The Spin – Stage 12

Friday, 13 July 2012

The longest stage of the race, when the route was unveiled last October I was disappointed with the choice. It starts with some exciting climbs but then leaves the Alps behind for a more gentle finish.

That said, we had a summit finish yesterday and there’s no need to repeat this and today’s route should offer a good battle for the stage win.

  • Km 34.0 – Col du Grand Cucheron (1 188 m) 12.5 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% – category 1
  • Km 80.5 – Col du Granier (1 134 m) 9.7 kilometre-long climb at 8.6% – category 1
  • Km 207.5 – Côte d’Ardoix 5.9 kilometre-long climb at 3.4% – category 3

The Route: they call days like this a “transition stage” as the race heads across France. 20km downhill to start with then the first climb of the day starts.

It’s called grand but it’s not that big and this is a useful exit from the Maurienne valley. The road is reasonably wide and this climb will be crossed fast as it snakes up and down the across the Belledone chain of mountains. The descent down to the Isère valley is ok and then the race stays along the valley before the next climb.

The Col du Granier is a scenic climb, picking its way up below the limestone cliffs of wonderful Chartreuse range. It’s steep but there’s a long way to go. It could be something for the likes of Peter Sagan and Liquigas to exploit in order to drop the likes of Matthew Goss ahead of the intermediate sprint.

The Intermediate Sprint: the terrain opens up and it’s a flat and wide run to the line on a slightly downhill road.

After the race continues across flat terrain and whilst they’ve been spotted already en route, we should get the first big sightings of fields of sunflowers to make photographers and newspaper editors happy. The race crosses the Rhone river again and then they take the Côte d’Ardoix. If there’s a breakaway it’s a chance to attack but it’s not that hard.

The Finish: it’s on to Annonay for the finish, a drop down to the river valley and then climbing back up to the finish through town. There’s a series of bends and roundabouts including a last roundabout with 450m to go.

The Strategy: Peter Sagan? He could well win this as the uphill finish suits him perfectly. But the other sprinters teams might not want to chase and Liquigas will want to stay fresh to help Nibali too. Therefore the chances of a breakaway staying away look good, it’s another day for the likes of Sylvain Chavanel and Luis-Leon Sanchez plus a cast of many more.

Weather: getting warm, temperatures will reach 27°C (80°F) with a 10km/h breeze from the south.

TV: the whole stage will be broadcast live from 11.00am Euro time to 5.00pm. Note the finish is expected half an hour earlier, between 4.30pm and 5.00pm.

Do: spare a thought for Rabobank who are down to four riders and Lampre-ISD on five and we haven’t reached the Pyrenees yet. In his first year as a pro Thomas Voeckler rode the Giro d’Italia with the Brioches La Boulangère team and all his team mates abandoned. He insisted on staying in the race and finished.

Don’t: …hang about. This could be a fast stage for the riders and those in trouble on the early climbs will struggle to make the time cut during the stage.

grumpyoldman July 13, 2012 at 8:08 am

Nice to see the Wiggins’ gesture to Nibali yesterday. Even nicer to see it reciprocated. Clearly the previous few days was just a case of handbags at dawn.

Still, I suppose it kept the journos happy.

Adrian Holman July 13, 2012 at 8:19 am

I think the journos would prefer a fight!

Ankush July 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

The race for the white jersey has got more exciting than the yellow (unless Froome revolts). I’m wholeheartedly rooting for Pinot, hope he can bring the Tour glory days back to France.

I guess Sorensen will like to give the first KOM points a go to keep up in that race but he looked completely shattered y’day. This stage is for Sagan and so is the green jersey.

Sam July 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

Nibali hasn’t had much help from Liquigas in the mountainous (certainly when compared to Basso in the Giro), I wonder if this has anything to do with the impending departure of Nibali, or whether they can’t keep with the Sky pace.

I wonder if they might be more willing (or able) to work on a stage like this for Sagan. I guess we’ll soon see.

Patrick July 13, 2012 at 9:51 am

Yes, I don’t think I’ve seen Syvester Szmyd (apologies if i spelled it wrong) on the front doing carnage, but I guess he hasn’t had to.

The Inner Ring July 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

He’s tired and struggling a bit. Seems cooked from the Giro.

