Start Location: Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra
End Location: Lleida
Start Location: Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra
End Location: Lleida
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 12 of the 2015 Vuelta a España, which takes the riders 173km out of Andorra and back down into Spain. See the links below for some of our recent coverage from the race.
The breakaway riders are offering up some resistance here. Giant are still pulling pretty hard on the front of the bunch but the gap still stands at 2:20.
Breaking: Fabian Cancellara will miss the World Championships
The Swiss rider won't be going to Richmond due to a season that has been affected by injury and illness. You can read the story right here.
The riders pass some pretty stunning scenery as they make their way alongside a Catalonian river flanked by tall jagged cliffs.
It's still Giant and Trek on the front. Here's Trek directeur sportif Dirk Demol on Danny Van Poppel, who will be the American team's man for the sprint today, and the team's ambitions in general.
"I'm convinced Danny van Poppel can win a stage. Yesterday he went over the Andorra stage pretty well and if we'll see at the top of today's climb that it's possible, we'll do our duty. As for Frank Schleck, he was not so bad yesterday, just not good enough to be with the very best but still good enough to feel like going in a break one day. The GC is no longer a goal for him."
The riders covered 40.2 kilometres in the second hour of racing. These next 40km should go a little bit quicker.
A reminder of the stage profile so you can visualise where the riders are up to. We're at kilometre 130 at the moment (43 to go).
Another short little climb for the peloton to negotiate. Now though it's slightly downhill all the way to the line.
Some breaking news from this afternoon: Bob Jungels will leave Trek Factory Racing to join Etixx-QuickStep for 2016.
The gap continues to fall inexorably and is now under 2:30.
The five breakaway men crest that climb - the Alto de Fondlonga - and start to descend once more.
The riders are currently heading uphill. It's not a categorised climb but it's one of those leg-sapping gradual drags.
Another interesting transfer story from Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson. Joann Offredo has a contract next year with FDJ but he wants to leave and is currently trying to work out a way to do so.
Astana, protecting the red jersey on the shoulders of Fabio Aru, are enjoying a relatively chilled out day. They're sitting there behind Giant and Trek, not having to do any of the pace setting.
The breakaway's lead continues to fall steadily and now ducks under the 3-minute mark.
Tom Dumoulin has had an outstanding Vuelta so far. Although he lost the red leader's jersey yesterday, he did brilliantly to keep himself up at third on GC at the end of such a mountainous stage. Here's what he had to say to lavuelta.com this morning.
"I can feel myself tiring but I guess that's the same for everyone. I wasn't surprised by my performance yesterday, but rather how I felt when i won the stage . It's great to be third on GC. Of course I'm starting to think about the overall, even if a bad day may well arrive and I lose a lot of time. This Vuelta has already been a great success for me."
It was never likely that the break would stay away today, and that's how it's playing out. Their lead has been reduced to just over 3:30 now.
There's life outside the Vuelta... The Tour of Alberta is underway in Canada. Kirsten Frattini is out there for Cyclingnews and you can read her latest reports from the race via the following links:
If you have any strong hunches on who's going to take victory today, then please let us know. You can send in your predictions via Twitter: @paddyfletch
Trek and Giant are controlling this very nicely. The gap is falling towards the four-minute mark now. They won't want to bring it back too soon as that would only encourage further attacks. They'll keep tapping away at it and look to make the junction nearer the end.
Have you listened to the latest episode of the Cyclingnews podcast yet? We have an interview with Dave Brailsford, lots of Vuelta discussion, and we pick our riders of the week. You can listen and download via the link below:
The descent starts to ease up and the peloton are gaining time now on the break. The gap is down to 4:30 as we pass the half-way point in the stage.
Tinkoff-Saxo are here in the peloton. There was a chance they wouldn't be as they seriously threatened to quit after Peter Sagan and Sergio Paulinho were taken out of the race by motorbikes.
Talks were held this morning between the team, the race director and UCI commissaires and Stephen Farrand has the full story here: Tinkoff-Saxo continue in Vuelta a Espana despite motorbike accidents
5:30 is the gap at the moment as the peloton strings out and fragments on this descent.
Trek Factory Racing contribute to the pacemaking in the bunch. They've already had a sprint victory for Jasper Stuyven but he has gone home with a fractured scaphoid and they'll be working today in the interests of Danny van Poppel.
