been a disappointing Vuelta a España as he attacked to stage victory on Peñas Blancas, while race leader Remco Evenepoel survived a brief scare after he crashed on a descent during the stage.

The Ecuadorian got into the day’s breakaway of 32 riders and timed his attack to perfection, launching out of the group with just under two kilometers to go.

Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) tried to bring back Carapaz but had to settle for second at nine seconds back, though his performance saw him climb well up the standings. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) rode through for third at 24 seconds.

“I am so happy,” Carapaz said. “We came with a goal, and I wasn’t able to do it in the overall classification so today I was looking to win the stage. I am really happy that I was able to do it. I was waiting for the right moment to go, Bora was doing a lot of pulling on the front. I was just waiting for the last moment and with just over one kilometer to the finish it was really hard. I knew that I had to stay consistent. I’m really happy and it is nice to have good sensations again.”

Evenepoel endured his first major scare of the race after he slipped out on a corner as the peloton negotiated a descent off an uncategorized climb. The Belgian came down hard on his right side but appeared to avoid any serious injuries and was able to regain contact with the bunch soon enough.

The other GC teams tried to put some pressure on Evenepoel up the final ascent of Peñas Blancas, but he did not seem slowed by his earlier fall. In the end, the gaps were small between the main contenders with Carlos Rodriguez losing the most of the top five, giving away six seconds on his rivals.

How it happened

After an all-out sprint day, the mountains returned for stage 12 from Salobreña to Peñas Blancas. The ascent up Peñas Blancas would be the only classified climb of the day, but there were still some tough rises to navigate along the way.

The peloton would start two riders lighter with Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) and Boy van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) the latest to depart the race due to COVID-19.

With some far tougher mountain stages to come, Thursday’s effort looked like a good chance for a breakaway, and there was an almighty fight to get in the day’s move. It would take almost 50 kilometers before a group did finally push clear.

When it did go, the group was a big one with 19 teams getting at least one rider into the group of 32. Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ, and Equipo Kern Pharma were the only teams that didn’t get a rider up the road.

There were some big names in the breakaway, including Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Lawson Craddock (Bike-Exchange-Jayco), Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck), and Soler (UAE Team Emirates). Kelderman was the best-placed rider in the overall classification at 14:04 behind the red jersey.

There was some early resistance to the move, but the elastic was finally snapped, and a gap began to grow. As the riders zoomed through the halfway point of the stage, the gap had grown to over five minutes, and it would balloon further to over seven minutes with 70km remaining.

As the leaders hit a fairly sizeable unclassified climb, Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan) decided to try and go it alone. The 23-year-old quickly built up a lead of almost a minute to the rest of the breakaway, as the overall lead to the peloton tipped over nine minutes. There was no panic in the chase group and Battistella was gradually reeled back in.

While the breakaway may not have been worried about proceeding, there was a massive moment of concern for Evenepoel as he crashed on the short descent off the unclassified climb. The race leader took a bend too tightly and could do nothing as his bike slipped out from under him.

His teammate Ilan Van Wilder was quick to get to him and lend some help and several other Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl riders dropped back to bring him to the peloton. Despite a big tear to his shorts on the right-hand side, Evenepoel did not appear to be badly injured. However, he seemed frustrated and was seen remonstrating with the race jury.

There was no danger of Evenepoel losing time on the flat roads as the peloton sat up to allow him to return to the bunch. The slowing in pace allowed the break’s lead to swell to over 11 minutes, but that was cut to about 10 by the time they reached the final climb.

Perhaps sensing a weakness in Evenepoel, Jumbo-Visma sent Rohan Dennis to the front of the peloton to set a hard pace. Meanwhile, up at the front, the breakaway began to splinter under the pressure of Bora-Hansgrohe’s Matteo Frabbro, who had Kelderman in his wheel.

In the quickly reducing group of favorites, Movistar soon took up the pace-setting from Jumbo-Visma before the Dutch squad returned to the front. Evenepoel kept himself close to the front, sitting third in line just behind one of his teammates and, with six kilometers to go, Quick-Step hit the front.

Fabbro continued to set a burning pace on the front of the breakaway until Élie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic) launched a stinging attack with five kilometers to go. Gesbert’s attack was reeled in quickly by Kelderman, but the impact of it was to drop several riders, including Soler.

The attacks kept coming from all sides and Gesbert put in another big move with 3.6k to go. This time, he got a gap. As Kelderman sought to reel him back in, the pace saw two-time stage winner Vine blow and quickly drop off the group.

Behind, with about five kilometers to go for the favorites, Mas put in a small dig, taking Evenepoel and Miguel Ángel Lopez (Astana-Qazaqstan) with him. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was briefly distanced by the push, but he ground his way back to the group.

Gesbert was soon back within the clutches of the remnants of the breakaway that had just four riders left in it, including the Frenchman. A brief cessation in attacks was broken with less than two kilometers to go as Carapaz made his first move of the day.

Kelderman could not react to the punchy move, but the Dutchman set about trying to bring him back. In the end, Carapaz had timed his attack to perfection, and he had nine seconds on Kelderman on the line.

Ineos Grenadiers was pushing the pace further down the climb, too, with Tao Geoghegan Hart and then Rodriguez driving a hard pace, but Evenepoel remained cool and calm under the pressure. The group rode together toward the finish with Evenepoel putting in a big dig inside the final few hundred meters.

Final kilometer


Results will be available once stage has completed.

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