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Vuelta á Espana: Rodriguez wins stage 12, stretches GC lead

Nicolas Roche battled up the day’s final climb to finish eighth, consolidating his top 10 status in the general classification.

Image: MANU FERNANDEZ/AP/Press Association Images

Result: SPAIN’S JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ (Katusha) tightened his grip on the red jersey with a brilliant performance to win Thursday’s 12th stage of the Vuelta, a 185 kilometre ride from Vilagarcia to Mirador de Ezaro. His nearest GC rival Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Tinkoff) was seven seconds behind in second place while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished third.

The win opens up a 13 second gap between Rodriguez and Contador at the top of the GC standings. Christopher Froome (Sky) is 51 seconds behind Rodriguez in third.

Here’s how it happened: Thursday’s summit finish in Mirador de Ezaro promised a dramatic finale and the riders did not disappoint as Rodriguez showed his drive to outlast Contador in the climb to the line.

Battling a strong headwind, the peloton was in defensive mode from the off and a game of cat-and-mouse with any would be attackers soon followed. The high pace kept splinters to a minimum and breakaways were repeatedly reeled in before a four-man group — Amael Moinard, Mikel Astarloza, Kevin de Weert and Cameron Meyer — managed to pry open a gap which then ballooned to over seven minutes.

It was only in the final kilometres over a testing 16% gradient that Astarloza was finally swallowed up as Rodriguez shrugged off Contador to reassert his hold on the red jersey.

Who’s wearing what jersey?

  • Red (general classification): Joaquim Rodriguez
  • Green (points): Joaquim Rodriguez
  • Blue dots (mountains): Alejandro Valverde
  • White (all-round): Joaquim Rodriguez

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How did Nico do? Roche’s brilliant performance continued as he battled up the final climb to finish in eighth, 31 seconds behind Rodriguez. He stays seventh in the GC, 53 seconds ahead of America’s Andrew Talansky.

What happens tomorrow? We’re back on the flat again as the peloton travels 173 kilometres from Santiago de Compostela to Ferrol.

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Niall Kelly

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