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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

61st Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006

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Stage 12 – September 7: Aranda de Duero-Guadalajara, 169.3 km

Live report

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST

23:17 CEST   
Stage 12 will be a rather flattish stage with just one climb in the middle of the parcours. The only mountain will be Alto de Santibañez de Ayllon (1,430 m. above sea level – km 66.4). There will be two intermediate sprints in Ayllon (km 44.8) and Yunquera de Henares (km 153). The route is very favourable for the sprinters' teams if they control the attacks on the climb.

14:40 CEST    41km/128.3km to go
Rollin', rollin', rollin'... we're 40 km into stage 12 between Aranda de Duero and Guadalajara and we have a breakaway group with the following riders in it: Christopher Horner (Davitamon-Lotto - best on GC at 13'55), Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC), Ian Mcleod (Française des Jeux), José Luis Arrieta (AG2R Prevoyance), Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step-Innergetic), René Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner), Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas). The break started 16 km into the stage when Haselbacher, Arvesen, Fofonov, and McLeod attacked, and were joined by the others 9 km later.

The advantage at the moment is 1'12, with Milram leading the chase.

14:43 CEST    47km/122.3km to go
The only other breakaway today saw Davitamon-Lotto's young powerhouse Olivier Kaisen attack after 3 km. He was joined by a dozen others, but the break was brought back after 13 km. The next attack proved to be a better one.

At the sprint in Ayllón, the break leads by only 55 seconds, with Bäckstedt winning ahead of Arvesen and Haselbacher.

Angel Gomez Gomez (Saunier Duval) has abandoned.

15:29 CEST    87km/82.3km to go
The break is caught a couple of kilometres from the top of the day's only climb, the Alto de Santibáñez de Ayllón. Yesterday's winner Egoi Martinez (Discovery) obviously has good legs, and takes the points ahead of mountains leader Caucchioli, Paolo Bettini and Oscar Pereiro.

On the descent, a group of 11 attacks: Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel), Paolo Bettini and Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step-Innergetic), Luca Paolini (Liquigas), Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Bart Dockx and Björn Leukemans (Davitamon-Lotto), Bernhard Eisel and Ian Mcleod (Française des Jeux), Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner), Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R Prevoyance). They are chased by four riders: David Arroyo and Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Pieter Mertens (Davitamon-Lotto), and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole).

Latest abandons: Sven Montgomery and Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner).

15:30 CEST   
Arroyo has managed to bridge up to the leaders, but the other three riders with him have been absorbed by the bunch. The new 12 man break has 2'35 over the peloton.

An impressive 50.8 km were covered in the first hour!

15:31 CEST   
Smart move by Caisse d'Epargne to put Arroyo up front. He is the best placed on GC at 14'09, and will again take the pressure off his team to chase.

15:41 CEST   
The weather today is a bit humid and overcast. It's even raining in some areas near the parcours, so it's likely that the riders will get a bit damp. The temperature, which was in the low 30s, has dropped to around 28 degrees Celsius.

15:43 CEST    92km/77.3km to go
Gerolsteiner is not having a good day of it today. Markus Fothen is their third rider to stop.

The break now has 4'17 on the bunch, with the average speed after two hours now 44.7 km/h. That second hour was a lot slower than the first.

15:53 CEST    100km/69.3km to go
The break is gaining ground over the bunch, and it's getting close to crunch time. The peloton doesn't appear to be interested in bringing this group back.

There are some interesting names up here, and it's not easy to pick a potential winner. Arroyo is obviously strong, but this finish won't suit him. Gusev can go if given a sniff, while Bettini has Hulsmans and Eisel has McLeod to lead him out/keep it together for a sprint. Dockx and Leukemans are another combination, while Paolini and Nazon are also fast finishers. And don't forget Haussler, who won a Vuelta stage (the 19th) last year. The only real unknown is Ruben Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

16:00 CEST    110km/59.3km to go
The break hits 80 km/h on a bit of a descent as everyone works to keep the speed up. This one will go all the way, as Caisse d'Epargne (who have a rider in the break anyway) is not chasing.

