Alexandre Geniez won a six-man sprint to claim victory in the 181km stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana in Mañón today.
The Frenchman, riding for AG2R La Mondiale, completed the race in 4:22:59, beating Team Sky’s Dylan van Baarle into second, with Bahrain-Merida’s Mark Padun third.
Cofidis’s Jesus Herrada was the biggest winner, however, as he took hold of the red jersey after finishing in a leading group over 11 minutes ahead of the peloton.
Herrada’s efforts left him with a solid lead of 3:22 over Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates in the general classification standings.
Just 10km into the race an 18-man bunch began forming at the front of the peloton, creating a gap.
The peloton failed to respond and the escapees extended their lead to a full 10 minutes by the halfway mark.
Herrada, among the breakaway group, created a solid virtual race lead of 4:30 as the peloton continued to lag with 90km left.
Approaching the base of the Alto de San Pedro with 58km left, the break was still 10:35 ahead.
A kilometre from the summit, with 51km left, their lead had increased to 11 minutes. Davide Formolo was setting the pace at the front of the break.
Another 20km later and the break held an 11:10 lead, with Andrey Amador now setting the pace for Movistar.
Movistar’s moves at the head of the break then began to start opening up gaps. Eight riders broke away with 20km to go, establishing a 45-second lead 2km later.
This leading group then extended their lead to 1:26 over the chasers and 11:20 over the peloton with 10km to go.
The front group began to stretch out following a fast and sweeping descent in the final 6km.
Herrada was still in the chasing group, two minutes back, as he looked to take hold of the red jersey at the conclusion of the stage.
A six-man group then got away to lead the race with 3km to go. Dylan Teuns started to set the pace in the final kilometre as a sprint-off ensued.
They played cat and mouse before Geniez surged ahead over the final few hundred metres to take the spoils at the end.
“I did the Giro for the GC and I’ve come here to go for a stage win,” Geniez said afterwards.
“This is the kind of day I enjoy, but I wasn’t confident of winning. There were 18 riders and everyone had a chance. When the break split in two my chances increased.
“It was a tough sprint in the end.”