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Molano beats Groves in sprint to stage 12 Vuelta victory

BARCELONA (AFP) – Juan Sebastian Molano sprinted to stage 12 victory in the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday, while Sepp Kuss kept the red jersey.

Molano, a Colombian, lost to Kaden Groves in the burst to the line at the end of stage four but this time was too fast for the Australian at the end of the flat 151 kilometres (km) from Olvega to Zaragoza.

Led out by his UAE Team Emirates colleagues, Molano took the stage victory ahead of Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Groves, who had earlier won the intermediate sprint to tighten his grip on the green jersey.

Jumbo-Visma rider Kuss stayed 26 seconds ahead of Spaniard Marc Soler and one minute nine seconds in front of reigning champion Remco Evenepoel in the general classification battle.

Three-time Vuelta winner Primoz Roglic, fourth, gained four seconds by finishing second in the intermediate sprint.

“Thanks to my team – they were amazing today,” said Molano.

Team UAE Emirates’ Columbian rider Juan Sebastian Molano celebrates after winning the stage 12 of the 2023 La Vuelta cycling tour of Spain. PHOTO: AFP

“I’m very happy to win a stage in the Vuelta last year, now this year.”

The Colombian was hit by a car while training in Belgium in March, leaving him concussed and with a broken toe.

“After the incident (it was) not easy to return but now it’s okay and I’m very happy,” he added.

Emirates rider Rui Oliveira launched Molano to victory in the finale, with Boy van Poppel third behind Groves.

“In the end we got bumped by UAE, who came with momentum,” Groves, who won stages four and five, told Eurosport.

“And my chain actually dropped, so… I managed to get it on, and I think I showed a really strong sprint, but unfortunately it was too far back, too late.”