It is dry and overcast, but we have had some rain.

16:01 CEST   
The gap is 9'18 and growing. That will prompt some other teams to start chasing soon, as Arroyo will be in the virtual gold jersey soon.

16:09 CEST    120km/49.3km to go
The Caisse d'Epargne riders start to shed their jackets and long gloves, as the dark clouds recede behind the peloton. They're not chasing, but they are riding at the front. Their tactics have attracted a bit of criticism from other riders, like Sastre, who think they should take more responsibility for the leader's jersey.

Well they are, except in a different way. This way (putting a good rider in the break) preserves the team.

The gap goes up over 10 minutes.

16:12 CEST    122.3km/47km to go
Joan Horrach, who appears to have cut his hair since the Giro, leads the bunch at a fairly sedate pace, 10'32 behind the break. He doesn't look too concerned, and he shouldn't be. CSC and Astana should be though.

16:14 CEST   
Eisel punctures, but gets back on in the lead group. Hulsmans rolls through for his turn, sucking on an energy gel.

16:17 CEST    125.3km/44km to go
The gap goes up to 11'11 and some Astana jerseys move on up to the front. Barredo and Paulinho start to work.

16:18 CEST   
And there's a CSC riders up there too to chase. The gap is 11'27, and that's probably as much as it will get to.

16:21 CEST    127.3km/42km to go
Straight away, the gap comes back to 11'00. Astana and CSC have been forced to work.

16:24 CEST    128.3km/41km to go
The break continues to work, although Arroyo ain't doing a whole lot. Except use the brakes.

Astana has all eight riders on the front of the bunch. There's no-one there from CSC any more. The gap is cut to 10'40.

16:30 CEST    134.3km/35km to go
The break hits 72 km/h again on a descent. The roads here are quite wide and it's fairly straightforward to navigate.

The bunch is moving at a rapid pace through Cogolludo, still over 10 minutes behind the break.

16:34 CEST    137.3km/32km to go
Barredo rides up with bidons for his teammates at the front of the peloton. The third hour is completed at 46.6 km/h.

16:37 CEST   
Eisel skips a turn at the back of the break, which is working relatively well together as it hits flatter terrain. Despite the dark clouds in the background, everyone is in short sleeves, as it's still fairly warm.

The gap has come back to 9'56 but Astana has to work to keep it there.

16:40 CEST    144.3km/25km to go
The kilometres are disappearing fast as the break rides through Humanes with 25 km to go. It's not one of the most interesting towns en route.

16:42 CEST    145.3km/24km to go
Hulsmans and Bettini do their turns, then French sprinter Nazon does a soft one, forcing Hulsmans to come through again.

16:44 CEST    147.3km/22km to go
Astana has backed off a bit, having neutralised the threat of Arroyo. One of the Milram riders - Petacchi? - rides up to the front of the bunch to check out what's going down.

16:46 CEST   
Once again, the speed goes up to 78km/h in front. Paolini and Dockx come through for their turns.

16:48 CEST    151.3km/18km to go
The gap has levelled off at around 10 minutes. The break is still working well, but it won't be too much longer before someone attacks. The speed is a bit high at the moment.

16:50 CEST   

16:51 CEST    154.3km/15km to go
The break rides through Yunquera De Henares at high speed along the narrow streets. Arroyo sits last wheel.

16:53 CEST   
The gap has come back to 9'34 as Astana rides a bit harder behind. Yakovlev is doing a lot of works, as is Kemps. Vino and Kashechkin are tucked in behind them.

16:55 CEST    156.3km/13km to go
Eisel does a hard turn and gets a gap with Paolini. They leave Fontanars. Paolini does a turn, and a few riders bridge up. Gusev, Arroyo, McLeod, Perez and Dockx have to chase on. All together.

16:56 CEST    158.3km/11km to go
The break stays together as Hulsmans does a powerful turn. He wants to have Bettini in the best possible position at the end. Haussler sits on his wheel, then Nazon.

