SAN DIEGO, July 19, 2012 – The last mountain stage in the 2012 Tour de France turned out to be definitive as predicted, but it was due to the lack of attacks on the current leaders.
Leaders Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome of Sky Racing nearly have a lock on the first and second place spots on the podium in Paris this Sunday. It would take a crash-out in the time trial Saturday to change the course of history. Wiggins overcame any weaker moments thanks to the urging of his teammate Froome, who literally talked him up the final mountain climb of the day.
It appeared Froome could have easily won the stage himself, catching up with Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde of Movistar who ended up finishing just seconds ahead of the Sky riders, but he stayed with Wiggins. After the stage, Froome said it was always the plan for he and Wiggins to stick together on the stage.
Instead, Valverde’s attack on the last climb was good enough for a stage win, always a thrill for the Spanish cyclists and their fans. Just as many calls of “Arriba!” could be heard today as “Allez!” for the winner.
Cadel Evans continued to slip on time, although he rose one place in the standings from seventh to sixth overall. Italian rider Vicenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale had promised to make his move today to gain time on Wiggins. He and his team made a few attempts to attack the two Sky riders in front of him, but was unable to gain any time and remains in third place.
Evans’ teammate Tejay van Garderen struggled a bit but hung in there today, and continues to be the strongest rider on team BMC. Fans can help but wonder what the Tour might have been like this year if van Garderen and Froome had been allowed to battle the race out for themselves instead of supporting their team leaders Evans and Wiggins respectively. Froome is unlikely to stay with Sky if Wiggins returns, so his ultimate destination will be the subject of as much speculation and anticipation as Jeremy Lin’s move back to the Houston Rockets this week.
Today’s top finishers were:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain) Movistar
2. Chris Froome (Great Britain) Sky Procycling
3. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) Sky Procycling
4. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Big Mat
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto Belisol Team
6. Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas-Cannondale
8. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC
9. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
10. Daniel Martin (Ireland) Garmin - Sharp
The Tour leaders at the top remain the same, with a few shifting spots below:
1. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) Sky 78:28:32
2. Chris Froome (Great Britain) Sky 2:05
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas-Cannondale 2:41
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto-Belisol 5:53
5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC 8:30
6. Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC 9:57
7. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain) RadioShack-Nissan Trek 10:11
8. Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar 10:17
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slovakia) Astana 11:00
10. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Big Mat 11:46
Peter Sagan stays in the green sprinter’s jersey. Tejay van Garderen remains in the young rider’s white jersey. Thomas Voeckler staged an aggressive defense of his King of the Mountains polka dot jersey, gaining a few more points against his closest competitor, Fredrik Kessiakof of Astana. He was awarded the most aggressive riders jersey and is now assured of keeping the King of the Mountains title into Paris. It is a fitting reward for this popular rider that will thrill fans on the Champs Elysees. It’s been a good tour for France with five stage wins and an up and coming young rider in the top ten, Thibaut Pinot of FDJ-BigMat.
If they have survived the Pyrenees, the sprinters will seek success in Brive with a relatively flat stage of 138 miles from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde. The top GC contenders will use the day to get their breath back before the final 33-mile time trial on Saturday.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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