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Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-Nippo) just keeps racing his bike for wins — from solo attacks and bunch sprints.
On stage 6, Nielsen’s long-range gambit paid off with a stage win. On stage 11, the Dane was within 150 meters of the victory when he was caught and passed by Primož Roglič and Enric Mas. Then, on Thursday, Nielsen earned another stage victory, this time pursuing an entirely different tactic. He won stage 12 in a bunch sprint.
Here’s what the stars said after Nielsen won stage 12 of the 2021 Vuelta a España.
Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): 2nd, at :00
Bagioli is not the top sprinter at the “Wolfpack” — that distinction belongs the Fabio Jakobsen, currently in the green jersey.
But that did not deter Bagioli — who wore the white jersey after stages 1 and 2, and rode to a third-place on stage 6 — from taking a chance at the bunch gallop for the stage win.
The winner of the 2021 Drôme Classic pinned himself to Nielsen’s wheel in the final half-kilometer and tried to come around the Dane in the long-range dash for the line. Bagioli ultimately came up ¾-wheel short of the stage win, in second place.
“To be on the podium of a grand tour is always a good result, but today I wanted the victory.
“I did a good race, made sure of keeping enough energy in the legs after the last ascent, and then placing myself onto Cort’s wheel, as I knew he was the guy to follow.
“In the closing 200 meters, I gave everything, but he was just stronger. Hopefully, there will be some more chances for me before the Vuelta finishes,” Bagioli said.
Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange): 3rd, at :00
Team BikeExchange did a massive amount of work throughout the last 40km of the stage to try to set up “Bling” for a stage win from a sprint.
The Australian-based squad looked to be in perfect position, putting Matthews near the front of the race in the final few hundred meters, but the massive amount of work prior to that may have taken it’s toll on Matthews’s legs, as he was not at the front in the final kick to the line.
“After yesterday, today was always going to be difficult. We all came together in the final there and even after I was struggling on the last two climbs to get to the finish, the boys still put it all on the line for me to go for the sprint.
“I already told the team on the first climb I wasn’t going to contest the stage today. I thought it was going to be too much for me, but I gritted my teeth and got myself over the climb and the boys said we will go for me in the sprint.
“We just got jumped a little bit in the final from Magnus Cort, they just timed it better than I did in the sprint there, but I think all-in-all we did a really good team performance today.
“When you have a team like this that supports you through the highs and the lows of a Grand Tour, then you always give it your all to try and finish it off,” Matthews said.
Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates): 4th, at :00
Trentin was just off the podium on stage 12 of the 2021 Vuelta, after he took repeated, massive pulls throughout the stage, and even tried several attempts to bridge from the pack to whatever break was up the road.
He and his team shared the workload with Michael Matthews and Team BikeExchange, who also had high hopes for a stage win.
And like Matthews, Trentin came up a little short in the finale, possibly as a result of tired legs from doing so much work in the nearly triple-digit temperatures.
“The guys did the perfect job today. They kept the pace high but just enough for me to finish at the front.
“The heat was savage and it was survival out there. I took Matthews wheel for the finish but Magnus Cort was too strong for everybody again today. His team timed their move perfectly in the end, but we are strong and for sure we won’t stop trying for the victory in this Vuelta,” said Trentin.
Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe): 6th, at :-00
Großschartner again was at the front of the race, staying safe from crashes, and trying to get onto the stage podium while maintaining his 10th place in the GC.
A top-10 GC when the race arrives in Santiago de Compostela may be considered a success. But first, he must navigate more sprint and mountain stages before the second rest day.
“That was a really fast stage. In the end, I was a bit tired, but I didn’t feel too bad.
“Ultimately, I tried to follow the others and then went in for the sprint, where I tried to get the best result possible. I am happy that I got through today without a crash. Tomorrow is a normal sprint stage, or at least it’s expected to be one, where we can take a bit of a breather for a little while,” said Großschartner.