- - Vuelta a España 2023 Stage 12

Vuelta a España 2023 Stage 12

photo credits @ La Vuelta

Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates) sprinted to victory on stage 12 of the Vuelta a España today, with the Colombian taking advantage of Alpecin-Deceuninck’s lead-out misfortune on the run to the line in Zaragoza, after being leadout with aplomb by teammate Rui Oliveira.

Meanwhile, green jersey Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) took second place after he was forced to come from far back after getting boxed in and dropping his chain in the final 200 metres. Meanwhile, UAE Team Emirates had punched their way to the front, dropping Molano in prime position to win his second career Vuelta stage as Boy van Poppel (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) rounded out the podium in third.

So imperious was Oliveira’s piloting that the Portuguese soared to fourth place ahead of Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek) at a thrilling end to an otherwise drab 150km stage through the flat planes of central Spain.

Groves thumped his handlebars in anger when he crossed the line – just as he did last week when denied another chance to complete his hat-trick by Frenchman Geoffrey Soupe (TotalEnergies) in Stage 7.

The Australian had warmed up for the finish by taking maximum points in the intermediate sprint just 20km from the finish – where second-place Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) took four bonus seconds on his rivals for red.

Having already reeled in the day’s two-man breakaway, Groves’ Alpecin-Deceuninck team looked well in control entering the final kilometre of the stage. But Groves found himself boxed in ahead of the final corner before a chain-drop hampered his final kick once Molano had darted from the wheel of Oliveira.

“Thanks to my team. They were amazing today,” Molano said after the finish. “I’m very happy to win a stage in the Vuelta last year, now this year. After the incident it’s not easy to return but now it’s OK and I’m very happy.”

Race Highlights

A crash involving half a dozen riders – Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Omar Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Louis Vervaeke (Soudal-QuickStep), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) and Alan Jousseaume (TotalEnergies) – momentarily halted the progress of the peloton whose pace was being controlled by the Alpecin-Deceunick team of the hot favorite, Groves.

No sooner has the breakaway duo been caught near the summit of an uncategorized climb 44km from the finish than Bol put in a second acceleration to blast clear of the pack. But the Dutch rider’s second bite of the cherry only lasted five more kilometers – although it was enough to snare him the day’s combativity award.

The race finally heated up with the intermediate sprint 20km from the finish where Groves extended his lead in the green jersey competition while Roglic stole a march on his GC rivals. The Slovenian Giro winner took four seconds back on his red jersey rival Evenepoel, whom he trails by 27 seconds going into what is arguably the queen stage on Friday.

Like UAE, Jumbo-Visma have three riders primed in the top 10 with Roglic 1’32” behind team-mate and surprise race leader Sepp Kuss, and Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard 2’22” down in seventh.

American climber Kuss will take a 23-second lead over Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) and 1’09” over defending champion Evenepoel into Stage 13, which concludes on the legendary Col du Tourmalet in France after ascents of the Col d’Aubisque and the Col de Spandelles.

It’s a stage where the gaps could be four minutes rather than the four seconds Roglic stole back in the dying moments of today’s race into Zaragoza.

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