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Cavendish takes first Vuelta stage with Roche in tow

Posted 09 September 2010

Mark Cavendish sauntered to his first ever win in the Vuelta á Espana when stage 12 to Lleida came down to a bunch sprint in which Nicolas Roche placed 28th to hold his 9th place in the GC.

Cavendish (HTC Columbia) bridged a 21 year gap when he followed in the footsteps of compatriot Malcolm Elliot who also won from a sprint when the Vuelta last visited the town in 1989.

The superior bike handling skills of Cavendish and his lead out man Matthew Goss left the duo with a lead of more than four bike lengths having come through an acute left hander over 150 metres from the line.

Cavendish admitted afterwards that he wanted to hand the stage win to Goss in recognition of his team work but was forced to take it himself when the Australian hesitated as the bunch closed in.

“I turned around and saw we had the gap and I actually wanted to give him the win because he had did such a great job. I said ‘go’ but the group were coming and I had to go myself,” Cavendish explained.

Goss joined in the victory celebrations on the finishing straight which allowed Tyler Farrar (Garmin Transitions) to pip him for second place with the American’s result coming as some consolation for the hard work undertaken by his team over the final 50 kilometres.

The bunch sprint was all but a formality once the breakaway pulled in a nine man break just 22 kilometres from the finish having chased hard over the uncategorised climb of the Alto de Font Llonga.

Their failure to stay away was hugely disappointing for the Xacobeo Galicia team who had Gustavo Cesar, David Garcia and Gustavo Rodriguez among the group which also included Markus Eichler (Milram), Perrig Quemeneur (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Lars Ytting Bak (HTC Columbia), Marco Marzano (Lampre Farnese Vini) and Antonio Piedra (Andalucia CajaSur).

Garmin-Transitions turned out an incredible speed at the head of the peloton with 16 kilometres to go but fizzled out having tipped over 65 kilometres per hour.

Control of the race shifted between the Xacobeo Galicia, Quick Step and Lampre teams heading into the Lleida but there was no match for Goss and Cavendish once they moved into position inside the final kilometre.

“It was so chaotic in the final I though we were too far back with 600 kilometres to go. The Garmin and Quick Step tactics where not the best for them today but they helped us,” Cavendish said of the close to the race.

The Manxman’s win propelled him to the lead in the points classification with 85 points while Farrar has moved to second ahead of race leader Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) just nine points adrift.

Roche joined the other riders in the top ten on GC in steering clear of trouble during the stage to retain both his 9th place overall and deficit of 2’30” to Anton heading into stage 13 to Burgos where another bunch sprint is on the cards.

Results:

2010 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 12: Andorra La Vella – Lleida, 172 kilometres

1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia 4 hours, 0 minutes, 30 seconds     
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions             
3. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia             
4. Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Team Katusha             
5. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team             
6. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank             
7. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana             
8. Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux             
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
10. Giorgio Furlan (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini – s.t.

28. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale – same time.

General classification after stage 12

1. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 51 hours, 37 minutes, 45 seconds        
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:45        
3. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:01:04        
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:17        
5. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:01:29        
6. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Caisse d’Epargne 0:01:57        
7. Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:02:07        
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne 0:02:13        
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:02:30        
10. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank

9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale at 2 minutes, 30 seconds   

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