Tour Watch - Stage 12

Tour Watch - Stage 12

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Stage 12 Thursday, July 16 2009: Tonnerre - Vittel 211.5 km | Results

Smart Win For Sorensen

Danish rider Nicky Sorensen rode a classy last few kilometers of stage 12 of the Tour de France to claim his first ever stage win in the event. As one member of a seven rider break, he showed just how to eliminate your rivals with a clinical piece of hard riding just a couple of kilometers out.

After a long hard day in the saddle building up a four minutes plus lead over the main field, the seven riders in the break knew they were not going to be caught from about 10km out from the finish.

Sorensen made a couple of very smart moves which helped him secure the win, attacking the other riders along with Sylvain Calzati. This duo built up a lead of some 11 seconds, but they were gradually brought back, only for Sorensen to go again and decisively just before the catch. Sorensen went so hard that he had thirty seconds over his former escape companions in no time and the stage win - by 48 seconds - was in the bag well before he entered the finishing straight.

After a quiet few days, Bradley Wiggins will be back in the spotlight over the weekend (image: Andy Whitehouse)

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish won the bunch sprint for 12th place, convincingly coming off the wheel of Thor Hushovd and passing his rival for the green jersey to cement his lead in the green jersey competition. He also beat his rival in an intermediate sprint, signaling his determination to hold on to the green jersey by involving himself in the mid-stage points gathering for the first time.

For the bunch as a whole, the phoney-war of this unusually "easy" mid-section of the Tour is now drawing to a close and they seemed content to let the break have its way. With seven experienced riders working together, it was always going to be a lot harder to chase down than the two and four rider breaks we have tended to see forming this year.

Ahead lies a long weekend of hilly and then mountainous terrain which will go a long way towards deciding the overall winner of the race. The focus will switch from the green jersey to the yellow jersey and to the polka-dot jersey, the latter the only major jersey competition where a likely winner has probably still to emerge.

Canvassing opinion amongst a number of expert commentators on the event, the consensus seems to be that an Astana rider will probably win the event. The feeling is that Contador and Armstrong are the favourites, but that should they be drawn into watching each other too closely, Levi Leipheimer might just be the rider to benefit.

Hopes still seem high for Brad Wiggins to finish the race in the top ten: he's shown the ability to compete with the best, but the next week will test his self-belief. Whatever the outcome, it's already been a remarkable race for the British riders. Lets' hope they're still in the thick of it in a week's time!

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