Trek’s Danny Van Poppel impressively claimed his first Grand Tour stage victory by winning stage 12 of this year’s Vuelta a España in Lleida on Thursday.
Impressively, Van Poppel remained in contention for the stage victory despite suffering a puncture with just over 10 kilometres remaining. Undeterred, he looked composed in an unsightly and chaotic finale.
That the final 500 metres lacked the slickness of other, more conventional sprints, was down to the fact that the day’s breakaway remained clear going under the flamme rouge.
The quintet of Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step), Miguel Ángel Rubiano (Colombia), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale) formed within the first five minutes of the stage; Bouet and Venter were the last two to be caught with around 200 metres remaining.
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Nine-time Vuelta stage winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) was on Van Poppel’s wheel approaching the line, but subsequently got boxed in. Van Poppel followed LottoNL-Jumbo’s lead-out for Tom Van Asbroek, which ultimately gave him a clear run to the line.
Fabio Aru (Astana) retained the leader’s red jersey after a straightforward day in the saddle. However, the peloton was without Chris Froome today, as the Sky rider abandoned the race having broken his navicular.
Vuelta a Espana 2015 stage 12: Escaldes-Engordany > Lleida (173km)
1. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek in 4-02-11
2. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge at 0-00
3. Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto-Soudal at 0-00
4. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx-Quick-Step at 0-00
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 0-00
6. Jempy Drucker (Lux) BMC at 0-00
7. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0-00
8. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka at 0-00
9. José Joaquín Rojas (Esp) Movistar at 0-00
10. Leonardo Duque (Col) Colombia at 0-00
General classification after stage 12
1. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana in 47-14-30
2. Joaquim Rodríguez (Esp) Katusha at 0-27
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0-30
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1-28
5. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 1-29
6. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar at 1-52
7. Daniel Moreno (Esp) Katusha at 1-54
8. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Sky at 1-58
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3-07
10. Louis Mentjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 4-15