9 Big Photos from Stage 12sirotti

Stage 12 Results

General Classification after Stage 12:

Full Results (click on "Stage Standing") —
Sørensen speeds to super stage win for Saxo Bankcyclingnews
  Last Km (02:38 english) — versus
  Last Km (02:30) —
high-res victory salute
Saxo's Sorensen wins stage 12velonews
Nicki fik karrierens største
  Stage 12 Highlights (02:22) — eurosport
  Last Km (01:00 no commentary) — eurosport
  Nikki Sørensen Interview Post-Stage (01:07 english) — letour
  Versus 12 video clips (more to come) — versus
Can it be? A drug-free Tour de Franceespn
  Stage 12 Recap/Highlights (03:12) —
Graham Watson Stage 12 Photosgrahamwatson
ITV stage 12 podcast with Matt Rendell, Ned Boulting and Chris BoardmanITV
Armstrong eyeing Alps for aggressioncyclingnews
9 Big Photos from Stage 12sirotti
  Armstrong on staying focused (01:50) — eurosport
  Cavendish: You can't chase them all (00:49) — eurosport
  Lance less tense: "I'm having a good time" (03:12) — sbs
  Bob Stapleton: talks about his team's talent (03:30) — sbs
Lance Armstrong hits back at leniency allegationsbikeradar

Post Stage Analysis

Sørensen Goes Solo
Nikki Sørensen of Saxo Bank takes stage win, Nocentini still in Yellow

Nikki Sørensen of Saxo Bank celebrated his first ever Tour de France stage win today in Vittel. After joining a seven rider breakaway early in the stage, the Dane attacked with 5 kilometers to race. Sørensen timed his move perfectly, and rode solo to the line. Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, added to his lead in the Points classification by winning the first intermediate sprint and the bunch sprint for eighth. The general classification remains unchanged today, and Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R-La Mondiale continues to wear the Yellow Jersey of race leader.

The Story

Fabian Cancellara correctly predicted the stage today, saying in the pre-race interview that the stage should unfold with a big break, who will “go to the end.” Cancellara said that the first two hours of the stage would go “full gas” and then a break would go when “everyone is really tired.” And that is precisely what happened today.

A group of eleven attempted an early escape, but they did not get far. Astana proved especially active at the front, and may not have liked the size of the early break. Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, won the first intermediate sprint, and increased his lead slightly in the points classification. On the second categorized climb of the day, the Côte de Gye-sur-Seine, Franco Pellizotti took the maximum points, and signaled his continued interest in chasing the Polka Dot jersey. Still, the race remained together, and in a nice bit of teamwork Roman Kreuziger took the third place points on the Côte de Gye-sur-Seine.

At last after about 65 kilometers of racing, a break of seven riders escaped on the category 4 Côte d’Essoyes. The break included: Nicki Sorensen of Saxo Bank, Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas-Doimo, Laruent Lefevre of Bbox Bouygues, Rémi Pauriol of Cofidis, Sylvain Calzati of Agritubel, and Markus Fothen of Milram. AG2R-La Mondiale took up their position at the front in defense of Rinaldo Nocentini’s Yellow Jersey, but the sprinters teams proved uninterested in contributing to the chase.

Over the final three categorized climbs, Martinez and Pellizotti waged their battle for the lead in the moutains classification. Pellizotti won all three, but Martinez defended well by finishing second each time and limiting the advantage of the Italian. With 25 kilometers left to race, the group of seven still held an advantage of 4 minutes over the main field. It was now all but certain that the winner would come from the breakaway.

With 22 kilometers left to race, Nikki Sørensen attacked the group of seven. Sylvain Calzati of Agritubel soon joined the him. Though the two worked together steadily, they never achieved much more than a 15 second advantage over the chase. Rémi Pauriol of Cofidis soon found the effort insupportable, and dropped off the back. The remaining five continued to rotate through smoothly and with 6 kilometers to go, the gap had shrunk to barely 10 seconds.

With the catch imminent, Nikki Sørensen attacked and left Calzati behind. The Dane had plainly held some strength in reserve. His perfectly timed move proved decisive. The chase hesitated, and Sørensen steadily rode away from his former partners in the breakaway. At 4 kilometers to go, the Saxo Bank rider had 20 seconds over the chase, which never really organized. Franco Pellizotti commented after the stage that it seemed like no one really wanted to win. More likely, the remaining five riders were simply tired from the long way out and cracked by the sudden and unexpected attack from Sørensen. The experienced pro had timed his move to perfection.

Inside 3 kilometers to go, Laurent Lefèvre of Bbox Bouygues made an effort to lose his chase companions and set out on his own. The others proved quick to follow, and it was all back together for the remaining five. Up ahead, Sørensen crossed the line and celebrated his tenth ever professional victory. Sørensen typically plays a supporting role at Saxo Bank and has had few opportunities to ride for his own results. Today he received his reward.

