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Tour de France 2017: Stage 12

Welcome to the Pyrenees one and all. After the Marcel Kittel domination of the last few days, you'll be happy to know that this is not a day for him. The mountains are back and we've got a big day out planned. I hope you packed plenty of water. 

Check out what is in store for the riders today with Alasdair Fotheringham's preview of the Pyrenees, including a video overview of the course created by Relive and voiced over yours truly. You can find all of that here

The teams and riders are getting ready at the start in Pau, where things finished off this morning. There is rain falling at the start and it's a cool 12 degrees at the finish. The riders are expected to venture through the clouds on the way up to the line.

 

The Pyrenees are usually scorching at this time of year, but the race is expecting much cooler temperatures as it passes through the mountain range. 

 

The GC riders have had a bit of a break the last couple of days, but today should see some changes near the top. Chris Froome has just 18 seconds on Fabio Aru. Can he hold onto his yellow jersey?

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 47:01:55
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:18
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:51
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:55
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:37
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:44
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:02:02
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:02:13
9 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:03:06
10 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:03:53

 

It's a long neutral zone today at 8.2km, which bumps the day's riding up over 220-kilometres. With six climbs to tackle today, on top of that, it's going to be a tough day out. The last riders have signed on and some are lining up on the start line. Just 10 minutes until they roll out. 

 

Alberto Contador dropped out of the top 10 on the last mountain stage into Chambery after he crashed twice and was dropped on the final climb. He had another little spill yesterday and said after the stage that this stage was pushing him to the limit. 

 

This is a good type of stage for Romain Bardet, who likes to take an aggressive approach to his riding. He sits in third place at the moment and has made a call to his rivals to work together to unseat Froome in the yellow jersey. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Read what Bardet had to say here

 

While Fabio Aru is sitting in a handy place in GC, yesterday was a difficult day for his Astana team. They lost Dario Cataldo to a crash and Jakob Fuglsang went down in the same incident. Fuglsang finished the stage but he suffered fractures in his scaphoid and the head of his radial bone in his left elbow. 

 

The riders have left Pau and are making their way through the neutral zone. We should expect the flat to drop in just over 10 minutes. 

 

Luke Rowe tells Eurosport that Team Sky is not concerned about the breakaway. "They can go," he says. Could this then be a day for the escapees to taste some success. They've not had much luck during this year's Tour with the course very much against them. 

 

There is certainly a lot at stake today and there will be plenty of interest in getting out into the break, which means that it should be a very fast start to the day. 

 

 The riders are right behind the race car. Tim Wellens and Marcus Burghardt are up there. Do they want to be in the break? They certainly look like it. 

Nairo Quintana is another rider up near the front. Keeping out of trouble, or getting ready for something? We should find out very soon. 

 

The flag is waved and we've got attacks coming. Lotto Soudal are the first to go. 

 

Guillaume van Keirsbulck is another that is trying to get up the road. He was in a very long lone break in the opening week. It was so hot out there that he managed to singe the hair off his forearms from leaning on the handlebars. 

 

There is lots of movement on the front of the bunch and we can expect that for quite some time. Warren Barguil is another that is trying to get away. He wants more points in the mountains classification.

 

This is how things look in the mountains classification ahead of today's busy day. 

 

1 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb 60 pts
2 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 30
3 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 27
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 23
5 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 18
6 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 17
7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 16
8 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal 15
9 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 14
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 12

 

Markel Irizar, Adrien Petit and Jay McCarthy have been trying to get away. They have been dangling off the front for quite some time, but they are eventually brought back by the peloton. 

 

it has been a thoroughly fast affair thus far and the riders have already completed 10 kilometres. The peloton is completely stretched out under the pace at the moment. 

 

Movistar are getting involved in these attacks now. Sutterlin is having a go but De Gendt is chasing him down. 

 

The top layers are coming off in the peloton. The rain has subsided for now and it's actually warmer than it looks for now. 

 

A move of about 15-20 riders has got a sizeable gap. Hovering at the back is the green jersey of Marcel Kittel. He's on the wheel of Michael Matthews. Both of these riders are interested in the points of the green jersey competition. Others involved are Steve Cummings, Bennatti, Diego Ulissi, Jack Bauer, Nils Pollit and Thomas De Gendt. 

 

Stefan Kung is also one of the riders in this leading group. He tried to get into a break earlier this week but was told that he was too strong and the sprint teams didn't allow him to go. Today, though, he looks like he's made it into the day's break. 

 

The peloton has eased up significantly and Team Sky are managing the front now. The escapees have 2:14 on the peloton. 

