Tour de France 2012: Stage 11
Not much in the way of news except, oh, Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) abandoned the Tour (and our hearts) yesterday. His reason was almost more painful than the fact. "I am not only a bike rider," he began in a RadioShack Nissan Statement, already off to an unpromising start, "I am also a husband and father with another baby on the way. It is my personal wish to be present when my wife Stefanie gives birth to our second child." and then, "I already need to thank my wife for her patience with me during the last month in her pregnancy that has been difficult at times. The least I can do is to assist her in these difficult days." I need to thank my wife? Please, he's obviously being talked into into being present for the birth of their second child. And also, second child? C'mon, Cancellara, priorities.
Once again there were break aways happening left and right, with riders being dropped and picked up constantly. The first solid break away of the day formed around 14 km (9 miles) into the stage and consisted of 30 riders total.
• Three riders abandoned the Tour during the stage today (always a great sign) and, lest we forget, back in 2010 when the Tour last climbed the steep Col de la Madeleine (our first climb today), a rider known as Cadel Evans (Australia) collapsed near the summit. No big deal. Mark Renshaw (Australia) aka "Prince Harry" is one of the abandoning riders. I had such high hopes for him in his first year as an actual sprinter. Sad loss.
• Surprisingly all of the initial break away riders survived the Madeleine. The order over the summit was as follows: Peter Velits (Slovakia), Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden), Christophe Kern (France), Chris Anker Sorensen (Denmark), and Michele Scarponi (Italy).
• Finally, on the second Col de la Croix de Fer, or the CCF, as I've just nicknamed it, we start to separate the men from the boys. Kern moves to the front of the break away, setting the pace, and few can keep up with him. Several riders are dropped on the way to the summit of the Col. Unfortunate, because the first rider to make it over the top will receive a bonus of € 5000 (and a free oxygen tank) as the CCF is the highest point in the Alps in the Tour this year, at an altitude of 2, 067 meters. I think any riders who make it over this Col alive should just be able to retire. The lead break away heading for the summit of the Col now looks like this: Kern, Velits, Dan Martin (Ireland), Pierre Rolland (France), Chris Horner (USA), Vasili Kiryienka (Belorussia), Laurens Ten Dam (Netherlands), Kessiakoff, Robert Kiserlovski (Croatia), and Blel Kadri (France).
• Sacré bleu! Cadel Evans (Australia) - second place overall- attacks on the climb of the Col. With a surge of energy he is off, putting 100 meters between himself and Bradley Wiggins (Britain) - first place overall. Evans has his key domestique Tejay van Garderen (USA) for support as they continue their escape up the Col. Wiggo, clearly freaking out, is giving out orders to his domestiques as they all scramble to chase Evans. Evans burst of energy, as he sped away from Wiggo, was impressive, however, it was obviously just that, a burst. At one point, Evans had to call back his young virile domestique because he had sped up too much for Evans, creating an actual gap between them. This just in, TVG's thoughts on being told ￼￼￼ to slow down by his elder team leader, was that it was, "like, so uncool." Evans and TVG were (obviously) eventually caught by Wiggo's chase.
• Back to our lead break away, the pack makes it over the CCF and Kessiakoff gets the bonus of € 5000.
• Approaching the final climb, the lead break away is down to three riders, Rolland (France), Kiserlovski (Croatia), and Kiryienka (Belorussia). These guys have been in the lead break away for most of the day, so they will definitely be fighting for the stage win. Especially Rolland, who despite a crash, managed to get himself back on his bike and make it back to the break away.
• In the peloton, a couple of attacks by Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) lead to a chase by Wiggo and his domestiques, but unfortunately, Evans is unable to keep up with them. The chase for Nibali ends up widening the overall time gap between Evans and Wiggo. It is clear that Evans has hit his max today. However, it must be mentioned that at one point, Wiggo too seemed to crack. He managed to snap out of it, but it's becoming more and more apparent that these older team leaders can't seem to keep up with their younger domestiques. I think in the coming year we may be seeing a lot of new team leaders emerging.
• Rolland is within 1 km (half mile) of the finish line looking solid. He comes in for his second stage win at the Tour, and the second stage win for a Frenchman in two days! Wiggo's group crosses the finish line shortly after, but by the time Evans and TVG cross, Evans has lost too much time. He is knocked from second place by a Sky team rider, putting Sky in the top first and second positions over all.
Jersey Lineup End of Stage 11
Yellow Jersey (best overall): Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
White Jersey (best young rider): Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
Green Jersey (best sprinter): Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas
Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains): Thomas Voeckler (France) Europcar
Top 10 After Stage 11
1) Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
2) Christopher Froome (Britain) Sky
3) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
4) Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
5) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto-Belisol
6) Haimar Zubeldia (Spain) Radio Shack Nissan Trek
7) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
8) Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) Astana
9) Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar
10) Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Bigmat