Bundle July 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

He seemed cooked indeed already0 by the end of the Giro and, according to his website, didn’t practically touch the bike since. He expects to be better in the Pyrenees. By the way, in retrospect, Amadio must be happy about the Giro: he blocked the whole race to everyone’s scandal and irritated yawn, he burnt most of his (otherwise enormous) team’s climbing forces, he achieved nothing in Italy, and Nibali is fighting it practically alone in France. Any idea anyone why Sagan and Oss broke away yesterday, only to stop a few kms later?

Matt July 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

They were seeing how much time they could take back on the front group on the 25k descent. Sagan is a rocket downhill, and if they made it to less than a minute from the break, then Oss would’ve ruined himself so Sagan could’ve made the sprint point for extra green jersey points.

When they realised they didn’t make up enough time on the downhill, the car came up and told them to knock it off.

BoboFett3 July 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Just to stir the pot, consider the following: nibbles has said he’s going to Astana next season. Maybe the management, or teammates for that matter, don’t want to support him.

Bundle July 13, 2012 at 10:51 am

Strange stage. Would have made more sense if it finished in the feed zone. Still, the breakaway movements should be very interesting, and some of the guys at 10-12 minutes in the GC will try to come back to looking at the podium, forcing Team Sky to work again to avoid a Walkowiak-Pereiro échappée-bidon. A good day for RSNT to try something, if they were a team.

Bundle July 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

My guess for today: Jérémy Roy.

the lower depths July 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

i expect the fight for the sprint points to draw LiquiGas and Green Edge to the front, as the 2 main protagonists, maybe Lotto if they have anything to spare for Greipel (with VdB climbing his way up the GC) … if Sagan gets into that lead group to try and snare the points, he might stay away (with Oss) to go for the win? it’s his type of finish … in either case, should be tons of fun …

aside from the sprinters trying to spoil the fun on a ‘transition’ day, maybe BMC should let TeeJay fly on his own? Cadel being that far down and the Pyrenees looming does not bode well for him, the way he’s been riding. lots of nice attacks to try and animate the race, but they’ve led to not too much in the wins column? Froome’s not going anywhere til next year, he’s got his marching orders and his man is in yellow by minutes … TeeJay would be in the same boat if Cadel were closer on GC …

Casque Jaune July 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

On a side note…
I think Mr. Chris Froome should follow his heart and race to win le Tour.
As we saw, he is clearly capable.
Man, wouldn’t it be interesting racing!
Imagine the fierce battle between two teammates turned foes!
That’s what we need right now…
A real fight for the top podium spot.

! Allez Mr. Froome, Allez!

bobofett3 July 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Unfortunately, that’s not how a team works. He knows his job, and he does it. If he doesn’t like it he can move teams next year. I saw on Twitter that Vaughters said he tried to hire him after the Vuelta last year but couldn’t afford him, so I think Sky is taking care of him. Why would Sky totally implode their plan when it is going super duper perfect? Seriously, that makes no sense.

the lower depths July 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm

and that worked out great when Alberto attacked LA by taking charge on Verbier a couple of years ago … seriously, why would they implode their chances of taking the yellow and who would trust Froome after a bone-headed move like that? do you think Sky would support him or shut him down?

Henry S. Thompson July 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Maybe the last TdF stage win of David Millar’s career, but boy did he manage it well, and I’m really happy for him — especially given that horrible bike failure followed by bike-over-the-wall tantrum in 2008.

the lower depths July 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

GREAT win by Millar today! and an interesting sprint by Goss for 6th … luckily the judges saw it, Sagan has the green jersey almost all sewn up … one more stage win (i’m hoping it’s on the Champs!) and it’s done and dusted for his debut Tour … not a bad haul, the green jersey (hopefully) and (hopefully) a man on the podium for LiquiGas…

Sam July 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Looking at stages like today, I wonder whether Sky should have left Cav and Eisel at home and brought people like Pate and Stannard. I fear that Sky are burning themselves out given they are 1 man down through injury, and effectively 2 men down due to Cav and Eisel not making it over any climbs.

Hopefully it turns out ok for them given there is still a long way to go…

BoboFett3 July 14, 2012 at 6:49 am

They should have brought their young (or in Uran’s case fake birth certificate) Colombians.

Vera July 14, 2012 at 5:43 am

So happy that Millar won today. It’s something sweet for a so far sour Garmin-Sharp tour.

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