After Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan, Simon Yates was the third rider to win a stage of the Tour de France after the Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta. He outsprinted his last two breakaway companions Pello Bilbao and Gregor Mühlberger to become the eleventh stage winner of the 106th Tour de France in just as many individual stages. After the first Pyrenean stage, Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall lead with the individual time in Pau as his next challenge on the day of the 100th birthday of the yellow jersey.
40 riders in the lead after 40km
168 riders took the start of stage 12 in Toulouse. One non-starter: Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates). The race begun on a very high speed as many riders were looking for the breakaway. Many skirmishes remained unsuccessful until Australia’s Simon Clarke made the right move to celebrate his 33rd birthday at the front. He created the first wave at km 40. Team Ineos filtered the other groups of poursuiters and it became a 40-man bunch in the lead at km 45 with Peter Sagan, Gregor Mühlberger, Daniel Oss and Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Morkov (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Oliver Naesen, Tony Gallopin and Matthias Fränk (Ag2r La Mondiale), Sonny Colbrelli, Iván García Cortina and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Imanol Erviti (Movistar Team), Pello Bilbao (Astana), Dylan Groenewegen and Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma), Alberto Bettiol, Clarke and Tom Scully (EF Education First), Matteo Trentin and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Greg Van Avermaet and Serge Pauwels (CCC Team), Rui Costa and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Fabio Felline and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Matthews, Nikias Arndt, Cees Bol and Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb), Pierre-Luc Périchon and Julien Simon (Cofidis), Tiesj Benoot, Roger Kluge and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie), Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Michael Valgren (Dimension Data) and Kévin Ledanois (Arkéa-Samsic). Deceuninck-Quick Step brought counter-attackers Mikaël Chérel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Rein Taaramäe (Total Direct Energie) and Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) back and set the pace of the peloton with a stabilized deficit of 4’.
Solo moves by Lilian Calmejane and Simon Clarke
Sagan won his first intermediate sprint of the 106th Tour de France in Bagnères-de-Luchon, km 130.5 ahead of Colbrelli and Kristoff who forged on to begin climbing to col de Peyresourde with a small advantage. Calmejane was first to catch them and position himself alone in the lead 9km before the summit. He was caught right at the top by the front part of the group, including Wellens who scored ten more KOM points. 5th at the summit, Clarke forged on and rode away solo in the downhill with 63km to go. The Australian started the following cat. 1 climb of La Hourquette d’Ancizan with an advantage of 1’10’’ over lone chaser Trentin. The European champion passed the Australian 4.5km before the summit. Yates preceded Mühlberger at the top and Bilbao made it across for the second time in the downhill with 28km to go.
Simon Yates was a track rider before
Yates, Mühlberger and Bilbao swapped turns until they watched each other 500 metres before the finishing line in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. It looks like a sprint from track cycling. A former world champion for points race, Yates timed his effort at perfection to claim his first Tour de France stage victory, the 70th of a British rider [the 40th for all others than Mark Cavendish]. It’s the second time for Mitchelton-Scott to win a second stage (after Daryl Impey in Brioude) in the same Tour de France after stage 3 with Simon Gerrans in 2013 and the team time trial the day after. Simon Yates, the white jersey of the 2017 Tour de France, came to the race this year in support of his twin brother Adam who is seventh overall.