Tour de France: Stage 12 review

Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux, 226km

David Millar used his considerable Tour savvy to win from a breakaway and provided a much-needed fillip to Garmin-Sharp’s fortunes. Millar outwitted Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) in a tense game of cat and mouse on the run in to the finish after the pair had distanced their three breakaway companions in the final kilometres.

Today’s stage had successful breakaway written all over it and it was no surprise that a group of 19 eventually broke free before the first climb of the day. A number of riders subsequently tried to unsuccessfully bridge across – at one time even the maillot jaune jumped out to herd an errant flock back into the peloton. Over the first two climbs, both Cat 1s, the breakaway was whittled down to 11 and then finally five: Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), fresh-faced Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in addition to the aforementioned Millar and Peraud.

Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) led home the peloton, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on his wheel, to add to their respective points tallies in the hunt for the green jersey. Goss wavered from his line causing Sagan to check and the former was subsequently relegated by the race jury. Bradley Wiggins finished safely in the bunch as the peloton enjoyed a relatively easy day. No bad thing after the efforts of the previous two days and with the Pyrenees looming on the horizon.

This was Millar’s fourth stage win in the Tour, and only his second road win, the others being in prologues. It was also the fourth win by a Britain in this year’s Tour and now four of the five Olympics GB team members are Tour stage winners. It was also the 45th anniversary of the death of Tommy Simpson  – the first British rider to wear the maillot jaune – on Mont Ventoux.

VeloVoices rider of the day

It has to be today’s stage winner, David Millar, who collapsed after crossing the line exhausted from his heroic efforts remaining in the day’s long break and then chasing down numerous attacks from his fellow breakaway riders to take an emotional, hard-fought and intelligently raced victory.

His teammates certainly seemed to appreciate the win:


I have no idea why this was one of the stages which was televised from start to finish. During what could be politely called a lull in proceedings, television commentators everywhere were forced onto the back foot. There’s only so much time you can spend discussing France’s rich heritage, culture and gastronomy. We were treated to the full gamut from I-spy, trainspotting, reminiscing about one’s early career, amusing anecdotes and bad jokes. Out on the road we had giant pears, tricolour cows, French workers emulating The Full Monty from the roof of their warehouse, small hovercraft racing along the river Rhone and spectators in fancy dress. Even over on Twitter, we had to work hard to keep ourselves amused.

With little or no action of note on the road, everyone fell back on yesterday’s WAG story in which the respective other halves of Messrs Wiggins, Cavendish and Froome indulged in a cat fight. I think they’ve yet to kiss and make up a la Vincenzo Nibali and Wiggins.

Tactical analysis

Today was one of those famous transition stages where the successful breakaway provided a welcome reversal of luck for one of the teams staring down the barrel of a potentially empty-handed Tour. It had absolutely no impact on either the jerseys or the general classification. Instead it provided all, bar the five in the breakaway, with a recovery day ride.

Tomorrow’s stage heads down to the coast on a stage for the sprinters but the overall contenders need to be aware that the likelihood of coastal winds, in particular the Mistral, could wreak further havoc and more broken dreams.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of every stage on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Tour de France official website

Friday Feature: VeloEye Davide Calabresi

We’ve done a few interviews with young cycling photographers, but so far they’ve all been women! However, we have rectified that with this VeloEye, Davide Calabresi. Sean Weide of BMC suggested we talk to Davide as he’s a young, upcoming photographer who had been to both the Tour de Suisse and the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. Always grateful for a story tip, we took Sean’s advice and got in touch with him. And this is what he had to say for himself.

Kitty: So, Davide, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Davide: Hello! I’m a young photographer, 23, but not a newbie. I live between Milan and Varese in Italy, an area where cycling is deeply embedded in people’s hearts and where several very important races take place: Giro di Lombardia, Tre Valli Varesine, and every year the last stage of the Giro d’Italia is in Milan. And Ivan Basso lives just a few kilometers from my house! I study Industrial Design at Politecnico di Milano. After my degree I would like to have a career as a professional photographer but also to take a masters degree in Brand Communications. I would love to do what Tim de Waele does in cycling photography!

Ivan Basso, Italian National Championships, 2012

Kitty: What got you interested in photography? Have you always been taking pictures?

Davide: I don’t know how to explain my passion for photography, but certainly it started by looking at sports pictures in magazines like Sports Week, which is a supplement of Gazzetta dello Sport. Looking at those pictures made me want to take gorgeous pictures like that! I’ve been taking pictures since I got my first digital compact about six or seven years ago. Three years ago, I bought my first reflex and now I do shots almost every day. Over the last two years, I’ve had a lot of practice – I’ve attended many international events, like the Giro d’Italia and Tour de Suisse.

Christopher Juul Jensen, Tour de Suisse, 2012

Kitty: How did you get interested in professional cycling? Who are your favourite cyclists and teams?

Davide: I got interested in pro cycling about four years ago, when by chance I was on holiday in the Pyrenees and the Tour de France went through the Col du Tourmalet. From then, I started to watch on TV the great classic races, but my tremendous passion for cycling was triggered by the great shots of the master photographers. Of course, the experience of being at the Giro and the Tour de Suisse this year just reinforced my interest in cycling.

