John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) sprinted to his third victory of this year’s Vuelta a Espana on stage 12 in Logrono.
Degenkolb out-sprinted Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) as a crash in the bunch on the final bend caused a split in the bunch with 15 riders contesting the sprint.
The German profited from a perfect lead-out by Sinkeldam, however, to take the stage win as the GC men all avoided the crash to ensure no change overall.
The flat, circuitous course allowed the peloton to set a steady pace throughout – using it as more of a recovery ride after the tactical battles on the Alto San Miguel.
With little hope of a breakaway succeeding, only Matthias Krizek (Cannondale) gave it a go, escaping early in the race and stretching out a big lead.
Any interest in the intermediate sprints was also annulled, with the GC men playing second fiddle to the sprinters on each occasion and Tinkoff-Saxo ensuring Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) did not earn any bonus seconds.
With Krizek up the road, Giant-Shimano and FDJ.fr did much of the chasing – keeping Krizek at a manageable distance in front with the gap hovering around the 3’30” mark for much of the stage.
With little chance of crosswinds, the drama of some of the previous sprint stages was also dampened as the pace began to be ramped up with each passing lap of the Logrono circuit.
Big shifts by Laurent Mangel (FDJ.fr) and Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano) kept the gap to Krizek – despite the Austrian also building his speed up – coming down.
The upping of pace had the effect of stringing out the peloton, but the sprint teams brought their riders forward as Tinkoff-Saxo, protecting the red jersey, did the same with Alberto Contador.
Krizek’s advantage, which had remained steady for much of the stage, tumbled on the final lap and the Austrian was brought back halfway round the final circuit.
BMC Racing hit the front, seemingly to protect Samuel Sanchez, while Astana, Lampre-Merida and Lotto-Belisol also brought their lead sprinters forward.
Tinkoff-Saxo also dominated at the front, however, with the sprint teams happy to stay in the wheels of the GC men – the pace at the front forcing Krizek straight through the bunch and out the back.
FDJ.fr, who had done the pace-setting for so much of the stage, were one of the teams to lose position however as Degenkolb remained safe at the front with his Giant-Shimano team-mates.
Tinkoff-Saxo and BMC Racing continued to lead the bunch, with Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing) trying a short-lived attack for the latter.
With Degenkolb down to one team-mate, it was Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff-Saxo) who brought the Italian back, with Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r-La Mondiale) appearing well-placed as they passed under the flamme rouge.
As the sprint teams started their lead-outs, a crash in the bunch caused a split with several FDJ.fr riders hitting the deck on the final bend.
Degenkolb, on team-mate Roman Sinkeldam’s wheel, was one of just 15 riders in the front group and Sinkeldam delivered the perfect lead-out.
Boonen remained on Degenkolb’s wheel, but the German was simply too fast, repeating his victory of two years earlier to take win number three of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.
Vuelta a Espana 2014: stage 12 – result
1) John Degenkolb (GER) – Giant-Shimano – 4.11.18hrs
2) Tom Boonen (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – ST
3) Jacopo Guarnieri (ITA) – Astana
4) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Cannondale
5) Ariel Richeze (ARG) – Lampre-Merida
6) Yannick Martinez (FRA) – Team Europcar
7) Lloyd Mondory (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
8) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – Trek Factory Racing
9) Jasper Stuyven (BEL) – Trek Factory Racing
10) Guillaume Boivin (CAN) – Cannondale
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 44.38.56hrs
2) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +20”
3) Rogoberto Uran (COL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +1.08
4) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +1.20
5) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +1.35
6) Samuel Sanchez (ESP) – BMC Racing +1.52
7) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +2.13
8) Winner Anacona (COL) – Lampre-Merida +2.22
9) Robert Gesink (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +2.55
10) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – Cannondale +3.51