Dec 5th, 13. Injured cyclist Eddie Dawkins will take his place in the team sprint combination ... read more
Dec 5th, 13. World Championship multi medallist Linda Villumsen headlines a strong woman’s field in this ... read more
Dec 5th, 13. Pro cycling team, Lotto Belisol is busy preparing the 2014 season. With ten riders ... read more
Rolland repeats as Wiggins gaps rival
Jul 13th, 12. Europcar and Team Sky were the victors on Stage 11 of the Tour de France with another French victory and a great show of strength by the British squad.
The 148km stage to La Tourssuire might have been won by a Frenchman – with Pierre Rolland pulling off another tremendous climbing coup to go alongside his triumph at Alpe d'Huez from the 2011 Tour – but Great Britain is in complete command of the General Classification.
Wiggins increased his advantage over last year's champion, Cadel Evans (BMC), after the Australian suffered a little crisis on the final climb and had to be nursed home by the leader of the youth classification Tejay van Garderen.
While Evans battled his way up the last mountain, Rolland danced ahead to an emphatic victory - the second consecutive victory for Europcar.
Then came the battle for minor places on GC, which was won by Team Sky's Christopher Froome who now moves up to 2nd overall, 18sec ahead of another of today's aggressors, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas).
The result sheet tells much of the story but it was a race with many attacks, several winners and quite a few losers.
How the day panned out
The 148km 11th stage of the 2012 Tour began at 1.17pm with 174 riders in the race. The non-starter was Fabian Cancellara (RadioShank Nissan Trek) who left to be by his wife's side in the final days before their second child is born.
The mountains on the course were HC col de la Madeleine (2,000m high at 40km), HC col de la Croix de Fer (2,067m high at 93km), Cat2 col du Molland (1,638m at 113km) and the finishing climb to La Toussuire (Cat1, at the end of the 148km stage).
The attacks begin early
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) attacked the peloton as soon as the stage began. He was joined by 30 others and, after 10km, they had a lead of 20sec. By the 20km mark there were just seven in the lead, but the group soon swelled again.
At the top of the col de la Madeleine there were 28 riders with a lead of 2m55s on the peloton. The lead group was composed of: Moinard (BMC), Horner (RadioShank Nissan Trek), Kern, Malacarne and Rolland (Europcar), Scarponi and Marzano (Lampre), Koren and Basso (Liquigas), Martin (Garmin Sharp Barracuda), Kadri and Riblon (Ag2R), Feillu (SaurSajasun), Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), Ten Dam and Kruiswijk (Rabobank), Valverde and Kiryienka (Movistar), C. Sorensen (SaxoBank Tinkoff Bank), Kessiakoff, Kiserlovski and Vinokourov (Astana), Leipheimer and P. Velits (Omega Pharma Quicksetp) and Weening (Orica GreenEdge).
Velits led Kessiakoff over the top to claim the 25 KOM points and they continued their attack on the 19km downhill. They led the Valverde group by as much as 50sec but the leading pair was caught by the other escapees at 63km.
Col de la Croix de Fer: Evans goes on the attack
Early on the second climb, there was a regrouping at the front and 22 were in the lead: Moinard, Horner, Kern, Rolland, Scarponi, Marzano, Basso, Martin, Kadri, Trofimov, Ten Dam, Valverde, Kiryienka, Sorensen, Kessiakoff, Kisierlovski, Vinokourov, Leipheimer, Veltis and Weening. They led the peloton by 2m30sec.
Scarponi, Marzano and Moinard were the first to drop out of the lead group. With 15km to climb Leipheimer also quit his efforts in the lead group, then Valverde and Basso.
Sky's Michael Rogers was responsible for the capture, leading Wiggins, Richie Porte and Chris Froome up to Evans and the white jersey without once getting out of the saddle to increase his tempo.
Evans cracks on the final climb slips down the rankings...
After a shortlived attack by Peter Velits (Omega Pharma Quickstep), Rolland and Fredrik Kiserlovksi (Astana) found themselves at the front of the stage with 40km to go. They were caught by Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar) at 39km to go and, at the top, this was the situation: Rolland was first (taking 5pts) with his trio intact.
Then came Chris Sorensen (SaxoBank Tinkoff Bank) at 10sec, Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) at 1m00s, Velits at 1m25s, Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp Barracuda) and Kessiakoff at 2m05s, Chris Horner (RadioShack Nissan Trek) at 2m38s, Pinot at 3m08s and the peloton at 3m20s.
Rolland crashed on a left turn on the descent, 26km from the finish but he rejoined the lead with 22km to go. The four leaders started the final climb with an advantage of 1m15s to Ten Dam and Velits, 2m55s to Martin and Kessiakoff, and 3m30s to the peloton.
There were 16 in the yellow jersey group: Wiggins, Porte, Froome, Evans, van Garderen, Schleck, Horner, Zubeldia, Kloden, Nibali, Roche, Coppel, Pinot, van den Broeck, Cobo and Brajkovic.
With 6.5km to go, Evans was dropped from the yellow jersey group.
Once Wiggins and co caught Nibali (around 4.5km to go) there seemed to be a discussion between the Sky riders and Chris Froome attacked shortly afterwards. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) reacted quickly and so too did the others but Wiggins couldn't match the pace.
Froome quickly quit his effort but still this group was able to gain time on Evans who was struggling to hold the wheel of his teammate Tejay van Garderen.
Eventually the Australian lost 1m26s to the overall leader meaning he slipped down the rankings and Sky assumed 1st and 2nd place overall, with Froome finishing 2sec ahead of his leader, Wiggins.
Rolland races to another impressive mountain stage win
Pierre Rolland was on his own at the front of the stage with 10km to go and he never looked back. Just like last year at Alpe d'Huez he not only held off the challenge of his former escape companions, he put time into them and ultimately was the only rider to finish the stage ahead of the yellow jersey's group.
Wiggins managed his strength and was able to ride the final section of the climb in the slipstream of Froome but, in the closing 500m the domestique was given the nod to race for 2nd place honours and improve his position on GC.
Pinot outsprinted Froome for 2nd place and gave the host nation first-second success in the 11th stage.
The yellow jersey was 6th over the line – in the same time as Nibali who moved up to 3rd overall. Cadel Evans slipped from 2nd to 4tg overall, 3m19s behind Wiggins.
Tweet Follow @roadcycling
Support RoadCycling.co.nz Advertisers