Tour de France Report: Stage 12
More tough going for the Green Machine
By Larysa Pachulski,
2:56PM, Thu. Jul. 17, 2014
The 101st Tour de France continues through July 27. Click through to read our report of Stages 12.
Location: Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-E’tienne
Duration: 185.5km/ 115.26mi
Terrain: A lower category mountain stage, with flat finish (two category 4 climbs, two category 3 climbs)
Weather: 34C/ 93.2F – 10km/hr Winds
Why you should care: Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) did not start today. He has been forced to leave the Tour 2014 due to inflammation of the sacroiliac. He is also suffering from an upper respiratory infection, just in case anyone thought he was giving up too easily.
While technically still in the mountains, Stage 12, with its lesser category climbs, presents another opportunity for the “Green Machine” Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to finally take up his favorite pastime of elaborate, showboat stage wins. However, with crashes and tragedy marring this Tour so far, it’s hard not to get nervous when a rider is planning for a big stage. Even Sagan was being cautious, saying “today is a good opportunity for a stage win. However, looking at how the stages have unfolded up to now, I don’t illusion myself too much.” Wise words, Sagan. We must never illusion ourselves too much.
In spite of any reservations, it was clear early on that Sagan and Team Cannondale were going to go for the stage win today, most clearly evidenced by Sagan’s lacking performance on the intermediate sprint at only 39.5km into the stage. He came in at a dismal 11th place, but it was an obvious tell that the Green Machine was after more than jersey points today.
A breakaway of five riders formed early on in the stage, as anticipated; however, equally anticipated was their demise. It seemed as if every team was looking forward to the opportunity to show off their sprinters at the stage's end, enough to work together in order capture the breakaway riders. Team Giant-Shimano made the decisive move by placing Chinese rider Ji Cheng (or “The Breakaway Killer”) at the front of the pack. Consequently, the gap between the peloton and the breakaway riders was effectively diminished throughout the latter half of the stage.
Although a steep descent preceded the flat finish of the stage, causing a bunch sprint at the finish, only some of the better-known sprinters were able to make it to the front of the pack for in time, including Sagan, Andre Greipel, and Alexander Kristoff.
For Greipel, it was not to be. The bunch sprint turned out to be a hazard in and of itself, and Greipel and Sylvain Chavanel bit the dust at 3km to go. Their injuries were sustained mostly by their egos as they called each other out on the side of the road while the rest of the group sped by.
With Greipel out of the way, it was down to Kristoff and Sagan for the sprint!
.... and Sagan lost. A lot could be speculated about how the“Green Machine felt about losing to the “AK” (cycling speak: so poetic), but this Tweet from Rouleur Magazine puts it quite elegantly:
How Peter Sagan feels right now: it rhymes with Kristoff...— Rouleur (@rouleurmagazine) July 17, 2014
Don’t be fooled by tomorrow’s lack of climbs (only 3 in total): The day starts with a category 3 climb, builds up to a category 1 climb, which then builds up to the finish on an “Hors Catégorie” or “beyond categorization” climb. Tomorrow’s mountains will give respite to no one.
Who do you think will win the next stage? Sound off in the comments board below.