UAE-Emirates provided their sprinter Juan Sebastián Molano with an expert lead-out for him to overturn the dominance of Kaden Groves and the Alpecin-Deceuninck team to win the sprint for stage 12 of the Vuelta a España.
Alpecin had spent the majority of the day on the front of the peloton controlling one of the Vuelta’s few nailed on sprint stages. But within a few hundred meters of the line Rui Olivera sped past the Alpecin train to deliver his team’s fastman to victory.
Groves later revealed he’d suffered a dropped chain in the finale of the stage.
At the finish Molano told the TV broadcasters: “I’m very happy. Thanks for my team, they did amazingly this victory is for my team and my family.
He added: “We did it how it was planned on the last corner we had to be close to the font on the fences and open up at this point.”
Olivera told GCN+ it was “chaos” in the finishing sprint. “With one kilometer to go we were a bit stuck but I knew we had to wait," he said.
"I knew I had the legs from the other day and I knew if I timed it well I could perform a good lead-out. I knew Molano would be on my wheel. When I saw him passing me and no one coming close, I felt like this victory was my own.”
Groves, who was approaching the line fast but ran out of road, added: “Our team did a fantastic job in the end we got bumped by UAE who came with momentum and my chain actually dropped I managed to get it back on but by then I was too far back."
With a parcours that went downhill for much of its first half and had nothing resembling a serious climb for its entire 150km there was only ever one plan for the day -a bunch sprint. Everyone in the bunch seemed well aware of that as within moments of the flag dropping a breakaway pair of Jetse Bol (Burgos-Bh) and Abel Balderstone (Caja Rural - Seguros).
Kaden Groves started the day with a commanding lead in the points classification, with double the points of his nearest rival Remco Evenepoel (Soudal - Quick-Step) thanks to two sprint wins and a second place so far at the Spanish race.
Alpecin-Deceuninck team spent much of the race dictating the pace on the front, always keeping the pair out front’s gap below the three minute mark.
He put a down-payment on their work by winning the intermediate sprint at 19km to go to pick up a further 20 points.
Entering the outskirts of the finish town of Zaragoza the Soudal - Quick-Step squad took charge on the wide thee lane roads one working to keep their GC leader Remco Evenepoel out of trouble.
As sure as night follows day as the race approached the three kilometers to go mark through a sweeping curve of a slip road it was the sprinters teams that stamped their authority, his squad meeting head on the responsibility that had fallen their way.
Entering the final kilometer the squad still had three riders ahead of Groves. The result had seemed like a foregone conclusion but as UAE surged to the front Groves disappeared as he tried to get his chain back on and his Colombian rival took a well deserved win.
Groves did however, further tighten his grip on the points jersey.
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