Tour de France 2021: Stage 12 – Echelons and the stage winning attacks of Nils Politt

Cross winds at the start of stage 12 of the Tour De France ripped the peloton apart. As the chaos settled 13 strong men rode off the front and were not seen again. Strongest of all was Nils Politt who dropped everyone with his constant attacking and then rode in alone to savour his first Grand Tour victory – only his second one of his career. A fabulous result for his BORA-hansgrohe team who announced Peter Sagan would not take the start due to his injuries. Tour debutante Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Soudal) and Movistar Tour veteran Imanol Erviti rounded out the podium.  Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick Step) led the peloton home some fifteen minutes later, with the main contenders windswept but unchanged on GC.

Love a Bordure

This part of the France always has the chance of crosswinds and some tasty echelon action. Hopes of cycling fans soared as news came in that the start would be delayed due to high winds.

When Orla asks twitter supplies – in multiple languages.

You just KNOW the keywords on the team bus were #StayAlert

And so we begin…

Never mind attacking, it was full-gas-barfing just to stay in the peloton, pretty soon there were more riders out the back door than at the front.

It really hasn’t been INEOS-Grenadiers Tour.

The break

Luckily for the peloton, and to the disappointment of many fans, the wind eased and changed direction slightly. As the echelons began to join together again, the attacks flew fast and furious. Eventually thirteen STRONG riders forced themselves away. With so many teams represented up front up there was little appetite or need for the teams behind to chase it down.

The gap ballooned south of 10 minutes it became clear that the victory would go to the break. We might be denied seeing Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck Quick Step) fight for his record equalling 34th Tour victory but excitement grew that Andre Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) would roll back the years.

The Lotto duo of Breakaway Prince Brent van Moer and Aussie Harry Sweeny got a lotta love too

Politt attacks

With 50 kms to go, things got spicy in the break and Politt was the rider adding the chilli paste to the mix.

Four go off on their own

His constant attacks broke any semblance of rhythm and one by one he dispatched his breakaway companions. The first decisive split was made with with 40km to go when he leapt away with Stefan Kung (Groupama FDJ) Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Soudal) and Movistar’s Imanol Erviti.

and then there were three

A howling tailwind kept the pace high and the gap grew to an unbridgeable 40secs. Kung was dispatched on a small climb, and then with 12km to go Politt swooped past Sweeny and Erviti and there was nothing they could do about it.

all in solo

Those last 12km were pure Politt. We have seen that toothy pain-face gasping for air so many time before – don’t forget this is the man who finished 2nd at Paris-Roubaix and 5th at Flanders in 2019.

I was thrilled to see him take it all the way to the line and with time to savour the victory, pure joy on his face, and a triumphant raising of his bike above his head.

Embed from Getty Images

There were quite a lot of sprinters in the group…so I knew that I had to do the race hard, and that I had to attack, and attack quite early. I did the first attack, and then there were just four guys. Then the sports director told me, ‘now it’s the last way until the finish, so give everything’. So I did it again, I attacked…to come in solo to the finish line, it’s unbelievable.

It’s my passion, cycling. I’m away so much from home because of training and races. And now I have the biggest win that you can have.

Love this from Andre Greipel

“I’m happy for Nils. I’ve seen him grow up and we train together every day. He’s a really good friend.”

Politt gave us an attack masterclass – displaying timing and tactics with the power to make make it count. Who else could they award the combativity prize to?


Here he is with Nairo

The last word


Stage 12 Top 5

1 Nils Politt (BORA hansgrohe) 3:22:12

2 Imanol Erviti (Movistar) +0:31

3 Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) same time

4 Stefan Kung (Groupama FDJ) +1:58

5 Luka Mezgec (Bike Exchange) +2:06

General Classification Top 10

1 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 47:22:43

2 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) +5:18

3 Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

4 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +5:33

5 Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën Team) +5:58

6 Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) +6:16

7 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) +6:30

8 Enric Mas Nicolau (Movistar Team) +7:11

9 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +9:29

10 Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Bahrain Victorious) +10:28

All the Jerseys

Leaders jersey : Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)

Points jersey: Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step)

KOM jersey : Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic)

Best young rider jersey : Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates)

For full stage review, go to cyclingnews

Official Tour de France website is here

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