 

The full make-up of this breakaway group is: Stave Cummings, Thomas de Gendt, Jack Bauer, Marcel Kittel, Diego Ulissi, Koen de Kort, Michael Matthew, Stefan Kung, Nils Politt, Cyril Gautier, Imanol Erviti and Julien Simon. There are a lot of good climbers in this move. 

 

Notably, Barguil missed the breakaway. Fortunately, none of his major rivals for that competition have got into the move. 

 

Matthews and Kittel are obviously in this break for the intermediate sprint. We can expect them to fade away when they pass that point after 100 kilometres of racing. Kittel is well clear in the green jersey competition, but Matthews is not giving up on it just yet. 

 

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 335 pts
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 202
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 171
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin 158
5 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 97
6 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 94
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 93
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 78
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 58
10 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 57

 

My new set of wheels aren't quite as cool as my @Ride_BMC but it's nice to finally be home. pic.twitter.com/gbE5qPv2QX

167km remaining from 214km

The gap is edging out, but Team Sky is not giving this one as much room as they implied at the start of the stage. They still seem interested in taking away a stage victory at the end of the say. The gap is 3:09 at the moment. 

 

This is a pretty illustrious breakaway group with four Tour de France stage winners in the line-up, with Kittel, Matthews, De Gendt and Cummings. Ulissi has not won a Tour de France stage - this is his debut - but he has taken six Giro d'Italia stage wins. 

 

Something to note. With this stage, the peloton has passed the 2,000-kilometre mark. Still a lot more road to go before they reach Paris though. 

 

We've already got an hour of racing done and the average speed has been a zippy 48.5kph. The peloton are still cranking it out and it's near enough single file at the moment. 

 

Today the stage finishes on Peyragudes but it is another climb that is being remembered today. It is 50 years to the day since Tom Simpson died while riding up Mont Ventoux. Simpson is a polarising character, but his death was a defining moment in cycling history. 

 

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The leaders are on the first climb of the day, the Cote de Capvern. They've pushed their advantage up to 4:18 with 152 kilometres still to run. Christian Knees is on the front of the peloton for Team Sky. 

 

All the top GC teams are up at the front of the peloton. There's still a long way to go, but anything could happen today and they want to be ready for it. This first climb won't be too troubling but things will start to get very serious on the Col des Ares at close to the halfway point. From there, it is a relentless day out. 

 

Kittel just off the back of the breakaway group on this climb, he's picking up bottles though. This fourth category climb isn't troubling the big sprinter and he'll easily make it to the intermediate sprint on the other side. 

 

Thomas de Gendt gets the one point at the top of the climb. That gives him an overall tally of four now. He'll have to win a few more KOMs to get close to Warren Barguil. De Gendt finishes second to Rafal Majka in the mountains classification last season. 

 

Five minutes now for the escapees as they make the traverse between the Capvern and the Ares. Knees and Rowe sharing the effort on the front for now. Rain is falling slightly again and those white jerseys are going to need a bit of Daz at the end of the day. 

 

Other washing detergents are available, of course. 

 

Average speeds in the climb: #MaillotVertSkoda group 29.3 km/h #MaillotJauneLCL group 27.8 km/h The gap rises to 5'… https://t.co/H3hEvTCQYS

@letourdata Thu, 13th Jul 2017 10:45:24

BMC Racing came into the Tour de France with Richie Porte as their main leader. Since the Australian crashed out, the team has had to reassess their goals as DS Fabio Baldato explained ahead of the stage this morning. 

 

"For sure, we watch for the breakaway. We have a few guys who are good in the mountains and the priority is to be in the break. We hope that we have the space to go a little bit further on the stage."

 

80 kilometres in and the peloton is still chugging along at 47 kilometres per hour. Team Sky has been managing the front of the bunch pretty much since the start and it doesn't look like they're going to get help any time soon. 

 

Team Sky DS Nicolas Portal has spoken to French television. He says that the stage win is not the end goal today, but they do want to put a bit more of a gap between themselves and their rivals.

 

“We're not really interested in winning the stage. But this is the first big mountain stage and the idea is to gain something in the finale. At least we want to maintain Chris Froome's advantage. I foresee attacks starting in the col de Peyresourde, possibly by Nairo Quintana as we see his team-mate Imañol Erviti in the front group now. We've been put under pressure but it has strengthened the morale of the team.”

 

We were expecting a bit more of an aggressive start to today. The pace is high, but things are fairly steady at the moment and riders are able to take a comfort break. We'll see how things change once the riders pass through the intermediate sprint in a moment and the bigger mountains come up. 

 

It's like watching a dream sequence with the rain falling on the cameras. Intermediate sprint coming. 

 

Matthews leads out the sprint with Kittel right in his wheel. It looks like Matthews just has it over the German, but we'll await the official confirmation. 