The riders come over a small rise in the road that interrupts the descent. Now for a long and proper stretch of downhill.
So, what now for Team Sky in the absence of Chris Froome?
DS Gabriel Rasch had this to say to lavuelta.com:
"Froome is going back home. It's a pain but we have to focus on other things. Mikel Nieve is well placed on GC and we are going to help him in the same way we'd have done with Chris. Ian Boswell was a big surprise - yesterday he rode the stage of his life. He has worked hard on his diet this past year. Nicolas Roche still has grazes but his form was there before his crash and it can't have gone anywhere. It will take him three or four days to return to his level."
With that climb out of the way, attentions now turn to controlling the breakaway. Giant-Alpecin are doing just that on the front of the bunch, looking to tee up John Degenkolb for a sprint later.
Bouet leads the breakaway over the Coll de Bóixols with an advantage of five minutes over the peloton behind.
The riders in the break face a further 3km on the long climb before they can enjoy the long descent.
The breakaway's lead continues to grow and is now 3:30.
The rest day in Andorra was apparently important moment for several riders future.
Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson broke the news that Louis Meintjes will leave MTN-Qhubeka and ride for Lampre-Merida in 2016.
Click here to read the full story.
The downhill start has allowed the riders to make a fast start to the stage. The average speed for the first hour is 43.7 km/h.
The break is now on the Coll de Boixols climb. It is a 2nd Category climb but is 15.8km long at 5%.
For the full details of Tinkoff-Saxo decision to stay in the Vuelta, read our story by clicking here.
According to Danish journalist Rasmus Staghoj, he dismissed Tinkoff-Saxo's threat of quitting the Vuelta but agreed that safety has to be improved with the interaction between all parties. He said it is not just a question of motorcycles.
It seems that UCI president Brian Cookson was at the start of the Vuelta stage in Andorra.
The peloton has let the break go away and the gap is now over 3:00.
Bert-Jan Lindeman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) is also in themove. This is the fourth time he has been in the break. His aggression paid off when he won the stage to Alpujarras.
It is perhaps no surprise that Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) is again in the break. He has been one of the most aggressive riders so far in the Vuelta.
The Astana team has no problem with the break today, with Bouet the nearest threat to Aru's lead but over 20 minutes back.
As things settle down on the road, here's a look back at an interesting story from yesterday's stage. Astana's leadership issues between Mikel Landa and Fabio Aru at the Giro d'italia were well documented and it was feared the same thing might play out in Spain. Well, Aru took the race lead yesterday but Landa won the stage and it seems he may have ignored team orders in order to do so...
Alasdair Fotheringham has the story: 'I needed a win so I took my day,' says Mikel Landa
This is our break for the day. The leaders have an advantage of a minute as Astana come to the front of the bunch and the pace eases.
The five riders out in front are: Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step), Miguel Ángel Rubiano (Colombia), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
Cofidis and Caja Rural have missed the boat and are on the front of the bunch, so this may yet come back together.
A group of five riders has now managed to carve out an advantage. We'll soon see if the peloton is happy to let them off the leash.
There are plenty of riders eager to get away on this early downhill section. It's no surprise to see a Europcar jersey the first to launch an attack, but it's all together for now.
And they're off! There's a slightly extended neutralisation after a few punctures but the flag has dropped and the race is underway.
Another big bit of news this morning is that Louis Meintjes, who is here at the Vuelta with MTN-Qhubeka, has signed for Lampre-Merida for 2016.
The promising young South African was on the verge of extending with MTN and Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson describes the move as "one of the transfer coups of the season".
Froome is out
The big news this morning is that Chris Froome has been forced to leave the Vuelta following the crash he suffered at the start of yesterday's stage. Froome battled on to finish the stage but checks and scans have revealed a fracture in his foot.
Cyclingnews broke the news this morning and you can read the full story here:
This stage is pretty much identical to the one in 2010 which was won by Mark Cavendish. The sprinters' legs will be tired after yesterday's efforts in the mountains but their teams should be confident of bringing things back together after that early second-category climb.
Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone, depending on where you are in the world. After the madness of yesterday's stage, today we should be in for a slightly calmer affair, which may well come down to a sprint. The riders are currently rolling out of Escaldes-Engordany through the neutral zone, and racing will begin in around 25 minutes.