Rodriguez Breaks and Climbs to Win in Stage 12 of Tour de France
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has won his second stage of Tour de France 2015. Rodriguez jumped away from the break of the day on the hors categorie ascent to the finish to win Stage 12, a mountainous, 195-km ride from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille, in the rain in 5:40:14. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) took second at 1:12, and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) finished third at 1:49. Chris Froome’s Sky team controlled the field, and the Briton remains the maillot jaune.
In the early going, Lotto-Soudal paced the peloton to discourage attacks before Andre Greipel could take the intermediate sprint in his quest for the green jersey. After the sprint, Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Bryan Coquard (Europcar), and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) sallied off of the front, and 19 other riders joined them. The break consisted of Romain Bardet, Mickael Cherel, and Christophe Riblon (all from Ag2r-La Mondiale); Westra and Fuglsang (both from Astana); Matthieu Ladagnous and Jeremy Roy (both from FDJ); Gorka Izagirre (Movistar); Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step); Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18); Coquard and Romain Sicard (both from Europcar); Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida); Daniel Navarro (Cofidis); Sylvain Chavanel and Jerome Coppel (both from IAM Cycling); Rodriguez (Katusha); Frederic Brun and Anthony Delaplace (both from Bretagne-Seche Environnement); Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka); Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin); and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo). The gaggle led the field by 8:30 at the summit of the Category 1 Col de la Core (93 km).
Just after the base of the descent, Kwiatkowski, Preidler, and Vanmarcke surged away from their companions. Because of a knee injury, Preidler was dropped on the Category 1 Port de Lers. A chase group formed behind the leaders. It consisted of Bardet, Rodriguez, Fuglsang, Sicard, Izagirre, and Meintjes. On the climb, the leaders had a 12:30 advantage over the peloton.
On the Port de Lers, rain began to fall. At the summit, Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke led the chase group by 0:05. On the descent, they extended their lead to 1:50. Barta joined the chase group. With 13.5 km left, Kwiatkowski dropped Vanmarcke on the climb to the finish. Rodriguez dropped his breakmates and caught and dropped Kwiatkowski with 7.5 km remaining. Fuglsang pursued but could not get to grips with the Spaniard.
Behind, the yellow jersey group did battle. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana (both from Movistar) all launched attacks that the Sky men snuffed out. With 4.5 km left, Froome attacked, but he was caught and the yellow jersey group remained intact.
Rodriguez began the Tour with GC aspirations, but after a bad start, he has decided to go stage hunting, which he enjoys more. “I came here for the GC but now I’ve won two stages,” the Katusha man said. “I think for the team this is just as important. And also I’m starting to like this more than fighting for a fifth or sixth place in GC. This is one of my best Tours ever. And the Tour is not over yet. Mende is also a stage I like, as I won there five years ago. I also don't exclude the mountains jersey but it is hard to predict something for that. I am also so happy to win just on the day that our team owner Igor Makarov arrived in the Tour. This is the best present I could give him.”
Froome found the stage difficult, but he was able to control the race with his teammates’ help. "I was lucky to have Richie [Porte] and Geraint [Thomas] with me when the attacks started, and it made it a lot easier to control things with my teammates in that position. I owe them both a beer tonight.
“Geraint’s been really strong. We saw how good he was during that first week, and he’s been fantastic in the Pyrenees. He could definitely still be up there at the end. He’s been doing a great job for me and could get a podium or a top five at the same time. The other contenders will definitely have to look out for him as well.
“As for my attack, I made it to see who would respond, and who had the legs at that point. I was hoping one or two of the guys might drop off, but as soon as I saw the reaction from them I decided to keep it conservative and get through to the finish as best I could.
“It was a really tough day out there, especially with the weather changing. It went from hot to cold and some guys fared better with that than others. I prefer the hot weather, but you have to be able to adapt in bike racing and I’m happy to have got through it.
“There’s still a lot of racing to come but I’m pleased with where my legs are at the moment and I’m looking forward to a flat stage tomorrow.”
In the overall, Froome leads Tejay van Garderen (BMC) by 2:52 and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) by 3:09. Stage 13 will be a transitional stage. The 198-km ride from Muret to Rodez will have a lumpy second half, with climbs that might break up the field. Who will be in the winning move? John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin)? Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank)? Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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