 

Kittel knows he doesn't need to win that with such a big advantage so finishing second would be pretty good for him. He cuts down the advantage that Matthews gets for taking that sprint. 

 

Confirmation that Matthews took the 20 points, but Kittel got 15 so that's a net gain of just 5 after all that effort. Thomas de Gendt came through in third. 

 

The peloton now rolling through that sprint point. They're 5:37 down on that leading group of 12. It will be interesting to see how long the sprinters will stick around. Matthews stayed pretty late into Sunday's stage but he might want to save his energy for other stages. 

 

inCycle: Remembering Tom Simpson 50 years after Ventoux - Video | https://t.co/bViZWw6xrN https://t.co/ptGvZOVURe

@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 13th Jul 2017 11:17:32

The peloton is passing through the feed zone at the moment. Bernhard Eisel is right near the front. He had a bit of a crash in the feed zone earlier in the race and perhaps he just wants to make sure he doesn't get caught up in a stray musette. 

 

As we approach the second climb of the day, why not treat your ears to our latest podcast. Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson spoke to Cedric Vasseur earlier in the race about his brief but fruitful turn in the yellow jersey 20 years ago. You can find it here

 

The changing weather is making it a bit difficult for the riders. The rain gear has been on and off for the opening section of this stage. Nothing of the sort for the escapees though, who are on their way up the second climb of the day with a 6:12 advantage over the peloton. 

 

106km remaining from 214km

Chris Froome sharing a few words with Michael Valgren, who is leading the Astana train. Just behind Valgren is Fuglsang. The Dane is coping well with his injuries for now, but the stern test will be the latter part of this stage. 

 

Alberto Contador on the back of the bunch. He's been back to the car briefly. He's showing the damage he suffered in yesterday's crash, where he came down with teammate Michael Gogl. It's been a rough few days for Contador, what can he do today?

 

The leaders are just 1km from the top of the second climb and Marcel Kittel is still in this group. He looks pretty comfortable for now, but that will change very soon. 

 

The Pyrenees are certainly delivering their fair share of interesting fans on the side of the road. We've had firewomen doing spin classes and we've just had a one-man band. Don't know if we can put in any song requests. 

 

Matthews and De Gendt have shot off the front of the escape group on the descent. Interesting tactic by the Australian. 

 

Few risks being taken on the descent of the Ares by the breakaway. De Gendt and Matthews are back with the group as they pick their way over this damp tarmac. The peloton is still climbing. 

 

Do you think a rider from the Break will win stage 12 of the #TDF2017 at Peyragudes? #TDFdata

@letourdata Thu, 13th Jul 2017 11:47:16

While the weather is pretty grim over the riders at the moment, it is beautiful sunshine at the line. Hopefully it will be like that when the riders get there. 

 

The Pyrenees have been a part of the Tour de France since 1910. We took a pictorial look back at some of its most iconic ascents and the moments they made. Check out our climbs of the Pyrenees gallery.

 

And from the other side. Phwoar de France!!! https://t.co/getOBmmaFH

@friebos Thu, 13th Jul 2017 12:05:00

 

The Col de Menté is coming up very soon. This 6.9km ascent averages 8.1%. It has been part of the Tour de France on 18 other occasions and will be remembered for the crash of Luis Ocaña and Eddy Merckx in 1971. Ocaña was in yellow and following Merckx, who was attacking, down the descent. Merckx crashed and Ocaña had nowhere to go. Merckx would carry on and eventually win the race, but Ocaña's race was over there and then after he was struck from behind by Joop Zoetemelk.

 

6:10 for the breakaway with just 1.5km to the top of the climb. Kittel showing the first signs of trouble as he is distanced by the group. This is certainly not his terrain. 

 

80km remaining from 214km

The speed has dropped to 12kph as they continue to push up the Col de Monte. Apologies that last distance check was wrong. It was 1.5 until the climb. There's still a almost 6km until the top of the climb. 

 

De Gendt is keeping a watchful eye on the front of the breakaway group. He's taken points at the top of the first two climbs and he will be very interested in this one too. Matthews coping well at the moment. If he can stay ahead of the peloton for the rest of the day he can mop up some points for the points classification, but that is a big if. 

 

No signs of any action from the peloton just yet. Will someone try a long-range move closer to the top of the climb? We hope so. 

 

The Col de Mente is biting in the peloton and several riders are being dropped. It's going to be a long 78km until the finish. 

 

Yesterday's most combative rider Maciej Bodnar is one of those struggling on the back. He put in a big effort yesterday only to be caught by the peloton inside the final kilometre. 

