Tour de France - Stage 12
Stage 12 - Thursday July 14th - Briançon to Digne-les-Bains, 187 km
Discovery lost their main climbing ace Manuel Beltran after a bad crash at 60kms. He banged his head pretty badly and the race doctor pulled him out. Green jersey hopeful Tom Boonen also didn't start after whacking his knee yesterday. Angelo Furlan (Domina Vacanze), Nicolas Fritsch (Saunier Duval) and Robbie Hunter (Phonak) all abandoned.
The Tour is getting tough if those guy's are pulling out.
So much for my prediction. Thomas Voeckler and RCUK favourite Vladimir Karpets had a dig at 25 kms. It went nowhere. The main break of the day went at about 70 kms, it featured a quality group of riders including: Axel Merckx (Davitamon-Lotto), Juan Manuel Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Angel Vicioso (Liberty Seguros-Würth), Thor Hushovd, Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux), Stuart O'Grady and David Moncoutié (Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone). The peloton was reluctant to let them go as the relentless pace of this race continued 'a bloc'.
But at least I got the Nationality of the winner right, David Moncoutié (Cofidis) made the advantage of having a team mate in the break with him and a rider of Stuart O'Grady's calibre is definitely what's needed on a hard day in the hills. Moncoutié made a perfect counter attack after Merckx had tried to get away from the large group with 30 kms to go. Leaving O'Grady to police the remnants of the escapers.
The French climber made his advantage work and the breakaway broke up into bits as they tried to get back on terms with Moncoutié. It was the first win of the Tour for a French rider and, as you can imagine, the French crowds went potty at the end with a win on their National Holiday.
It was a brave attack as the group looked like it would stay together with riders like Merckx and Hushovd in it. However fortune favours the brave in cycling and try as they might there were just too many tired legs to get it together.
It was a 'business as usual' day in the Peloton. With Tom Boonen out Thor Hushovd takes over the Green jersey and looks like a good bet to hold onto it if he continues with his strong riding.
The Green jersey could be the highlight of the remaining stages as it's pretty close:
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 142 pts
2. Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 120
3. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 107
4. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 81
5. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française Des Jeux 69
6. Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner 66
7. Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 65
8. Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 63
9. Baden Cooke (Aus) Française Des Jeux 59
10. Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 58
Friday’s Stage 13 from Miramas to Montpellier in the Languedoc region, is to be the only transition stage between the Alps and the Pyrenees and should be a routine day for another breakaway and perhaps a Sprint finish? It's over 162km and expect to see the Green jersey contenders having a go. The RCUK prediction? Big Magnus Backstedt is looking mean and needs to exorcise that 2nd place he got last week...
Stage 12 Result:
1. David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 4.20.06
2. Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0.57
3. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth
4. Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole
5. José Luis Arrieta (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
6. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
7. Axel Merckx (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
8. Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
9. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit 3.15
10. Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
11. Massimo Giunti (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
12. Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team
13. Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Team CSC
14. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 10.33
Overall GC after 12 stages:
1. Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 46.30.36
2. Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 0.38
3. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 2.34
4. Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 2.40
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 3.16
6. Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems 3.48
7. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 3.58
8. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 4.00
9. Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.02
10. Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.16