Stage 12 is another fast, flat sprint-fest from Segovia to Burgos.
The mountains have eliminated some of our sprinters, most notably the dominating Mario Cipollini, so this may be a chance for Eric Zabel, Oscar Friere or Alessandro Petacchi to shine, but there is also the chance of success for a group of low-placed riders to pull off a long breakaway.
It'll be wide-open and straight-on as the riders make their way north: the first of three stages that will favor the flatlanders, so the battle between the sprinters and the opportunists will have to liven up the race while the 'heads of state" look to stay out of trouble and stay fresh for the dreaded climbs to come.
We join the race in progress. Please refresh the page often (F5) for the latest info.
The is a large breakaway group, including the following:
There's a group at the head of the race: 145 (CIONI Dario David), 205 (FERRARI Diego), 175 (GRABSCH Bert), 137 (SPRUCH Zbigniew), 33 (FERRARA Raffaele), 157 (MAURI PRAT Melchior), 83 (LODA Nicola),192 (ASTARLOA Igor),9 (PLAZA ROMERO David), 109 (REISS Andris), 217 (SCHAFFRATH Jan), 67 (MOERENHOUT Koos), 49 (TALABARDON Sébastien), 142 (AGGIANO Elio), 94 (GARCIA ACOSTA José Vicente), 167 (PRADERA RODRIGUEZ Mikel), 86 (TIRALONGO Paolo), and 128 (TAULER Antonio).
That break had been moving along at a good clip, 60kph, as the road headed north due to a tailwind, but now a change of direction has brought a crosswind, and with is, an erosion of the break, and a new group of 6 riders has gone clear.
Six men in the group ahead break away: 167 (PRADERA RODRIGUEZ Mikel), 205 (FERRARI Diego), 67 (MOERENHOUT Koos),128 (TAULER Antonio), 142 (AGGIANO Elio), and 175 (GRABSCH Bert) lead the first group by 42 seconds.
Telecom's Jan Schaffrath is back in the peloton, and joins the pink train at the front of the pack, as Telecom keeps the pace high for Zabel.
So, the new break of six is working well together, and it promises to be a long hard chase all the way to the line.
Oscar Sevilla suffered a little yesterday, apparently the strain of his huge ITT performance. He'll be trying to use these flat stages to recover and try to save his strength for the big mountains to come.
Team Telekom and Fassa Bortolo are trying to close the 2:24 minute gap to the main break, which is working well together.
Elio Aggiano seems to be the pick to win if the break stays away, but the peloton is starting to pick up steam.
The flat, long roads are helping the peloton keep an eye on the main break.
Petacchi and Zabel have their teams sharing the work at the front of the main peloton, keeping a nice 54kph speed.
And not too far from the front, we can spot a few Kelme boys, keeping Sevilla close to the lead.
The peloton is cutting the gap to 1:24 minutes to the main break.
The six have about 29 seconds on the main break.
The break will work hard and if they are caught, it will be just a few kilometers from the finish. Telecom and Fassa Bortolo continue to drive the pace at the front.
Tirralongo and Schaffrath fall behind the main break. Schaffrath is absorbed.
The riders continue to charge into the city of Burgos... the birthplace of El Cid.
The leading group of 6 has 57 seconds on the chasers, and the chasers are about 43 seconds up on the peloton.
With 15 miles to go, the break will work hard to keep hope alive. The peloton is starting to see the 11 chasers and may soon bridge the gap to them.
Unless the breakaway starts to play the cat and mouse games, the peloton will have a hard time getting to them.
The peloton has caught the chasers. Only the six fugitives are staying away.
The break still has 1'30" on the peloton, but it looks like the rider from Phonak is sitting on, which could start to hobble the escapees. They must work together to stay away.
The peloton is doing the math right and it's going to be a close call. The gap doesn't seem to be as big, but the break continues to hammer away, working together.
After a few encouraging words from his breakaways pals, the Phonak rider started to pull again. The gap is down to 1'15".
Francesco Casagrande himself now leads the peloton, as Fassa continues to drive it for Alessandro Petacchi.
Grabsch of ONCE misses his pull. They can't afford to start to play games so far out from the finish.
Zarrabeitia had a puncture but catches up.
Tauler goes off the front.