 

The gruppetto is taking shape now with a few more of the sprinters being shed from the peloton. They say misery loves company. 

 

Dan Martin will be hoping for a better day in the mountains than he had on Sunday. He crashed with Richie Porte on the descent of the Mont du Chat. He's still feeling the aftermath of that, and he's hoping to get through the Pyrenees without losing any more time. 

 

"Its impossible to recover on the Tour," he said. "It might have seemed we relaxed on the last couple of days but we still spent nine hours on the bike.That crash is going to take me a while to get over. But I'm getting better every day. We'll find out when we hit the first climb These descents are very different. It was not that we were taking risks the other day. It's just happened. We were just doing the race. To me the days is about riding conservatively and.try to be in the Alps in the same position as we're in. As far as Chris Froome goes, everybody can have a bad day. Definitely Chris is to fear in the finish climb, but we'll give it our best shot."

 

The gap is coming down as the terrain gets tougher. With 75km to go, the leaders have 5:20 on the peloton. 

 

74km remaining from 214km

With his teammate Warren Barguil's king of the mountains challenge in mind, Michael Matthews (Sunweb) sprints to claim the points atop the Col de Mente ahead of Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal). The gap to the peloton is a shade under five minutes.

Team Sky's Luke Rowe continues to set the tempo at the head of the peloton. Delegations from Ag2r La Mondiale and Astana are also present towards the front.

 

The large yellow jersey group reaches the top of the Col de Mente without any frissons among the general classification contenders. Froome. Aru, Bardet et al began the descent beneath spitting rain.

 

Up front, Michael Matthews has persisted with his effort over the top of the climb and has opened a small gap over his breakaway companions as he drops down the other side.

 

There's quite a bit of valley road before the Port de Bales, mind, and the Australian looks behind him repeatedly as though expecting some company.

 

The roads are mercifully dry on the way down the Col de Mente, as Matthews swoops through the sweeping bends, and then sits up once again and wonders where his breakaway comrades have gone. After Matthews knocks off the pace for a few hundred metres, they eventually bridge back up to him.

 

62km remaining from 214km

Matthews and his fellow escapees have reached the base of the descent of the Col de Mente with a lead of 4:45 over the main peloton, where Sky continue to set the tempo.

 

Stephen Cummings is in the break today. The Dimension Data rider has won a stage in each of the last two Tours by making it into the break. Today is the first time that he's been able to get up the road.

 

"So far the race has been way to hard for me or kind of too easy. That’s been a bit frustrating. But it was like this in 2015 and then all of a sudden we went into the hilly stages and I was able to do something," he said at the start of the stage. "I’ve been trying to keep my moral up. It’s frustrating because you want to race but we all have certain characteristics and sometimes the stage doesn’t suit you, so you’ve got to be smart and wait, not try to force something.

 

"The final climb is on the limit for what I can do but it’ll all depends on the composition of the break. But you’ve got to try.

 

"There’s a lot of climbing today, all in all there’s almost 4900 metres of climbing. The Porte de Bales is almost a 50-minute effort and the climb after is half an hour and then there’s the descent and the up to the finale. You have to have good legs."

 

Marcel Kittel was dropped by the break group at the bottom of the Col de Menté. He is now back in the peloton. 

 

56km remaining from 214km

We have some echelons forming in the bunch as they ride through the valley. The pace is rising as the gap to the leaders' advantage falls to 4:06. 

 

It's calmed back down int he peloton and it's all coming back together. This long ride through the valley will give plenty of riders a chance to make it back to the main group and their numbers are growing. 

 

The road is rising again as the Porte de Bales sits up in front of the riders. This is the toughest part of the day with the Peyresourde and the Peyragudes coming very quickly after it. 

 

This is what the profile of the last three climbs looks like. Plenty of ramps above 10 per cent. 

 

 

Today's finish on Peyragudes is different to the one the Tour had in 2012. They will finish on the airfield near the top. It's a bit lower down than the other finish, but it's still brutally steep. There will most certainly not be any big groups coming through at the finish. 

 

Fortuneo-Oscaro missed out on the breakaway and they have sent two riders off the front. Maxime Bouet and Brice Feillu are the two that have been sent forth. 

 

It's a big gap to close for the two riders, at 3:48. Feillu has won a stage of the Tour de France in the past, taking a win in 2009. He's currently 20th in the general classification at almost 12 minutes down. It will be interesting to see if he can make up some time with this move. 

 

42km remaining from 214km

The GC teams are moving up to the front, we've got some 'climbing trains' forming. Team Sky are obviously up there, but Cannondale, Quick-Step and AG2R La Mondiale are also represented in the first few riders. 

