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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 14, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. - Carl Sagan

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


New cycling audiobook

The audiobook version of our latest book, Les Woodland's Cycling's World Championships: The Inside Story just became available as an audiobook. Veteran reader David L. Stanley did his usual fine job. It's also available in print and eBook versions. I am so lucky to be able to work with such fine artists as Les and David. Thank you, gents.

You can find all three versions of Cycling World Championships here.

Cycloing's World Championships

You can find out more about the book here.

UCI reverses time penalties for Rigoberto Uran, Serge Pauwels and George Bennett

Following a world-wide outcry, the UCI has reversed the 20-second time penalties handed out to Rigoberto Uran, Serge Pauwels and George Bennett for illegally taking on water bottles in the Tour's stage 12 during the final 20 kilometers. Stage winner Romain Bardet had done the same, but had suffered no such penalty.

Feeling that the French judges had "Hometowned" Uran, Pauwels and Bennett, the internet irrupted with fury. Wisely, the UCI reversed the time assessments. The GC on our stage 12 results page reflect that change.

Tour de France stage twelve reports

Thursday's stage twelve was the 2017 Tour' first day in the Pyrenees, and what a day it was. Or should I write, what an exciting final half-kilometer it was. As the gradient approached 20 percent, Chris Froome displayed a rare vulnerability. Ag2r's Romain Bardet won the stage but Astana's Fabio Aru took the yellow jersey. Here are the team reports:

We'll start with stage winner Bardet's Ag2r:

Tour de France - Stage 12 : Victory for Romain Bardet!

1st stage 12 (Pau - Peyragudes)
3rd in the general classification

"I am very happy. I had the heart to raise my arms in victory in the Tour this year, and now that I have done that, I will be able to continue to fight for the general classification. I expected Froome to attack at the foot of the last climb. I knew that it would play out like that. Then, when I saw Dan Martin attack, I gave it everything.

"It’s a stage that I know well. I had reconnoitered it entirely in May. It was still gravel…I was the first to be able to ride it when it was paved. The local people there told me that that would bring me good luck…standing on the podium, I had to think of that again. It was a nice way to conclude the story. Today’s victory is a collective victory for the team. We are a great team, ready to fight for the yellow jersey.

"In the overall, four riders are very close together still. I hope to finish strong, though. I have no plan for a rerun of today. We’ll take each stage day by day, but why not try to play my game again when we are in the mountains."

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet wins stage 12.

JULIEN JURDIE: "A GREAT TEAM WITH A GREAT LEADER"

"This is one of our best victories, even if all of the stage victories at the Tour de France are beautiful. The first of the Pyrenees, against all of the best, and all played out with the pedals. This is also Romain’s third stage victory in three years. He is really on course to become one of the great riders. 

"We have a fantastic team with a great leader who has reached his maturity. He has shown enormous patience, and managed to control his emotions well.
We have had fifteen extraordinary days. Our Tour is a success already."

THE NUMBER: 3

This is Romain Bardet’s third Tour de France stage win in three years, following his wins at the Albertville - Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc stage in 2016 and Gap - Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in 2015.

Here's the report from new GC leader Fabio Aru's Team Astana:

Astana Proteam rider Fabio Aru became the leader of the general classification and for the first time in his career took the yellow jersey after finish of stage 12 in Peyragudes.

Italian champion finished third behind the stage winner Romain Bardet and Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran, who did second. Chris Froome lost 20 seconds to Aru and with the bonifications at the finish it was enough for Astana rider to take the yellow jersey of the Tour de France.

- It is impossible to describe my emotions and feelings. For every rider, it is a dream to wear the yellow jersey. In my career, I was wearing the pink jersey of the Giro and the red jersey of the Vuelta. So, I’ve missed just the yellow and today I’ve got it! I am super happy! – explained Fabio Aru.

- Honestly, it was a very tough stage, also the weather did it even harder. I want to thank my team, who supported me and kept me in front the whole day. The last climb was very fast and steep. I attacked with more or less 350 meters to go and gave my all for a maximal result. I congratulate Romain Bardet with a nice victory. But for me it is a great trophy to get this yellow jersey. Unfortunately, yesterday Dario Cataldo was forced to quit the race after the crash. Also, Jakob Fuglsang had a terrible day today – he rode with an injury. So, I want to dedicate this yellow jersey to them and also to the entire team, who was close to me in these days, - added Fabio Aru.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru is in yellow now.

After stage 12 (Pau – Peyragudes, 214,5 km) Fabio Aru leads the general classification, Chris Froome is 6 seconds behind, Romain Bardet is third, 25 seconds behind.

- There are a lot of important stages still ahead here at the Tour de France and already tomorrow we will have a short but difficult stage in the Pyrenees, which can change a lot. I think we have a strong team and despite yesterday crashes we are ready to continue our fight at the Tour. We will move here step by step, stage by stage, - said Fabio Aru.

