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With two surges, Sörensen escapes first the break then from his partner in crime Calzati to take the win in Vittel.

The race started slowly today with a few break attempts but nothing sticking.  Unusually, the full sprint points were still up for grabs for the first intermediate sprint.   Cavendish took the first sprint over Hushovd in the dash for the line.  By successfully contesting the first intermediate sprint at 32km, Cavendish clearly confirmed his intent to go for Green.  As a consequence he also is agreeing to do 6 mountain stages and a TT.  For a sprinter it is not something to signup for lightly.

  • Cavendish – 6 points,
  • Hushovd – 4 points
  • Casar – 2 points

A break formed at 75km included Lefevre, Calzati and Pellizotti, as well as Markus Fothen, Pauriol and Martinez.  Chasing to get on were Avermaet, Sörensen, Freire, Mevel and Ignatiev.  Of the chasers, only Sörensen cleared the gap to joint the break at 83km and so there were seven.  A group this size and strength certainly had a chance to hold off the peloton.  The rest of the sprint points were rendered moot as the break would eat them up.  On the other hand, the Pellizotti/Martinez KOM battle came front and center.

The gap held steady grew steadily too as much as 4:16.  At the Grands-Bois climb (2.3km at 5%) it’s Pellizotti followed by Martinez. Just 6.5 km later, Pellizotti topped Morlaix climb (2.1km at 4.2%) ahead of Martinez again. Martinez lead over Pellizotti was still 18 points.  On the final climb of the day, Bourmont climb (0.8km at 11.1%), It was Pellizotti again over Martinez.  The points were Pellizotti 71 to Martinez at 88.

With 40km of flat remaining, the sprint teams were likely thinking they should rope this group in to take the stage.  With a 3:30 gap and seven strong riders in the front their work was cut out.  The gap actually grew to 3:50 over the next 20km answering the question of a chase.  Someone in the break was going to take the stage.

At the 20km mark it was the 2006 stage winner, Calzati, who jumped with the veteran Sörensen following close behind.  The lead pair had 20 seconds quickly and 5 minutes on the peloton which was resigned to roll in behind the breaks.  At 15km the gap of the two over the 5 man chase was a tenuous 18 seconds. Sörensen is burying himself to hold on to a diminishing lead in to the 5km banner.  It was then that he decided to jump on Calzati quickly kicking the gap back up to 23 seconds! The fight was out of the chase and Sörensen walked away with the stage.

The chase came in 48 seconds later with Lefevre and Pellizotti, taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.  The peloton rolled in a comfortable 6 minutes back with Cavendish taking the top of the few remaining sprint points extending his lead over Hushovd a bit further.

On the daily podium today, Sörensen was heard humming a tune as he stepped up on the top spot.  It was later discovered to be an American classic…

There was no change to the GC today.  Leipheimer and Klöden hit the deck on the run in to the finish.  It didn’t look like there was any damage of consequence.  In that they were within the 3km safe zone, neither would lose time at the finish.

Pellizotti continues to demonstrate strength, which doesn’t bode well to Martinez. The Polka Dot Jersey competition is shaping up to be a highly contested prize.

Tomorrow brings the first of a string of mountain stages that calumniate with the Stage 20 climb up the Ventoux.  With so much ahead, this year’s race won’t be decided anytime soon.

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Results

1           Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank                    4:52:24
2          Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          0:00:48
3          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
4          Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram
5          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
6          Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel
7          Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          0:01:33
8          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          0:05:58
9          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
10          Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
11          Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre – NGC
12          Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step
13          Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
14          Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
15          Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana
16          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
17          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
18          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
19          Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
20          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne

Green Jersey Standings

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           200           pts
2          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                   190
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          116
4          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream                   110
5          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                            100
6          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                   97
7          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                            81
8          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                   74
9          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          64
10          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                   55

Overall Results

1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 48:27:21
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:00:39
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:00:46
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54
7 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:00
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:24
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:54

Allez915

Cavendish racked up his third win of the tour setting a record for British cyclists in the process.

