Vuelta Travelogue - Anticipation and Trepidation
Stage 12, September 7th,
Aranda de Duero
Guadalajara, 169.3 km
The Giants of La Mancha
Don Quixote's 'giants' of La Mancha
Heading south, the route passes over the River Duero, out of Castilla y León and into the region of Castilla La Mancha (home of the famous Don Quixote). A winding route on good roads will lead the race to Guadalajara with just one Category 3 climb at 66kms. Windmills and castles are frequent sights on top of hills in this region and the Jadraque ‘El Cid' castle not far from Guadalara is a fine example.
El Cid's medieval castle at Jadraque near Guadalajara
Off to the riders right Madrid lies tantalizingly close, but there are ten more days (including the second rest day) to go. And today was business as usual.
Every stage in the Vuelta starts with a pre-race neutral zone followed by an official departure point and an all out attack. Today the peloton rolled out of Aranda de Duero to the cheers of a huge crowd at 13:30 and the first attack was at 13:34. Thirteen riders were quickly brought back to the pack by the sprinters teams.
Through the first intermediate sprint a group of 8 riders established a 1'12” advantage with Milram and Cofidis in control of the chasing peloton. The breakaway came to an end 2km from the top of the Category 3 Alto de Santibanez de Ayllon . The average speed for the first hour was a brisk 50.8km/h.
The always aggressive Vuelta saw the next attack soon after the summit. A group led by Paolo Bettini and Bernard Eisel moved away from the peloton. Caisse d'Epargne's David Arroyo chased hard and connected with the breakaway as the peloton turn-off the hard chase. The lead grew to 11'26” making Arroyo (27th place, +14'09”) and Discovery's Vladimir Gusev (29 th place, +19'30”) the two riders of interest in the breakaway.
Stage 12's successful breakaway ( Image © Unipublic )
A concerned Astana team came to the front increasing the pace of the peloton. The lead began to fall, but slowly. Working very smoothly the breakaway neutralized the most of the chase as the kilometers clicked off very quickly.
Astana leading the chase ( Image © Unipublic )
Into the City of Guadalajara the breakaway started to race for the stage win. With a 9'10” gap the attacks came quickly and often. Under the 1km banner Luca Paolini held onto a small gap as the sprinters of the group chased hard. The sprint is uphill all the way to the line as a suffering Paolini looks back and crossed the line for the stage win. Luca Paolini executed a brilliant attack and earned the stage win. Liquigas claimed their second stage win of this year's Vuelta and Paolini gained his first Grand Tour stage win. Davitamon-Lotto's Bart Dockx (Bel) rolled across second with Paolo Bettini third.
Stage Winner Luca Paolini ( Images © Unipublic )
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