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La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 21: Cercedilla – Madrid 115.0...

Degenkolb made it five; it was no surprise - we all knew the break was doomed. But it was good for the estimated 100,000 spectators around the course - and for the TV. It's never a chore to watch the best riders in the world set off from Cercedilla and hammer round the streets of a beautiful city.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 20: Faisanera Golf –...

The rain stings past the entrance to the ski lift at 45 degrees and tries its damnedest to puncture the metal sheets on the roof; thunder roars in and echoes around the concrete walls, lightning sparks across the dark sky, the air temperature has dropped from a pleasant Spanish summer's afternoon to January on Porty Prom. Welcome to the Bola del Mundo; they say it's the toughest climb in European cycling - we believe it. We've been up to Covadonga a time or two and the Angliru, plus most of the Giro and Tour 'biggies', but this is evil.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 19: Peñafiel – The...

Hola! It's a bit like being in a Vuelta sprinters' stage, this morning in Peñafiel. Dry tundra, deserted low rise blocks to the left and right and all under a cloudless high plains sky.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 18: Aguilar de Campo...

Daniele Bennati saved his season and Radio Shack’s Vuelta with a perfectly timed sprint into Valladolid on Thursday afternoon. The perma-tanned fast man with the religious bent was just too quick for Sky’s Ben Swift who looked under-geared in the charge for the line. Sky got Swift’s lead out just right but ‘Benna’ was the smartest, freewheeling a few times in the finale to keep the heart rate down and then timing his bike through perfectly to pip Swift on the line.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 17: Santander – Power...

There were no ‘pistolero’ gestures in Santander – it wasn’t a moment for playing to the photo opportunity. Just sheer joy of a man being back where he belongs – if you’ve taken the knocks and clawed back, then you’ll know that feeling.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 16: Gijón – Valgrande-Pajares...

Dario Cataldo (QuickStep & Italy) took the biggest win of his life in Valgrande-Pajares Negru; Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM & Belgium) had his heart broken; Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha & Spain) took a huge step towards winning his first Grand Tour; Chris Froome (Sky & GB) realised you really can’t race the Tour and Vuelta to win in the same season.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 15: La Robla –...

We’ve all had them, those days when the pedals just turn and the sensations are good – Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural & Spain) had one, today in the stage from La Robla.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 14: Palas de Rei...

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) may well be intent on a great feat this year, as today he took his third stage into Puerto de Ancares, taking the race to the others and exploiting his amazing uphill sprinting abilities by out-kicking Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) at Puerto de Ancares, the first of three consecutive stage summit finishes.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 13: Santiago de Compostela...

It’s awfully early,’ I thought to myself when I saw Degenkolb’s Argos boys commit with 50 K to go during Stage 13 of the La Vuelta a España 2012. And so it proved, there was a lot of firepower in the seven man break.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 12: Arousa – Viewpoint...

On the stage from Arousa, a four minute lead for a breakaway with 20 K to go would normally be a pretty safe bet – but not when Katusha and Movistar go on the rampage.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 11: Cambados – Pontevedra...

We're in Cambados, mulling over how could we overlook Fred? He won the TT in the Tour of Switzerland - beating Cancellara in the process - then pushed TV hard for the polka dot jersey in le Tour.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 10: Ponteareas – Sanxenxo...

From Ponteareas to Sanxenxo and it's Degenkolb! He thrust four fingers into the air and that was that. Bouhanni was closer than he has been before, Bennati and The Shack didn’t do much wrong, but the Argos man has the head and the legs.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 9: Andorra – Barcelona...

Joaquim Rodriguez is building on the foundation of respect he laid at the Giro. The little Catalan isn’t sitting around waiting on Froome bludgeoning him in the ‘contra reloj’ on Wednesday; he’s riding like a champion, ‘la course en tete’ – at the head of the race, especially when heading 'home' to Andorra.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 8: Lleida – Andorra....

Chris Froome lost more time to race leader Joaquim Rodriguez in today's stage from Lleida, all in the final 500 metres, as Alejandro Valverde and JR jumped clear of him and chased after Alberto Contador, who had got a gap of 100 metres over the three, with just a kilometre to go.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 7: Huesca – Alcaniz....

Not for the first time, Vik took the words right out of my mouth whilst discussing the La Vuelta a España 2012; "You can’t have a bike race finishing on a motor racing circuit, it just doesn’t work!" And he’s right; too wide, too bleak, no atmosphere and almost no spectators. Degenkold was mightily impressive, again.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 6: Tarazona – Jaca...

You have to be impressed by Sky’s riding here at the La Vuelta a España 2012. There was no show boating or ‘riding into the climb’ – they only went to the front when it really counted.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 5: Logroño – Logroño...

Argos’s John Degenkolb was ‘speechless’ about his second stage win in Logroño; but did manage to say that the last K was crazy fast and his team did a great job for him – that sounds about right.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 4: Barakaldo – Valdezcaray...

Echelons formed out of Barakaldo, Froome turned killer, Valverde was ambushed, the podium shook itself into shape early and a nice guy won. If that sounds exciting – it was.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 3: Faustino V –...

Sprinters? As my old work buddy, Sam Johnston used to reply, when asked what had become of his ‘hot tip’ for the 3:45 at Kempton Park; ‘they’re still out looking for it – with lanterns!’ Stage three was no day for the sprinters; what VeloVeritas had failed to appreciate was that ‘Arrate’ was as in ‘Subida a Arrate’ mountain race – as won by Luis Ocana, Marino Lejarreta, Francisco Galdos, Johan de Muunck and Raymond Poulidor. No big, bulging thighs among those names.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 2: Pamplona – Viana,...

We’re so lucky with televised cycling in 2012. I returned from my 500 metre run back from the Dalriada Bar on Joppa sea front on the ‘fixie’ – having easily distanced Marlene on her Giant shopper – and there was the Vuelta TTT around Pamplona repeated on Eurosport. Perfect.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 1: Pamplona – Pamplona,...

The Rabobank boys sat on their "hotseats' in Pamplona for over 30 minutes, as team after team came close to their time of 19 minutes and 1 second for the opening stage of the 2012 Vuelta, but failed to surpass it.

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