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92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

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Stage 12 - Thursday, July 14: Briançon - Digne-les-Bains, 187 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and Hedwig Kröner

Live report

Live coverage starts: 11:50 CEST
Estimated finish: 16:30 CEST

Stage 12 profile
Click for stage map

11:52 CEST   
Welcome back to Sunny France for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 12th stage of Le Tour. Today we're starting in Sunny Briançon in the Alps, and will pilot the CN blimp in a southerly direction via the Route Napoléon until we reach Digne-les-Bains after 187 km. Along the way we hope to spot some riders.

Today's stage happens to be on July 14, or Quatorze Juillet, France's national holiday. So we can expect a few fireworks from the French riders, who will try to outdo each other to win, thereby allowing a Spaniard to seize the opportunity, capitalising on any intra-French rivalry, and attacking alone to take a glorious victory in Digne-les-Bains (even though Laurent Jalabert proved that theory wrong anyway).

One rider who won't be going for the win today is Tom Boonen (Quick.Step). The green jersey won't start today's stage as a result of injuries sustained in a crash on the descent from Courchevel yesterday. That means Thor Hushovd is the new leader of the green jersey competition.

Former maillot jaune Jens Voigt (CSC) and Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step) are also non starters, after they were eliminated on time yesterday.

The intermediate sprints today are quite early in the piece, at La Roche-De-Rame (km 17.5) and Embrun (km 44.5), so we can expect Credit Agricole and maybe Davitamon-Lotto to keep things together so that Thor and Robbie can go for more points, while Stuart O'Grady will be looking at getting into a break to mop up the points.

Today's climbs are:

Côte des Demoiselles-coiffées (Cat. 3, 61km, 1067m, 4.6km at 4.8%)
Col Saint-Jean (Cat. 2, 88km, 1332m, 13.2km at 4%)
Col de Labouret (Cat. 4, 115.5km, 1240m, 2.2km climb at 3.2%)
Col du Corobin (Cat. 2, 156km, 1230m, 12.4km, 4.5%)
Col de l'Orme (Cat. 4, 177km, 734m, 2.7km at 3.9%)

12:01 CEST    2km/185km to go
The stage started with a 3.4 km neutral section before the flag was dropped at 11:57. Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) attacked immediately.

12:07 CEST    6km/181km to go
Augé's attack didn't last long, and Erik Dekker (Rabobank) is the next to try. The wily Dutchman came back after 5 km.

12:13 CEST    12km/175km to go
Brad McGee (FDJ) is on the move, and has a 20 second lead over the bunch after 12 km. His Tour plans have been shot to pieces over the last few days as he is nearly an hour down on the general classification. So obviously he wants to try for a stage win.

12:22 CEST    19km/168km to go
Brad McGee is caught after km 18.5. The Australian rider did take the sprint points at La Roche-De-Rame ahead of compatriot Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) and de facto green jersey wearer Thor Hushovd (C.A).

12:23 CEST   
Although Hushovd is generally a slower sprinter than McEwen, he still has a fairly big lead in the green competition. The Norwegian has 130 points, ahead of O'Grady on 109 points and McEwen on 100. McEwen's relegation in the first week has cost him dearly for this classification, which he has a love-hate relationship with.

12:28 CEST    25km/162km to go
The bunch is staying together for the time being, despite several more attempts by riders to break away. It has been a quick start, with around 25 km covered in the first half an hour.

12:32 CEST    28km/159km to go
The next attack comes from Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues), Vlad Karpets (Illes Balears) and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC). It goes nowhere.

12:42 CEST    36km/151km to go
The next sprint is coming up in 8 km in Embrun, and it's looking like the sprinters' teams are keeping the peloton together until then. The pace is still very fast.

12:49 CEST    40km/147km to go
Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile), Alberto Contador (Liberty) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) are trying to break the rhythm of the sprinters teams and have a small gap after 40 km, with just 4 km to go to the next sprint.

12:50 CEST    44km/143km to go
The lead group is now: Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile Team), Christophe Brandt (Davitamon-Lotto), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros-Würth), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone), Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step), Laurent Lefèvre and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), and Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux). It has 18 seconds.

12:52 CEST    45km/142km to go
The nine attacked after 37 km, and despite the efforts of Liquigas to bring them back, it was to no avail and they passed the sprint in Embrun with a 25 second gap to the peloton.

12:55 CEST    48km/139km to go
The results of the sprint in Embrun: 1. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), 2. Contador (Liberty Seguros), 3. Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom). That's not going to affect the green jersey competition much.

12:57 CEST    51km/136km to go
Guerini is the best placed rider in this break of nine, starting the day in 24th at 12'19 from Armstrong. Therefore, it may be allowed to go. The latest gap: 39 seconds.

