Popovych gives Discovery a bonus
Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) has won the 12th stage of the Tour de France in Carcassonne, giving his embattled team cause to celebrate after losing out on the general classification so far. Popovych was the best of a four man break that escaped after 100 km, leaving the other three behind with a strong attack at 3 km to go. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) finished second at 27 seconds, leading home Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole). The bunch came in at 4'25 with Tom Boonen finally outsprinting Robbie McEwen for fifth.
The Quatorze Julliet stage was marked by a very aggressive start, with a large breakaway of 15 going clear on the Col des Ares after 25 km. The break included Bennati, Hincapie, Voigt, Hushovd, Pereiro, Moncoutié, Guerini, Millar, and Rasmussen, but was never able to get more than 1'10 due to the presence of green jersey threat Bennati. Davitamon-Lotto and FDJ combined to chase it down at km 94, and that paved the way for a classic counter move by Popovych, Freire, Ballan and Le Mevel. The break was not too dangerous to Landis and Phonak, and it gained no more than 4'45 on the fast run in to the finish.
Popovych initiated the attacking with 8 km to go, and after Ballan did most of the chasing, he was eventually able to get clear at 3 km to go. Freire seemed too tired to close the gap, and contented himself with third.