Rule Britannia et Riki! Sayonara Spartacus. Death by a Thousand Pedals for Evans? July 12, 2012Posted by John Ashburne in Tour de France 2012.
Tags: Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Froome, Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Pierre Rolland, Vincenzo Nibali, Wiggins
Zut alors! This from Le Tour website. Je go to mon futon, pardonnez moi:
If there was any lingering doubt about the strength of the Sky team, then wonder no more: the British outfit is the dominant force in the 99th Tour de France. The stage to La Tourssuire might have been won by a Frenchman – with Pierre Rolland pulling off another tremendous climbing coup to go alongside his triumph at Alpe d’Huez from the 2011 Tour – but Great Britain is in complete command of the general classification. Wiggins increased his advantage over last year’s champion, Cadel Evans, after the Australian suffered a little crisis on the final climb and had to be nursed home by the leader of the youth classification Tejay van Garderen. While Evans battled his way up the last mountain, Rolland danced ahead to an emphatic victory and then came the battle for minor places on GC, which was won by Christopher Froome who now moves up to second overall, 18 seconds ahead of another of today’s aggressors, Vincenzo Nibali. The result sheet tells much of the story but it was a race with many attacks, several winners and quite a few losers.
The progress report
The 148km 11th stage of the 2012 Tour began at 1.17pm with 174 riders in the race. The non-starter was Fabian Cancellara (RNT). The mountains on the course were ‘HC’ col de la Madeleine (2,000m high at 40km), ‘HC’ col de la Croix de Fer (2,067m high at 93km), category-two col du Molland (1,638m at 113km) and the finishing climb to La Toussuire (category-one, at the end of the 148km stage). The final rise offered double points in the climbing classification. The intermediate sprint was in St-Etienne-de-Cuines (at 70km).
The attacks begin early
Gesink attacked the peloton as soon as the stage began. He was joined by 30 others and, at 10km, they had a lead of 20”. Others in the early move were: Burghardt, Cummings, Gilbert (BMC), Popovych (RNT), Malacarne (EUC), Koren (LIQ), Martin (GRS), Cherel and Riblon (ALM), Hoogerland (VCD), Paolini (KAT), Karpets (MOV), Sorensen and Sorensen (STB), Grivko, Iglinskiy, Kieserlovski and Vinokourov (AST), De Weert and Pineau (OPQ)… there were others but by the 20km mark there were just seven in the lead: Koren, Martin, Riblon, Hoogerland, C. Sorensen, Kieserlovski and Vinokourov. Valverde (MOV) chased them down at 23km. At 24km the eight leaders were joined by: Kiryienka, Horner, Malacarne, Kadri, Basso, P. Velits and Weening. Boasson Hagen led the peloton all the way up the Madeleine climb.
Kessiakoff tries to take back the polka-dot jersey
At the top of the Madeleine there were 28 with a lead of 2’55” on the peloton. The lead group was composed of: Moinard (BMC), Horner (RNT), Kern, Malacarne and Rolland (EUC), Scarponi and Marzano (LAM), Koren and Basso (LIQ), Martin (GRS), Kadri and Riblon (ALM), Feillu (SAU), Hoogerland (VCD), Ten Dam and Kruiswijk (RAB), Valverde and Kiryienka (MOV), C. Sorensen (STB), Kessiakoff, Kiserlovski and Vinokourov (AST), Leipheimer and P. Velits (OPQ), Weening (OGE).
Velits led Kessiakoff over the top to claim the 25 points and they continued their attack on the 19km downhill. They led the Valverde group by as much as 50” but the lead pair was caught by the other escapees at 63km.
Col de la Croix de Fer: Evans goes on the attack
Early on the second climb, there was a regrouping at the front and 22 were in the lead: Moinard, Horner, Kern, Rolland, Scarponi, Marzano, Basso, Martin, Kadri, Trofimov, Ten Dam, Valverde, Kiryienka, Sorensen, Kessiakoff, Kisierlovski, Vinokourov, Leipheimer, Veltis and Weening. They led the peloton by 2’30”. Scarponi, Marzano and Moinard were the first to drop out of the lead group. With 15km to climb Leipheimer also quit his efforts in the lead group, then Valverde and Basso.
At 79km, van Garderen (BMC) attacked the yellow jersey’s group but there was no reaction from Wiggins et al. It was clearly a plan hatched by the team of the defending champion for, at 81km, Evans launched an attack and soon caught his team-mate. They worked together to build a maximum advantage on the yellow jersey of 20” but were caught after 5km on the attack. Rogers was responsible for the capture, leading Wiggins, Porte and Froome up to Evans and the white jersey without once getting out of the saddle to increase his tempo.
Rolland took the ‘Souvenir Henri Desgrange’ by beating Kessiakoff in a tight sprint for honours atop the highest pass in the Alps. The yellow jersey was 2’10” behind at the top of the col de Croix de Fer.
Evans cracks on the final climb slips down the rankings…
After a shortlived attack by Velits, Rolland and Kiserlovksi found themselves at the front of the stage with 40km to go. They were caught by Kiryienka at 39km to go and, at the top, this was the situation: Rolland was first (taking 5pts) with his trio in tact. Then came Sorensen at 10”, Ten Dam at 1’00”, Velits at 1’25”, Martin and Kessiakoff at 2’05”, Horner at 2’38”, Pinot at 3’08” and the peloton at 3’20”. Rolland crashed on a left turn on the descent, 26km from the finish but he rejoined the lead with 22km to go.
The four leaders started the final climb with an advantage of 1’15” to Ten Dam and Velits, 2’55” to Martin and Kessiakoff, and 3’30” to the peloton. There were 16 in the yellow jersey group: Wiggins, Porte, Froome, Evans, van Garderen, Schleck, Horner, Zubeldia, Kloden, Nibali, Roche, Coppel, Pinot, van den Broeck, Cobo and Brajkovic.
Nibali attacked the yellow jersey with 12km to go, eliminating all but Evans, Wiggins, Froome, Schleck and Van Garderen from the yellow jersey group. He was caught after 1.5km but the Italian attacked again with 10km to go. He joined van den Broeck, Brajkovic and Pinot. With 6.5km to go, Evans was dropped from the yellow jersey group.
Once Wiggins and co caught Nibali (around 4.5km to go) there seemed to be a discussion between the Sky riders and Froome attacked shortly afterwards. Pinot reacted quickly and so too did the others but Wiggins couldn’t match the pace. Froome quickly quit his effort but still this group was able to gain time on Evans who was struggling to hold the wheel of van Garderen. Eventually the Australian would lost 1’26” to the overall leader meaning he slipped down the rankings and Sky assumed first and second place overall, with Froome finishing two seconds ahead of his leader, Wiggins.
Rolland races to another impressive mountain stage win
Pierre Rolland was on his own at the front of the stage with 10km to go and he never looked back. Just like last year at Alpe d’Huez he not only held off the challenge of his former escape companions, he put time into them and ultimately was the only rider to finish the stage ahead of the yellow jersey’s group. Wiggins managed his strength and was able to ride the final section of the climb in the slipstream of Froome but, in the closing 500m the domestique was given the nod to race for second place honours and improve his position on GC. Pinot outsprinted Froome for second place and gave the host nation a first-second in the 11th stage. The yellow jersey was sixth over the line – in the same time as Nibali who moved up to third overall. Cadel Evans slipped from 2nd to fourth overall, 3’19” behind Wiggins.
Bradley Wiggins leads his team-mate Froome by 2’05” at the top of the general classification and he will wear the yellow jersey in stage 12.