Tour de France: Third time a charm for Hirschi in Sarran

Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) secured his first stage win at the Tour de France after soloing to the stage 12 victory in Sarran. The Swiss rider made his winning move over the Suc au May and covered the final undulating 25 kilometres alone, arriving at the finish line 47 seconds ahead of an unorganised chase group. Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) raced in just ahead of the chase group to take second place while Hirschi’s teammate Søren Kragh Andersen finished third.

It was the Swiss rider's third solo breakaway in the Tour de France but his first success after his attacks in Nice on stage 2 and Laruns on stage 9 were nullified in the closing kilometres. 

“It’s unbelievable because I was close two times,” said Hirschi in a post-race interview. “I never believed that I could make it because I was really doubtful. I went full-gas until the last 200 metres, and this is super nice, I can’t describe it. It’s hard to put this into words.”

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) maintained his overall lead after the longest stage of the three-week race and heads into stage 13 with 21 seconds over Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and 28 seconds over Guillaume Martin (Cofidis).

Hirschi was part of the decisive attacks over the penultimate ascent of the day, Cote de la Crouz du Pey, that formed the main late-race breakaway. However, it was his powerful move over the Suc au May that saw him ride away from his breakaway companions, Marc Soler (Movistar) and Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), and then solo the final 25km into Sarran to take his the stage victory.

Soler and Schachmann were swept up by the next chase group led by Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) but the group wasn’t organised enough to affect Hirschi’s success on the day. Several attacks came from the chase group, however, they were ultimately racing for second.

“I was always doubting because [the chase group] was super close,” Hirschi said. “It was the last three kilometres that I first believed I could make it. It’s hard to find words. This is my first pro victory, and it’s at the Tour. It’s like a dream.”

How it unfolded

After two days of sprinting, the peloton returned to a moderately hilly stage 12 at the Tour de France with a 218km race between Chauvigny and Sarran. The stage was dedicated to the late Raymond Poulidor, an eight-time podium finisher at the Grande Boucle, as the peloton raced through his hometown of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat. 

The peloton raced southeast into the Massif Central in what was the only stage of the 2020 Tour de France that covered more than 200km. While the profile offered no major ascents there were four categorised climbs over the Cote de Saint-Martin-Terrasus (104km), Cote d’Eybouieuf (121km), Cote de la Crouz du Pey (177km) and lastly at the Suc au May (192km), which also marked the day’s intermediate time bonus.

The early breakaway included Luis León Sánchez (Astana), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Nils Politt (Israeel Start-Up Nation) and Max Walscheid (NTT Pro Cycling), who were pursued by chasers Mathieu Burgaudeau (Total Direct Energie) and Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep). 

The move initially struggled to gain more than a minute as they approached the intermediate sprint for points. The peloton, led by Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team, bore down in an effort to pick up some additional points to put toward the green jersey competition after the Slovakian was relegated and lost points during the stage 11 sprint in Poitiers.

The breakaway picked up the bulk of those points in Le Dorat, 50km into the stage, however from the peloton, green-jersey leader Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) nabbed nine points ahead of teammate Michael Mørkøv, while Sagan took seven points and Matteo Trentin (CCC Team) picked up six.

Burgaudeau and Asgreen eventually made it across to the four men out front and the six riders worked together to gain two minutes, as Bora-Hansgrohe and Jumbo-Visma took up the pace-setting in the main field heading into first category climb of the day.

Cote de Saint-Martin-Terrasus, just 1.6km but an average gradient of 8.1 per cent, didn’t entice any real action from the breakaway or the peloton, and Burgaudeau rolled over the top to collect the only point on offer. It was also a relatively subdued affair over the Cote d’Eybouleuf, a longer climb at 3km but less steep averaging 4.4 per cent, as Burgaudeau, again, rolled over the crest to pick up the solitary point.

CCC Team added several riders to help Bora-Hansgrohe set the pace and the gap to the breakaway gradually dropped to a minute and a half as they raced along the rolling approached the third climb Cote de la Crouz du Pey. It was the longest climb of the four at 6km and an average grade of 5.1 per cent. 

It was a heartbreak day for the six-rider breakaway, who knew early on that the peloton wasn’t going to give them enough leeway to attempt a stage win. As such, Asgreen was the first to attack on the Crouze du Pey, and was followed by Erviti, however, their gap was slashed down to just 15 seconds because of Bora-Hansgrohe’s chase on the lower slopes. Jumbo-Visma, Astana, Trek-Segafredo and Movistar also moved forward to position their respective GC contenders safely near the front.

The sprinters found the pace a little too high over the climb and Bennett, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels) were distanced into the third group on the road.

The Sunweb duo, Tiesj Benoot and Kragh Andersen, along with Movistar’s Soler were the first to attack from the main group and formed a new lead trio halfway up the climb. Solar jumped ahead to take the two points over the top and continued on alone but he was ultimately reeled back in.

More attacks came from the main group with riders trying to go across to the move. Those who made it were Schachmann and Hirschi, who joined his teammates Benoot, Kragh Andersen. Also in the move was Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels) and Soler. 

Bob Jungles (Deceuninck-QuickStep), led a larger chase 20 seconds that included Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team), Dries Devenyns (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Sebastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Hugo Houle (Astana), Rolland, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Jasper Stuyven and Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo).