Sørensen looked astonished after the stage to have actually won, after riding many kilometers in the wind in his ten year career. “For sure, I wanted to go in the break this stage,” the Dane explained and mentioned that he had tried yesterday to get in the move, but hadn’t succeeded. “I think I did a perfect race, and I felt strong at the end. I feel very satisfied, though it hasn’t probably sank in for me that I have won a stage at the Tour de France,” Sørensen said. Stuttering a bit, he managed, “Wow, I am happy!” Thanks to Sørensen’s efforts, Saxo Bank also takes over the lead in the teams classification.

Behind Sørensen, Laurent Lefèvre of Bbox Bouygues finished second, while Franco Pellizotti crossed the line third. Mark Cavendish won the bunch sprint for eighth ahead of Thor Hushovd and added to his lead in the points classification. A crash inside the 3 kilometer mark took down Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans, and Michael Rogers, but all three finished. Because the crash occured inside 3 kilometer to go, it will not alter the standings in the general classification.

General Classification Update

Here is the current top ten:
Rinaldo Nocentini AG2R-La Mondiale
Alberto Contador Astana :06
Lance Armstrong Astana :08
Levi Leipheimer Astana :39
Bradley Wiggins Garmin-Slipstream :46
Andreas Klöden Astana :54
Tony Martin Columbia-HTC 1:00
Christian Vandevelde Garmin-Slipstream 1:24
Andy Schleck Saxo Bank 1:49
Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas-Doimo 1:54

The general classification remained unchanged for one more day, but tomorrow’s hilly stage in the Vosges mountains should noticeably alter the standings. Still, Rinaldo Nocentini celebrated another day in Yellow, while Alberto Contador sits second at 6 seconds, and Lance Armstrong is third at 8 seconds. Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer both had a bit of a scare, crashing in a wide left-hander near the finish. Fortunately for both riders, the incident occurred within 3 kilometers to go, and they will not lose time in the general classification.

Other general classification riders: 13) Fränk Schleck of Saxo Bank @ 2:25, 14) Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas-Doimo @ 2:40 15) Carlos Sastre of Cervélo TestTeam @ 2:52, 18) Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto @ 3:07, 23) Vladimir Karpets of Katusha @ 3:49, 24) Denis Menchov of Rabobank @ 5:02.

Other classifications: Mark Cavendish added to his lead in the points classification today. The Columbia-HTC sprinter won the first intermediate sprint of the day ahead of Thor Hushovd. Cavendish also won the bunch sprint for eighth, again ahead of Hushovd. The two remain tightly matched in the points classification with Cavendish leading Hushovd by 10 points. Their nearest challenger, José Joaquín Rojas, sits 84 points behind, and it’s all but certainly a two-man battle to Paris.

The mountains classification is also increasingly a two-way battle. Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas-Doimo both joined the break today in the effort to pick up points over the six categorized climbs. Pellizotti won the sprint for four of the six climbs with Martinez right behind him. With the high mountains yet to come, Martinez leads Pellizotti by 17 points, but the Italian is steadily chipping away at that margin.

Tony Martin of Columbia-HTC, meanwhile, still leads the Young Riders classification ahead of Andy Shleck and Vincenzo Nibali. Nikki Sørensen received the combativity prize today, and Saxo Bank takes over the lead in the teams classification. Saxo Bank leads AG2R-La Mondiale by 34 seconds and Astana by 44 seconds.

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow’s stage runs between Vittel and Colmar, and heads into the Vosges Mountains along the border of France and Germany. The course runs over five categorized climbs, including the category 1 Col du Platzerwasel. The stage should finish with a breakaway victory. From the summit of the final climb, the 8.4 kilometer Col du Firstplan, there remains 20 kilometers to race. It will take a determined escape to make it to the finish from such a distance. Still, the hilly terrain should lead to some changes in the overall classification and perhaps a new rider will take over the Yellow Jersey of race leader.

Tomorrow’s stage was originally planned to run without radios but the UCI and the race organizers have decided to allow the riders their earpieces.

For more details about tomorrow’s stage, please turn the page.

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Course Preview

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Previa Etapa 12: Tonnerre – Vittel 

Tipo de terreno: Accidentado, pero no montañoso. Terreno para escapadas

Importancia para la general: Ninguna, aunque los equipos de los primeros tendrán que vigilar las fugas.

