Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Nippo) is everywhere! On the day after Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) narrowly took victory away from him on the slopes of Valdepeñas de Jaen and a week after his spectacular win at Cullera, the Dane dominated the sprint in a reduced bunch in the streets of Cordoba to cap off another demanding stage 12 of La Vuelta 21.
That’s his fifth victory in the Spanish Grand Tour, five years after the first one. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) saved La Roja for another day.
The start of stage 12 of La Vuelta 21 sees a 168-man peloton roll from Jaen and head for Cordoba in the early afternoon. They’re still willing to battle after two eventful days towards Rincon de la Victoria and Valdepeñas de Jaen. With many attacks and counter-attacks, the peloton cover 50.2km in the first hour, and the battle for the break is ongoing.
After 76km, Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sebastian Berwick (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Sander Armée (Team Qhubeka NextHash) manage to jump away from the bunch as they enter the last 100km. Many riders want to join them and five of them succeed with 84km to go: Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën Team), Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Maxim van Gils (Lotto Soudal) and Chad Haga (Team DSM), who celebrates his 33rd birthday with a breakaway attempt.
Another crash for Roglic
UAE Team Emirates control the gap. The attackers are only 1’ away at the bottom of the first climb, the Alto de San Jeronimo (13km, 3.4%). Chad Haga is quickly dropped from the breakaway and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) suffers the same fate in the bunch. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) are involved in a crash with 53km to go but they quickly get back on their bikes.
The break explodes ahead of the final climb of the day, the Alto del 14%, to be summited with 18.8km to go. Maxim Van Gils goes solo on the first slopes, but the peloton only trail by 35’’.
Another thrilling finale
Van Gils is caught 3km away from the summit and four attackers set off: Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Sergio Henao (Qhubeka NextHash). They open a 30’’ gap as they fly downhill towards Cordoba. Team BikeExchange pull for Michael Matthews behind them.
The attackers are reeled in inside the last kilometre. EF Education Nippo power to the front and Magnus Cort Nielsen surges to victory, millimetres ahead of Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick Step). Matthews has to settle for third, ahead of Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates). Odd Christian Eiking finishes inside the 39-man front group to retain La Roja.- www.lavuelta.es