16:57 CEST   
Nazon isn't just a sprinter either. He won last year's Memorial Van Steenbergen with a late solo attack.

16:57 CEST    159.3km/10km to go
CSC moves up the bunch, but it's still Astana doing all the work as they negotiate a tricky roundabout. The gap is 9'20.

16:59 CEST    161.3km/8km to go
Not much is going to happen on GC today, as Arroyo won't quite move into the top 10, even with 9 minutes.

Hulsmans leads under 8 km to go.

17:00 CEST    162.3km/7km to go
The pace is a constant 50-60 km/h at the moment. Still Hulsmans on the front, with 7 km to go. This has been a long turn by the Belgian. Millar did one like it the other day, but it did not pay off for Ventoso.

17:01 CEST   
Michael Boogerd punctures in the peloton. It'll be a bit of work to chase back on, as the bunch is fully lined out.

17:01 CEST    162.8km/6.5km to go
Hulsmans looks to be tiring. And Haussler is the first to attack!

17:02 CEST    163.3km/6km to go
Nice attack, but Bettini, Paolini and Eisel ride up to the young German. That's going to hurt Bettini.

17:02 CEST    164.3km/5km to go
No-one counters, allowing Hulsmans to come back. Gusev is the next to attack, but he has everyone on his wheel.

17:03 CEST    165.3km/4km to go
Gusev eases up and Paolini counters. Leukemans is the first to react.

17:03 CEST   
Paolini has a gap as the others look at each other. Bettini probably won't chase (friend, future teammate at the world's).

17:04 CEST    166.3km/3km to go
Paolini looks back and sees he has a gap. He flies under 3 km to go, but the chase is on behind.

17:04 CEST   
Paolini avoids a traffic obstacle and takes a left hander. Eisel or McLeod ends up on the footpath, but doesn't crash.

17:05 CEST    167.3km/2km to go
The road goes up now and Paolini has Bettini and Leukemans or Dockx coming up to him.

17:05 CEST    167.3km/2km to go
Paolini continues to ride, but now the lactic acid is burning in his legs. He goes under 2 km to go.

17:06 CEST   
Dockx and Bettini go under 2 km to go, just behind Paolini. Then a small group with Perez, Leukemans, Gusev, Nazon and Arroyo, Eisel?. Gusev counters.

17:07 CEST    168.3km/1km to go
Paolini has his hands in an odd position on the hoods. The road continues to rise but he's now past 1 km to go. Tricky corner there.

17:07 CEST   
Nazon has to go under the tape marking off the corner, losing time to the chasers. Bettini and Dockx must be close to Paolini, but not close enough.

17:08 CEST   
Bettini isn't working well with Dockx (understandably). Paolini will surely win.

17:09 CEST    169.3km/0km to go
The final straight is all gradually uphill. Bettini sits behind Dockx, looking back at Gusev and Arroyo, who are trying to come up. But it's Paolini who wins!!!!

17:09 CEST   
Bettini lets Dockx take second, then Gusev is fourth ahead of Arroyo, then Perez, Eisel, Nazon and Haussler.

17:19 CEST   
Well that was some good teamwork by Luca Paolini and Paolo Bettini, with the latter serving as a spoiler for Bart Dockx's chase attempt. Bettini didn't take a hard turn with Dockx, allowing his friend Paolini the win. But a friend like that will be handy to have in the world championships in a few weeks. That's bike racing. Still, Paolini was the one who attacked and held it - full credit to him for winning today's stage.

The peloton comes in at 8'54 led by Marzoli and Hushovd. No significant changes to GC.

That's all folks! See you tomorrow.


1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas                                         3.35.07
2 Bart Dockx (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                       0.05
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic
4 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                0.08
5 David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
6 Rubén Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                    0.17
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française des Jeux                                0.22
8 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance
9 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                   0.33
10 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                 0.39

General classification after stage 12

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears            49.38.46
2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team                                    0.27
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                           0.44
4 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                  0.56
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Team                                 1.38
6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team               2.05
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                          2.21
8 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                2.28
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                  3.02
10 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Astana Team                                     3.42


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