Tour de France Diary, Stage 12: Millar wins first Tour stage in nine years
Last night’s stage 12, the longest stage at this year’s Tour de France, saw the peloton make its way from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux.
The stage featured three categorised climbs, two of them lengthy category one drags:
• Col du Grand Cucheron (34km) – a 12.5km category one climb at 6.5%
• Col du Granier (80.5km) – a 9.7km category one climb at 8.6%
• Cote d’Ardoix (207.5km) – a 5.9km category three climb at 3.4%
The physical toll of Thursday’s stage 11 was immediately apparent.
Cue the breakaway.
After setting a surprisingly sharp early pace at the head of the fatigued main field, Team Sky opted to turn off the gas.
Cue David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) and his fourth individual stage win at the Tour.
The British stalwart was the only member of yesterday’s breakaway to have enjoyed Tour glory, his most recent success being stage 19 back in 2003.
The Scot’s experience and savvy made him the man to beat when, with three kilometres remaining, he and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacked from the leading group.
Initially comprised of close to 20 riders, the break reduced to a group of five following the two early climbs: Millar, Peraud, Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana).
None were considered a threat in the overall standings, and as such they were able to develop an advantage of more than 12 and a half minutes.
From this point, the break’s survival was in little doubt, particularly as each member of the group was contributing to the pace making.
On the approach to the finish Kiserlovski, Martinez and Gautier had no answer to the Millar/Peraud acceleration.
In Kiserlovski’s case this was most understandable, the Slovakian having been the first to the summit of both the Grand Cucheron and the Granier.
Not only did Kiserlovski protect Fredrik Kessiakoff’s (Astana) lead in the King of the Mountains, he also earned the tag of most combative rider on the stage.
Earlier, Australian sprinter Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) continued to chip away at Peter Sagan’s (Liquigas-Cannondale) lead in the green jersey classification.
Widely considered the faster of the two in a flat sprint, Goss finished “best of the rest”, grabbing sixth position and 10 points at the intermediate sprint in Marcilloles – three positions ahead of Sagan (ninth – seven points).
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) was seventh and Kenny van Hummel hung on to finish eighth after initiating the sprint.
But what could have been a great day for the Tasmanian was soured in the fight for sixth place at the finish.
Having made the first move, Goss violated the rules governing bunch sprints by moving into Sagan’s line as the Slovakian came out of his slipstream.
The “hook” prevented what looked to be a certain pass and Goss was penalised 30 green jersey points and relegated to seventh place.
Goss now sits a massive 56 points behind the Slovak prodigy in the battle for green, having effectively reversed his good work since stage four.
In sad news, David Moncoutie (Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne) was forced to abandon his final Tour in tears after crashing on the descent of the Col du Grand Cucheron.
The 37-year-old French veteran is set to retire from the professional circuit at the end of this season.
Tomorrow is a flat 217km ride from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d’Agde that should end in a sprint finish.
Goss will need to do everything right if he is to win the stage.
Riders including Mark Cavendish (Sky Pro Cycling) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) will be keen to make the most their first genuine opportunity since stage six.
Tour de France Stage 12 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. MILLAR David, GARMIN-SHARP, 05h 42′ 46″
2. PERAUD Jean-Christophe, AG2R LA MONDIALE, 05h 42′ 46″+ 00′ 00″
3. MARTINEZ Egoi, EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI, 05h 42′ 51″ + 00′ 05″
4. GAUTIER Cyril, EUROPCAR, 05h 42′ 51″ + 00′ 05″
5. KISERLOVSKI Robert, ASTANA, 05h 42′ 51″ + 00′ 05″
6. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 05h 50′ 39″ + 07′ 53″
7. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 05h 50′ 39″ + 07′ 53″
8. HINAULT Sebastien, AG2R LA MONDIALE, 05h 50′ 40″ + 07′ 54″
9. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 05h 50′ 40″ + 07′ 54″
10. PAOLINI Luca, KATUSHA, 05h 50′ 40″ + 07′ 54″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 254
2. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 198
3. GREIPEL Andre, LOtime trialO-BELISOL, 181
4. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 129
5. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 100
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. KESSIAKOFF Fredrik, ASTANA, 66
2. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 55
3. SORENSEN Chris Anker, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 39
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 54h 34′ 33″
2. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 54h 36′ 38″ + 02′ 05″
3. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 54h 36′ 56″ + 02′ 23″
4. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 54h 37′ 52″ + 03′ 19″
5. VAN DEN BROEK Jurgen, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 54h 39′ 21″ + 04′ 48″
6. ZUBELDIA Haimar, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 54h 40′ 48″ + 06′ 15″
7. VAN GADREREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 54h 41′ 30″ + 06′ 57″
8. BRAJKOVIC Janez, ASTANA, 54h 42′ 03″ + 07′ 30″
9. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 54h 43′ 04″ + 08′ 31″
10. PINOT Thibaut, FDJ-BIG MAT, 54h 43′ 24″ + 08′ 51″
Inaugural “Give Him the Game Ball” Award: Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) – for outstanding services in the protection of Fredrik Kessiakoff’s lead in the KOM classification.
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