Magnus Cort sealed his second stage win of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana on Thursday as he edged out Andrea Bagioli at the death to bounce back from late disappointment a day earlier.
Cort had looked in good shape to win Wednesday's stage 11 only to be caught in the final 150 metres of a late climb and his struggles ultimately saw him finish down in 25th, with Primoz Roglic crossing the line in first.
But the Dane got the job done this time around – not that he had it all his own way.
It was not until the final 95 kilometres that an initial breakaway formed, though various teams made their moves and ultimately failed to sustain them until the latter stages.
The chances of Jumbo-Visma and INEOS Grenadiers took seismic hits with less than 70km to go as Roglic and Adam Yates were caught up in a crash after a climb. Although both were able to continue, they were effectively out of the running.
EF Education-Nippo held their nerve well and came into their own towards the end as Cort was propelled to victory, though he had to dig deep right to the last as Bagioli tested him in what was essentially a decisive sprint.
Cort subsequently praised his team for such steady work early in the day, with their initially conservative approach paying off as their main man conserved energy following his gruelling efforts on Wednesday.
He said: "We talked about it with the team that we wouldn't do the big bunch sprint, but when the group was reduced, the team wants to support me in these types of stages.
"The whole team did a great job, and I was able to sit back and relax in the first hours when people were fighting for the breakaway.
"Even though I felt the legs a little from yesterday, I managed to get over the two climbs and, in the end, Jens [Keukeleire] did a very amazing job delivering me perfectly for the sprint.
"There were some very good guys, but we wanted to give it a try and I'm super happy to take this win."
Odd Christian Eiking retained the red jersey, with his 58-second gap over Guillaume Martin still in place.
1. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 3:44:21
2. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) same time
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) same time
1. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 45:33:18
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:58
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:56
1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 180
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–Nippo) 114
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 106
King of the Mountains
1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 31
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 27
3. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 17
Sprinters will have their chance to shine on the largely flat stage 13 as the race goes from Belmez to Villanueva de la Serena – but they should expect a demanding test, with this part of Extremadura characterised by its often-sweltering conditions.