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
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