Five talking points from stage 12 of the Vuelta a España
Froome loses time after crashing twice
Froome loses time, but it could have been worse
Having safely negotiated the final second-category climb, Froome then crashed on the descent. His team car quickly on the scene the red jersey then jumped on a spare bike before crashing again on a right-hand bend a couple of hundred metres down the road.
By that point Froome was more than a minute down on the group containing most of the rest of the GC contenders, including second-place Vincenzo Nibali.
However Froome could count on the help of two strong team-mates in Wout Poels and Mikel Nieve, who were able to get him back to within 20 seconds of rest of the GC contenders, a far from disastrous result, especially considering Froome’s dominance on the climbs so far in the race.
Nibali moves to within a minute
After looking far from his best in the mountains in the race’s opening week, Vincenzo Nibali now finds himself within a minute of Chris Froome’s red jersey.
The Italian was unable to gain time of Froome on Wednesday’s summit finish to Calar Alto, but took full advantage of Froome’s two crashes on the road to Antequera.
With team-mates in the group, Nibali was able to instantly coordinate the group to work hard to distance Froome, Franco Pellizotti working hard to open a gap.
In the end he pay have only gained 20 seconds, but that means Froome’s lead is now down to less than a minute heading into a tough weekend with two brutal summit finishes.
Contador on the attack
If Alberto Contador doesn’t win his final race as a professional rider, then it won’t be for lack of trying as he attacked once again on a seemingly fairly innocuous stage in southern Spain.
Contador attacked midway up the day’s final second-category climb, initially having Nicolas Roche for company before proving too strong for the Irishman.
Froome crashing behind probably did the Spaniard no favours, as the other GC contenders put the hammer down in an attempt to distance Froome, also cutting the gap to Contador in the process.
However Contador was still able to maintain a 22-second gap to the finish line, edging himself 42-second closer to Froome and to within a minute of the podium.
Marczynski’s dream Vuelta continues
Prior to this race, Tomasz Marczynski best result in a Grand Tour had been fourth in a stage of the 2012 Vuelta, and so far in 2017 had only managed a single top-10 finish.
However the Polish rider has now built on his victory on stage six with another win on stage 12, another victory form a breakaway but this time in glorious isolation.
Marczynski looked serene as he powered away from his erstwhile escapees on the Puerto del Torcal, before looking strong as he time trialled to the finish in Antequera.
By the time he reached the line, Marczynski was nearly a minute over the chasers, led home by Omar Fraile, giving him plenty of time to sit up and enjoy his solo win.
Breakaway succeeds yet again
For the seventh time in the 2017 Vuelta a España the stage win went to a breakaway rider, with only four stages coming down to either a bunch sprint or a battle between the GC contenders.
There always seem to be plenty of successful breakaways at the Vuelta, with out-of-contract riders looking to salvage their seasons and impress prospective employers, and GC teams unwilling to chase them down.
With Team Sky controlling the front of the peloton, and no sprinters’ teams present in a race with nine summit finishes, there will be plenty more opportunities for unheralded riders, such as Marczynski, to steal a stage win or two.