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Vuelta a Espana 2017: Marczynski takes his second win while Froome falters

Pete Muir
31 Aug 2017

A mechanical and fall sees Froome lose seconds to his rivals

Polish rider Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal) soloed to his second victory of this year’s Vuelta on a hilly day in the south of Spain.

He was part of a break that got nine minutes on the main pack, and he managed to drop his rivals on the final climb of the day before time-trialling to finish to win by 52 seconds.

Team Sky’s Chris Froome had a less comfortable day, losing touch with the pack after a mechanical and a fall, and having to fight hard to stay within reach of his main rivals. Second place Vincenzi Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) clawed back a few second, but couldn’t wrestle the red jersey from Froome’s back.

The story of the stage

Today’s 160km stage from Motril to Antequera Los Dólmenes started with 84km of relatively flat road that traced the shoreline of southern Spain.

With two climbs and a downhill finish to come in the second half of the race, plenty of riders fancied their chances of a win from a breakaway, and as a result it took a long time for a break to form that was acceptable to the main pack.

Attacks off the front were constantly chased down, meaning that the first hour of the stage was raced at a breathless 47.7kmh. Eventually a break of 14 riders got away, with the highest placed rider being Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas, who started the day 27 minutes 39 seconds behind the leader on GC.

As always, Team Sky policed the main peloton to protect the position of race leader Chris Froome. With no real threats in the breakaway pack, Sky felt no need to push the pace, and the break had established a gap of over seven minutes by the time it reached the foot of the 17km climb to Puerto del Leon with 76km to go to the finish.

After a cold, wet and difficult day on the previous stage, none of the big teams was in a mood to waste energy dragging back the break, and so by the top of the first climb, the breakaway had pushed the gap to eight minutes.

A 33km descent followed, during which Michael Morkov (Katusha-Alpecin) rode off the front of the break in speculative attack. He managed to stay out on his own for a number of kilometres before being reeled in by his breakaway companions before the bottom of the final 8km climb to Puerto del Torcal.

On the slopes of the climb, the break started to fracture as riders attacked each other. A group of five – Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), Brendan Canty (Cannondale–Drapac), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal) and Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe) – left the others behind.

With 3km to the top of the climb, Marczynski set off on his own and managed to get a gap of almost a minute by the time he went over the top, with 18km to descend to the finish.

Meanwhile, back in the main peloton Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Nicholas Roche (BMC) attacked the bunch. Contador soon dropped his companion and headed up the climb on his own.

Contador pushed on, but only managed to get about 20 seconds ahead of the main pack.

On the descent, Chris Froome had a mechanical – possibly a dropped chain – that required a bike change, and he then promptly crashed on a corner. He was back up and riding almost instantly, but by now he was a minute behind Contador and 30 seconds behind the pack of favourites.

Marczynski held off all chasers to take the stage win, his second of this year’s Vuelta. Behind him, almost a minute further back, Fraile came in to take second alsongside the other members of the break.

Almost nine minutes further back, the race for the GC was still going strong. Contador raced ahead on his own, while the group of favourites looked like it might wait for Chris Froome to rejoin them after his crash. However, as the final kilometres arrived, the group containing Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) pressed on in an attempt to distance Froome and potentially relieve him of the red jersey.

With help from Team Sky teammates, Froome managed to limit his losses to just a few seconds.

Contador came home about 20 seconds ahead of the charging pack, with Froome coming in about another 20 seconds after that. Despite a scare, Froome managed to stay in the race leader’s jersey with a cushion of 59 seconds to second place Nibali.

Vuelta a Espana 2017 Stage 12: Motril - Antequera Los Dolmenes 160.1km, result

1.Tomasz Marczynski (POL) Lotto Soudal, 3:56:45
2. Omar Fraile (ESP) Dimension Data, at 0:52
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) Movistar, at same time 
4. Pawel Poljanski (POL) Bora-Hansgrohe, at st
5. Stef Clement (NED) LottoNL-Jumbo, at st
6. Brendan Canty (AUS) Cannondale-Drapac, at 1:42
7. Anthony Perez (FRA) Cofidis, at 2:50
8. Jan Polanc (SLO) UAE Team Emirates, at st
9. Andreas Schillinger (GER) Bora-Hansgrohe, at st
10. David Arroyo (ESP) Caja Rural, at 3:00

Vuelta a Espana 2017: General Classification after Stage 12

1. Chris Froome (GBR) Team Sky, 49:22:53
2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Bahrian-Merida, at 0:59
3. Esteban Chaves (COL) Orica-Scott, at 2:13
4. David De La Cruz (ESP) Quick-Step Floors, at 2:16
5. Wilco Kelderman (NED) Team Sunweb, at 2:17
6. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) Katusha-Alpecin, at 2:18
7. Fabio Aru (ITA) Astana, 2:37
8. Michael Woods (CAN) Cannondale-Drapac, at 2:41
9. Alberto Contador (ESP) Trek-Segafredo, at 3:13
10. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) Astana, at 3:51

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