Flecha broke away from the peloton. Flecha is 40 seconds behind Tauler. The peloton is 37 secs back. Coast sent riders to the front now. Tauler has 20 seconds on the chase group.
Toni Tauler is a good time trialist and that's what he's doing now. Flecha is caught.
The straight roads are not going to help Tauler, because the pack can see him. 8 km to go, Tauler is the last survivor. Milaneza joins in the chase.
Tauler is keeping a high tempo, and for sure can feel the pack's breath behind him. Milaneza has sent a full complement of riders to the front. 7km to go.
6 Kms to go for Toni Tauler, who's keeping his form.
Phonak at the front of the pack working for Teutenberg. 37 secs to Tauler.
The pack is about to catch the 5 riders who were in the lead break. That will give Tauler a little breathing room. 5kms to go for the Kelme rider.
29 seconds. Tauler is the only rider ahead of the pack. The peloton is going full tilt now. 4kms to go and 23 seconds.
Fassa, Phonak, Telekom, the Zebras...at the head of the peloton.
3kms and 12 seconds....the peloton is going to catch him. Tauler off the saddle, giving it his all.
Acqua e Sapone hits the front for Lombardi. 2kms to go and it's all over for Tauler - valiant effort from Toni Tauler.
A counter attack goes off the front, but the Zebras are in control...there's a crash at the back.
A few ONCES are behind...Jorge Jackshe - 1 KM to go. Lampre is pulling for Svorada. The Zebras are leading now.
And it's Petacchi taking the stage over Lombardi and Zabel!
Petacchi is off his bike, breathing hard after such a superhuman effort.
Petacchi. Zabel, Furlan...top 3.
We are waiting for word on the ONCE rider(s) involved in the crash. They all seemed to be up and riding.
Sevilla will wear the gold for another day.
Stage 12 Official Results:
1º 84 PETACCHI, Alessandro ITA FAS 4:16:32
2º 211 ZABEL, Erik GER TEL m.t.
3º 34 FURLAN, Angelo ITA ALS m.t.
4º 197 GLOMSER, Gerrit AUT SAE m.t.
5º 12 BENNATI, Daniele ITA ACQ m.t.
6º 206 HAUPTMAN, Andrej SLO TAC m.t.
7º 6 GUIDI, Fabrizio ITA COA m.t.
8º 138 SVORADA, Jan CZE LAM m.t.
9º 198 SACCHI, Fabio ITA SAE m.t.
10º 179 TEUTENBERG, Sven GER PHO m.t.
11º 183 GARRIDO, Martín ARG REL m.t.
12º 38 VINALE, Alberto ITA ALS m.t.
13º 152 EDO, Angel ESP MIL m.t.
14º 203 BOSSONI, Paolo ITA TAC m.t.
15º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL m.t.
16º 104 GUERRA, Alessandro ITA INA m.t.
17º 115 GUILLAMON, Juan ESP JAZ m.t.
18º 29 PORTAL, Nicolas FRA A2R m.t.
19º 195 FUENTES, Juan ESP SAE m.t.
20º 17 MARTIN PERDIGUERO, M.A. ESP ACQ m.t.
21º 121 SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL m.t.
22º 48 SIVAKOV, Alexei RUS BIG m.t.
23º 129 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP KEL m.t.
24º 111 CASERO, Rafael ESP JAZ m.t.
25º 54 CLAIN, Mederic FRA COF m.t.
26º 116 SMETANINE, Serguei RUS JAZ m.t.
27º 191 SIMONI, Gilberto ITA SAE m.t.
28º 3 BELTRAN, Manuel ESP COA m.t.
29º 28 ORIOL, Christophe FRA A2R m.t.
30º 21 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP A2R m.t.
31º 171 CAMENZIND, Oscar SUI PHO m.t.
32º 133 CODOL, Massimo ITA LAM m.t.
33º 96 LASTRAS, Pablo ESP BAN m.t.
34º 156 LAVARINHAS, Rui POR MIL m.t.
35º 155 JEKER, Fabian SUI MIL m.t.
36º 95 GUTIERREZ, José Iván ESP BAN m.t.
37º 212 ALDAG, Rolf GER TEL m.t.
38º 77 MARTINEZ, Alberto ESP EUS m.t.
39º 41 GARCIA CASAS, Félix ESP BIG m.t.
40º 42 AUGER, Guillaume FRA BIG m.t.
