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2010 Tour de France – Stage 12 News and Analysis

| by Sports Nickel

97th Tour de France

Stage 12 – Bourge-de-Peage to Mende – 210.0 km (130.2 mi)

16 July 2010

 2010 Tour de France - Stage 12 Map

On the same slopes where Laurent Jalabert launched his decisive winning move on Bastille Day in the 1995 Tour to put himself in position to win the green points jersey and finish fourth in Paris, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) outkicked defending champion Alberto Contador (Astana) to win the first Tour de France stage of his ten-year career. In an all-Spanish two-up sprint in Mende, the former national champion and winner of this years Volta a Catalunya stage race was superior to his more celebrated compatriot. But while it was Rodriguez taking the line first and winning the stage, Contador set a tone that the illusion of his vulnerability through the first two weeks of the race were just that — illusions. On the Montée Laurent Jalabert — so renamed by the town of Mende after that legendary ride by their countryman fifteen years ago — the steepest pitch in the 2010 Tour (3.1km at 10.0% with three 14% switchbacks) became the launching pad for Contador to reassert his preeminent place amongst the favorites. After having seen Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) take the yellow jersey, a 41-second lead going into the Pyrenees and most of the recent publicity concerning GC implications, the Luxembourger must now cast a wary and vigilant eye at the Spaniard at every turn.

Yesterday I talked about the need for any rider with intentions of victory yet a deficit to the leaders to take the initiative on this stage. And it almost came to be that we saw several riders just outside the top ten make their mark. While guys like Cadel Evans, Levi Leipheimer and Ivan Basso were riding with the maillot jaune, passively awaiting their fate, it was a duo of GC dark-horses — Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin/12th at 5:42) and Andreas Kloden (Radio Shack/20th at 9:05) — that took their own fate in their hands. Part of an eighteen-strong breakaway group that also included Contador’s Astana teammate Alexander Vinokourov, King of the Mountains hopeful Anthony Charteau (Bouygues) and last year’s green jersey winner Thor Hushovd (Cervelo), the desire of Hesjedal and Kloden to make something happen for themselves was laudable. And both Charteau and Hushovd were on the warpath, looking to regain their respective leader’s jerseys after losing them in recent days.

The group made their move to get away on the second climb of five on route, the Cat. 3 Col des Nonières, building a 23-second lead by the summit. At the top, Charteau took the maximum points and clawed his way past the man who was wearing the polka dots that day, Jerome Pineau (Quick Step). Soon after the leading eighteen reached the first intermediate sprint in Mariac; there Hushovd was beaten to the line by Grega Bole, the Lampre teammate of current green jersey Alessandro Petacchi who was in the breakaway precisely to limit Hushovd’s gains on points. The move relegated the Norwegian national champion to second in Mariac and left him tied alongside Petacchi as the virtual green-jersey co-leader on the road.

Having failed to capture the maillot vert at the first attempt, Hushovd now knew this breakaway must succeed — and he must be amongst its ranks for at least the next 85km — if he was to make it to the second intermediate sprint in Langogne ahead of the main field and his fellow sprinters. Get there in front and he’d walk away back in green in Mende; if the peloton managed to reintegrate the race, though, it would spell doom to Hushovd’s hopes. As the leaders reached the day’s third climb, the Cat. 2 Suc de Montivernoux, they had a two-minute advantage in their favor and dreams of gaining more time. At the top, with Sandy Casar (FdJeux) pipping Chatreau for the maximum points, the latter still managed with nine more to add to his haul to consolidate his grip on the lead in the King of the Mountains points.

With the gap still around two minutes after the climb, the Lampre squad of Petacchi moved up front in the main field to assist Saxo Bank. While the team of race leader Andy Schleck was simply hoping to keep the losses to Hesjedal and Kloden (and even Astana’s Vinokourov, a dangerous wild-card behind Contador) at a minimum, Lampre moved up front hoping to reintegrate the pack before Langogne. Chatreau took the full four points on the Côte de la Mouline, adding to his haul on the day and ensuring that the maillot a poix would be his. Hushovd, still resolutely hanging on in the front group, knew now that the sprint was just 25km away and there were no more serious climbs in between. Just a half hour longer and he could guarantee his reappointment to the head of the green jersey pack.

Bole attacked first, trying to startle the Norwegian into submission yet again. But even had Lampre’s rider succeeded, Hushovd was right on his wheel. Thor wheeled around Grega at the line, taking the full six points. After his scare with losing the jersey, he now had a bigger lead in that competition than that with which Petacchi entered this stage. As soon as it was ensured that they wouldn’t be able to stave off losing the green jersey, Lampre backed off of the front of the chase group and left the pacemaking once again to Saxo Bank. Less than fifty kilometers remained, with the summit in Mende all that was left to threaten the hierarchy.

On the uncategorized climb in Chaudeyrac, the hill burst up the breakaway as Hesjedal, Vinokourov, Kloden and Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse D’Epargne) went ahead to see if they couldn’t survive until the finish to set up a four-man fight for the victory. Hushovd, no need to waste any more energy, drifted back to the peloton after collecting what he’d set out to gain for the day. With 40km left to race, the quartet had built up a 40-second lead on their former companions in the lead group and nearly four minutes on the Saxo-led peloton. A sad note came over the race radio when it was announced that Tyler Farrar (Garmin), the sprinter whose lead-out man Julian Dean was at the receiving end of Renshaw’s headbutts yesterday, was pulling out of the race. The mountains illustrated to him that his fractured wrist simply wasn’t going to handle the pounding in the Pyrenees, and so the young American sprinter was forced to depart the race to heal and begin preparation for the Vuelta and/or world championships.

As soon as the Côte de la Croix-Neuve, Jalabert’s Wall, came into sight and the roads started ramping to their leg-busting double-digit pitches, every hope was lost. The four men on the front were unable to fend off Rodriguez and Contador. Not even Schleck, bedecked in yellow, could match the accelerations of his Spanish rival. Ultimately Rodriguez would win, Contador would steal ten seconds back from Schleck and we would be set up for one hell of a dogfight in the thin air of the Pyrenean giants on this centennial anniversary of their first appearance in Tour lore. The moves by the GC darkhorses may not have succeeded, but for two newly-reinstated jersey bearers (Chatreau and Hushovd) the stage was pure bliss… and for the man in yellow, despite his dismissive veneer, the way in which Contador was able to do what Schleck had done in the Alps has to be portending some ominous possibilities in the Pyrenees…

STAGE 12 RESULTS

1 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 4:58:26  
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana    
3 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:00:04  
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:10  
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank    
6 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi    
7 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack    
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank    
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:00:15  
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo    

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 58:42:01  
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:31  
3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:45  
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:02:58  
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:03:31  
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:04:06  
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:04:27  
8 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:04:58  
9 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:05:02  
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:05:16  

POINTS CLASSIFICATION

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 167 pts
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 161  
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 138  
4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia 132  
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 122  
6 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 101  
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team 96  
8 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram 87  
9 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 79  
10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 74  

KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

1 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 107 pts
2 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step 92  
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 64  
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne 62  
5 Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 58  
6 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 56  
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 56  
8 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 52  
9 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 50  
10 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 47  

BEST YOUNG RIDER

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 58:42:01  
2 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:04:27  
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:05:16  
4 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:31:01  
5 Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne 0:33:54  
6 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:42:25  
7 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto 0:44:38  
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank 0:54:07  
9 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:56:23  
10 Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Spa) Footon-Servetto 0:57:34  

 

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  3. 2010 Tour de France – Stage 9 News and Notes