Confirmation of the victory for Michael Albasini (HTC) ahead of Eros Capecchi (Liquigas) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha).
Sarria - Ponferrada
Vuelta a España - 2 September 2011
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The bunch cross the line 1:32 down on stage 13 winner Michael Albasini of HTC.
The peloton are approaching the finish now, the clock ticks... a Vacansoleil rider pings off the front to make up some time, but he'll only get a handful of seconds.
Madrazo leads out the sprint, but Albasini is too strong and takes the win ahead of Capecchi!
Sorensen is leading the group under the flamme rouge...
Madrazo and Albasini back in front, with Moncoutie, Capecchi... but it's back together again.
CRASH: Bakelants goes down on a round-about!
Madrazo is yelling at Albasini to come through and do some work - they have to combine or it's curtains. And here comes Moncoutie and De Maar!
Two riders are off the front, with two in pursuit. It's Albasini and Madrazo in front.
De Maar and Albasini put in digs on the front.
The peloton are 1:40 down as Zaugg is reeled in by the other escapees.
ATTACK: Leopard Trek's Oliver Zaugg is the first to launch an attack from the leading group. The Swiss opens up a small gap.
Still it's Euskaltel driving the pace - they want the win, but also they want to propel their man Nieve as far up the standings as possible.
Nicolas Roche (Ag2R) would love to take the win today - especially after his up-and-down Tour de France. Of course, one man knows what it's like to win on the Vuelta - Dani Moreno already has a stage win this year. The gap is 1:48 now, so it's dropping, but not fast enough.
The leaders enter the outskirts of Ponferrada and past a rather unsightly power station. This is the sixth time that the capital of El Bierzo hosts the race.
It's a one-in-twenty lotto for the win today - but you'd think Euskaltel would be veryu motivated: not only do they have three riders in the group (all three currently on the front now setting the pace) they have also done most of the work since the outset.
The leaders will definitely stay out today - it's just a question of by how long. The gap is 2:19 as they pass the 14-to-go banner.
The lead group - as well as the chasing peloton - is strung out in single file. Everyone is giving it their all.
Euskeltel's Gorka Verdugo setting the pace in the break. They have 2:46 over the peloton on this long drag to the finish.
The peloton pass through 2:38 down - so the gap actually appears to be getting bigger despite this effort from RadioShack, Liquigas, Leopard and Astana on the front.
Some attacks come in from the leading group: Roche makes the first move, but it's Moreno who counters to take the points and bonus seconds over the second intermediate sprint. Seeldraeyers took second, Roche third.
RadioShack and Leopard Trek are driving the pace on the front of the peloton. If the leaders stay out then some riders - Moreno, Sorensen, Roche, even Seeldraeyers and Nieve - will leap up the GC tonight.
The main bunch is now at the bottom of the descent in the valley. It looks like they're easing up a little and having a breather. A bit further up the road, the leaders are onto the uncategorised Puerto de Orcero.
The leaders have extended their gap to 2:35 on this winding downhill stretch ahead of the final uncategorised climb of the day, which tops out with the second intermediate sprint, oddly enough.
The leaders just passed over the Cat.3 Puerto de Lumeras: 1. Capecchi, 2. Roche, 3. Moncoutie.
The red jersey group has caught that Nibali-Kessiakoff splinter group so the favourites are back together as one.
Amets Txurruka still drives on the escapees, but their gap is down to 1:45 as they approach the final climb of the day.
Despite the tense situation on the road, Sky are reacting admirably, keeping their cool and slowly reeling that dangerous break in. The gap is just 10 seconds now, while the leading breakaway have just two minutes.
Three Sky leaders have helped Wiggins to cut the gap to 25 seconds.
The Nibali group have bridged the gap with the Pardilla chasing group. It was Sweden's Fredrik Kessiakoff who instigated that attack. They have 50 seconds on the red jersey group and are two minutes behind the leaders.
Some of the GC favourites have pulled away on the descent - including Nibali, Kessiakoff and Mollema. But no Bradley Wiggins. The red jersey did not make the cut. Interesting...
Euskaltel have really targeted this stage: they had four riders in the lead group, they've lost Anton, but they still have three - including Nieve, who is just 4:46 down in the GC. With the race hitting the Basque Region for the next few days, they may be eyeing a red jersey on their home turf...
Withdrawal of the young American Taylor Phinney, according to race radio. The BMC time trial speciallist was riding his debut Grand Tour.
Kohler is caught by the chasing group, which is being led by Geox's Cobo, who crosses the summit 3:10 down on the leaders.
The leaders cross the summit of the Cat.1 Puerto de Ancares: 1. Moreno (10), 2. Moncoutie (6), de Maar (4), De la Fuente (2), Sorensen (1). Cofidis veteran cementing his lead in the KOM competition - he'll be in the blue polka dots tomorrow.
