Samuel Sanchez Wins First Pyrenean Stage
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has won Stage 12 of the 2011 Tour de France.
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has won Stage 12 of the 2011 Tour de France. The Olympic road race champion outsprinted Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and held off a fast closing Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) to win the mountainous, 211-km ride from Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden in 6:01:15. Vanendert finished second at 0:07, and Schleck took third at 0:10. Surprisingly, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was able to keep the yellow jersey, giving his compatriots something to cheer about on Bastille Day.
Fair skies greeted the riders, and escapees wasted little time in absenting themselves from the peloton. At four km, Geraint Thomas (Sky), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar), Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun), Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux), and Blel Kadri (Ag2r) sallied off of the front. Initially, the peloton did not chase, and the break's advantage grew to seven minutes at 60 km and nine minutes at 119 km.
As the race approached the Category 1 La Hourquette d'Ancizan, Europcar chased and BMC joined the French squad. At this point, the lead was 6:40; on the climb, it was 5:50.
Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked from the peloton, and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) joined him. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) joined the pair, and the trio closed to within 5:10 of the break, which shed Gutierrez. Four km from the summit, Hoogerland, Chavanel, and Kreuziger were 4:30 behind the break.
Three km from the summit, Kreuziger attacked and Chavanel joined him. The pair got to within four minutes of the break, with the yellow jersey group at 5:40.
At the summit, the break led Kreuziger and Chavanel by four minutes. On the descent, Thomas veered off of the road and crashed in a field. The Sky rider remounted his bike, only to crash into another field. Thomas got another bike and rejoined the break.
Behind, the yellow jersey group was at 5:50 at the summit. On the descent, a crash occurred. Voeckler, Peter Velits (HTC-Highroad), and others crashed, and Andreas Kloden (RadioShack) was injured. The Leopard-Trek-led peloton slowed, and the gap grew to six minutes.
At the base of the Hors Categorie Col du Tourmalet, the break led the yellow jersey group by 7:40, Kreuziger and Chavanel by 3:30, and Thomas and Gutierrez by 0:45.
Early in the ascent of the Tourmalet, Leopard-Trek upped the pace. Rider after rider was shelled, among them Dutch hopeful Robert Gesink (Rabobank). Hoogerland was caught. Gutierrez and Thomas rejoined the break, which was 1:25 ahead of Kreuziger and 5:20 ahead of the yellow jersey group. Eight km from the summit, 4:15 separated the break from the yellow jersey group.
Four km from the summit, Thomas attacked and Roy joined him. The Frenchman led the pair over the summit, with three minutes on the yellow jersey group, one minute on their former companions, and 0:50 on Kreuziger. On the descent, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) attacked and took Vanendert and Sanchez with him. At the base of the day's final climb, Roy and Thomas led the Gilbert group, which had merged with Moreno, Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), and Kreuziger, by about