 

Matthews has put in a good stint in the breakaway but the Bales is a stretch too far for him. He has helped Barguil in his polka-dot ambitions by beating De Gendt to the top of the last climb. That is his day done in this respect and he will look to conserve his energy for another day. 

 

39km remaining from 214km

Kung ups the pace in the breakaway and stretches things out. Cummings was at the front but he is quickly dropped to the back by the little dig. Still about 10km to the top of the climb. Behind, the two chasers are 2:20 behind. 

 

Marcel Kittel was in the breakaway earlier today but now he has joined the grupetto. Up front. De Gendt now pushes on and the leading group begins to split up. 

 

Esteban Chaves has been distanced on this climb. The Colombian has had a tough debut to the Tour de France. He's had to battle back through injury and he suffered a personal loss too. He'll be ready for this Tour to come to an end next week. 

 

The leaders are on one of the most challenging parts of this climb with gradients of up to 11 per cent. Vasil Kiryienka has taken over for Sky at the front of the peloton and he is doing some damage. Just 3:12 remains for the escapees now. 

 

Sky said at the start of the day that they weren't interested in the win, but this chase says otherwise. They can smell the chance at another stage win and it's hard to resist. Much like toast. 

 

Ulissi has been caught and passed by Feillu, who is now without Bouet for company. 

 

Just over five kilometres to the top of the climb and Thomas de Gendt attacks. Kung is leading the chase behind. 

 

35km remaining from 214km

It's a long way to go for De Gendt, but he's a breakaway specialist and that will not trouble him. 

 

Cummings has come through the mist and chased down De Gendt. It looks like Gautier is not too far behind either. 

 

Feillu is losing ground on the escapees after De Gendt's attack. He's now 2:17 behind while the peloton is just 30 seconds behind him. It seems his effort may well have been in vein. 

 

Feillu's teammate Bouet, who helped him attack, has now been spat out the back of the peloton. Pierre Rolland is sitting on the back of it, battling through a bout of illness. 

 

Jakob Fuglsang is struggling at the back of this reduced peloton. He's got several fractures after a crash yesterday so it's no surprise that this climb is proving a big challenge. 

 

Cummings attacks from the lead group. He's got an instant gap. 

 

Contador attacks from the peloton, following a move from Barguil. They catch Feillu.

 

There is no immediate reaction from the peloton. Team Sky just continue to grind out a hard pace. 

 

Contador's attack has put his teammate Mollema in trouble. The Dutchman has been dropped. Contador looks over his shoulder and his heart sinks, Team Sky is right behind him. He will have to try again. 

 

Gautier was distanced when Cummings attacks. He manages to make it back to De Gendt, but they still have a little way to go to bring back Cummings, who is on his way to the top of the Porte de Bales. 

 

30km remaining from 214km

Of the initial 12-man breakaway, there are just three left out there. Cummings leads by almost a minute over De Gendt and Gautier, who are a minute ahead of the chasing peloton. 

 

Cummings is over the top of the climb. He stuffs some newspaper down his front and he's off down the descent. Behind, Barguil is trying to jump the gap. He wants to take some of the mountains points to help him keep the polka-dot jersey as long as possible. 

 

De Gendt takes the points for second over that climb, Gautier is third and Barguil is not too far behind in fourth. That's a tidy hall for the Frenchman. 

 

Despite the rain today, the descent looks dry enough. Barguil using all the grip to overtake Gautier on the inside of a corner. This is a technical descent and Gautier gets it all wrong. Fortunately, he ends up on the inside of a corner rather than the outside. Let's hope he can get up and running soon enough. 

 

Froome sitting just behind Kwiatkowski at the front of the peloton. It's the safest place to be to avoid crashes, provided Kwiatkowski keeps upright. 

 

De Gendt is approaching this descent quite gingerly. He doesn't fancy taking big risks to chase Cummings. 

 

23km remaining from 214km

De Gendt is brought back by the peloton. Barguil is just a little ahead. He seems to be waiting for the catch. 

 

Barguil gets brought back by Kwiatkowski. He was only really worried about De Gendt, but as he's back with the group there is no need to push on. 

 

21km remaining from 214km

That leaves just Cummings out front now with a 1:31 gap. Can he hold onto this, will the peloton let him?

 

Fabio Aru and Romain Bardet are keeping a watchful eye on the back of the Team Sky train. Bardet has asked his rivals to help attack Froome. When will he make his move?

 

Cummings doing very well down this descent. He's now got 1:46 over the peloton. He's on a short rise before the road goes downhill again. The Peyresourde begins in just a few kilometres time. It's a tough ask for him to keep the peloton at bay. 

 

Two minutes now the gap as the peloton eases up a bit. This group is seriously reduced.

