Thursday July 11th, 2013

Stage 12Fougères / Tours

Start 12h10 GMT 2+

Kittel takes on Cavendish... and wins again

Stage summary11.07.2013Stage 12- Fougères / Tours

A bunch sprint. That's what most said the 12th stage would end with and that almost happened. The thing is, bunch sprints in the 100th Tour de France haven't been contested by all the riders in the peloton as crashes have eliminated a fair portion of the peloton when a sprint looms. It happened again in Tours. Instead of it ending with a race between all the fastest guys it was a battle between those who survived a crash. And again it was Marcel Kittel of the Argos-Shimano team who was not just a survivor but the winner! The German has three stage victories to his credit already and this time he beat The Master of sprinting in the modern, Mark Cavendish. Two days ago, Kittel surprised his compatriot André Greipel with a fast turn of pace in the final metres; this time he raised the ire of Cavendish by coming past him in the final 20 metres of the 218km stage from Fougères to Tours. The ramifications of the crash that was caused by a Lotto-Belisol rider will be known in the hours that follow the race but Porte and Boasson Hagen were two Sky riders caught up and we wait to find out what their injuries are. What we do know is that Lotto-Belisol had no one in the lead group and they missed out on a chance to take on Kittel and Cavendish on their terrain.

The progress report
The official start of the 218km 12th stage from Fougères to Tours was 12.07pm. There were 182 riders in the race for the day when there was no categorised hill on the course. The intermediate sprint was in Savigné-sur-Lathan at 166km. Francesco Gavazzi (AST) started the attacking action at 3.5km and he was joined in the lead by Flecha (VCD), Sicard (EUS), Mori (LAM) and Delaplace (SOJ) and, by 8km, the peloton was at 1'45”. This advantage grew quickly and peaked at 9'00” when the peloton was in Laval (42.5km). Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano then joined forces at the front of the bunch and the chase began. The opening hour was a fast one with the escapees racing at an average speed of 47.2km/h. The average for the second hour was 45.2km/h; and the third, 45.2km/h. By the end of the third hour, the peloton was behind the five escapees by 4'35”. Smukulis (KAT) crashed in the feedzone but remounted his bike and soon rejoined the peloton.
At the 47km mark, the peloton was still lead by the same three teams at it was 2'55” behind the five escapees.

Gavazzi takes 20pts: Cavendish collects 6th place points
In the final 500m leading to the intermediate sprint line, Gavazzi attacked the front group and was chased hard by Flecha; this pair took first and second ahead of Mori and Delaplace but Sicard was dropped and would return to the peloton with 48km to go. Cavendish (OPQ) beat his rivals – Greipel (LTB) and Sagan (CAN) – to the line of the intermediate sprint to take sixth place points 2'35” behind the stage leaders. With 25km to go, Delaplace and Gavazzi tried a few small surges at the front of the stage but they were far from convincing. With 20km to go, the peloton was just 35” behind the break.
Just before the capture (with 15km to go), Sky was at the front of the peloton with Saxo-Tinkoff and Orica-GreenEdge riders. Mori and Delaplace were caught 14km from the line. Gavazzi was caught 13km from the line and only Flecha bothered to keep trying but he was caught with 6km to go.

Crash eliminates Lotto-Belisol from the sprint
With 5km to go, Tuft (OGE) crashed going around a roundabout but didn't bring anyone else down but an incident inside the final 3km on the right side of the road seemed to happen when a Lotto-Belisol rider clipped the curb and landed in front of a number of riders who were brought down. Among those listed as being involved was Richie Porte and Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) as well Arashiro (EUC) and a handful of men from Lotto-Belisol, a team that would have no representation in the sprint. As the incident happened inside the final 3km, those involved in the fall will be awarded the same time as the group they were in when the crash took place.

Third victory for Kittel...!
The Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Argos-Shimano teams dominated the lead-out and with 300m to go a drag race between Kittel and Cavendish started to unfold with a group of 15 who finished four second ahead of the rest. Cavendish had a perfect lead-out from Steegmans and seemed to have secured his second stage win in the 2013 Tour but he was chased all the way by Kittel who threw his bike on the line and finished half a wheel ahead of the British champion.
Chris Froome survived the crashes unscathed and claimed 12th place in the stage. He will wear the yellow jersey in stage 13.

Stage 12 Fougères / Tours

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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