13:03 CEST    53km/134km to go
The nine man break is working hard to stay clear as it rides past the beautifully scenic Lac de Serre-Poncon, pursued hard by the Liquigas team.

The riders covered 50.5 km in the first hour.

13:08 CEST    58km/129km to go
The break has been caught now after 58 km, as they start the Côte des Demoiselles-coiffées. Several riders counter attack - is that Flecha again?

13:09 CEST   
It is Flecha with Sandy Casar on his wheel, riding hard up this Cat. 3 climb.

13:10 CEST    59km/128km to go
Nicolas Fritsch (Saunier Duval) climbs off his bike and abandons, his number being pulled off by an official.

13:10 CEST   
Flecha and Casar are caught by the Discovery led peloton, where Egoi Martinez counter attacks.

13:12 CEST    60km/127km to go
Manuel Beltran (Discovery Channel) has crashed. He gets up, gingerly, and gets on his bike again.

Martinez is joined by Michael Boogerd, about 10 seconds ahead of the peloton.

13:14 CEST   
Beltran is helped by the Discovery Channel car, but is hurting fairly badly.

Up front, Fedrigo has caught the two leaders, along with Garzelli and McGee. They near the top of the climb.

13:15 CEST    61km/126km to go
Boogerd drives to the top of the climb, trying to keep this break going. He gets the points ahead of Fedrigo, Garzelli, and Martinez. McGee is next over, then the peloton comes up in bits.

Beltran is being seen to by the race doctor.

13:18 CEST    63km/124km to go
Beltran is back with the Discovery car, which is trying to give him mechanical assistance. His radio is dangling below his seat.

(Les Demoiselles-coiffées are a spectacular rock formation. Very sharp)

The break is caught now.

13:19 CEST    65km/122km to go
Seb Joly lifts the pace a bit, but it's hard to get a gap.

Meanwhile, at the back of the peloton, the injured Manuel Beltran is trying to chase on. No teammates to help him though.

13:22 CEST    67km/120km to go
Beltran gets a bidon of water and tips half of it over his head. He's not coming back to the peloton any time soon. He's now being looked after by the medical van.

Up front, the peloton is racing hard through Le Sauze-du-Lac, before plunging back down to the beautiful turquoise coloured Lac de Serre-Poncon.

13:22 CEST   
Garate and Vicioso open up a small gap on the descent.

13:24 CEST   
Beltran has another chat to the medi-van, and looks to be getting Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak) for company. The pair are several minutes behind the peloton though.

13:27 CEST    72km/115km to go
Garate and Vicioso have company. Pellizotti, Casar, Arrieta, Halgand, Steinhauser, Moncoutié are there, with the peloton now at 38 seconds.

13:27 CEST    72km/115km to go
Garate and Vicioso have company. Pellizotti, Casar, Arrieta, Halgand, Schreck, Giunti, and Moncoutié are there, with the peloton now at 38 seconds. O'Grady and Hushovd are chasing them.

13:32 CEST    75km/112km to go
The lead group: Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile Team), Giovanni Lombardi (Team CSC), José Luis Arrieta (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne), Axel Merckx (Davitamon-Lotto), Massimo Giunti (Fassa Bortolo), Juan Manuel Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Angel Vicioso (Liberty Seguros-Würth), Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi), David Moncoutié (Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux). Casar is the best placed on GC, at 17'29 in 31st.

The chasers, at 25 seconds: Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis).

The peloton is now at 1'40.

13:35 CEST    78km/109km to go
O'Grady and Hushovd are chasing hard to try to catch the 11 breakaways - now at 16 seconds as they start to climb again. The peloton is at 2'00, perhaps waiting for Beltran and co.

13:38 CEST    79km/108km to go
Hushovd and O'Grady are now on the back of the break after a hard chase. They had two teammates up there, who would have tried to slow thing down in front.

They are now on the Cat. 2 Col Saint-Jean, a 13.2km climb at 4%.

13:42 CEST    81km/106km to go
Iban Mayo has dropped off the back of the peloton, and is doing water carrying duties now. Klöden is there too. They are climbing up above the lake again, and Discovery is setting a pretty steady tempo. Armstrong looks quite chirpy today, as he should.

13:44 CEST   
The 13 man break is now 3'25 ahead of the peloton, and could go all the way today. There are 11 teams represented up front, and not much incentive to chase.

Lots of action happening at the rear of the peloton.

13:46 CEST   
Beltran has abandoned as a result of his crash earlier. That's a rare DNF for the Discovery team, which has had an incredible record of nearly always finishing all nine riders in Paris.

13:50 CEST    85km/102km to go
The front group has some interesting names in it, even though they're not dangerous for the GC. Riders like Thor Hushovd, Stuart O'Grady, Angel Vicioso, and Axel Merckx are all specialists at winning races from medium sized breakaways like this. Garate, Halgand, and Moncoutié are all pretty handy too, especially on the climbs.