 

Fuglsang has now lost over 8 minutes now and that is certainly his GC ambitions over. 

 

14km remaining from 214km

Cummings climbing once again. He gets a bit of a sticky bottle, has a sip and then decides he doesn't want it. 

 

Cummings has 2:09 at the moment but that could disappear very quickly when the GC riders beginning attacking each other. 

 

Froome and Aru get it wrong on a corner and they both end up in the grass. They're back up and running and on their way back to the main group. 

 

It looks like Kwiatkowski went into the grass too and had to thread a needle by riding through the parked camper vans and over some poor family's picnic. 

 

It looks like Nieve went into the grass too and had to thread a needle by riding through the parked camper vans and over some poor family's picnic.

The group of favourites waits for Froome and Aru to come back. It seems fitting that they both went off in the same place. 

 

Of course, as they were on the descent, they were in the complete wrong gearing and it took them a little while to get going again. That certainly helps Cummings, who has two minutes on the bunch. 

 

Sortie de route pour Froome et Aru qui sont ensuite revenus / Froome and Aru missed a turn but came back #TDF2017 https://t.co/iHrvOsPkXS

@LeTour Thu, 13th Jul 2017 14:30:50

Cummings has just under seven kilometres to the top of the climb. He's still got two minutes. It's still calm behind him as Kwiatkowski ups the pace a touch. 

 

Quintana off the back of the main group. He looks like he's in trouble. 

 

This is a really bad day for Quintana. He could well drop out of the top 10 today. 

 

10km remaining from 214km

Quintana doesn't have any teammates to help bring him back and he's already lost 30 seconds. How he's missing Alejandro Valverde right now. 

 

Cummings goes under the 10km to go banner. His advantage has been cut to 1:22 and it's going to be touch and go for the British champion. 

 

Barguil is the next to get the chop. He's battling but it seems like a futile battle. Meanwhile, Kwiatkowski is still driving the pace and he's got Cummings within a minute now. 

 

That is Kwiatkowski's last hurrah and he puts the handbrake on and drops out of the main group. Nieve takes it up for Team Sky and they've still got Landa there for Froome. 

 

Froome's rivals still sitting on his wheel. Nobody has attacked just yet. When will they go, I hear you cry. Soon, we hope. Soon. 4km to the top of this climb. 

 

Cummings has just 28 seconds now and it seems that on this occasion it just might not work for him. He will have to wait for another day. 

 

Cummings is caught and dropped. He is cooked. This is going to be a fight between the GC riders. 

 

The Movistar car pulls up alongside Quintana who is just over a minute behind. They need to keep him motivated. 

 

It's a bit of a stalemate at the moment in this lead group. In there we have Froome, Nieve, Landa, Uran, Bennett, Yates, Meintjes, Contador, Martin, Bardet and Aru. 

 

1.8 to the top of this penultimate climb. We're still waiting for something to happen but nobody is taking this race by the scruff just yet. Let's hope it doesn't stay like this for much longer. Surely someone will have a go near the top of this ascent. 

 

Yates looking for something to drink but there are no vehicles nearby to give him any. 

 

A time check to Quintana has him at 1:15. After being dropped pretty quickly, he's managed to stem the tide a little. 

 

5km remaining from 214km

Contador is up on the pedals in the leading group. That's just his style though and he doesn't look like he wants to attack just yet. He tried and failed earlier today. 

 

Contador slips to the back of this group and he's losing Yates' wheel. He's struggling as they near the top of this climb. 

 

4km remaining from 214km

Over the top of the climb and there are no attacks coming yet. This seems like a day of attrition than one of attack. Riders going out the back rather than off the front. 

 

The riders are on this short descent before they hit the Peyragudes. It's short but really steep and it will likely blow the group apart. 

 

2km remaining from 214km

Nieve leads the remaining leaders onto this last ascent and winds up the pace. He wants to make it too hard to attack. 

 

Nieve's job is done now and Landa takes it up with 1.7 to go. 

 

At the moment, Aru looks like the only rider who might be able to challenge this Sky domination at the moment. Time will tell if he can. 

 

Quintana has caught up with Barguil and Caruso. They're 1:30 behind the yellow jersey group while Contador has lost 42 seconds. 

 

Dan Martin moving up the group. Is he planning an attack?

 

Martin looks like he's on his knees though, but he has never had the prettiest of riding styles. 

 

An attack from Bennett

 

No reaction from the group behind but Bennett is struggling.

 

Landa brings the LottoNL rider to heel. 

 

Aru attacks and Froome follows. 

 

Landa is dropped and it is now Martin leading the chase but he is done too. 

 

Aru still up front. He's got Bardet on his wheel with Uran in third. This is brutal.

