Stage 12 of the Tour de France saw the peloton take on three monster climbs, including a summit finish on the legendary Alpe d’Huez. It ended with five big GC riders finishing within seconds of each other. Geraint Thomas of Sky took the win but, on today’s evidence, the race is far from over.
Whetting the appetite
Sometimes you just can’t help getting excited about what the day will bring…
The first break was a mix of opportunists, KOM chasers and GC decoys. It was hard to ascertain how that one would play out. Or as EF put it more colloquially:
If there was an air of craziness about the opening kilometres of the race, there seemed to be a resigned certainty about the end. It would all come back together so that the big guns could put in a GC showdown.
Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) had other ideas. Anyone who saw him tumble out of Giro contention two years ago would be willing him on to take the stage win. He broke away on the Col de la Croix de Fer and soloed off. At one point the Dutchman was in the virtual race lead. A strong, strong ride included Kruikswijk flying through an appreciative Dutch corner.Embed from Getty Images
Further back on the mountain Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) tried to attack and was pulled back, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) tried to attack and was pulled back. Mikel Landa (Movistar) tried to attack, Romain Bardet (AG2R) went with him and went right over the top of him. Landa’s attack lasted less time than it takes to say his name but Bardet’s stuck for several kilometres.
Confusion reigned at the 4km mark. Smoke and fans filled the TV screens. As the fog cleared Chris Froome (Sky) had bridged to Bardet and Vincenzo Nibali had hit the deck. (Once he finished the stage, His Nibs went straight to hospital for x-rays … we still await news of his injury and if he will start tomorrow morning.)
Froome caught Kruikwijk and it looked like we were going to see another “vintage” win for the Sky rider on an epic mountain finish. However, before long Romain Bardet, Tom Dumoulin and Geraint Thomas were back with him.
Mikel Landa caught up too – it was as if the last 2km hadn’t happened.
Attack followed attack but nothing would stick. Here we had four riders operating at their highest level. Some of the world’s best bike riders with nothing to choose between them at the flamme rouge.
If the climbing was dramatic and tense then we were treated to one of those semi-comedy sprints that happen when climbers hit the flat mountaintop together. Geraint Thomas used all his track skills to take the win in the yellow jersey.
We wanted racing, we wanted attacks, we wanted riders to take risks. We got them.
Rider of the race
I’m not what you’d call a natural fan of Warren Barguil. Where others find him charming and interesting, he leaves me feeling cold and bored. [But how do you really feel, Euan? – Ed]
But during the three stages in the Alps, I can’t deny he’s shown he’s a racer. The attack and fade on stage 10, going for the win yesterday and today’s attempt to break away and battle for those king of the mountain points. Day after day the Frenchman has impressed.
Today must have hurt, given the efforts yesterday on la Rosiere. It must have been tempting to sit back and think: “I’ve put in two big moves this week, that’ll do, I’ve had enough of lactate for the moment.” But he didn’t. Others will take the headlines today but after hitting it hard for the third day in a row the man from Fortuneo gets the rider of the race nod.
However, Wawa is still the second weakest nickname in all of cycling.
Stage 9 still taking its toll
The full effects of a brutal Sunday over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles are only now being felt. All week we’ve seen riders who crashed heavily on stage 9 suffer in the mountains. For EF’s Rigoberto Uran the pain was too much and last year’s second placed rider has had to call it a day.
Dylan Groenewegen, Andre Greipel and Fernando Gaviria also quit today. Tomorrow’s sprint finish will be looking a bit different.
Corner after corner
This, to me, is what cycling fandom is about. Forget snarly online debates or getting drunk and too close to the riders. Show your support, enjoy the spectacle and hang with like-minded people.
Back to the winner
I don’t believe him… do you?
1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 5:18:37
2 Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +0:02
3 Romain Bardet (AG2R) +0:03
4 Christopher Froome (Sky) +0:04
5 Mikel Landa (Miovistar) +0:07
GC Top 10
1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 49:24:43
2 Chris Froome (Sky) +1.39
3 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +1.50
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +2.37
5 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2.46
6 Romain Bardet (AG2R) +3.07
7 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +3.13
8 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2.40
9 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +4.13
10 Dan Martin (UAE) +5.11
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
KOM jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
Best young rider: Pierre Latour (Ag2r)
Most combative: Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Listen to Stage 12’s VeloVoices Tour in 5 podcast now on any podcast browser, even Spotify! and remember, you can get involved too!