So, we have a red jersey group of about 30 riders now, which includes all the big guns, although it looks like Anton did not make the selection. Meanwhile, the leaders are approaching the summit.
ATTACK: Green jersey Joaquim Rodriguez breaks clear of the bunch, prompting a reply by the likes of Nibali, Mollema and Cobo. Red jersey Wiggins eventually finds his legs and joins this select chasing group.
After a hefty 12 percent ramp, the leaders are onto a slightly flatter section with Euskaltel continuing to set the pace with Txurruka. They also have Nieve and Verdugo in the break, although Anton has dropped back.
On the front of the break, it's Nieve who is driving the pace. They have 2:33 over the Padrilla chasing duo and 3:15 over the bunch.
More attacks from the peloton, with BMC's Martin Kohler and a Rababank rider edging clear. Petrov is now back with the bunch.
ATTACK: Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2R) and Sergio Pardilla (Movistar) jump clear of the peloton in pursuit of the leaders. They have already caught anton, Bagot and now Evgeni Petrov of Astana. Meanwhile, an angry RadioShack's Sergio Paulinho picks up a puncture and needs a rear wheel change.
The gap is 2:50 so it's relatively stable. The gradient is 11 percent at the moment.
It's pretty cloudy in the Galician mountains. The conditions are not ideal for TV cameras, clearly: they keep on blackening out.
Anton has popped! The Euskaltel leader is dropped from the leading group, as is Cofidis' Yoann Bagot.
It's Igor Anton who's driving on the pace in the leading group, and big Ian Stannard who's on the front back in the bunch. Many riders have already dropped off the back of the peloton. The current polka dot jersey, Matteo Montaguti, is struggling. The race is LIVE NOW on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin Media 521) and is also available on your PC via the Eurosport Player:
This is the first time the Vuelta has ridden the Alcares. It is one of the most spectacular passes in Spain, and even though the road was finally covered in tarmac 20 years ago, the Vuelta never dropped by. It has been described as the Spanish Galibier, but it's a very different climb. Firstly, it is tree-lined to start with, and also the road is so much narrower. It's not as brutal, but it's still a real killer of a climb.
The gap is now 2:35 for the leading group of 28 riders, as Sky lead the chase back in the bunch. They're onto the initial nursery slopes of the next climb, the Cat.1 Puerto de Alcares.
We have the points breakdown from the last climb at last: 1. David Le Lay (10pts), 2. David Moncoutie (6pts), 3. De la Fuente (4), 4. Moreno (2pts), 5. Sorensen (1pt). That means Cofidis veteran Moncoutie is now in the virtual lead of the KOM competition.
The lead is up to three minutes as the escapees zip down the descent towards the feeding zone.
The leaders have crossed the summit of the Cat.1 Aldo de Folgueiras de Aigas but we have no confirmation of the positions as yet so you'll have to keep patient...
The two Euskaltel men catch the leading 28 riders. They are: Moreno, Sorensen, Roche, Seeldraeyers, Nieve, Moncoutie, Sastre, Capecchi, Bakelants, Zaugg, Anton, Losada, Verdugo, Nerz, Txurukka, Petrov, Blanco, Le Lay, de la Fuente, Gasparotto, Kaisen, Madrazo, Lopez, Bagot, de Maer, Palomares, Oliveira, Albasini. Former polka dot jersey and stage four winner Dani Moreno (Moreno) is the danger man for the GC - he's 3:39 down on Wiggins. The gap is 2:30 now.
Albasini has been caught by the escape group, but Igor Anton has been dropped. The out-of-sorts Eusktaltel rider is joined by his team-mate Mikel Nieve after the Spaniard breaks clear of the peloton. The orange pair are 30 seconds down on the 26 leaders, who have 2:10 on the pack.
We're on to the first major test of the day, the Cat.1 Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas. Swiss livewire Michael Albasini (HTC) has broken clear of a leading group of 25 riders on the opening moments of this climb. He has 20 seconds over the chasers, who in turn have 1:50 over the bunch.
As well as Moreno, Roche and Le Lay, the 18 escapees include the likes of Seeldraeyers, Txurruka, Palomares, Capecchi, Albasini, Sastre, De le Fuente, Moncoutie, Anton, Madrazo, Verdugo and Zaugg. They have 1:20 over the bunch.
The riders are on the zippy descent that leads to the foot of the next climb, the Cat.1 Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas. No time checks yet but there are 18 riders out ahead.
Another large group has formed off the front of the bunch, including Daniel Moreno (Katusha), Nicolas Roche and David Le Lay (both AG2R). They have 17 seconds on the bunch.
