Keukeleire sprints to a stunning victory
                   on stage 12 of La Vuelta a Espana 

Tour of Slovenia stage winner Jens Keukeleire finished off a perfect day to take a sprint victory on stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana today, hitting out early to finish well clear of the reduced bunch. 

ORICA-BikeExchange hit the finale in numbers and a great team performance was brought home by 26-year-old Keukeleire after Briton Simon Yates covered late moves and Australian Damien Howson executed the lead out.

“The first thing I thought about (after crossing the line) was my girlfriend and my son who are here today,” said Keukeleire. “It has only been a month since I became a father for the first time and they’ve been here the last couple of days, so to get my first GrandTour win in front of them is amazing.”

“I’ve been feeling pretty good for the last couple of days and we knew that today was going to be a hard stage and we decided this morning if I was still there in the finale we could go for it.

“I am really happy that the team gives me this opportunity because understandably when you have guys in good positions on the general classification it’s not easy to give everyone a chance and I’m very grateful.

“The first time over the climb (within the finishing laps) I was on my limit and thought I would never make it over again, but I felt a lot better the second time. It’s amazing and I’m very happy that I was able to finish off the work of the team.”

Colombian general classification contender Esteban Chaves remains in fourth overall with stage six winner Yates also finishing at the front and retaining seventh place going in to tomorrow’s stage 13.

Sport director Neil Stephens was delighted with the win and praised the selfless work and attitude of the team.

“It was a really special outcome today,” said Stephens. “In the team meeting this morning we said that our main goal is obviously the general classification.”

“Everyone has noticed that Jens (Keukeleire) has been recovering well and going about his work with relative ease and we all agreed that if it came to a reduced bunch then Jens should go for it.

“In a way, we went one step further because everyone rallied around Jens in the finale to help him pull off the win. It was a great win for the workers and a great win for the team all round.

“I think Jens felt honoured that his teammates recognised the fact that he was going well and the stage suited him and the victory is maybe a way to repay that confidence. Everyone felt a special feeling with the result today, every win is special but this one even more so.

“The stage was pretty difficult and again, thanks to the team, Esteban (Chaves) and Simon (Yates) made it through without issue and we are maintaining our good positions on the overall.”

How it happened:

The 193kilometre stage 12 began under blue skies and bright sunshine in Los Corrales de Buelna with the peloton still together after a very fast first hour of racing.

Splits began to form on the first ascent of the day, the Puerto de las Alisas, only for the bunch to reform on the following descent. Gradually a seven-man move began to pull clear including Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quickstep) and Peter Kennaugh (Team-Sky).

After 65kilometres of racing the breakaway had just over one minute on the Movistar led peloton who appeared to be unwilling to let this move stretch too far.

The pace slowed a little over the second hour of racing, enabling the seven escapees to push their lead out to two and a half minutes over the watchful peloton.

Approaching the first of two circuits of Bilbao with 65kilometres to go, the gap to the leaders was holding steady at two minutes 30seconds with Movistar still in control of the bunch.

The finishing circuits included two ascents of the Alto El Vivero climb and by the first time over the top with the peloton had clawed back nearly minute on the leaders.

The front group reduced to four riders after the El Vivero as Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) attacked for the points with Brambilla, Kennaugh and Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) following.

Lopez caught back to the quartet on the descent with the chasing peloton now little over one minute behind.

The catch was made with 17kilometres remaining and the speeding peloton now reduced to around 60 riders on the final time over the El Vivero.

Dries Devenyns (IAM-Cycling) attacked towards the summit and gained 30seconds as the bunch began to split behind him.

A seven rider group gave chase behind Devenyns before being swallowed by Trek-Segafredo leading the peloton into the last five kilometres.

Moments later the bunch caught and passed Devenyns with only two kilometres to go and immediately shaped up for the sprint.

ORICA-BikeExchange were well represented in the finale with Howson holding a strong position on the right and Keukeleire tightly on his wheel.

As Howson pulled off, Keukeleire hit out early and magnificently held his sprint to the line to take the stage victory by a number of bike lengths.

Stage 13 takes place tomorrow and is the longest stage of this year’s race, covering 213.4kilometres from Bilbao to Urdax-Dantxarinea. The stage includes four third-category climbs before a technical and undulating finale.


Meintjes cerca gloria con una fuga

Meintjes in search for glory by attacking

1 settembre 2016 

Giornata in avanscoperta per Louis Meintjes (foto Bettini) alla Vuelta a Espana.

La 12^frazione ha portato la corsa spagnola da Los Corrales de Buelna a Bilbao, percorrendo 193,2 km punteggiati dal Puerto de las Alisas (1^categoria dopo 49 km di corsa), dall'Alto la Escrita (3^categoria) e dal doppio passaggio sull'Alto El Vivero (2^categoria, ultimo scollinamento a 13 km dal traguardo).

Dopo che una prima fuga di 14 atleti, comprendente anche Arashiro, era stata neutralizzata, il Puerto de las Alisas è stato il trampolino di lancio per una nuova sortita caratterizzata da una qualità media dei componenti molto alta: tra i 7 atleti che hanno seminato il gruppo a 3 km dalla vetta della salita erano presenti, oltre al capitano della LAMPRE-MERIDA Meintjes, anche David Lopez, Kennaugh, Atapuma, Brambilla, Hardy ed Elissonde.

