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Two years after taking his first win in Logrono, Degenkolb repeated when he benefited from a perfect lead-out by Sinkeldam and a big crash to easily hold off Boonen and Guarnieri; Contador avoided the carnage and defended his lead

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ALBERTO CONTADOR

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JACOPO GUARNIERI

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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TEAM SUNWEB

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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04.09.2014 @ 18:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two years after his first won the circuit race in Logrono, John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) repeated the feat when he took a dominant win in a crash-marred sprint on stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana. Having been perfectly led out by Ramon Sinkeldam, he easily held off Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana) to take his third stage win in the race while Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) avoided the crashes and defended the overall lead.

 

Two years ago John Degenkolb took his second grand tour stage win in Logrono when he narrowly passed Daniele Bennati on the long finishing straight in the city in Northern Spain. Today he proved that the finish is perfectly suited to his powerful sprinting style when he made it two in a row by winning stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana which was an identical copy of the stage he won in 2012.

 

This time Degenkolb took the win by a much bigger margin as he easily held off Tom Boonen and Jacopo Guarnieri in the final dash to the line but he never got the chance to measure himself against big rival Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ). A big crash in the final turn with 1100m to go brought down several riders, including most of the FDJ train, and left only a small group of around 15 riders to contest the sprint.

 

While Bouhanni and several other sprinters paid the price for a bad position, Degenkolb was always near the front and never realized what was going on behind. He stayed calm while Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) led the peloton under the flamme rouge and was perfectly supported by Ramon Sinkeldam who quickly moved onto Roberto Ferrrari’s wheel when the Lampre rider hit the front to lead Maximiliano Richeze out.

 

When the Italian started to fade, Sinkeldam took over and he delivered Degenkolb perfectly. Boonen was in a great position on the German’s wheel and tried to anticipate his rival but when Degenkolb launched his sprint, the outcome was never in doubt.

 

Further down the road, the splintered peloton was rolling towards the finish line while riders like Mitch Docker (Orica-GreenEDGE), Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) were licking their wounds after the crash. The GC riders all avoided the carnage and were saved by the three-kilometre rule which guaranteed that none of them lost any time.

 

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) had a very easy day in the saddle as the peloton easily kept lone escapee Matthias Krizek (Cannondale) under control and only in the final 20km did the peloton start to ride faster. Hence, he defended his 20-second lead over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

 

Tomorrow he faces a much trickier stage. After a flat start, the riders do three categorized climbs in the final half before they descend to the finish in Obregon. With 2.5km to go, they go up a short 1km ramp before the road levels out for the final 1.5km, meaning that it could be a day for a breakaway or a strong puncheur.

 

A flat stage

After three stages that were crucial for the GC, it was back into flatter terrain for stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana. The 166.4km stage was held as a circuit race around the city of Logrono and was made up of 8 laps of an almost completely flat 20.8km circuit. With little wind and flat roads, a bunch sprint was widely expected.

 

There were no overnight withdrawals and so 190 riders took the start under beautiful sunny conditions. Everybody knew that the stage would be firmly controlled so no one showed any real desire in joining the break.

 

Krizek takes off

Matthias Krizek (Cannondale) made the first attack but no one joined the young Austrian. After 4km of racing, he was 30 seconds ahead and at the 16km mark, he had extended it to 5.08.

 

The sprint teams now started to control the situation and when he crossed the line for the first time, his advantage had dropped to 4.30. He almost stopped to wait for the peloton but changed his mind and decided to press on, increasing his advantage to 5.20 after 27km of racing.

 

Points for Bouhanni

Just before the second passage of the finish line, the riders contested the first intermediate sprint which was of course won by Krizek. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) took second while Michael Valgren (Tinkoff-Saxo) took third.

 

At this point, the peloton was 8 minutes behind and was led by the Tinkoff-Saxo team. When the gap reached 9 minutes, FDJ took over the pace-setting and moments later Giant-Shimano also put men up front.

 

The chase gets organized

Those two teams kept the gap stable at around 9 minutes before they started to bring Krizek back. At the end of the third lap, they had reduced the deficit to 7.30.

 

Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano) led the peloton across the line for the fourth time with a deficit of 6.20 but soon he stopped his work and left it to Laurent Mangel (FDJ) and Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano) to ride on the front. At the end of the next lap, the pair had brought the gap down to 3.45.

 

The peloton slows down

Knowing that it was too early to catch the break, Mangel and Craddock slowed down and while the peloton enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere, they kept the gap stable during the sixth lap. At the end, Krizek won the final intermediate sprint while Bouhanni and Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) sprinted ahead to pick up the final points, the latter avoiding that Alejandro Valverde scored bonus seconds.

 

Mangel had now blown up and instead Murilo Fischer started to work with Craddock. The pair accelerated and with 28km to go, the gap was only 2.25.

 

Krizek is caught

The fight for position had now started and it was Tinkoff-Saxo who hit the front to guide Contador through a series of roundabouts near the end of the penultimate lap. Mangel went back to work and led the peloton across the line with a deficit of 1.30.

 

Cedric Pineau took over the pace-setting for FDJ but he got swamped by the GC teams that all wanted to keep their captains near the front. Rohan Dennis, Manuel Quinziato and Samuel Sanchez hit the front for BMC and with 12km to go, they had brought Krizek back.

 

Tinkoff-Saxo take control

Dennis took a massive turn on the front and with 7km to go, Tinkoff-Saxo took over. Matteo Tosatto and Michael Valgren did a massive work while the sprint teams started to organize themselves.

 

With 2km to go, Quinziato launched a surprise attack but Ivan Rovny quickly reacted and brought the Italian back. Bennati now took over and led the peloton through the final turn where the big crash marred the sprint in which Degenkolb emerged as the strongest.

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