Grmay goes down fighting from the breakaway on stage 12 of La Vuelta

Thu 5 Sep 2019

Ethiopian Tsgabu Gramy battled his way into the breakaway before going on the attack on stage 12 of La Vuelta a Espana.

A blistering start meant a breakaway didn’t get away until late in the stage, with Grmay getting himself amongst the escapees before being distanced on the punishing final slopes. Behind him, Colombian Esteban Chaves came home amongst the general classification contenders.

No Escape

After the breakaway’s success on previous stage, there was another clamour to get into the move of the day with the stage appearing to suit a break once again. However, nothing was sticking as the peloton reached the first of the four categorised climbs of the day, despite numerous attacks.

The bunch was still together after 100-kilometres of racing until eventually, after relentless non-stop attacks, the peloton sat up and allowed a 19-man move to go down the road on the downhill run towards the second climb. Gramy tagged onto the back of the move as the breakaway finally formed with 60-kilometre remaining.

The gap quickly grew out to over five-minutes as the peloton knocked off the pace and the breakaway reached the first of the final three climbs on the run to Bilbao. The short, steep ramps of the Alto de Urrutzimendi caused splits in the break, but it was on the following climb where the group was really ripped apart.

Uphill Task

Felix Großschartner (BORA – hansgrohe) was the first rider to make a move on the lower slopes and as the chase group stalled, Grmay set off in pursuit. The Ethiopian bridged the gap ahead of the summit as the duo opened up a 40-seconds gap on the rest of the break.

However, the gap began to fall as the final climb approached and it was game over for Grmay as they hit the ascent. The 28-year-old clung to the back of the group as they swept past him, but couldn’t hold on as the attacks began to roll with Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck - Quick Step) going onto take the stage win.

Tsgabu Gramy:
“The other guys behind, they had a teammate and they brought us back. But that I think was my moment and the team told me to go if I feel good on that climb because the last climb is steep, and Gilbert was there. So, we used our chance and I tried my best to attack and go alone.”

“It was really hard [the start of the stage] and the moves we were sharing, everybody from our team and luckily I was the one in the last move on the downhill. It wasn’t because I was strong that I was there, I just followed the right wheel. After 100-kilometres you never know which moves will go so that was just my moment that I was lucky to be in.”

Gene Bates (Sports Director):
"The success of the breakaway already in the tour means that the pressure mounts for the teams that aren’t in those breaks. We saw that today with it taking 100-kilometers for the break to go. It was right at the death before the race was really going to kick-off when it went."

"We knew the last climb was short and very steep, so with a rider like Gilbert in the move it was always going to be difficult if we went there and went head-to-head with him. The strategy was to try and get a gap on the rest of the break and try and hold that until the final climb and see what happened."

"Tsgabu was away with Großschartner who was super strong, so he had good company and they had a good gap, 45-seconds at one point but some guys had teammates behind so worked to bring them back."

La Vuelta – Stage 12 Results:
1. Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck - Quick Step) 3:48:18
2. Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA) +0:03
3. Fernando Barceló (Euskadi Basque Country - Murias) +0:03
13. Tsgabu Grmay (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +1:05

La Vuelta – General Classification after Stage 12:
1.Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) 44:52:08
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +1:52
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) +2:11
12. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +8:52

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.