Nils Politt emerged from a 13-man breakaway to solo to victory in Nîmes after three convincing attacks. Imanol Erviti and Harry Sweeny rounded out the podium of stage 12. Tadej Pogacar retained the yellow jersey.
13 riders in the lead
155 riders took the start of stage 12 at Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux at 13.49. One non-starter: Peter Sagan, due to a knee pain since stage 3. After a flying start thanks to the tail wind, 13 riders went clear at km 15: André Greipel (Israel-Start Up-Nation), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo), Connor Swift (Arkea-Samsic), Harry Sweeny and Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal), Luka Mezgec (BikeExchange), Sergio Henao (Qhubeka-Nexthash), Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies). As soon as the breakaway was formed, the peloton slowed down and UAE Team Emirates eventually set the pace. The time difference was 10’ with 90km to go and almost 11’ at half way into the race.
Politt attacks three times
As a time gap of 12’45’’ was recorded with 50km to go, Politt attacked from the front group. Swift reacted. Mezgec caught up with them. After the regrouping, a quartet went away 40km before the end: Politt, Sweeny, Küng and Erviti. Küng was dropped 14km before the end while the remaining of the breakaway was 1’ adrift and the peloton 15’ further back. Politt soloed 12km away from the finishing line.
A well-deserved victory
Politt remained composed until he crossed the line on the boulevard Salvador Allende in Nîmes where a bunch sprint was anticipated. The 27 year old German rider took a well-deserved victory, not only because he was the most active rider of the day but also because he previously got only one pro in his six-year tenure, a stage of the 2018 Deutschland Tour. A formidable classics rider, he finished second to Philippe Gilbert in the last edition of Paris-Roubaix up to date. He delivered Bora-Hansgrohe’s first victory at the 2021 Tour de France precisely the day Sagan abandoned the race for the first time in his career.