41º 69 VAN GOOLEN, Jurgen BEL DFF m.t.
42º 151 MÖLLER, Klaus DEN MIL m.t.
43º 158 SILVA, Joao POR MIL m.t.
44º 185 MAESTRE, José ESP REL m.t.
45º 118 TORRENT, Carlos ESP JAZ m.t.
46º 209 ZUCCONI, Pietro SUI TAC m.t.
47º 35 MIHOLJEVIC, Vladimir CRO ALS m.t.
48º 193 BERTAGNOLLI, Leonardo ITA SAE m.t.
49º 159 SOUSA, Rui Miguel POR MIL m.t.
50º 178 SCHNIDER, Daniel SUI PHO m.t.
Official GC after Stage 12:
1º 121 SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL 41:31:40
2º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL a 1
3º 221 HERAS, Roberto ESP USP a 1:42
4º 78 MAYO, Iban ESP EUS a 2:04
5º 161 BELOKI, Joseba ESP ONE a 2:04
6º 79 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS a 2:47
7º 41 GARCIA CASAS, Félix ESP BIG a 3:05
8º 59 TRENTIN, Guido ITA COF a 3:34
9º 51 MILLAR, David GBR COF a 3:36
10º 151 MÖLLER, Klaus DEN MIL a 3:52
11º 81 CASAGRANDE, Francesco ITA FAS a 3:57
12º 3 BELTRAN, Manuel ESP COA a 4:12
13º 191 SIMONI, Gilberto ITA SAE a 4:21
14º 96 LASTRAS, Pablo ESP BAN a 4:30
15º 1 CASERO, Angel ESP COA a 4:51
16º 169 ZARRABEITIA, Mikel ESP ONE a 5:47
17º 155 JEKER, Fabian SUI MIL a 5:51
18º 4 ESCARTIN, Fernando ESP COA a 6:28
19º 171 CAMENZIND, Oscar SUI PHO a 7:55
20º 87 VALJAVEC, Tadej SLO FAS a 10:48
21º 124 GARCIA, Carlos ESP KEL a 13:32
22º 159 SOUSA, Rui Miguel POR MIL a 15:22
23º 8 PEREZ, Luis ESP COA a 16:07
24º 9 PLAZA, David ESP COA a 16:16
25º 228 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA USP a 17:19
26º 197 GLOMSER, Gerrit AUT SAE a 19:36
27º 194 DI LUCA, Danilo ITA SAE a 22:46
28º 62 BRUYLANDTS, Dave BEL DFF a 26:33
29º 176 PEREIRO, Oscar ESP PHO a 26:38
30º 117 PECHARROMAN, J.Antonio ESP JAZ a 27:50
31º 31 CAUCCHIOLI, Pietro ITA ALS a 28:55
32º 72 ETXEBARRIA, David ESP EUS a 29:07
33º 35 MIHOLJEVIC, Vladimir CRO ALS a 29:20
34º 93 FLECHA, J.Antonio ESP BAN a 29:54
35º 188 REBOLLO, Jose Luis ESP REL a 29:59
36º 56 LELLI, Massimiliano ITA COF a 30:35
37º 52 ATIENZA, Daniel ESP COF a 32:36
38º 92 BLANCO, Santiago ESP BAN a 35:13
39º 66 KLEYNEN, Steven BEL DFF a 36:33
40º 114 GARRIDO, José ESP JAZ a 37:04
Overall Points Standings after Stage 12:
1º 211 ZABEL, Erik GER TEL 112
2º 84 PETACCHI, Alessandro ITA FAS 94
3º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL 86
4º 96 LASTRAS, Pablo ESP BAN 70
5º 194 DI LUCA, Danilo ITA SAE 64
6º 121 SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL 62
7º 197 GLOMSER, Gerrit AUT SAE 52
8º 152 EDO, Angel ESP MIL 50
9º 8 PEREZ, Luis ESP COA 44
10º 51 MILLAR, David GBR COF 44
This concludes our Stage 12 live coverage. Tomorrow, even though there are four categorized climbs, the parcours is fairly level for the first 90km. After the one Cat 1 at the 106km mark, there are two cat 3s and it is almost flat from there on out, for a total of 189.8 kms. Hope you will join us tomorrow, and watch for our other Vuelta reports throught the rest of the day today. Thanks very much for joining us!