This is a guest post by Mr.Q, a professional quizmaster and an ardent Tour de France fan who is reporting his 4th tour
For a team which has been at the receiving end right from the day the tour began, Garmin Sharp’s David Millar put in a stellar performance to win the long stage 12 of this year’s tour, and restore some sense of relief & belief to the team management & riders. His presence in the breakaway from the very beginning was notable and in the end it was victory for his taking as he outsprinted of Jean-Christophe Péraud of AG2R La Mondiale.
“I needed to do this for the team,” Millar said. “I’m very proud to be the one who’s helped the team come back from what’s been a shocking Tour. I was determined to win today. The Garmin-Sharp directeur sportif, Allan, has had a rough time these last few weeks – we all have, we came here with big objectives and they were destroyed in one fell swoop so I think we’ve shown our character and we’re going to continue on the same manner.”
With the tour hitting the Alps deeper today, the 12th road Stage of the 99th Tour de France was from St. Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux, a distance of 226kms. For the record, only 166 riders turned up at the start today. Robert Gesink of Rabobank was the high profile rider who did not start.
As the race was going out of the Alps into the flat lands, there were two Category 1 climbs, up the Col du Grand Cucheron and Col Granier to begin with and then just 20km before the finish line, there will be the Category 3 climbof Côte d’Ardoix, waiting for the riders.
The race started of with the usual fanfare. But it took some time for the breakaway to form. In the end a group of almost 19 riders, headed away. Working together, they were steadily building their lead when they hit the first climb of the day. Robert Kiserlovski of Team Astana, in order to protect the KOM jersey, now with Kessiakoff of his team attacked near the summit and took first place over the top of Col du Grand Cucheron. He repeated the same on the summit of the Col Granier also. A casualty on the descent was David Moncoutié of Cofidis, who crashed badly and was ruled out from the race. On the descent it was David Millar of Garmin Sharp who upped the pace and dragged along with him another 4 riders, Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Cyril Gautier of Europcar, Jean-Christophe Péraud of AG2R La Mondiale and Robert Kiserlovski of Team Astana, which then went on to form the final breakaway of the day.
The five riders in the front worked in tandem, and slowly built their lead to over 12 minutes at one time on the course. By the last climb, it was very clear that the peloton had let them go and with a descender like Millar in the group, it was next to impossible for the peloton to claw back. Thus went the dreams of all the sprinters.
With Millar firmly riding in control of the group, it was only around the 3km mark did the first of the jumps occur in the leading five group. It was Kiserlovski, who tried to get away. But Péraud was marking him closely. He tried again, and once again Péraud closed him down. Then Péraud himself went for it and this time only Millar could match his pace. Soon it became a two man race as the other three riders were found wanting in their energy. The two men tried to play the roulette on who will have a go at the finish line. Millar kept his cool and kept taking the lead and in the end it was Péraud who went for it, but Millar, a former World TT champion, sprinted around Péraud very easily, to win his fourth Tour Stage. Martinez came in third a few seconds later.
Meanwhile in the peloton, Goss was surprised by Sagan, when the later had Oss, lead him out to the front, in the approach to the finish line. As the sprint started, both of them went away from the rest of the riders. Goss went first, and as Sagan was coming around him, he veered left and blocked Sagan. Despite that Sagan tried again, but in the end, just sat up and on his complaint, the race jury found Goss in the wrong and docked him by one position and also 30 points in the Green Jersey competition, something which will surely hurt him in the days to come.
The Yellow jersey of Wiggins was safely escorted to the line by Michael Rogers and thus after a few hectic and painful days in the mountains, Team Sky had a relatively easy day today.
The leader board remains unchanged. With Bradley Wiggins in The Yellow Jersey, Chris Froome in the second spot followed by Nibali&Evans at third and fourth spots. Jurgen van den Broeck rounds off the top five overall.The Yellow Jersey of the race leader continues with Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky. The Green Jersey for the points leader continues with Peter Sagan of Liqigas Cannondale. The White Jersey, for the best young rider also continues with Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racingteam, while Fredrick Kessiakoff of Team Astana continues asthe King of the Mountain polka dotted Jersey. Team RadioShack-Nissan also continue their strong showing as the best team in the race.
Collapsing after crossing the line, Millar added, “I think this is as good a win as I’ve had in my career, and it’s particularly poignant that it came today on the 45th anniversary of Tommy Simpson’s death. I think it’s a full circle in a way. I’m an ex-doper and I’m very proud of where our sport is today and what we’ve done to change it. I think we mustn’t forget the past and I’m one of the people who have made mistakes and I want people to know that I am clean now and the sport is a different sport. We should be very proud of it.” Incidentally, Simpson died due to an dangerous combination of racing, fatigue, alcohol & drugs, something which was unchecked in the 60’s.
Yellow Jersey of Bradley Wiggins has been in the news the last few days, for some of the wrong reasons. Couple of anti-doping crusaders, who have made remarks about him & Team Sky, did not get the right responses that they were expecting. This had resulted in a few tweets from fans and Wiggins had given them a piece of his mind. This had become a furious debate point at the present tour. Today Wiggins in a written column in The Guardian, put things to rest by firmly stating his position on doping and his intentions. Kudos to him!
The 13thstage of TdF will be from St. Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux, a distance of 216kms, ensuring that the peloton rides over 200km for the second day in succession. Me thinks, the fight for the Green Jersey between a very strong Peter Sagan &a challenging Mathew Goss is all set for action today.But, remember Cavendish has dragged himself over the Alps and will be raring to go and make amends for his misses in earlier sprint stages. Watch this space tomorrow for another tour update…:)
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