Tour de France 2009 stage 12 photo gallery, by Graham Watson>>
Nicki Sorensen took advantage of a peloton having a day off, winning today's stage in to Vittel. The Saxo Bank rider was clearly the strongest rider in a seven rider break that were given their freedom having escaped early in the stage.
Sorensen first attacked from 23 kilometres out and took Agritubel's Sylvain Calzati along for the ride. The pair held a slender lead of 12 seconds for almost 20km, but Sorensen soon realised the Frenchman was slowing him down, and attacked again to solo to the finish.
As soon as he did, his time cushion went up to 30 seconds, and the impetus went out of the group of six behind him as they realised they were riding for second.
It was a fine win by the 34 year old, but only came about because the sprinters team's showed no interest in chasing. Columbia HTC boss Bob Stapleton was overheard this morning saying how his team wouldn't be chasing any breaks, and no other team is going to carry Cavendish to the finish line.
Columbia HTC have done the bulk of the chasing up until now, and no one can blame them for taking a day off. The teams without sprinters may even offer them a muted thanks in return for being given their chance.
So it was the break had it's day and Ag2r were left to fry, setting a respectable pace on the front of a bunch that were turning their thoughts, and saving their legs, for tomorrow's stage to Colmar. The work load is one of the responsibilities of carrying the leader's yellow jersey, but today's efforts may come back to bite them tomorrow.
Heading deeper in to the Vosges range of mountains near the border of Germany, a first and two second category climbs will be tackled tomorrow and Rinaldo Nocentini may struggle to hang on to his lead.
It's official, Cavendish is going for green
With four stage wins in the bank, Mark Cavendish is obviously now turning his thoughts to wearing the green jersey all the way to Paris. Up until now the Manxman has said his target is winning stages and getting to Paris, and that he wouldn't be fighting it out for intermediate sprints as that could jeopordise those.
But today he beat his green jersey rival Thor Hushovd in the first intermediate sprint in Channes and then again on the finish line for eighth place signaling his intent to now win the points classification.
Cavendish had hinted at it after his win in to Issoudun. When asked why he held up his green sunglasses as part of his victory salute he replied, "I dunno, maybe I like the colour." The two sprints today saw him eek out his lead to ten points over Hushovd, third place Jose Joaquin Rojas is out of the picture, over 80 points in arrears.
Annoyingly for Hushovd, Cavendish beat him to the line after Cervelo had lead out the bunch sprint. Even with Cavendish's team mates having the day off Hushovd can't beat the Brit who now just has to get over five mountain stages to make it to Paris.
Polka dot jersey competition could come to life
Italian Franco Pellizotti today spent his second day in the break and challenged Euskaltel's Egoi Martinez for the king of the mountains points on offer. The Italian comfortably beat Martinez over the climbs to move to within 17 points of the KOM jersey.
Third in this year's Giro d'Italia, Pellizotti could be a serious challenger for the jersey that has lost its importance of late.
Stage 12: Tonerre - Vittel, 211.5km
1. Nicki Sorensen (Den) Saxo Bank in 4-52-24
2. Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 48secs
3. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
4. Markus Fothen (Ger) Milram
5. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6. Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel at same time
7. Remi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis at 1-33
8. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC at 5-58
9. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
10. Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre-NGC at same time
Overall classification after stage 12
1. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r in 48-27-21
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 6sec
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 8sec
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 39sec
5. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 46sec
6. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 54sec
7. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-HTC at 1-00
8. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-24
9. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 1-49
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 1-54
Nicki Sorensen wins stage 12
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS
Tour de France 2009 - the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.
Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban's record
Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win
Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire
stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out
Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance
Stage six: Millar's brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs
Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage
Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage
Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
LATEST TOUR NEWS
Tour de France 2009 News Index>>
Analysis: Why Cavendish is one of the modern greats
Radio ban over-turned for Friday's Tour stage
Arvesen out of Tour with fractured collarbone
Tour analysis: Why the go slow did cycling no favours on Bastille Day
Cavendish's odd stage 10 finish celebration explained
No radios today, but experiment could be a one-off
Tour audio: Mark Cavendish after stage 10
Contador brushes aside talk of Armstrong conflict
Cavendish odds-on favourite for Bastille Day victory
The Tour de France Comment: Monday, July 13
How the favourites are doing (first rest day)
Wiggins stays with leaders at Tour
Armstrong: 'If Contador wins, I'll be second'
Wiggins 'on cloud nine' at Tour de France
Armstrong says Contador attack wasn't in the plan
Cavendish survives the first Tour mountain stage with ease
Wiggins, the Tour de France overall contender, has arrived
Garmin-Slipstream's HQ before the Tour
David Zabriskie's time trial bike
Mark Cavendish on the Tour's team time trial
David Brailsford interview
Mark Cavendish on the Tour
Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins' chances
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS
Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Andy Jones
Team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2009 - the hub
Tour de France 2009: Who's riding
Tour de France 2009: Team guide
About the Tour de France
Tour de France 2009: Who will win?
Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules
Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France
Tour de France anti-doping measures explained
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Cycling Weekly's rider profiles
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