The rain in Spain hasn’t fallen on the plains. Or at least today promises a scorching hot stage across the plains and a likely sprint finish.
Stage 12 Review: the day began with someone putting the arse in arson by setting the Aqua Blue team bus on fire and gutting it but the team races on. The travel is easy to replace – they got a bus from a local coach company – but a team bus is like a giant Swiss army knife on wheels, it’s so much more than transport. They’ll miss things like the washing machines or the onboard showers.
Back to the race and there was a second stage win for Tomasz Marczyński, the most Spanish of Polish cyclists and this time he was almost on home roads. The Spanish might want to claim him, there’s still no home stage win and this hasn’t happened since 1996. The Pole is clearly back to the level shown in the past and took his chance by going solo and leaving J-J Rojas to another near miss but allowing Movistar to consolidate their position in the team classification.
Alberto Contador tried another attack and it looked like a popularity bid but he hooked up with team mate Edward Theuns which helped relay him to the finish. Behind Chris Froome had crashed twice and had to change bikes meaning he was chasing just to get back to the group of contenders. He’d lose 42 seconds and 22 to the likes of Vincenzo Nibali. The move helped Contador move up the GC but only by a few seconds but helped spice the finish.
The Route: almost 200km and some rolling terrain to start with, the opening climb is a good place for the breakaway to go clear as they head for Tomares, a suburb of Seville.
The Finish: it’s hilly. There’s a good ramp between 3km and 2km to go, the kind that will sap the legs of some pure sprinters. Then the rises and falls continue before a slight uphill drag to the line.
The Contenders: Matteo Trentin. The problem is that this is a perfect stage for him, he’s good in an uphill sprint all year and the field here in the Vuelta only gives him more of an advantage while Julian Alaphilippe is a punchy Plan B. So will other teams with house sprinters bother trying to set up a sprint? Lotto-Jumbo’s J-J Lobato is a good pick too because he’s versatile and in good shape while a year ago Magnus Cort Nielsen was on fire but his form seems to be extinguished by now although this kind of finish suits him. Sunweb’s Søren Kragh Andersen is worth a mention again as is FDJ’s Anthony Roux.
|Alaphilippe, MCN, SKA, Roux
Weather: hot and sunny with a top temperature of 35°C
TV: It’s on La1 in Spain and Eurosport around much of the world and often on the same broadcaster you watch the Tour de France on. The finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST.
Daily Díaz: Every time the race visits Seville (KM 183) there are lots of things to say. Spain’s fourth largest city is where Marta del Castillo disappeared in 2009. This 17 year old girl went to see some friends and never came back. The main suspects, some of the most hated people in Spain, have been fooling the police ever since, and Marta’s body hasn’t been found yet. Seville is also the birthplace of Alberto Rodríguez, the director of some of the most interesting Spanish films in the last years, such as Grupo 7 and La isla mínima. Watch one of them if you have the chance. Finally, in a city with so many ancient buildings (Roman, Islamic, Gothic, et cetera ) there is a 21st century construction everybody is talking about: Metropol Parasol (2005-2011), by Jürgen Mayer. Some like it, some don’t, but most people agree it was too expensive (100 million €, twice what was initially estimated).
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel