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Vuelta a Espana 2019: Philippe Gilbert soloes to Stage 12 win

Joseph Delves
5 Sep 2019

Gilbert denies Aranburu and Barceló in an unexpectedly quiet day for the GC

Image credit: Eurosport

Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won Stage 12 of the 2019 Vuelta a Espana ahead of fellow breakaway escapees Alexander Aranburu (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Fernando Barceló (Euskadi-Murias), while behind them GC race stayed largely unaffected.

Belgium's Gilbert won the 171km stage from Circuito de Navarra to Bilbao by just three seconds in the end, holding off the Spanish duo on the rapid descent to the finish after breaking clear towards the top of the late 3rd category climb of the Alto de Arraiz, which they crested inside 8km of the finish.

Movistar's Marc Soler led the peloton in 3 minutes later, with all the main GC contenders safely together.

How the stage unfolded

With a climb towards the beginning of the stage, it wasn’t until afterwards that riders started getting away. Despite the pace of the bunch being a good whack faster than might have been expected, around 19 riders eventually managed to get away.

With three WorldTour teams managing to get duos up the road, Gilbert and Tim Declercq of Deceuninck-QuickStep, John Degenkolb and Jacopo Mosca of Trek-Segafredo, and Valerio Conti, plus Marco Marcato of UAE Team Emirates were all looked at to work.

With three third category climbs spread over the last 35km, by the time the break hit the first, it still had a little under six minutes over the bunch.

As the front group started to shrink, Degenkolb was among the first to slip backwards.

However, with the Jumbo-Visma team of overall leader Roglic policing the bunch behind, by the end of the first of the three climbs, the break was maintaining its advantage.

Looking to put them under pressure, Felix Grosschartner of Bora-Hansgrohe capitalised on exploratory attacks by other riders to launch one of his own.

Hitting the penultimate climb first, he quickly built a gap of around 40 seconds. He was joined by Tsgabu Grmay (Mitchelton-Scott) who did well to bridge across, and soon the two were working together.

An unexpectedly quiet day in the GC race

Chasing behind, Deceuninck-QuickStep and UAE Team Emirates did the majority of the heavy lifting to keep them within reach of the two escapees.

With 10km to go, by the start of the final climb, the move had been closed down. Back together, the early 13.5% slopes soon burnt off a handful of riders, including Grosschartner and Grmay.

Having been led to the crux of the race, Gilbert was among the first to go, with Aranburu and Barceló the only riders able to follow.

Soon dropping both, Gilbert had a 20-second advantage by the top of the climb. The local Spanish duo worked well together, however, and they flew down the final descent to bring down the gap second by second.

Behind them in the GC race, meanwhile, Roglic looked to head off any potential challenges by riding right at the front, flanked by a couple of Jumbo-Visma lieutenants.

Of the other big men, only Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) looked like having a pop, although he quickly settled back down. The result being that the favourites got over the last climb together.

That left who might win the day as the only remaining question. Despite his lead being pegged back to under 10 seconds with around 1.5km to go, Gilbert never looked in too much danger of being caught, and Aranburu got the better of Barceló in the sprint for second.