Of course, one rider who will not like this frantic start to the stage is Tom Boonen, who admitted yesterday to be carrying a rather nasty injury to the perineum. Here is Blazin' Saddles' take on the situation: Stage 12 of the Vuelta was no ickle test for Tom Boonen, who picked up a ballsy sixth place despite a gaping hole in his nether regions that wasn't - erm, how to put this? - his anus.
After a very active first hour (with an average speed of 40.3 km/h) the peloton is back together as one.
Order over the Cat.3 Alto de O Lago: 1. Benat Intxausti (Movistar), 2. Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R), 3. David Moncoutie (Cofidis). Polka dot jersey Montaguti extends his lead over Moncoutie to three points in the KOM competition.
By winning that first intermediate sprint, Vincenzo Nibali picked up four bonus seconds - which puts him one place in the virtual GC to third. The Italian is now just six seconds behind Wiggins. That was a crafty move. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) did the same yesterday when he picked up some seconds by winning the intermediate sprint.
We're onto the second climb of the day, the Cat.3 Alto de O lago. Both Nibali and Wiggins have dropped back from the leading group - presumably the give the escape a chance of surviving. Roche is still there, and he's just 3:50 down on Wiggins in the GC. We have 17 riders out in front, but with still just around 30 seconds.
The large 33-man leading group does not only contain Nibali - red jersey Bradley Wiggins and Ag2R's Nicolas Roche are there. This is going to be very interesting to see how the pack replies. Other big names, although not so high up on the GC, include: Carlos Sastre, David Moncoutie, Sylvain Chavanel, Igor Anton, Carlos Barredo, Benat Intxausti, Rein Taaramae, Fabian Cancellara, Eros Capecchi and Vladimir Karpets.
Thanks to his expert descending skills, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali has joined the leaders on the back of that first climb. The Liquigas rider passes through the first intermediate sprint in pole position ahead of Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack) and Maxime Monfort (Leopard Trek). The gap is around 30 seconds back to the bunch.
A reminder of the general classification: Bradley Wiggins still leads team-mate and compatriot Chris Froome by six seconds in a top six which is split by just 36 seconds. Today's stage is the first of three consecutive mountain stages in Galicia and the Basque Country that should really shake up the overall standings. While stages 14 and 15 are both summit finishes, today's flat finish is preceded by five climbs, including the iconic Puerto de Ancares, so there will be time gaps.
French national champion Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) leads the escapees on the downhill after the first climb. They have 20-odd seconds over the Katusha-led peloton.
The leaders are caught by a chasing group of climbers, including Matteo Montaguti (AG2R). And it's the polka dot jersey who takes the maximim three points ahead of David Moncoutie (2pts) and Geox's David de le Fuente (1pt) over the summit.
Cofidis pair David Moncoutie and Rein Taaramae burst clear of the bunch. The Frenchman is bent on taking those mountain points that will help him on his way to a possible fourth successive King of the Mountains title. A third rider, Spaniard Igor Anton (Euskaltel) has joined the pair.
We're onto the first climb of the day, the Cat.3 Alto O'Pico Da Pena. That 30-strong group didn't get much headway and was swallowed back pretty pronto by the bunch.
One withdrawal to report today: as expected, Marcel Kittel (Skil Shimano) did not take to the start. The young German always intended to quit the race after yesterday's stage. He's been suffering from fatigue in his debut Grand Tour since winning that stage in the opening week.
Jesus Rosendo (Andalucia) goes on a solo attack right from the outset but is reeled in by the bunch. A series of attacks then ensue and we now have around 30 riders out in front, including Italy's Matteo Montaguti and France's David Moncoutie - the two riders battling it out in the KOM competition. There are, of course, lots of mountain points up for grabs today...
They're underway! And just as the remaining riders get this testing stage on the road, it rather ominously starts to rain...
Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) had to run to make it to the sign-in on time. The Swiss powerhouse was last to sign on for the stage and the riders are now in the neutral zone.
2008 Vuelta champion Alberto Contador, the three-time Tour de France winner, is present at the start of today's stage to cheer on his Saxo Bank team-mates, who have had a relatively quiet race so far.
The sun is out at the start in Sarria, which is hosting a Vuelta start for the first time in history. The temperature is in the low 20s.
Yesterday, Slovakian youngster Peter Sagan sprinted to his second win of the Vuelta with a convincing victory in stage 12 in Galicia, north-west Spain. The 21-year-old Liquigas rider beat Germany's John Degankolb (HTC) by a bike length in the bunch sprint at the end of the 167km stage from Ponteareas to Pontevedra. Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) retained his leader's red jersey despite losing one second to Vincenzo Nibali and five seconds to Fredrik Kessiakoff.
Welcome to live coverage of stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana, a testing 158km ride through the mountains from Sarria to Ponferrada. It features three Cat.3 climbs and two Cat.1 climbs, but finishes on the flat. Still, there's enough there to shake things up in the GC so it should be quite a spectacle.