 

Bardet passes Aru. Has he got this? It looks like it. 

 

Bardet wins

 

Uran takes second and Aru in third. Froome struggles over the line 21 seconds back and Aru could be in yellow. 

 

Aru would have got bonus seconds for third plus the time gap. Word coming through that he is in yellow.

 

We need confirmation of the time gap but he should have it by about 7 or 8 seconds. 

 

Quintana crosses the line some two minutes back.

 

Meanwhile, Bardet is soaking up the joy of victory. He's on the ground just smiling. That was a big win for the Frenchman. 

 

Confirmation coming through that Aru has the yellow by 6 seconds. Bardet is just 25 seconds back. 

 

There is still a time trial to come at the end of next week, which will suit Froome, but there is also quite a bit of climbing remaining too. 

 

Going into that last 500 metres, it looked like Sky had that one in the bank. They had this stage very much under control for the whole day. There was hardly a moment that they didn't have a rider on the front and going into that last climb they still had two with Froome. However, that last brutal ramp had Froome well and truly on the ropes. It's certainly not a fatal blow to Froome and by no means says that he's struggling, but his rivals will sense blood now that they've broken that Team Sky deadlock. 

 

Romain Bardet talks to the press after his victory. 

 

 

This is how the stage finished. The gaps aren't big but they could be crucial. 

 

1 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 5:49:38
2 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:02
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:05
5 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:07
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:13
7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:22
8 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:27
9 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:27
10 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:28

 

This is how the new GC looks after stage 12. Very close at the top with plenty of opportunity for change. 

 

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 52:51:49
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:06
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:25
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:35
5 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:41
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:02:13
7 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:02:55
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:04:01
9 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:04:04
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:04:51

 

There is a seat ready for Froome at the Team Sky bus. This is where he'll talk to the press about today's stage. 

 

 

Today's stage was very much a waiting game. The peloton let the break go and Team Sky managed the pace right up until the final few metres of the day. With tomorrow's stage less than half the distance of today's it's likely that we'll see the exact opposite approach. If previous year's are anything to go by then we should see some of the GC men try to go on the attack very early on. There could be some very big gaps at the end. 

 

Today, Aru was able to take advantage of Team Sky managing things. With the yellow jersey on his shoulders now, he shouldn't expect the same luxury tomorrow. He will have to be very alert if he wants to keep the jersey past tomorrow. 

Here's a few words from the new yellow jersey Fabio Aru: "It’s the biggest thing that could happen to me, I never imagined it, stage was very, very hard and I’m very pleased to wear this jersey for my team-mates. It won’t be easy to defend, we’ll do the best we can, there are nine stages to go. Romain went in the best moment possible, I tried to attack and then suffered a bit. I was using a 39x28. It’s was such a hard finish."

 

Meanwhile, Aru's teammate Fuglsang has just finished the stage with a few teammates. He's in a lot of pain and it remains to be seen if he can make it to the start tomorrow. 

 

Froome spoke briefly to French television at the finish: He had this to say: "The finish was really hard. I had no legs, but there is a long way to go. I just have to congratulate Bardet, it was a very nice attack, and also to Aru who takes the yellow jersey. I didn’t have the legs, I was giving the maximum."

 

Here is a little more for Froome, who gave away the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. 

 

"It was a tough day. The team did an amazing job today but I just didn’t have the legs at the end to finish it off, as simple as that, no excuses," he said. "I just didn’t have the legs to finish it off on the final kick.


"It was brutal, ramps of over 20%, that’s a really, really hard finish. I can only say congratulations to Romain Bardet for winning the stage and also to Fabio Aru for taking the yellow jersey. The race is certainly on now.

 

"There was a bit of a tight turn at the bottom of the climb and a couple of us overshot the corner, we just had to go onto the grass and turn around and come back on."

 

Sorry, it's the second time that Froome has relented the yellow jersey after taking it at the Tour de France. He gave it to Tony Martin briefly during the 2015 Tour de France. Fabio Aru is a much bigger threat. Playing captain obvious there. 

 

Quintana was one of the selected riders to head to anti-doping after the finish. His bike was also given a once over. It came in at 6.840kg. 

 

 

Dan Martin is still in fifth at the moment and he had quite a bit to say at the finish. Here's a brief snippet of what he said:

 

"From kilometre zero I felt terrible. After 50 kilometres today I expected to lose half an hour. I'm really surprised and happy that the legs came around and the body got going. I was able to not lose too much time, even gain some. I'm very happy. I thought I could maybe win the stage but I just had nothing in my legs today.

