The longest stage of the three-week Tour de France took place Thursday, 218 kilometres from Chauvigny to Sarran and ended with Marc Hirschi's (Team Sunweb) first win as a professional. He launched a 28-kilometre solo break from the Suc au May, the final for four moderate, categorised climbs, which was never caught.
About midway through the stage, the peloton passed through St-Léonard-de-Noblat, the home town of Raymond Poulidor, a former French national champion and popular Tour de France competitor. He passed away at age 83 in November last year and is fondly remembered for finishing on the Tour podium eight times.
One rider who was not able to enjoy the views today was Ilnur Zakarin of CCC Team. The Russian crashed in the neutral kilometres before stage 11 on Wednesday, and today threw in the towel due to injuries from that crash.
Max Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe is still recovering from a horrible collision with a car that occurred a month ago at Il Lombardia. A week for the Tour he was not sure if he would make the roster, but was in the mix Thursday for a top-10 finish in Sarran.
The peloton also passed numerous farms and fields as it headed from central France to Sarran, the home of the Jacques Chirac presidential museum. Each day as the Tour continues its circuitous path around the country there are subtle reminders that this summer sojourn has been moved to the first glimpses of autumn, namely the dried sunflowers. Check out Le Tour's photo of the day below.
Read on for the Tour de France stage 12 news shorts.
Pou-Pou remembered along stage 12 route
Raymond Poulidor won the 1961 French road race championships and between 1962-1976 finished on the podium of the Tour de France an amazing eight times. Referred to as "Pou-Pou" by fans, Poulidor never wore the malloit jaune of his country's famous race.
He passed away at age 83 in November last year in his home village of St-Léonard-de-Noblat. The stage 12 route used the road through his village to remember the popular rider, with fans along the roadside holding signs as well as current and former professional cyclists recognising his great accomplishments today.
Jérôme Cousin (Total Direct Energie) said on his Twitter feed, "Raymond (Poulidor) is someone who had a relationship with all of the riders in the peloton on all of the French races. We will try and pay tribute to him today."
Tour de France Race Director Christian Prudhomme also took to Twitter to say, "Raymond was here every year since 1962. We miss his smile and his humour hugely. He will be celebrated everywhere and it will of course be very emotional."
Christian Prudhomme se souvient de Raymond Poulidor, toujours si fidèle à la Grande Boucle."Raymond was here every year since 1962. We miss his smile and his humour hugely. He will be celebrated everywhere and it will of course be very emotional."#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/7GO6A0w9C2September 10, 2020
Schachmann goes on the attack
Max Schachmann came into the Tour de France with good form after a top-10 finish in Il Lombardia for Bora-Hansgrohe, but also with a broke collarbone after being taken out by a citizen who had somehow driven onto the course in the finale. Despite the injury being less than a month old, Schachmann has soldiered on at the Tour de France and, on Thursday, went with the winning attack on the Côte de la Croix du Pey, a category 3 climb.
Schachmann said he was given the green light by points classification contender Peter Sagan to go for a result.
"We didn't have very specific plans, it was more about how the races developed in the first kilometres. We expected a bigger group of maybe 20-25 riders [to make the breakaway]. It's the last chance for the Classics guys during this Tour de France. Suddenly there were four riders gone and the bunch already stalled so we tried to control the race for Peter," the 26-year-old German said.
However, a series of short, sharp climbs in the closing 50 kilometres made the stage more difficult than expected and it was clear there would be no sprint finish for Sagan.
"The race unfolded as a pretty hard one in the last kilometres," Schachmann said. "Sunweb started to attack on the second last categorized climb, so I followed. Peter told me after 25km 'don't wait for me, just go for yourself and try your own luck'."
Schachmann was briefly with Marc Soler (Movistar) and Sunweb's Marc Hirschi at the head of the race. Soler put in the first dig but it was Hirschi who got away and stayed away to take out a solo victory. Schachmann was swept up by a chasing group and sprinted home for sixth place on the stage.
A photo posted by @borahansgrohe on Sep 10, 2020 at 11:30am PDT
CCC Team doctor confirms Zakarin injuries
There was more bad luck for Ilnur Zakarin (CCC Team) on Thursday. After missing out on a chance for a stage victory in the Pyrenees when he lost contact with the breakaway on the descent of the Col de Menté on stage 9, the Russian crashed in the neutral kilometres before stage 11.
On Thursday during stage 12, Zakarin threw in the towel.
CCC Team doctor Daniele Zaccaria explained before the start on stage 12, "Ilnur Zakarin was involved in a crash in the neutral zone of stage 11. He was able to finish the stage but was experiencing some rib pain which required further examination. X-Rays performed at the finish in Poitiers confirmed a non displaced fracture of the sixth left rib. At this stage, Ilnur will continue racing while we adopt some conservative therapies which won’t be jeopardized by racing. We will continue to monitor Ilnur’s condition and make any further decisions accordingly."
Zakarin made almost halfway through the day before climbing into the team car on the longest stage of the 2020 Tour de France.
#TDF2020Ilnur Zakarin was involved in a crash in the neutral zone of stage 11 which left him with a fractured rib. CCC Team doctor Dr Daniele Zaccaria provided the following update ahead of stage 12 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/Cv7wo54MVjSeptember 10, 2020
Sunflowers tell the tale
Isn't the Tour de France famous for the peloton rolling past immense fields of sunflowers in full, summertime yellow bloom? Not this year.
Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, a lot has changed with this year's Tour de France, but the 107th edition continues to roll, having moved from the traditional July dates to September. While the most significant visual change has been face coverings for riders, staff and fans at the start and finish lines, as well as scattered spectator gatherings, the runner-up would be the display of sunflowers. Or, should we say, the withered remains of the summer blooms.
A recent "pic of the day" from the Tour de France illustrates how the scenery is depicting the autumn season.
😍 PIC OF THE DAY 😍by @century21fr #TDF2020 📸 A.S.O / Ashley Gruber - Jered Gruber pic.twitter.com/Z9ppS26IjfSeptember 9, 2020
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