Marco Pinotti, Giro d’Italia final stage, 2012

I look up to Ryder Hesjedal for what he has shown at the Giro: from total stranger to great winner against all odds. He’s an all-round cyclist, he goes fast both on the flats and the hard mountains. However, Ivan Basso has always been one of my favourites, a great climber. Recently, I was very impressed by a young Slovakian cyclist, Peter Sagan, when I saw him at the Tour de Suisse.

Kitty: I think we all are pretty impressed by SuperSagan!

Peter Sagan, Tour de Suisse 2012.

Kitty: You have a lot of different types of photography on your site – what made you want to photograph sport in particular?

Davide: I don’t only take sport pictures – I’m also particularly interested in night and nature photography. However, sports photography mostly fascinates me because you have to be able to seize the fleeting moment, you don’t have a second chance and there is a very high risk of error. In cycling, you only get one chance to click and if you miss it, maybe you have to throw out the whole day of work. While you click, you have the adrenaline at the top, yet you have to be quiet and focused on minimising the risk of error. There is need for a lot of alertness, experience and accuracy. This is not a type of photography for everybody, just the best. I do hope to be among them sooner or later.

Detail from Italian National Championships, 2012

Kitty: So why don’t you take us through some of your favourite shots, Davide!

Davide: This picture of Ryder Hesjedal was taken at this year’s Giro on stage 15, which started in Busto Arsizio. This was a week before the Giro ended, when he was still in the pink jersey. He lost it at the end of this stage, but won it back at the last stage in Milan.

Ryder Hesjedal, 2012 Giro

Davide:I took this picture with a wide angle lens, just when Thomas de Gendt was coming round a narrow bend during the final time trial. The difficulty of a shot like this is that the cyclists pass by you very close and very fast! Maybe you have just half a second to click and, if you don’t miss it, the result is stunning!

Thomas de Gendt, 2012 Giro final TT

Davide: The hero, Fabian Cancellara, on the podium at the Tour de Suisse after the first stage in Lugano, receiving his Best Swiss Rider jersey. Fabian is an icon in Switzerland (and not just there!). When he went onto the podium, there was a great standing ovation – like he was a movie star! It was thrilling.

Fabian Cancellara, Tour de Suisse 2012

Davide: I like this one of Peter Sagan at the Tour de Suisse time trial as it shows what an effort he had to make to win this stage.

Peter Sagan, Tour de Suisse TT 2012

Davide: I took this picture from the Italian National Championships, during the time trial, in June. I believe it shows the stress and concentration Matteo Montaguti had a few moments before he left the start-house.

Kitty: I think this is my favourite one, Davide. It’s an unusual, close composition and it’s just such a beautiful image.

Matteo Montaguti, Italian TT Championships, 2012

Davide: This is a very patriotic shot where Dario Cataldo, the race winner, is singing the national anthem with his hand over his heart. It was a lovely moment.

Dario Cataldo, Italian TT Champion, 2012

Kitty: Finally, what cyclist would you most like to do a photoshoot with? What would be your dream photography assignment?

Davide: It would be great to do a photoshoot with Ivan Basso, or better, with the whole Liquigas team, a team of champions! Ivan is the person I see closest to me – in my area he is considered as a hero and he is very close to his fans. In my town, it’s usual to see him just cycling around like an ordinary person. This is part of the beauty of cycling – the riders are so close to the people.

My dream as a professional photographer would be to follow a team and get the best moments of the race from the motorbike saddle – what the great photographers like Tim de Waele, Liz Kreutz and Roberto Bettini do!

Detail from Italian National Championships 2012

Kitty: Those are all such great pictures, Davide! I think you have a real future ahead of you in sports photography. Make sure you let us know what races you’re going to be at – we’d love to keep featuring your work on the site.

Davide: Thank you very much for the chance. I’m very pleased to share my pictures with you!

Follow Davide on Twitter and Instagram and visit his website And keep an eye on the blog as we’ll be featuring his work throughout the year.

Tour de France preview: Stage 12

Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux, 226km, medium mountains

This stage, at nearly 80km longer than yesterday’s, is the longest of the 2012 Tour. But compared to stage 11’s snaggle-toothed profile, this will be (relatively speaking) an easier day for the riders. The profile below makes the stage look more accordion than it really is – it actually stretches out a bit more than it seems here. That said, it’s still going to be tough on legs drained by the last two days.

There are two Cat 1 mountains in the first 90km. The Col du Grand Cucheron (12.5km at 6.5%) is a climb of two halves: a gentle 4-6% for most of its first half, a rather less benign 8-10% for the second. The Col du Granier (9.7km at 8.6%) starts steep and just gets steeper. It’s then downhill for the next 80km – including an intermediate sprint which will be meaningless in terms of the green jersey competition – until a short Cat 3 climb, the Cote d’Ardoix, about 30km from a slightly uphill finish.

With the second half of the stage fairly straightforward, we are highly unlikely to see attacks from any of the GC contenders, so this one has ‘big breakaway’ written all over it. Look for riders low down the order from teams who have had little joy so far during this race – Movistar, Garmin-Sharp, Vacansoleil-DCM and Saur-Sojasun, for starters – being sent out by their teams for a long, hard slog in search of the glory of a stage victory – on Friday the 13th, no less.

Cycling the Alps’ interactive videos of the route can be found here.

Link: Official website