Vuelta a España (st. 12)
Spaniard from Movistar Team into break for fourth time in 2017 Vuelta, takes 3rd in Antequera; Arcas abandons due to intestinal problems combined with back pain from his crash in Nîmes
The 12th stage of the 2017 Vuelta a España started with a sour taste for the Movistar Team as Jorge Arcas had to drop out of the race early in the day. The strong Spanish rouleur, who had spent almost two weeks struggling with back pain after a crash just 2km into the event, at the Nîmes TTT, was forced to abandon after twenty kilometers of the 160km route between Motril and Antequera. Stomach problems, which had prevented him from eating anything already since last night, took the better off the Blue rider, the second to leave a race where they are showing nothing less than pure commitment and passion.
For the fourth time in this year's race, after Sagunto (11th), Cuenca (3rd) and Alhama (2nd), José Joaquín Rojas sought for a stage win inside a 14-rider breakaway, form which Tomasz Marczynski (LTS) jumped to take a convincing second victory after his maiden triumph during the Spaniard's first attempt. The Polish rider was stronger than his rivals on the slopes of the Alto del Torcal (Cat-2), whose summit saw him a minute ahead of a group he held off until the finish line. Rojas took 3rd place, 52" down.
Behind at the peloton, consecutive accelerations from Roche (BMC) and Contador (TFS) broke the peloton into pieces. A subsequent series of crashes by Chris Froome (SKY) into the descent of the Torcal caused madness inside the group of favourites, which arrived 20" ahead of the Briton and 22" after Contador. The events shrink the time gaps in the GC, with only 59" now between race leader Froome and Nibali (TBM). Moreno and Pedrero finished three minutes behind the very small GC group.
The Movistar riders remain on top of the team GC -with Rojas and Moreno in 21st and 22nd on the individual standings- before the predictably last stage for sprinters before Madrid: Friday's 198km flat route from Coín to Tomares will be a day to recharge batteries for most before the hellish, mountain-top finishes of La Pandera (Saturday) and Hoya de la Mora (Sunday).
José Joaquín Rojas: "I've got good legs, of course, but it's also true that I'm always into the breaks and that takes its toll, too. It's sad to see another opportunity for a stage win going today, but hats off to Marczynski – he jumped on the climb and proved to be the strongest by far. He just left us behind, no chance to follow him. There's always one well above the rest in those breaks and we aren't able to succeed at last, but let's hope for such persistence to be rewarded at the end. We have no other chance to win but keeping trying. It was awful to see Arcas leaving the race; the lad has put much courage on the road to keep going, because the blows he suffered on day one were really hard. We lost another team-mate, but our commitment to turn things up remains the same."