Stage 12 Review
Stage winner: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
Somewhere along the line on this stage, it became evident we were headed for a sprint of some type. Because of the climbs, Giant-Shimano correctly worked for John Degenkolb (who got blocked off by Matteo Trentin whose position was relegated to the back of the group. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) who would have been a big favorite given the constitution of the group crashed with 4 km to go. This left the next tier of sprinter to go at Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and if there’s anything we’ve learned in this race, it’s that Sagan just can’t win. So Kristoff was the best of the bunch and got his stage win that takes his season from pretty good to amazing (he also won Milan-San Remo).
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
Another day for Nibali. Tomorrow is when thing get interesting for him again. Former yellow jersey Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) fell out of the top 10 as his efforts from yesterday cost him today. Considering he was going to go backwards in a big way tomorrow, he probably doesn’t care too much.
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
New day? Rinse, repeat. Sagan has a chance. Sagan loses. Today he was dusted in the sprint. Give him credit for this: he has made all of these days entertaining by losing in a different way every day. As for the Green Jersey, Sagan has it under so much control that he isn’t even bothering to contest the mid-stage sprints any longer.
King of the Mountains: Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)
More energy conservation for JRod before his inevitable mountain raid in the breakaway though I think he might sit back and go for the stage win from the main field tomorrow.
White Jersey: Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)
Yawn. No changes. Just like the top of the GC.
Tactical Masterclass: Katusha
You’ve done something right when you win a stage virtually without being seen the entire way. That was Katusha on this day. Luca Paolini popped up at the perfect time to drag Kristoff to the front and Kristoff paid it off with a stage victory.
Tactical Blunder: Europcar
For much of the second half of the stage, Europcar had men on the front leading the chase. Then those men attacked for some reason. They never had a chance after doing the work and letting others sit in. And they also blew up the lead out for sprinter Bryan Coquard. Just not smart from this team again.
Stage 13 - Saint-Etienne - Chamrousse
Expectations entering the stage: Mountain shootout. On a real Alpine summit finish this time. That said, Saturday is the bigger climbing stage and at least a few of the bigs will want to save some energy here. The morning break could very well take the stage with a GC battle occurring down the mountain a few minutes later.
Jersey’s in play
- Yellow Jersey - Chamrousse is a proper Alpine climb. We haven’t had one and therefore Nibali’s jersey needs to be listed as being in danger, even if there is full confidence he loses nothing here.
- Polka Dot Jersey - Rodriguez has a decent sized lead, but double points on a Hors categorie finish means anyone with some points is in range if he gets dropped.
- White Jersey - The fight between Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot heats up here. Expect Michal Kwiatkowski to exit stage left from this fight either here or at Risoul on Saturday.
GC items of note: Hors categorie summit finish. The GC is going to get shaken up.
Stage Pick: Bauke Mollema (Belkin)
Nibali isn’t going to be able to cover every attack. At some point, he will let someone go. Given that Mollema is essentially a poor man’s Nibali with a better sprint, I expect Nibali won’t mind losing 20-30 seconds to Mollema if he can cover the real danger men (the French crew, Porte, Valverde and Van Garderen).