At the end of a flat sprinters stage to Tours it all came down to two riders; Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish went head to head on the finish straight. The big German managed to just push himself ahead of the Manxman in the last inches to add another stage to his tally. One more for Kittel, Argos and Germany.
Stage 12 Course
The course from Fourgères to Tours had been designed for the out and out sprinters withno categorised climbs and an intermediate sprint in Savingé Sur Lathan at 52 kilometres to go of the 218 kilometres. The last kilometre was a little bit tricky, after a long straight there is a sharp right turn at a round-a-bout and then after 200 metres; another right angled bend before the last 400 metres to the line but the road is wide so shouldn’t be too dangerous.
Tour De France 2013 Stage 12 Fly Through by globalcyclingnetwork:
The First Break of the Day
The stage kicked off from Fourgères in cooler temperatures of around 20ºC, but it wasn’t long before the action heated up with Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoliel-DCM) and Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) heading up the road. After 40 kilometres the five had an 8 minute lead as the first hour was covered at 47.2 kph.
Of the break; Astana’s Francesco Gavazzi was the highest placed amongst them only 1 second shy of 50 minutes down on Chris Froome. As the escape reached towards 10 minutes, the sprinters’ teams started to take hold of the peloton as Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, Argos-Shimano and Lotto Belisol put riders on the front.
After 80 kilometres; the efforts of the chasers brought the lead down to 8:25.
Back in the pack World time trial champion and yesterday’s stage winner was put to getting the bottles for his hard working Omega Pharma – Quick-Step team mates on the front.
With 100 kilometres to go the peloton went through the feed zone in Durtal 6:21 after the escapees. The Sky team had come to the front to do a bit of work and also to keep Froome out of danger as they passed through Baugé with its picturesque Château de la Roi Rene.
The gap began to fall steadily and the inevitable was going to happen sooner or later, as it tends to do.
At the intermediate sprint in Savigné sur Lathan with 52 kilometres to the finish; the leaders had a little fight as Flecha jumped first, which was too soon, and Gavazzi grabbed his wheel and passed him for the full points. In the bunch; Cannondale were having a tussle with OPQS and Lotto for the prime spot. Mark Cavendish had a strong lead out from Gert Steegmans and the Manxman just edged out André Greipel as Kris Boeckmans of Vacansoleil-DCM held Peter Sagan to the barriers until the last metre. After the sprint Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Romain Sicard sat up from the break to go back to the bunch.
50 kilometres to Tours
The peloton eased off a little after the sprint, but the lead was still just over 2 minutes as the teams with GC riders brought their top rider to the front for safety; the sprint trains were not quite ready to strut their stuff. Jérôme Pineau (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) drifted off the front which turned the accelerator up a notch for the bunch and with 30 kilometres to go the four leaders had less than a 1 minute lead.
At 26K’s out the escape riders started to attack each other in the last throws of freedom, they all had a go with the combativity prize in mind, but no one was getting any space.
Under the 20K banner and the four could be seen 36 seconds ahead as Belkin pushed into the mix with OPQS and Argos-Shimano, although Sky and Saxo-Tinkoff had put a couple of riders up there too.
The town of Villandry marked the end of the break, Flecha and Gavazzi thought they could stay out a bit longer although Gavazzi thought better of it and left Flecha on his own to fight.
Into the last 10 kilometres and Flecha had a lead of 20 seconds as the race turned to give the riders a headwind towards the finish in Tours. Orica-GreenEdge along with FDJ were doing the lead work as the other sprinters held back.
At 6.2 kilometres it was all over for Flecha and it was eyes down for the big sprint battle.
The Sprint Action
First crash came on the first round-a-about as an Orica rider slipped to the road. OPQS moved to the front under 3K’s out and Argos-Shimano pulled their train next to the OPQS engine as the next crash saw a big group came to grief taking most of the Lotto Belisol train and Greipel with it.
The Argos/OPQS fight for domination was being split by Cannondale, but Cavendish was on the wheel of his No. 1 lead-out man Steegmans, the Argos fast man; Marcel Kittel was at the side of the Manx Missile as both riders lunged for the line. Cavendish was not sure if he had the win and looked to his left to see the big German edge it by less than half a wheel. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was third and the Katusha sprinter Alexander Kristoff in fourth. Disappointment for Cavendish after his recent problems and not a good finish for André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) as he was caught up in the crash.
Another win for Marcel Kittel bring him up to three stages, is the German Adonis the new powerhouse of bunch sprinting? Five German stage wins in this Tour, but no German teams.
No changes in the leaders jerseys, but keep it tuned to PEZ for all things Tour de France and Ed and Dave’s days Roadside.
Tour de France Stage 12 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano in 4:49:49.
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
8. Yohann Gene (Fra) Europcar
9. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 12:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 47:19:13
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 3:25
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 3:37
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:54
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:57
6. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 4:10
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma- Quick-Step at 4:44
8. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 5:18
9. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar at 5:37
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 5:39.