Evans' intense day ahead of Tour's mountains

Attacks and crashes on road to Vittel

Cadel Evans enjoyed a day of hard racing Thursday in Tour de France stage 12, one day ahead of Friday's mountain stage. He attacked early in the 211.5-kilometre stage to Vittel and crashed near its end.

"I thought I should put myself in there, otherwise they might not have anyone to chase," Evans said of an unsuccessful escape group. "It was a real intense start, a real Tour stage: left and right, attack, attack, attack."

Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) attacked and formed a group with Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana) around 80 kilometres into the stage. Ahead the main escape group had already formed, but they tried a move to put the other favourites on the defensive.

"It was good racing and I think it softens everyone's legs for tomorrow," said Evans.

The finale of the stage was just as hectic even with an escape group away for the stage victory. Evans crashed with another race favourite, Levi Leipheimer.

"They just overshot the corner in front of me, when that happens you have no where to go. Luckily it was inside three kilometres and it doesn't change anything."

Race rules prohibit riders losing time in the overall classification if they are in a crash in the final three kilometres. Evans said he had no injuries from the crash.

Leipheimer has multiple bruises and road rash on his back and hip. His wrist hurts the most, but the team doctor decided X-rays were not required. "Surprisingly, I am okay," said Leipheimer.

The riders face a 200-kilometre stager to Colmar tomorrow. There are three significant climbs with the final one, the Col du Firstplan, 20.5 kilometres from the finish.

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