Thursday, June 13, 2024

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 15: La Robla – Lagos de Covadonga 186.5 km


HomeRaceRace ReviewsLa Vuelta a España 2012 - Stage 15: La Robla - Lagos...

We’ve all had them, those days when the pedals just turn and the sensations are good – Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural & Spain) had one, today in the stage from La Robla.

The 26 year-old from Seville was part of a break which went away early; originally 19 strong it split on a climb, with 10 making it all the way to the 13 kilometre slopes which lead 1135 metres up to the glacial lakes of Covadonga.

His margin at the top was 2:02 over the next best break survivor – Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) and at no time from when he made his move some 10 K out did he look anything other than smooth and composed.

La Robla
Antonio had his ‘best day on a bike – ever’.

Piedra turned pro in 2007 with Fuertevantura and then spent the next four seasons with Andalucia.

His best results up until today were a Tour of Portugal stage in 2007 and a win, this year in the Notwegian GP Rogaland.

And lest you think that was a ‘soft one,’ he beat Vuelta stage winner Simon Clarke (GreenEDGE) and Het Nieuwsblad winner, Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin) to win.

La Robla
The break stayed away and provided the winner for a change.

A Grand Tour win for a small team like Caja Rural is a big result – to win on Covadonga is immense.

The Weather Gods even smiled for Piedra – often the clouds mask the summits and the lakes are barely visible in the murk.

But today the sun shone on a landscape which could so easily be the Highlands of Scotland.

Everyone will be tired hearing about the fact that the last wolves in Europe roam these mountains – but it is a fascinating place.

The parcours passes the Basilica built to honour Our Lady of Covadonga, the patron saint of Asturias.

But before we bore you with more history, let’s talk about the GC.

Again it was Contador and his skinny Saxo-Tinkoff henchmen causing the problems for those clinging on by their fingernails.

At one stage ‘Bert’ had three team mates up the road as a ‘launch platform’ but Rodriguez is much too vigilant to let the man from Pinto get more than a few seconds before he’s on his back wheel like a ferret.

It was status quo among the ‘big three’ at the top, as they all finished on the same second.

La Robla
The top guys were pretty evenly matched today.

Contador gained the least with no seconds clawed back, but Rodriguez can cross another ‘danger’ day off the list and hard driving Valverde put 35 seconds into an increasingly tired-looking Froome.

One of the ‘anti-Bert Brigade’ wrote recently that Contador’s last Grand Tour – le Tour de France in 2011 – had been less than sparkling.

But the fact is that he dominated the Giro prior to that and it’s now impossible in these days of ultra-specific targeting of races by the ‘Bigs’ to win Grand Tours back to back.

Not even Lance attempted that – Pantani did it, but let’s not speak ill of the dead.

However, the Giro and Vuelta is possible – as Rodriguez is so ably demonstrating.

Froome rode a hard, hard Tour and it’s no shame that he’s starting to feel it, now.

La Robla
One of Bert’s many attacks.

Covadonga is a tough climb with a gradient which varies from steep ramps to big ring down hills – very hard to find a rhythm on; and whilst no big climb is a good one to have heavy legs, Covadonga is even worse than most.

But it’s a special place, other worldly and surreal with the rock jutting from the gorse like giant skeletons, the high peaks and the gleaming blue lakes, bizarre in this barren place and at such high altitude.

And you’re conscious of the past.

Although it’s hard to imagine armies deployed and butchering each other high on the rocky moors just beside the parcours, that’s exactly what happened here in 722.

The Moors (Arabs we’d say) who ruled Spain for nearly 800 years sent an army to Asturias to tame the local Christian warrior, Pelayo and his band.

Pelayo and his cristianos prayed for divine intervention the night before, to assist them in their impending battle with the fearsome Moors.

Their prayers, which took place in the cave in the rock face opposite the basilica – which is now a place of pilgrimage – were answered and the Christians scored a rare and decisive victory against the Moors.

When you’re up there the day before the race and it’s just you, the hire car, the wind and the mountain – that story doesn’t seem quite so fanciful.

Tomorrow will be third ‘death stage’ in a row – the Cuitu Negra, another mountain top finish .

The description I liked best was that of; ‘a mountain with the Mur de Huy stuck on top of it‘ – ouch!

Adios, amigos.

Results - La Vuelta a España 2012 - Stage 15

Stage Result

1 Antonio Piedra Perez (Spa) Caja Rural 5:01:23
2 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:02
3 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4 David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Caja Rural
5 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:07
6 Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano 0:02:12
7 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Astana Pro Team 0:02:25
8 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:03:35
9 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol Team 0:03:49
10 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:06:45
11 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:09:25
12 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
13 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank
14 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:09:38
15 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:09:48
16 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:10:00
17 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
18 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre – ISD
19 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin – Sharp
20 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
21 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre – ISD
22 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team
23 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
24 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
25 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:10:04
26 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:10:08
27 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:10:26
28 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:42
29 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan 0:10:55
30 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
31 Marcos Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural 0:11:01
32 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:11:11
33 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin – Sharp 0:11:31
34 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
35 Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Por) Caja Rural 0:11:45
36 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
37 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
38 Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:12:11
39 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:12:22
40 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:12:52
41 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:12:54
42 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan
43 Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
44 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:13:16
45 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
46 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:13:34
47 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:14:42
48 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank 0:15:10
49 Sergio Carrasco Garcia (Spa) Andalucia 0:15:15
50 Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:15:19
51 Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
52 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank 0:15:50
53 Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank
54 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
55 Hernani Broco (Por) Caja Rural
56 Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack-Nissan
57 Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos-Shimano
58 Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) Lampre – ISD
59 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin – Sharp 0:15:56
60 Martijn Keizer (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:16:31
61 Jose Vicente Toribio Alcolea (Spa) Andalucia 0:17:13
62 Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:17:22
63 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukr) Lampre – ISD 0:17:24
64 Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha Team 0:17:25
65 Danny Pate (USA) Sky Procycling 0:17:37
66 Javier Chacon (Spa) Andalucia 0:18:15
67 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:19:18
68 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
69 Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
70 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
71 Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
72 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank 0:21:10
73 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:21:30
74 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Argos-Shimano
75 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Radioshack-Nissan
76 Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
77 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan
78 Grégory Rast (Swi) Radioshack-Nissan
79 Koen De Kort (Ned) Argos-Shimano
80 Thierry Hupond (Fra) Argos-Shimano
81 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) FDJ-Big Mat
82 Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spa) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank
83 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team
84 Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat
85 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
86 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Garmin – Sharp
87 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
88 Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Liquigas-Cannondale
89 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team
90 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
91 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team
92 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
93 Jesus Rosendo Prado (Spa) Andalucia
94 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol Team
95 Laurent Didier (Lux) Radioshack-Nissan
96 Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel – Euskadi
97 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
98 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team
99 Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team
100 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
101 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Movistar Team
102 Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Andalucia
103 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha Team
104 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
105 Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar Team
106 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin – Sharp
107 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
108 Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin – Sharp
109 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:22:43
110 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team
111 Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha Team 0:23:23
112 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
113 Bruno Pires (Por) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank 0:24:41
114 Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Spa) Andalucia 0:24:58
115 Adrian Palomares Villaplana (Spa) Andalucia
116 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:25:40
117 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
118 William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:26:22
119 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin – Sharp
120 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
121 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica – GreenEdge
122 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling
123 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
124 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
125 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
126 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica – GreenEdge
127 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
128 Matti B