Cota de Baon 2.2 km, pend. media 4.2 %, Categoría 4
Cota de Gye-sur-Seine 2.4 km, pend. media 4.4 %, Categoría 4
Cota d'Essoyes 2.2 km, pend. media 5 %, Categoría 4
Cota des Grands-Bois 2.3 km, pend. media 5 %, Categoría 4
Cota de Morlaix 2.1 km, pend. media 4.2 %, Categoría 4
Cota de Bourmont 0.8 km, pend. media 11.1 %, Categoría 3

Sigue el Tour con su ruta hacia el este a través de la Francia central en esta etapa, que cubre la distancia entre Tonnerre y Vittel. La balanza se inclina esta vez hacia las escapadas al tener en el camino seis cimas puntuables. Ninguna de ellas tiene especial dificultad, pero el constante subir y bajar podría permitir a los fugados escapar de la persecución del grupo y disputar la victoria. Los equipos que buscan la general necesitarán asegurarse de que no se les escapa el corredor equivocado y que la fuga buena no toma demasiada ventaja.

Es un día de vino y agua, ya que Tonnerre es famoso por su vino blanco y Vittel lo es por su agua mineral. Tonnerre es un inicio de etapa inédito en el Tour, que normalmente rodea Francia en vez de atravesar por el centro del hexágono. Tonnerre está situado sobre un canal y conserva muchos de sus edificios medievales.

Vittel ya ha albergado al Tour en ocasiones anteriores. El final de etapa más reciente lo encontramos en 1990, cuando Jelle Nijdam ganó la etapa y Steve Bauer vistió el maillot amarillo. Esta ciudad está en la región de Lorraine, cerca de la cordillera de los Vosgos. Los baños termales de Vittel ya eran disfrutados por los romanos, pero su práctica se abandonó hasta recuperarla a mediados del siglo XIX.

Detalles del perfil

El perfil de esta etapa es un continuo sube y baja entre Tonnerre y Vittel. Los primeros 15 kilómetros son más o menos llanos, siendo prácticamente los únicos en la etapa. La primera de las seis cotas la encontramos a los 19 kilómetros de carrera, es la cota de Baon. Con 2,2 kilómetros y una pendiente media del 4,2%, debería ser una buena rampa de lanzamiento para la fuga del día. El primer sprint intermedio del día aparece 10 km después, en la ciudad de Channes.

En los 23 km siguientes, la carrera toma camino descendente hasta la segunda subida de la jornada, la cota de Byé-sur-Seine. Tras 2,4 kilómetros de subida y una inclinación del 4,4%, alcanza la cima en el km 55. Un corto descenso, y subimos la siguiente, la cota de Essoyes, de 4ª categoría (2,2 km al 5%). Los siguientes 25 kilómetros son mayormente descendientes, salvo por una cota no puntuable a unos 80 km de carrera.

En el kilómetro 90, los corredores tendrían un sprint intermedio a disputar en la ciudad de Longchamp-sur-Aujon. Desde allí, la carrera sube ligeramente y atraviesa un terreno irregular de 60 kilómetros de longitud. Luego, otra cota de 4ª categoría, la cota de Grand-Bois, que sube 2,3 km al 5% y que, al coronar, deja pendiente 61 kilómetros de etapa.

Sin descanso para los exhaustos ciclistas, la siguiente subida aparece tras sólo 16 kilómetros, es la cota de Morlaix, de 2,1 kilómetros y con una pendiente media del 4,2%. Hay una zona de falso llano en la cima, y luego descendemos hacia el último sprint intermedio del día, en Saint-Thiébault. El final de Vittel se encuentra ya a 40 km de distancia.

En estos últimos 40 kilómetros, la carretera asciende por última vez. La última dificultad montañosa del día podría resultar decisiva para el ganador de la etapa, a pesar de quedar tanta distancia a meta. Guardando lo mejor para el final, los organizadores han encontrado una subida de 3ª categoría a las afueras de Saint-Thiébault. La cota de Bourmont es corta pero dura, un solo kilómetro al 11%. Esta pendiente debería ser suficiente para provocar una selección en la escapada, aunque el pelotón seguirá agrupado. Los velocistas no se van a divertir mucho.

Desde la cima de la cota de Bourmont hay un descenso tan pronunciado como el de la subida. Los 35 km que aún quedan son llanos con algunos repechos en el camino. Cuando los corredores entren en Vittel, habrá un descenso hacia la bandera roja. Cuando la pasen, encontrarán un falso llano ascendente hasta la meta en la Avenue Georges Clemenceau. Hay dos curvas a derecha de 90º y una abierta a izquierda dentro de los últimos 3 kilómetros. Desde la pancarta de último kilómetro, todo es recto hasta la meta.

Corredores a seguir

Atentos hoy a los equipos que no tengan a ningún corredor en la general, porque van a buscar el ataque y la victoria de etapa. Equipos como Bbox Bouygues, AG2R-La Mondiale, Français des Jeux, y Lampre-Ngc animarán los primeros kilómetros de etapa. Garmin-Slipstream también ha dicho que buscará victorias de etapa, así que ojo a gente como Danny Pate o David Millar para las fugas de hoy — Gavia, translated by Juan Bonilla

Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->