2010 Tour de France – Stage 12 Wrap-Up

2010 Tour de France - Rodriguez Wins Stage 12

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Here’s the question of the day: was it worth it Alberto?

In my humble opinion, yes and no.  Yes, because Contador’s attack in the middle of the Cote de la Croix-Neuve, gapped Andy Schleck, earning Contador ten seconds, but more importantly sending a message to the Luxembourger wearing yellow: “I’m faster than you are.”

On the other hand, Contador’s attack also closed the gap to his (fading) teammate, Alexandre Vinokourov.  For many, it was an interesting reversal of fortune as Vino has been accused on more than one occasion in this year’s Tour of not being a team player.  For others, it was more of the same from a rider (Contador) who showed us last year that he attacks with little thought of his team.  Vinokourov banged his handlebars as he crossed the line in third today; perhaps mad at himself for fading near the top of the climb, or perhaps angered that his teammate couldn’t have left the day’s spoils to him.

It will be interesting to see how today’s events manifest themselves in the Pyrenees.  A yellow jersey for Contador in Paris is certainly more important than a stage win in Mende for Vino—but one wonders if the former could have been accomplished with the latter.

What else did we notice?

1. Jose Joaquin Rodriguez won the stage, the first for Katusha in this year’s Tour and confirmation that Rodriguez is one of the fastest riders in the peloton on hillier days.  He now sits 8th overall and has to be watched as the Tour hits the Pyrenees.

2. As for Andy Schleck, he seemed caught off-guard by Contador’s attack.  He was almost certainly told by his director not to go too deep in chasing Alberto—the climb was too short to generate and serious gaps.  But the seeds of doubt have been planted—Andy will spend the night and next day wondering just how strong Contador really is.  On Sunday, he’ll likely get his answer.

2010 Tour de France - Van den Broeck in Stage 12

Fotoreporter Sirotti

3. Belgium’s Jurgen Van den Broeck, rode a fantastic finale, dragging the peloton up the first half of the Col, and then initially following Rodriguez’s acceleration before ultimately succumbing to Contador’s counter.  At this point in the race, VDB2 might need to be told to ride a bit more conservatively, lest his ambition get the best of him over the next several days.  I would have him following wheels in the first few days in the Pyrenees, riding himself as high as possible before Thursday’s finish atop the Tourmalet.  Then it’s all systems go!

4. Samuel Sanchez looks to be the best of the contenders for third place behind Schleck and Contador.  He’s ridden aggressively and attentively, covering moves with little apparent difficulty.  Does he have a Pyrenean stage win in his legs?

5. And how about Denis Menchov? He lurks silently in fourth, only a handful of seconds behind Sanchez.  With a solid week in the Pyrenees, Menchov could use the final TT to put himself on the podium.  And with Robert Gesink positioned slightly below and riding well, Rabobank has a tactical advantage few teams can match.

6. And speaking of tactical advantages, Roman Kreuziger hopped over his teammate, Ivan Basso, to put himself back inside the top-10.  Here’s hoping the duo has the power to animate in the Pyrenees.  A stage win for either would be a welcome sight.

Two final notes:

2010 Tour de France - Vansummeren in Stage 12

Fotoreporter Sirotti

7. Garmin’s Tyler Farrar abandoned the Tour today, adding insult to injury for a team that already lost Christian Vandevelde and Robbie Hunter.  Too bad for men in argyle, as Farrar came to the Tour with high hopes of scoring the team its first stage win.  The pressure is now left to Ryder Hesjedal, Martijn Maaskant, and Johan Vansummeren in breakaways, and David Zabriskie in the final TT.  My money’s on Vansummeren—possibly as soon as tomorrow.

2010 Tour de France - Armstrong After Stage 12

Fotoreporter Sirotti

8. Radio Shack’s Lance Armstrong quietly lost more time today, then declared how hard the day was on Twitter.  Look for Lance to go on the attack for a stage soon.  Tomorrow might be an option for him as well, but I think Tuesday’s a better bet.

And you? What are your bets for the weekend ahead?  Share them with your thoughts, comments, and questions below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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7 Responses to 2010 Tour de France – Stage 12 Wrap-Up

  1. Michael says:

    Do you think there is any weight to comment 18 here:

    I would be really interested to hear your perspective.

    • Whit says:

      Hi Michael.

      That’s an interesting comment for sure. After Lance lost time last Sunday, Radio Shack said publicly that it was now riding for Levi. But then we promptly saw Paulinho in a breakaway on Stage 10 and Kloden off the front today. Even more interesting have been Chris Horner’s comments–he seems to think winning stages is more important than trying to get 5th or 6th on GC.

      That said, Paulinho and Kloden’s breakaways have done little to hurt Levi’s chances. Levi’s always done better following wheels and has frequently scored high results with little to no help.

      So while I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s outright division, I think we’re seeing the rest of Radio Shack’s men trying to take their chances when they present themselves. Lance will certainly do the same at one point. This is a team that is clearly struggling for identity now that Lance is out of contention.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Michael C says:

    No mention of our friend Hesjedal? Gutsy attempt, if only more GC riders had the testicular fortitude to attempt a long one the race would be more animated.

    I very much dislike everyone keeping their powder dry for the Pyrenees when they all know that Schleck and Contador are the 2 best climbers in this race thus far.

    Chapeau Monsieur Hesjedal!

    • Whit says:

      You’re right, Michael C. Ryder deserves credit for another gutsy ride. After spending all day in the break–again–he hung ion there to finish near the front–again. Let’s hope he can recover in time to make another move next week. Could Tuesday be a day for him as well?

  3. Michael says:

    Thanks Whit. I sure does seem like they are looking for their new roles and testing the waters with what they can get away with. Watching Horner’s video blog on VN everyday, his comments never match up with printed reports or what ends up happening in the stage. Thanks for the perspective you offer up.

  4. ml says:

    With respect to the RS discussion, I don’t see the actions indicating anything other than a reasonable team plan…don’t forget that winning the team prize was also part of Plan B and they do that by putting men in the breaks, like Paulinho and Kloden. And with Kloden’s ride yesterday, RS moved past Caisse to lead the team comp. Supporting Levi for a 6th place isn’t the same thing as supporting someone to win the Tour. If Levi pulls out something special in the early days of the Pyranees and is contention for top 3, then I would expect to see the support in the later stages of the race, and not just before the final climb.

    As I mentioned before, today will have some bitter memories for Lance, so we’ll see if that motivates him, or makes him wait for roads with happier memories.

  5. Hank says:

    If you look at Andy’s face post race you know those 10 seconds were worth a stage. In any case Rodriguez would likely have taken the stage. Until the yellow is securely in hand nothing else is important.

    LAst year, once he was secure in yellow Contador gave up a chance to add a historic mountain stage to his palmares to secure Lance a place on the podium. No one should be risking the yellow for a little free lancing. That has to wait until Contador has it locked up.

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