19 July, 2014
Stage 12 : Bourg-en-Bresse - Saint-Étienne, 183km
Nibali Hattrick sucks the air out of the competition.
Vicenzo Nibali effectively removed all hope from what rivals he had with his third stage win. The Italian seems to be able to win with impunity, leaving the peloton to scrap for the runner-up places.
After stage 2 in Sheffield and stage 10 at La Planche des belles filles the Astana rider soloed into Chamrousse. Behind him Richie Porte suffered badly to be replaced by Alejandro Valverde on the podium in second place with Roamin Bardet in third.
Nine riders in the lead
First attackers Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), José Serpa (Lampre), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), later rejoined by Jens Voigt (Trek), Luke Durbridge (Orica) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne), made a bid for freedom but weren’t lucky enough to escape.
Another group went away at km 11, comprising Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Jack Bauer (Garmin), Tom Dumoulin (Giant), Kristjan Durasek (Lampre) and Daniel Oss (BMC), but Bauer got dropped and Dumoulin punctured. Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne) were the first two riders to come across in the ascent to the col de la Croix de Montvieux (summit at km 24). Rudy Molard (Cofidis) and Jan Bakelants (OPQS) also made it in the downhill to form a front group of nine riders.
Katusha at work for Purito
Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Kristjan Durasek (Lampre), Daniel Oss (BMC), Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne) got a maximum lead of 4.55 at km 75. The composition of the breakaway was fine for race leader Vincenzo Nibali but King of the Mountains Joaquim Rodriguez put his men at work.
Katusha dragged the peloton and reduced the time to 1.10 at the bottom of the ascent to the col de Palaquit. Uphill, Kadri and Bakelants were prompt to attack but De Marchi came across and rode them off 12km before the top with another 57km to cover to the finish in Chamrousse. As Katusha stopped pulling, the peloton passed atop Palaquit with a deficit of 2.45. In the downhill, Nibali’s lieutenant Jakob Fuglsang heavily crashed with 41km to go.
Porte in trouble, Nibali in action
15km before the finish at Chamrousse, De Marchi was overtaken by the yellow jersey group composed of: Mikel Nieve and Richie Porte (Sky), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Rafal Majka and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali and Tanel Kangert (Astana), Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam (Belkin), Jean-Christophe Péraud and Romain Bardet (AG2R), Rui Costa and Chris Horner (Lampre), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto) Tejay van Garderen and Peter Stetina (BMC), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Fränck Schleck and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek), Leo König (NetApp). With 10km to go, Majka and König rode away.
Several accelerations by Pinot and an attack by Valverde created a chasing quartet: Nibali-Valverde-Pinot-Ten Dam, while Porte got into trouble. Nibali attacked with 7km to go and rejoined Majka and König. He dropped them off 3.3km before the finishing line and continued solo to claim a valuable victory, his first in the Alps at the Tour de France. Best young rider Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) moved into the top 3 as a replacement for Porte whose destiny was in total opposite with Nibali’s.