Stage 12, the longest of this year’s Tour de France, provided Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) with an(other) opportunity to launch a stunning solo attack, hold off a formidable chasing pack and finally land his much-vaunted debut professional win after only 19 months as a pro! Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Hirschi’s team-mate Soren Kragh Andersen from the chasers rounded out the podium. There was no change in the GC, or indeed in any of the jerseys. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) remains in yellow.
This is just joyous to watch! In years to come, we’ll all be saying: “remember when Hirschi won his first grand tour stage?”
The Victory and the Victor
It was a long, boring stage until Tour debutant Marc “Never say die” Hirschi lit the blue touch paper again. Propelled by the collective will of Twitter, the 22-year-old Swiss – arguably the revelation of this year’s Tour – and 2018 Under-23 World and European Road Race Champion shut the door firmly on his previous Tour disappointments, on stages 2 and 9 respectively.
After the break of the day had been hauled back, there were a number of attacks from the peloton on the penultimate Croix du Pey, with Movistarlet Marc Soler going clear, soon to be joined by Tiesj Benoot and Soren Kragh Andersen from Sunweb. Further riders followed and they had a 40-second advantage over the peloton and 30km left to race. Then, on the day’s final challenge the Suc au May, Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) launched his attack.
After Marc’s second place on stage 2 into Nice and his third-place in stage 9 into Laruns, the Twitterati threw their collective weight behind the youngster. Was he about to land his first professional and grand tour victory?
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who’d beaten Hirschi on stage 2, attacked soon after from the peloton taking with him a collection of chasers.
Our hearts were in our mouths as Hirschi threw caution to the wind on the final descent. Was it going to be a case of who dares wins? Or were his hopes going to be dashed, again. Fortunately, he had some help from team-mates in the chasing group.
It was edge of the seat stuff. We were all willing him but would Hirschi make it?
We love a few tears at VeloVoices Towers but it’s usually Miss Kitty Fondue or Paris Wheels, not Panache.
I have to be honest, I love nothing better than when a plan comes together! In my book planning +preparation = success.
A few words from the stage winner himself who, unsurprisingly, was also adjudged most combative.
And finally, tears of relief and joy from Hirschi himself.
Stage 12 from Chauvigny to Sarran was a tribute to two famous Frenchmen who died towards the end of last year.
Firstly, the race passed through St-Léonard-de-Noblat, where Raymond Poulidor spent the last years of his life. Pou Pou, as he was affectionately known, finished on the Tour podium eight times and remained a GC contender until his 40s without ever once wearing the yellow jersey.
The stage ended in Sarran home to former president Jacques Chirac and his museum who was a regular attendee at the Tour.
The Last Word
Stage 12 Top 5
1 Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) 5:08:49
2 Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) +0:47
3 Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) +0:52
4 Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) same time
5 Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 51:26:46
2 Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:21
3 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:28
4 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:30
5 Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) +0:32
6 Rigoberto Uran (EF ProCycling) same time
7 Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates) +0:44
8 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +1:02
9 Migel Angel Lopez (Astana) +1:15
10 Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) +1:42
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Points jersey Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
King of the Mountains Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R la Mondiale)
Best Young Rider Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)
Most Combative of the Stage: Marc Hirschi (Sunweb)
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Official race website: Le Tour
Header image: ©GETTY/Photo by A.S.O – Pool