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

Cavendish powered through the front runners, outpacing Sebastien Chavanel and Gert Steegmans to the line. The man looked like a freight train. It was fun to read all the Twitter activity congratulating Cavendish.  I’ve been wondering why he and the team haven’t been contesting for the Green jersey. In a post race interview he said that the team felt that it was plenty enough to contest the finishes. Adding intermediate sprints into the equation would dilute the focus and jeopardize they’re chances for stage wins. Well, there is always next year.

Other noteworthy finishers include Eric Zabel, who continues to consistently get in there. Today he ended up 4th. Oscar Freire was able to hang on for 5th while the green giant, Thor Hushovd managed to salvage seventh.  Robbie McEwen ended up in 11th place.

As for the rest of the race, it was a by the numbers stage on basically flat terrain. The heat and wind were the most serious impediment. A two man break got away at 40km from the start which included Arnaud Gerard and Samuel Dumoulin. They built up a lead of over 3:30 minutes and held on till about the 10km to go mark. Team tactics were in play for the intermediate and final sprints. Columbia put on an excellent show, towing their man Cavendish into superb position to contest. He did not disappoint.

Sad Note: Tour officials announced that Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval-Scott had tested positive for EPO after Stage 4. He apparently was using a new type of EPO called Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator or CERA. Now it is off to the police station and a summer of questions. I guess Saunier Duval-Scott was not able to justify remaining in the tour. The team pulled out just before the stage began.

Stage 12 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/59r9kc

Stage Recap Articles

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6qq23j

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5ul2db

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/56tr3c

Bicycling: http://tinyurl.com/5zmfvn

Stage 12 Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

043

CAVENDISH, Mark

GBR

THR

03:40:52

00:00:00

2

162

CHAVANEL, Sébastien

FRA

FDJ

03:40:52

00:00:00

3

097

STEEGMANS, Gert

BEL

QST

03:40:52

00:00:00

4

151

ZABEL, Erik

GER

MRM

03:40:52

00:00:00

5

133

FREIRE, Oscar

ESP

RAB

03:40:52

00:00:00

6

063

CHICCHI, Francesco

ITA

LIQ

03:40:52

00:00:00

7

081

HUSHOVD, Thor

NOR

C.A

03:40:52

00:00:00

8

186

DUQUE, Leonardo

COL

COF

03:40:52

00:00:00

9

193

DEAN, Julian

NZL

TSL

03:40:52

00:00:00

10

114

HAUSSLER, Heinrich

GER

GST

03:40:52

00:00:00

11

006

MC EWEN, Robbie

AUS

SIL

03:40:52

00:00:00

12

123

CASPER, Jimmy

FRA

AGR

03:40:52

00:00:00

13

058

HUNTER, Robert

RSA

BAR

03:40:52

00:00:00

14

105

ELMIGER, Martin

SUI

ALM

03:40:52

00:00:00

15

072

BALLAN, Alessandro

ITA

LAM

03:40:52

00:00:00

Overall Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

001

EVANS, Cadel

AUS

SIL

50:23:05

00:00:00

2

017

SCHLECK, Frank

LUX

CSC

50:23:06

00:00:01

3

191

VANDEVELDE, Christian

USA

TSL

50:23:43

00:00:38

4

115

KOHL, Bernhard

AUT

GST

50:23:51

00:00:46

5

131

MENCHOV, Denis

RUS

RAB

50:24:02

00:00:57

6

011

SASTRE, Carlos

ESP

CSC

50:24:33

00:01:28

7

041

KIRCHEN, Kim

LUX

THR

50:25:01

00:01:56

8

104

EFIMKIN, Vladimir

RUS

ALM

50:25:37

00:02:32

9

022

ASTARLOZA, Mikel

ESP

EUS

50:26:56

00:03:51

10

067

NIBALI, Vincenzo

ITA

LIQ

50:27:23

00:04:18

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