Il gruppo non ha consentito ai fuggitivi di raggiungere un vantaggio superiore ai 2'30", intensificando l'inseguimento nell'approccio all'ultimo passaggio sull'Alto El Vivero, all'imbocco del quale Meintjes, ultimo battistrada ad arrendersi assieme a Brambilla, è stato riassorbito dal plotone.

L'ultima ascesa e la conseguente discesa verso il traguardo hanno selezionato, tra scatti e controscatti, un gruppo di testa ridotto a 45 corridori tra i quali non comparivano maglie della LAMPRE-MERIDA.
Keukeleire ha vinto la tappa, mentre il primo ciclista blu-fucsia-verde a raggiungere l'arrivo è stato Meintjes (46°).

Il giovane sudafricano è 21° nella graduatoria generale, guidata sempre da Quintana.

"Dopo alcuni giorni durante i quali sono stato un poco frenato dai postumi della caduta, ho iniziato a sentire buone sensazioni e ho accolto volentieri il compito di provare a entrare nelle fughe - ha spiegato Meintjes - Sulla salita del Puerto de las Alisas il gruppo ha avuto un buon passo e a 3000 metri dallo scollinamento sono riuscito ad avere, assieme a un gruppetto, un piccolo vantaggio che è andato crescendo per la buona collaborazione che si è instaurata tra noi attaccanti.

Purtroppo il gruppo non ha mollato e, facilatato dai molti chilometri prima del doppio passaggio sull'Alto El Vivero, ha potuto controllare la fuga e poi riprenderci. 
Eravamo tutti corridori di buona qualità, sarebbe servito forse qualche fuggitivo in più per avere qualche speranza di arrivare al traguardo".

1- Keukeleire 4h31'43"
2- Bouet s.t.
3- Felline s.t.
4- Sbaragli s.t.
5- Sanchez L. s.t.
46- Meintjes 1'19"
54- Grmay 4'27", 68- Arashiro 7'41", 70- Cattaneo 9'14", 72- Durasek s.t., 83- Conti 12'10", 118- Mario Costa 19'25", 141- Koshevoy s.t.

1- Quintana 46h53'31"
2- Froome 54"
3- Valverde 1'05"
4- Chaves 2'34"
5- Contador 3'08"
21- Meintjes 9'29"


Louis Meintjes (photo Bettiini) went in search for glory by attacking in the 12th stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

After the start from Las Corrales de Buelna, the cyclists covered 193,2 km until the arrival in Bilbao, climbing the Puerto de las Alisas (1st category, summit at 49 km in the race), the Alto la Escrita (3rd category) and the Alto El Vivero (2nd category) twice (last passage on the summit at -13 km).

After that a first breakaway of 14 riders (Arashiro was among them) had been neutralized, on the Puerto de las Alisas an attack of 7 riders went clear from the peloton.
The quality of the members of this new front group was very high, considering that the attackers were the blue-fuchsia-green climber Meintjes, David Lopez, Kennaugh, Atapuma, Brambilla, Hardy and Elissonde.

The peloton did not allow the attackers to obtain an advantage larger than 2'30" and it completed the chase in the approach of the second passage of the Alto El Vivero, when Meintjes and Brambilla, the last members of the breakaway who were left in the front group, were joined by the peloton.

On the last climb and on the downhill to the arrival, many attack attempts selected the peloton and 45 riders were left in the leading group: unfortunately, no blue-fuchsia-green jerseys appeared in this group.

Keukeleire won the sprint for the 1st place, Meintjes was the best LAMPRE-MERIDA's rider obtaining the 46th position.
In the overall classification, the South African climber is 21st, Quintana detained the red jersey.

"After some stages during which I could not be as competitive as I would have liked because of trhe consqeuences of the crash in which I had been involved, I began to had once again good feelings and so I accepted with pleasure the task to try to be in the breakaway - Meintjes explained - The peloton covered the Puerto de las Alisas at a high speed and I succeeded in reaching the summit with a small advantage, together with other riders: our advantage increased in the following kilometers, even if the bunch controlled us.

Unfortunately, it would have been necessary that some other attackers could have joined the breakaway, in order to contrast the chase of the peloton which bridged the gap from us on the second passage on the Alto El Vivero".

1- Keukeleire 4h31'43"
2- Bouet s.t.
3- Felline s.t.
4- Sbaragli s.t.
5- Sanchez L. s.t.
46- Meintjes 1'19"
54- Grmay 4'27", 68- Arashiro 7'41", 70- Cattaneo 9'14", 72- Durasek s.t., 83- Conti 12'10", 118- Mario Costa 19'25", 141- Koshevoy s.t.

1- Quintana 46h53'31"
2- Froome 54"
3- Valverde 1'05"
4- Chaves 2'34"
5- Contador 3'08"
21- Meintjes 9'29"

sito internet: www.teamlampremerida.com