Friday, July 15, 2011

2011 Tour de France, Stage 12

Beijing Olympic road champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) won his first Tour de France stage victory on the summit finish of Luz-Ardiden in the Pyrenees. The 209 km Cugnaux-Luz-Ardiden stage included the ascents of Hourquette d'Ancizan (category 1), Col du Tourmalet (HC; highest road in the central Pyrenees) and Luz-Ardiden (HC).

The anticipated GC battle took place on Luz-Ardiden when Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas-Cannondale), followed by his team leader Ivan Basso, took over the pace making on the ascent. Riders began dropping like flies.

The Schleck brothers began attacking Contador and eventually Andy Schleck managed to escape at 2.5 km, and chasing after Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). At the moment of the attack by Andy Schleck, there were only 8 riders: Damiano Cunego, Franck and Andy Schleck, Basso, Contador, Evans, Voeckler and Rolland. Contador showed weakness and was not able to respond to all the attacks.

Thomas Voeckler retains the yellow jersey. Once he gets it he is tenacious isn't he? He was fairly destroyed by the finish, almost collapsing from a cramp.

Cunego, commenting about the stage, "The pace on the last climb was high but the real battle began when the Schleck brothers attacked. I preferred to pedal regularly and not to reply directly to the attacks, it was the right choice that allowed me to reach the finish with the other top riders. In the last kilometer the road was steep and I could not maintain my high speed after the turns. That's why I lost some seconds".

Basso: "I can say it was a good day because in the first stage in the mountains you never know how you will be able to respond. I knew I had the condition to stay at the front but I was not certain about being able to ride as well as I did. I rode following my feelings, without over-revving, and the result was good. In the group of favorites everyone knew that today there was a real possibility to aim for the podium. I'm satisfied, but it is not the time to settle down. Tomorrow there will not be an uphill finish but still we have a climb like the Aubisque, while Saturday will be a hellish day. The fatigue, day after day, you feel it. All the guys worked hard and everything went smoothly, today I owe to them. A special praise goes to Szmyd, my man of confidence for the mountains which today has shown his great value. His performance is a guarantee and gives me a very useful weapon against opponents. It allows us to be superior in numbers, and on these mountains, it is an important advantage."

Top 10 stage finishers:
1 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6:01:15
2 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:07
3 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:00:10
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:30
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
6 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:35
8 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:43
9 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:50
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar

Ivan Basso moves into 5th and Damiano Cunego is 6th.

Top 10 GC:
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 51:54:44
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:01:49
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:02:06
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:02:17
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:16
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:03:22
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:04:00
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:04:11
9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:04:35
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:57

Photos: Bettini

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