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Respect to the Tour sprinters after brutal stage
Jul 13th, 12. Two hors category climbs and a Cat 1 summit finish, all within 148km, made it a tough day for the sprinters in the Tour - RESPECT.
They barely got any TV time, but for the fast finishers of the Tour de France, and their leadout men, today was was one of their biggest battles.
With their eye on the time cut they put rivalry to one side and became willing companions in the hunt for the finish line.
NZ's Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol) rolled over the line 33m20s behind the day's winner Pierre Rollands (Europcar) - his review of the stage was simple - "Brutal".
He averaged 300 watts for five hours!
Fortunately, his group of sixty riders arrived within the time cut (reported as 37m55s), as did the small group behind them plus a few stragglers.
They get to fight another day - and it's another super tough one for them tomorrow, two more Cat 1 climbs during the longest stage of the Tour. (See the Stage 12 course preview ...)
Unfortunately Alessandro Petacchi and his Lampre teammate Yuriy Krivtsov were not so lucky - the duo's Tour de France ended when they crossed the line after the cut.
A crash in the downhill from Col de la Croix de Fer with 50km to go forced Petacchi to try to recover time, but he was suffering from the pain of the crash, meanwhile Krivtsov was suffering from cramps. Petacchi will undergo tests in Italy tomorrow as his team doctor believes he may have fractured his ribs.
A few tweets from the fastmen
Mark Cavendish - Oh my, I'm tired. That was a disgusting stage!! Grupetto was close to the time-limit, so it was every man for himself on the last climb!
Greg Henderson - This Sport is crazy sometimes. I can't even explain how tweaked I am right now. But hey...let's do it again tomorrow. Brutal stage. Thanks for the Kiwi support out on the mountains. Again sorry if I didn't wave. Only reason is tunnel vision on the wheel in front of me.
Daryl Impey - Holy shit! That was epic but made it in the massive grupetto. Hardest day ever on a bike.
Mark Renshaw (who pulled out during the stage today) - Today I found my limit. I didn't recover from all my crashes and not a chance to finish this stage. To quit hurts more then I can describe. I'm sorry to my teammates, the staff and everyone involved. When you start the Tour you only want to make it to Paris, it hurts to fail.
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