Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Nippo) won stage 12 of La Vuelta from a reduced group sprint. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quickstep) was 2nd and Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 3rd.
Stage 12 of La Vuelta a Espana took riders on a 175km route, from Jaen to Cordoba. Once again, the peloton set off at an incredibly fast pace, with attack after attack. Team Qhubeka NextHash were adamant on making an impression today and made sure to be part of every move.
Our South African team also had different kind of battle on it’s hands today too, in trying to get Fabio Aru to the finish, after his health took a turn for the worse over night. The Italian bravely took to the start, ready to try and fight to the finish.
Dimitri Claeys, Bert-Jan Lindeman and Dylan Sunderland were all part of separate moves in the first 75km of the stage, but on each occasion they were brought back by the peloton.
Finally, with less than 100km to go, Sander Armee managed to get away with 7 other riders and they were able to open a maximum lead of 1’30” over the peloton. UAE Emirates took up the chase from the peloton, as they planned to set the stage up for a sprint.
Reaching Cordoba, the peloton had a clockwise and then anti clockwise loop to complete around the town, both including a tough categorised climb on each loop. Armee’s break survived over the first of the two climbs but was then caught 2km from the top of the final climb. This prompted a counter attack of 4 riders, and again Team Qhubeka NextHash was in the mix with Sergio Henao.
Henao joined Roman Bardet, Jay Vine and Giulio Ciccone on the offensive. The quartet squeezed out a 25″ gap over the top of the climb, and slightly extended it on the decent by a few more seconds too. As the road leveled out though, it was advantage peloton as BikeExchange came to assist Team UAE with the chase.
It was a fantastic effort by our Colombian climber, but his breakaway would ultimately be caught with just over a kilometer to go, setting up a reduced group sprint. Cort Nielsen proved to be fastest from the group, taking his 2nd stage win of the race.
Henao would finish with the group, 37th on the stage, not necessarily a result that reflects the full commitment of the team today. The happy ending for our South African team was still to be had though, as Fabio Aru managed to fight through the entire day and finished the stage.