It was a really hard day for another Astana leader Jakob Fuglsang. Due to his injury, he had to step down from the leading group on the Port de Balés and to continue with his own rhythm. At the finish, he lost over 27 minutes to the stage winner.

- I am fully empty. The first part I tried to follow the others, but later it was just too much for me – my injury and its consequences did not allow me to continue the fight in the overall classification. A very tough day for me. But, tomorrow I want to start again. Will see how it will be, - said Jakob Fuglsang.

Stage 13 of the Tour de France will be held tomorrow: 101 km from Saint-Girons to Foix with 3 climbs of first category.

And here's what Chris Froome's Team Sky had to say:

Chris Froome slipped to second overall at the Tour de France after a gruelling finish to stage 12.

An elite 10-man group hit the final 2.4km climb up to Peyragudes and the attacks began on the savagely steep run to the line, where the gradients hit 20%. Froome fell back as Fabio Aru (Astana) took it up, before Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) burst through to win the stage ahead of Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac).

Froome finished seventh, 22 seconds back on Bardet, while Aru claimed third and four bonus seconds to move into the yellow jersey by six seconds. Mikel Landa set the tempo on the front of the bunch before the final ramp kicked in and rallied to finish fourth, helping him move up to seventh overall ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Chris Froome

Chris Froome limits the damage in the final meters of stage 12.

Despite losing the race lead the team have strengthened their grip on the team GC, extending their advantage to nearly 13 minutes from AG2R La Mondiale.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath Froome was honest in his assessment of the finale and quick to praise his rivals. He said: “It was certainly a tough day for me in the final. My team-mates did such an amazing job today, but I didn’t have the legs at the end to finish it off. Simple as that. No excuses. I just didn’t have the legs on the final kick.

“It was brutal - ramps of over 20%. That’s a really, really hard finish. I can only say congratulations to Romain Bardet for winning the stage and Fabio Aru for taking the yellow jersey. The race is certainly on now.”

The stage had unfolded as expected, with a strong break going clear, then the team took up the pace. Luke Rowe and Christian Knees did a long stint on the front of the peloton, before Vasil Kiryienka took it up. Ahead the break slowly slimmed down and in the end it was just Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) out front, but he was swept up on the penultimate Col de Peyresourde with eight kilometres to race.

Michal Kwiatkowski continued his excellent Tour de France, leading the way over the hors categorie Port de Bales and down the subsequent descent, before Mikel Nieve took over at the head of the slimmed down peloton.

Froome endured a hairy moment ahead of the Peyresourde climb, overcooking a sharp corner, but he was quickly back in the bunch, before the savage finale.

After the action Sport Director Nico Portal talked through the stage. He said: "First we tried to control and make sure we weren’t going to be in the position where we had to ride full gas all day. We knew that the last kick would be really decisive.

"Everybody did a really good job and at the end Mikel didn’t know Chris had been dropped and he tried to get the bonus seconds which are very important. Maybe Chris ran out of legs a little bit, that is how it is, but chapeau to Bardet.

"It [the gap to Aru] is just six seconds - it’s not the end of the world. It’s tight, but we expected the race to be quite open. If we need to look at the positives, tomorrow we don’t have to ride, and it’s going to be pretty hard tomorrow - just 100km, it’s going to be super fast."

Simon Yates' Orica-Scott team sent me this:

A brutal stage 12 caused a shake-up at the top end of proceedings at the Tour de France, but British climber Simon Yates was able to hold onto the white jersey and move into sixth overall.

The 214.5km stage had no fewer than six climbs, including a 16% wall to the line that saw Romain Bardet (AG2R) take the stage and Chris Froome (Team Sky) lose the yellow jersey to Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team).

Yates arrived to the final 300metres with the front group of favourites before losing touch to finish 27seconds down on Bardet. Best young rider threat Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) gained a small amount of time, but Yates still maintains a two-minute 38second advantage in the classification.

“It was an extremely hard day as everyone expected,” Yates said. “I had a little bit of cramp there in the finish but I think that’s normal at the end of such a long and hard day in the saddle.”

“I gave everything so I’m happy. I was there until the steep pinch, with the best guys in the world. I didn’t have the punch to go for the stage but I have to be happy with that ride.”

How it happened:

After a couple of flatter stages, anticipation was high for another showdown in the mountains. A breakaway of 12 formed, including those vying for points in the intermediate sprint, and they rode out to around a six-minute advantage.

As they hit the second half of the stage and the road started ramping up with the day’s tougher climbs, Marcel Kittel (Quickstep Floors) lost touch and 11 riders remained in front.

