Voeckler Scores Second Stage Win of Tour de France 2012
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has won his second stage of the 2012 Tour de France.
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has won his second stage of the 2012 Tour. The Frenchman soloed away from Brice Feillu (Saur-Sojasun) to win Stage 16, a mountainous, 197-km ride from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon, in 5:35:02. Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) finished second at 1:40, and Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) outsprinted Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) for third at 3:22. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) remains the maillot jaune.
A group of 38 escapees formed 25 km into the stage. This group broke up somewhat while ascending the hors categorie Col d'Aubisque but reformed on the descent. It reached the base of the hors categorie Col du Tourmalet with a five-minute lead on the Sky-led peloton.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) attacked, and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) and Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) joined him. Voeckler, Feillu, Sorensen, and George Hincapie (BMC) bridged up to the move. Seven km from the summit, Feillu attacked, and only Martin and Voeckler stayed with him. Martin was dropped, leaving Feillu and Voeckler by themselves.
On the descent, a chase group consisting of Martin, Hincapie, Ten Dam, Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), Vasily Kiriyienka (Movistar), Sorensen, and Vinokourov formed. Behind, the Sky-led groupe maillot jaune breasted the summit 10 minutes behind Feillu and Voeckler.
At the base of the Col d'Aspin, Feillu and Voeckler led the chase group by 1:33 and the groupe maillot jaune by nearly 10 minutes. On the climb, Sorensen and Vinokourov dropped their companions, but Voigt eventually caught up to the pair. At the summit, the leaders led the Sorensen group by one minute.
In the groupe maillot jaune, Liquigas-Cannondale took over the pacemaking from Sky. Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) was dropped. Evans's teammate Tejay van Garderen stayed with the groupe maillot jaune, but Amael Moinard dropped back to pace the Australian, who rejoined the yellow jersey group before the day's last climb.
Voeckler and Feillu continued to stay ahead of the chase group, which was down to Sorensen and Vinokourov. However, the leaders' advantage was down to 0:45. On the day's last climb, the Category 1 Col de Peyresourde, Voeckler attacked and dropped Feillu.
Sorensen dropped Vinokourov and overtook Feillu. Eventually, Vinokourov and Izagirre caught the Frenchman as well.
On the Peyresourde, Liquigas-Cannondale brought the hammer down. Evans was dropped, this time for good. The Aussie would lose five minutes and would dropped from fourth to seventh in the general classification.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), who began the day third on GC, attacked twice, but Sky's duo of Wiggins and Christopher Froome reeled in both moves. The top three would remain unchanged.
Ahead, Voeckler descended to the finish well clear of the pursuit. He had plenty of time to celebrate his second stage win of this year's Tour.
In the overall, Wiggins leads Froome by 2:05 and Nibali by 2:23. Stage 17 will be the last mountain stage of the 2012 Tour. The 143.5-km ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes will take the riders over the Category 1 Col de Mente and the hors categorie Port de Bales before sending them up the Category 1 ascent to the finish. It will be the last chance for climbers to make up ground in the general classification. Will they do so? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!