Vuelta a España (st. 12)
Rojas 9th at messy sprint after easier day for Movistar Team; Quintana, Valverde steadily recovering from bad health
Dutch youngster Danny Van Poppel (TFR) claimed a chaotic sprint in Lleida to win stage 12 of the Vuelta a España, after a tight contest between the break and the bunch came down to the finishing straight, despite the peloton seeming to have things under control over most of the 173km route against the five-man leading group -Rubiano (COL), Gougeard (ALM), Lindeman (TLJ), Venter (MTN) and Bouet (EQS)-.
The Movistar Team, most notably Amador, Ventoso, Sutherland and Erviti, protected well its two leaders, Valverde and Quintana, who remain 6th and 9th overall. In turn, the lack of a strong team into the sprint avoided a better finish for José Joaquín Rojas than ninth spot, the Spaniard looking to enjoy its final opportunity before Madrid tomorrow in an intriguing stage 13, a lumpy one over 177km from Calatayud to a final slope in Tarazona.
Alejandro Valverde: “We went through a really demanding stage yesterday and we're still into the GC fight. Though 1'50" might seem like an almost unsurmountable gap, it's a lot yet it could be nothing with what's ahead. I'm feeling quite better, more comfortable with my arm, getting well through the day and looking forward to the next round of mountains, in just two days' time."
Nairo Quintana: “I'm not in good condition, though I'm feeling a bit better. I feel quite empty, after fever and diarrhea during the last few days, and I feel it might be difficult to recover in GC terms, but despite than and with obvious suffering, thanks to my team-mates I had a better day today, and I hope to keep fighting."