The winning move was always expected to happen over the fourth and final climb Suc au May. It was a new climb added to the Tour de France pacrours this year, 3.7km long with steeper pitches but an average of 7.7 per cent. Its proximity to the finish, roughly 25km, made it a perfect launching pad for final attacks from the puncheurs in the field.

Hirschi was the rider to launch that powerful, winning attack, and he gained 10 seconds on Schachmann and Soler. 

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) bridged across to what looked like a promising chase, which had reshuffled to include his teammate Devenyns, Lutsenko, Reichenbach, Kragh Andersen, Herrada and Rolland, along with Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) and Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team).

Hirschi crested the climb alone, descended the tricky switchbacks at speed, and went on to power through the final 25km in a time trial position, fully committed to reaching Sarran with the stage win. The precarious 30 seconds over Soler and Schachmann, and 50 seconds to Alaphilippe’s group, caused some doubts for him but those all washed away as he covered the final 3km with a healthy 45 seconds.

There was little cooperation in the chase and Alaphilippe attacked several times in an attempt to bridge across to riders ahead and to get himself in contention for a podium. He was unsuccessful in his attempts, but the group did manage to reel in Soler and Schachmann inside 10km of the race. The chase wasn’t organised enough to have any effect on Hirschi’s victory, and they were reduced to attacking one another for the minor places on the day.

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Full results
PlaceRider (Country) TeamResult
1Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb05:08:49
2Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:00:47
3Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb00:00:52
4Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:00:52
5Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis00:00:52
6Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe00:00:52
7Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team00:00:52
8Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ00:00:52
9Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo00:00:56
10Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb00:00:56
11Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:01:48
12Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team00:02:05
13Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe00:02:30
14Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team00:02:30
15Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo00:02:30
16Michael Gogl (Aut) NTT Pro Cycling00:02:30
17Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:02:30
18Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale00:02:30
19Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma00:02:30
20Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo00:02:30
21Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott00:02:30
22Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:02:30
23Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers00:02:30
24Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma00:02:30
25Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers00:02:30
26Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates00:02:30
27Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma00:02:30
28Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:02:30
29Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis00:02:30
30Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:02:30
31Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:02:30
32Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren00:02:30
33Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team00:02:30
34Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation00:02:30
35Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott00:02:30
36Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ00:02:30
37Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott00:02:30
38Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team00:02:30
39Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team00:02:30
40Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team00:02:30
41Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo00:02:30
42Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:02:30
43Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers00:02:30
44Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis00:02:30
45Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates00:02:30
46Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis00:02:30
47Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic00:02:30
48Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:02:30
49Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo00:02:30
50Roman Kreuziger (Cze) NTT Pro Cycling00:02:30
51Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott00:02:30
52Romain Sicard (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:02:30
53Neilson Powless (USA) EF Pro Cycling00:02:30
54Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:02:30
55Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team Sunweb00:02:30
56Andrey Amador (CRc) Ineos Grenadiers00:02:30
57Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:02:30
58Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:02:30
59Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Pro Cycling00:02:30
60David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:02:30
61Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott00:02:30
62Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:02:30
63Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team00:02:30
64Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:02:30
65Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:02:30
66Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:02:30
67Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic00:02:30
68Robert Gesink (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:02:30
69Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team00:02:30
70Winner Anacona (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic00:02:30
71Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation00:02:49
72George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma00:02:53
73David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates00:03:20
74Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe00:03:22
75Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers00:03:43
76Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Cofidis00:03:50
77Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers00:06:05
78Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott00:08:50
79Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:08:50
80Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team00:08:50
81Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott00:08:50
82Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:09:37
83Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb00:09:37
84Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling00:11:09
85Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation00:12:58
86Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:12:58
87Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren00:13:38
88Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain McLaren00:13:38
89Fabien Grellier (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:13:38
90Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates00:13:38
91Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:13:38
92Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team00:13:38
93Dayer Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic00:13:38
94Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling00:13:38
95Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team00:13:38
96Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team00:13:38
97Ryan Gibbons (RSA) NTT Pro Cycling00:13:38
98Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb00:13:38
99Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:13:38
100Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team00:13:38
101Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe00:13:38
102José Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team00:13:38
103Tejay Van Garderen (USA) EF Pro Cycling00:13:38
104Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team00:13:38
105Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:13:38
106Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Team00:13:38
107Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis00:13:43
108Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain McLaren00:16:14
109Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates00:16:14
110Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:16:14
111Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:16:14
112Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:16:14
113Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:16:14
114Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers00:16:14
115Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:16:14
116Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:16:14
117Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Start-Up Nation00:16:49
118Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic00:19:57
119Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic00:19:57
120Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic00:19:57
121Tony Martin (Ger) Team Jumbo-Visma00:19:57
122Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain McLaren00:19:57
123Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates00:19:57
124Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:19:57
125Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:19:57
126Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:19:57
127Kevin Reza (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:19:57
128Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie00:19:57
129Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling00:19:57
130Casper Phillip Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb00:19:57
131Mathieu Burgaudeau (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:19:57
132Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation00:19:57
133Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:19:57
134Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe00:19:57
135Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling00:19:57
136Harold Alfonso Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana Pro Team00:19:57
137Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma00:19:57
138Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo00:19:57
139Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:25:46
140Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling00:25:46
141Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:26:25
142Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo00:26:25
143Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal00:26:25
144Nils Politt (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation00:26:25
145Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:26:25
146Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb00:26:25
147Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:26:25
148Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:26:25
149Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis00:26:25
150Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe00:26:25