With 50km to go, the gap was down to four minutes and two Team Fortuneo Oscara launched a counter attack from the bunch but it was unsuccessful.

Steve Cummings (Team Dimension Data) attacked from the break in attempt for stage glory but the pace from the favourites saw them hit the front of the race with five kilometres to go. Ten riders remained in the front group as they ascended the final climb before they began to attacked each other on the steep ramp to the line in the final 350metres.

Aru launched early, but he was overtaken by Bardet as Froome and Yates dropped slightly off the back.

BMC sent me their race report:

13 July, 2017, Peyragudes (FRA): Stage 12 of the Tour de France was billed as one of the toughest stages of the 2017 edition and it didn't disappoint with Stefan Küng in the breakaway and Damiano Caruso moving up to 14th overall.

After two flat stages, there were many teams on the look out for the breakaway and it took multiple attempts, including one from Alessandro De Marchi, before Küng joined 11 other riders to form the day's breakaway.

The breakaway's advantage reached a maximum of 6'30" after 100km of racing and slowly started to come down as they approached the Col de Menté. As the group turned onto the hors categorie Port de Balès, Küng lifted the pace of the breakaway, before the group split apart halfway up the climb.

Küng initially made the first group before dropping back and joining the reduced yellow jersey group, featuring Caruso. Up ahead, Steve Cummings (Team Dimension Data) was the last breakaway rider to remain in front and was had a two-minute advantage at the base of the Col de Peyresourde.

Caruso held on for as long as possible on the climb and once he was distanced along with many other riders on the ascent, he continued to ride at his own pace and minimized his time loss in the tricky finale.

The battle for the yellow jersey played out in the final 500 meters of the stage with Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) taking the win and Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) inheriting the yellow jersey.

Caruso crossed the line in 13th place, 2'11" back from Bardet and moved up to 14th place overall with nine stages to go.

Damiano Caruso: "Today was, I think, the hardest stage in the Tour de France because it was really long and the final climb was with a really high tempo. At the end, my tank was empty. But, it was a good ride for me and the team. I'm happy because my shape is good and I want to keep my position and maybe improve it. Tomorrow is going to be a brutal stage, so now it's important to recover as much as possible. But tomorrow will be like a long time trial."

Stefan Küng: "The objective was to have someone in the breakaway but I didn't really try too hard. I was at the front of the peloton after 25km and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) went. I was on his wheel so we went. We didn't have a huge advantage because with all of the climbs at the end, it was hard. I tried as hard as I could but I felt that I was 80kg and not 60kg."

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director: "I'm really happy with what Damiano Caruso did today. It was amazing. There were only ten riders in front and as we know, we brought Damiano here in support of Richie Porte. I'm really happy with the great reaction he has given. It was great to have Stefan Küng in the breakaway of the day. He rode really well but the parcours was not the best for him. It was a good stage for the team and I'm sure if we fight like this we can bring something home. Tomorrow we will have another breakaway, more for the climbers. I expect a fast start with attacks immediately on the climb."

Finally, here's Lotto-Soudal's stage 12 report:

Thomas De Gendt attacked in the first of two mountain stages through the Pyrenees, a 214.5 kilometres long stage from Pau to Peyragudes. There were numerous attacks in the beginning with the Lotto Soudal riders being very active. After fifteen kilometres De Gendt came to the front and a breakaway of twelve riders was established. Sky took control of the bunch and the escapees got about six minutes lead. That was not sufficient to battle for the stage win.

On Port de Balès, with top at 30.5 kilometres from the finish, De Gendt reduced the group to six and a few kilometres further he was only accompanied by Steve Cummings. At less than three kilometres from the top Cummings distanced De Gendt. De Gendt collected 29 KOM points today, putting him now second in the ranking with a total of 32 points. Warren Barguil keeps the polka dot jersey, he has seventy points.

Cummings remained in front until 8.5 kilometres to go and then it was up to the GC riders. Romain Bardet was the best rider on the steep finish in Peyragudes, ahead of Rigoberto Urán and Fabio Aru who takes over the yellow jersey from Chris Froome. Tiesj Benoot was the best ranked Lotto Soudal rider, finishing seventeenth at 4’33”.

Thomas De Gendt: “This is a completely different kind of racing than last year. Then a break had already survived a few times by the third weekend. Now Sky sets a very high pace and doesn’t give enough advantage for breakaways to get to the finish. I felt good and the same went for Cummings. Four minutes advantages with still a few climbs on the course is just too small of a gap.”

“I have not yet had a super day this Tour, I hope that still has to come. I did have fun today. When I am in the break I always battle for the KOM points. That was not easy today as Matthews is a teammate of Barguil, he was first on Col de Menté. At the moment I am not thinking about the polka dot jersey as Barguil has such a huge advantage, but I would be crazy not to pick up the points.”

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