Nils Politt went solo to come out on top from the break and take stage 12 of the Tour de France 2021, as Tadej Pogačar safely retained the yellow jersey.
Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) was part of an exceptionally strong breakaway including Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), but it was Politt who launched the first attacks with about 60km to go.
The break was allowed over 15 minutes over the peloton, so could safely battle it out for victory without threat from behind. As the attacks came Politt did manage to break away with Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Soudal), Imanol Erviti (Movistar) and Küng with Alaphilippe and the rest left looking at each other.
Politt attacked the lead group with 13km to go and powered away from Sweeny and Erviti who had previously dropped Küng.
Back in the peloton, it ended up being a pretty calm day as UAE Team Emirates controlled the day with riders getting time to relax before crossing the line together to keep the GC standings as they were.
How it happened
The Tour de France is now past the halfway point as we reach stage 12 and a day between Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux and Nîmes with an undulating route profile of 159.4km.
It was a very fast start as there were strong crosswinds from the flag drop after the race start was delayed by 10 minutes due to the gusts of wind. There were a couple of echelons formed but it didn’t last as a 13 man break quickly got a gap with some very powerful riders in there.
André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies), Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo_, Brent Van Moer, Harry Sweeny (both Lotto-Soudal), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Luka Mezgec (BikeExchange), and Sergio Henao (Qhubeka-NextHash) were the riders who made it into the break.
The peloton allowed it to get away with the gap soaring to almost 15 minutes to the breakaway as they battled it out for the stage win.
With about 80km to go the attacks started to come with Politt kicking it off. After that there were a plethora of attacks and counter-attacks before a four-man group got away with Sweeny, Küng, Politt, and Erviti who managed 45 seconds gap with a hard tailwind.
The chasers behind had Alaphilippe and Swift working hard along with Mezgec but the other riders didn’t give their all and the time gap continued to pull out.
With 20km to go the gap continued to rise as they almost took a minute as they hit the final climb of three kilometres at three per cent average gradient.
Sweeny attacked on the climb and dropped Küng. Erviti and Politt started to struggle with the latter managing to bridge the gap to the Grand Tour debutant, Sweeny. Erviti also got back with 13km to go.
Politt was the next to kick with an explosive attack with 11km to go as Sweeny and Erviti looked at each other. Politt quickly built a very big gap as he looked like he was riding to victory.
The big German, Politt, managed to keep the gap over the chase all the way to the line in Nîmes with Erviti pipping Sweeny to the line for second place.
Back at the peloton, the pace was high but more to keep things safe as the race meandered through the ancient city streets. Jumbo-Visma leading in the bunch for their newfound leader, Jonas Vingegaard.
Alpecin-Fenix moved up to try and take the final points in the points jersey with Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) and Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) with the latter easily taking the three points.
Stage 13 is a day that is expected to be a sprint stage with Cavendish potentially equaling the record of most wins at the Tour de France with a 219.9km from Nîmes to Carcassonne.
Tour de France 2021, stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes (159.4km)
1. Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-22-12
2. Imanol Erviti (Esp) Movistar Team, at 31 seconds
3. Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, at same time
4. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-06
5. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
6. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
7. André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
8. Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
9. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
10. Sergio Henao (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash, all at same time
General classification after stage 12
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 47-06-50
2. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education-Nippo, at 5-18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-32
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 5-33
5. Ben O'Connor (Aus) Ag2r-Citroën, at 5-58
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6-16
7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, at 6-30
8. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 7-11
9. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 9-29
10. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 10-28
Tim Bonville-Ginn is one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter.
Bonville-Ginn started working in cycling journalism while still at school and university for a voluntary site based on Twitter before also doing slots for Eurosport's online web team and has been on location at the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain, UCI World Championships and various track events. He then joined the Cycling Weekly team in late February of 2020.
When not writing stories for the site, Bonville-Ginn doesn't really switch off his cycling side as he watches every race that is televised as well as being a rider himself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager.
He rides a Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on his local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being his preferred terrain.
Tweets of the Week: Richard Carapaz's favourite ice cream, the 1980s Olympic team and more
Here's a collection of our favourite posts from the last week
By Alex Ballinger •
New Raleigh Stride E-Cargo range is ‘the future of urban transport’
Two powerful new e-cargo bikes are aimed at replaced short car and van journeys
By Simon Smythe •
'It’s been a nice run, but it’s time': Richie Porte says 2021 edition was his final Tour de France
The Australian leads his national team into the Olympic Games road race on Saturday
By Richard Windsor •
Mark Cavendish beats Tim Merlier to sprint victory in post-Tour de France crit
The British sprinter was on the podium again in the lucrative exhibition race in Flanders
By Alex Ballinger •
From Dulwich Park to Paris: The story of Fred Wright's debut Tour de France
The 22-year-old Brit, 'a child of the Herne Hill community', was the youngest rider in this year's race
By Jonny Long •
Health issues could force Dave Brailsford to step down as Ineos Grenadiers boss
The 57-year-old has been treated for cancer and heart issues over the past couple of years
By Jonny Long •
How much prize money did Tadej Pogačar get for winning the Tour de France?
There was around €2.3 million up for grabs in this year's race
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •
Mark Cavendish rues leaving Mørkøv's wheel on Champs-Élysées, but will he ride another Tour de France?
Cavendish remains on 34 wins but is all smiles as he wins green jersey in incredible comeback
By Jonny Long •
Tour de France 2021 team ratings: how did each team perform?
We rate the performances of each of the teams in the 108th editon of the Tour de France
By Stephen Puddicombe •
'I came for more than this': Mads Pedersen's Tour de France marred by injuries but sees green jersey on the horizon
The 2019 world champion wasn't able to build on his impressive form in last year's Tour
By Chris Marshall-Bell •