2012 Tour de France-Stage 16
Today was an exciting day of racing but not because of what transpired between those in the hunt for the final podium – it was the breakaway that provided the exciting racing we are used to seeing in the Tour de France and which has been strangely absent this year – except for the riders in the breaks with no GC aspirations but determined to get a stage win.
The 2012 Tour de France will be remembered as the year of the breakaway as the star of the race. It certainly was today. You’re not surprised I see it that way, are you.
A huge break of 38 riders formed early on in the race, before the climb of the Col d’Aubisque started. They stayed together more or less until a selection took place on the climb of the big mountain – the Col du Tourmalet (French for big mountain). Full-throttle or nothing, Dan Martin (Garmin) went to the front and most of the 38 fell off the back. Voeckler, Kessiakoff in the polka-dot jersey, Feillu and Sorensen were together for a while, then the 3 – Martin, Voeckler and Feillu and then Martin popped. Jonathon Vaughters told him to ease off earlier on, but Martin is young and hasn’t learned to pace himself yet. I’m sure today’s stage was a great lesson in that.
So then there were two in the lead break – two Frenchman – Voeckler and Feillu – which meant we saw little of the main group with Wiggins, Nibali and Evans while the French TV cameras rejoiced in their luck.
The group of favorites ascended the Tourmalet all together with the pace of Sky not hard enough to really splinter the main field. There was no reason for Sky to do anything other than set tempo at the front, they had what they wanted – the lead.
On the climb of the Col d’Aspin Liquigas for their leader Nibali went to the front to toughen the pace. Evans was dropped but had a teammate (not Van Garedern, he was allowed to stay with the main group of Wiggins and Nibali) to help pace him back and reduce the gap. The Aspin was the “easiest” of the climbs but it was the cumulative effort of the Aubisque and Tourmalet that did him in. On the descent of the Col d’Aspin Evans was able to rejoin the main group with one climb left to tackle.
Voeckler and Feillu worked together to keep their lead all the way to the final climb, the Col de Peyresourde until Voeckler proceeded to attack and drop his compatriot.
You have to love the crafty Voeckler. As he made his way along the Peyresourde and descended toward the finish he pushed fans away and directed fans to get out of his way with hand gestures that looked like a priest performing mass – and of course all the usual facial expressions with maybe a few new ones.
As much as I enjoyed watching Voeckler win Stage 16, his 2nd of this Tour, I hated what happened to Evans. On the climb of the Peyresourde he was dropped again, this time permanently, losing over 4 minutes to Wiggins, Froome and Nibali. Nibali did attack on the final climb as was expected but was never able to shake Wiggins or Froome. The three finished the stage together 7 minutes after Voeckler’s winning time.
Voeckler’s win today was reminiscent of his Stage 15 win in 2010 and his fight last year to keep the yellow jersey in Stage 18 last year. His style of racing epitomizes what I love about the Tour – and him – Vive la Voeckler!
- 1. Thomas VOECKLER, Europcar, in 5:35:02
- 2. Chris Anker SÖRENSEN, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, at 1:40
- 3. Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 3:22
- 4. Alexandr VINOKUROV, Astana, at 3:23
- 5. Brice FEILLU, Saur-Sojasun, at 3:57
- 6. Jens VOIGT, RadioShack-Nissan, at 4:17
- 7. Daniel MARTIN, Garmin-Sharp, at 6:08
- 8. Simone STORTONI, Lampre-ISD, at 6:08
- 9. Giampaolo CARUSO, Katusha, at 6:08
- 10. Laurens TEN DAM, Rabobank, at 6:08
- 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 74:15:32
- 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
- 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:23
- 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:46
- 5. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 7:13
- 6. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 7:55
- 7. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 8:06
- 8. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 9:09
- 9. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 10:10
- 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 11:43