Stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana from Los Corrales de Buelna to Bilbao was an eventful one for our team. Nathan Haas had fallen ill and wasn’t able to finish today’s tough stage within the time limit. For Omar Fraile it was an emotional stage in a different way, as the race reached not only his home area but also passed through his home town. Wearing the KOM jersey (on behalf of GC leader Nairo Quintana), he was keen to represent Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka out front. He was seen to be in nearly every move from the beginning. However, none of these groups managed to forge clear. In the end our Basque all-rounder had to settle for a ride in the peloton, but played an important role in helping Kristian Sbaragli to finish inside the top 5 of the day. The Italian crossed the line in 4th place behind stage winner Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange).
It took a long time until a group of six riders managed to form the break of the day. On the cat.1 Puerto de las Alisas, Peter Kennaugh, David Lopez (both Sky), Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Romain Hardy (Cofidis), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), and Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) reached the summit at kilometer 50 with a gap over the peloton. Yet, Astana wasn’t keen on allowing them too much room to play with.
Atapuma was the first to drop out of the lead group after crashing on the descent from the first climb. The other five continued, but weren’t able to grow their gap beyond the 3-minute mark. In the end they were reeled back on the El Vivero, a cat.2 climb which needed to be ridden twice today, with 18km left to race.
Dries Devenyns (IAM) was the next to try his luck. He crossed the summit alone, 30″ ahead of the group of the GC favourites, in which our African team featured with several riders as well. Sbaragli was one of them and when it all came back together with 1.5km to go, he found himself in a good position.
A late attack by Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) in the final put his teammate Keukeleire in a great position, as when the Australian was caught, Keukeleire could open the sprint. No one was able to come past the Belgian, Maxime Bouet (Etixx-QuickStep) and Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) rounded out the podium, with the latter just getting the better of Sbaragli on the line.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
It was a very tough stage. We already went full gas from the start to the finish yesterday and today it was not different. There were good riders in the break, but it came all back together in the end. It was a good stage for me. The guys were really super in helping to put me in a good position for the first time up the hard circuit climb. Today was one of the stages I wanted to do well at, it was a bit harder than I expected. The group was really small so I had to go really deep to stay in front. I missed a kick in the sprint, I went early and they overtook me but it’s better to try than to have a problem because you waited too long.