 

"Without losing that 1:15 I would have been there [on the GC podium] but that makes it a lot harder. But we've just got to take it day by day and hopefully I keep recovering. My back is still really bad. It's taken a lot out of me psychologically as well, all the physio I've had to go through just to try to get ready. But obviously it's working. The team is doing a great job. The boys believe in me 100 per cent. Even though I felt so bad at the start, they were encouraging me. Just such a team spirit today in Quick-Step Floors at the moment. They really believe in the chance that we have to get a podium. Like I said this morning, the Pyrenees is just about trying ride conservatively and try not to lose too much time. One day down, just have to get through the stage tomorrow and then I'll hopefully be able to be a bit more aggressive in the Alps."

 

It seems that Uran has had his bonus time negated and a little bit more with a 20-second penalty. George Bennett has also been handed a 20-second penalty, according the the official results. No news on why, but we can only assume it was for taking on drinks or food in the final kilometres. We'll let you know when we do. 

 

According to Cannondale-Drapac manager Jonathan Vaughters, Uran took a bottle from a spectator. Video footage shows Bennett did something similar. Vaughters says that Bardet did the same and that the Frenchman should get the same penalty. 

 

Here's the news on Chris Froome losing the yellow jersey to Fabio Aru today. You can find results, a report and a gallery from today's stage, here

 

This is what Romain Bardet has been looking down upon throughout this year's Tour de France. It is his general motto when it comes to racing. 

 

 

Correction, illegal feed was from Cannondale employee. Not team staff. Not spectator. Unfortunately enthusiasm for the team cost us.

@Vaughters Thu, 13th Jul 2017 16:05:59

There seems to be some disagreement in the Sky camp after that stage. Mikel Landa tells the Spanish press that he could have been a contender for the victory today if he'd been allowed to go for it. 

 

Ironic how on climb Froome dropped Wiggins in 2012, the same's now happened to him. Will Landa now get some leeway? History suggests not

@petercossins Thu, 13th Jul 2017 16:18:29

Video footage from the finish shows that Landa and DS Portal had a bit of a disagreement outside the bus. Portal said afterwards that he wasn't angry with Landa.

 

RT @irishpeloton: Only one Tour has ever been closer than this between the top 2 on G.C. after 12 stages. 2008 - Evans led F.Schleck by 1…

@irishpeloton Thu, 13th Jul 2017 16:30:42

The list of sanctions has just come in with confirmation that Uran and Bennett were handed a 200CHF fine and a 20-second penalty for an illegal feed. Serge Pauwes also got one, not that it will bother him too much. 

 

Tomorrow is a short but tough day out. You can read through our preview of the stage here and watch our video flyover of the course. 

 

Romain Bardet crossing the line for victory. The strapping on his wrist is visible after his little spill yesterday. It didn't seem to affect him too much today. 

 

The Dutch reporting that LottoNL-Jumbo are set to protest the penalty given to George Bennett. Bennett took his drink from the same group of people as Bardet. In theory, the jury will have to give Bardet the same penalty or remove the one they gave Bennett. The jury has shown already the Tour de France that they're difficult to move once they've made a decision but we'll wait and see.

 

5th on the stage today and 10th in GC. . Thanks for all the support from back home

If you missed today's action or just want to see it again, we've got highlights from the stage HERE

Cannondale-Drapac GM Jonathan Vaughters has tweeted a clarification to his earlier remarks about Uran's penalty, writing that it was a Cannondale employee, not team staff or a spectator, who gave Uran the drink that led to the time penalty.

 

Today's stage winner Romain Bardet is expecting a 'big battle' over the coming days. Read our full report on Bardet's post-stage comments HERE

 

Fabio Aru says he's going to enjoy taking his first yellow jersey in the Tour de France before turning his attention to defending the race lead. Read our story HERE

 

Steve Cummings says he has no regrets after his long day in the breakaways didn't end with a stage victory. Read more about the British champion's thoughts on the day HERE

 

When the race finished at Peyragudes in 2012, Team Sky endured controversy when Froome first dropped Bradley Wiggins' yellow jersey and then slowed to wait for him. On Thursday, Mikel Landa left Froome behind as the GC group surged for the line in the final 500 metres. We've got comments from Landa and Team Sky director Nicolas Portal HERE

 

Nario Quintana's Giro-Tour double bid has obviously not paid off this year. Read what the Colombian has to say after a disappointing performance on stage 12.

 

The Tour de France has an actual "water-gate" scandal. Cannondale-Drapac GM Jonathan Vaughters believes his rider Rigoberto Uran was treated unfairly when officials penalised him for taking on a late drink while Romain Bardet was let off the hook. Vaughters told Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson that the Tour de France shouldn't come down to water bottles and poor officiating. Read more HERE

 

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