Benjamin Noval has now assumed the position on the front of the bunch.

13:58 CEST    88km/99km to go
Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) is getting attention from the race doctor now, but he's back with the peloton.

Garate rides ahead of the break to take the points on the Col Saint-Jean ahead of Casar and O'Grady.

14:00 CEST   
Some terms:

DNF = Did not finish
GC = general classification
Bidon = water bottle

14:01 CEST    91km/96km to go
Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step) is now getting attention from the race doctor on his left knee, which is bleeding a little.

The gap to the break is up to 3'41.

14:05 CEST   
If this break goes all the way to the finish, then it could snuff out any remaining ambitions of Robbie McEwen and the green jersey, because O'Grady and Hushovd are in the break. McEwen is at the back of the bunch, chatting to Luis Sanchez, who he would know from the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under.

14:07 CEST    97km/90km to go
More terms:

Musettes = feed bags
Newspapers = for keeping warm on the descents once stuffed down the front of the jersey

Speaking of musettes, the leaders are in the feedzone at Selonnet now with 4'10 on the peloton.

14:08 CEST   
The average speed in the second hour was 37.3 km/h, which puts the average after two hours at 43.9 km/h.

14:15 CEST    101km/86km to go
O'Grady does a strong turn in the break to keep the pace up, as the gap is now 4'43. He wants to ensure that it stays away to the finish so he can challenge for the stage win (most of all) and maybe the green, although Hushovd has a 21 point advantage there.

14:17 CEST   
According to Belgian TV, quoting Discovery team leader Johan Bruyneel, Beltran apparently fell on his head and blacked out. He wasn't allowed to continue by the race doctor.

14:19 CEST    103km/84km to go
In the break, Axel Merckx is not going to be happy, as Davitamon-Lotto have now started to chase the breakaway. That means McEwen is interested in the green again, so he wants to bring Hushovd and O'Grady back.

The peloton strings out through Seyene-les-Alpes.

14:23 CEST    106km/81km to go
It's Vansummeren, Aerts, Vansevenant, and Brandt doing the chasing in the peloton, as the 13 riders lose about 20 seconds of their lead. But in front, Merckx is still rolling through. He might be told to stop doing that soon.

14:23 CEST   
Furlan is suffering off the back of the peloton. He has had a pretty tough Tour.

14:25 CEST    107km/80km to go
Casar has attacked the break, maybe trying to up the tempo a bit and maybe get rid of O'Grady and Hushovd.

14:29 CEST    109km/78km to go
Casar keeps looking back, seeing if he can get a few riders for company, but it looks like the whole break is chasing him. The peloton is at 4'07, slowly getting closer.

Casar is caught.

McEwen is now getting some mechanical attention, with the Davitamon-Lotto team mechanic.

Furlan abandons, looking a little down. But there's nothing you can do when the tank is empty. The official rips his numbers off.

14:35 CEST    115km/72km to go
The leaders are now on the third climb of the day, the Col de Labouret (Cat. 4, 2.2km climb at 3.2%).

14:35 CEST   
Davitamon-Lotto have knocked 30 seconds off the lead of the break, but no more than that. It's still 4'10 as the 13 leaders near the top of the climb.

14:37 CEST    116km/71km to go
Garate, Merckx, and Arrieta take the points for on the Labouret in that order, and the break is now flying on the descent.

14:39 CEST   
Jan Ullrich stops for a bit and gets going again in the 53x12, it looks like. Why? Because he can.

14:45 CEST    120km/67km to go
The peloton crosses the top of the Labouret, still led by the Four Davitamon-Lottos of the Apocalypse, 4'16 behind.

In front, O'Grady does another big turn. They're riding through a densely wooded national park now, and there aren't two many people out in this particular part of the world.

14:49 CEST    127km/60km to go
Mathieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) is sporting some ripped shorts as a result of a crash. Also, Alejandro Valverde is having problems with his knee.

14:55 CEST    132km/55km to go
The break is cooperating well, knowing that the chase is pretty determined behind them. The gap is coming down a little, and is just under 4'00.

They're riding through the Reserve Geologique De Haute-Provence.

14:59 CEST   
Hushovd isn't actually wearing the green jersey today, perhaps because Boonen announced only just before the start that he wasn't going on. Contrast that to Lance Armstrong not wanting to wear the yellow the day after Zabriskie crashed. The Tour organisers made him wear it, although he didn't appear at the start in it.

15:01 CEST   
Our Behind the Blue Curtain reporter Chris Brewer checks in from the finish: "The final category 2 climb is really going to get the peloton's
attention. Starting rather sedately with the '12.5 km Sommet' banner, the rode kicks up in twisty little curves for about 2km but nothing terrible. Then it goes downhill into a very non-Cat 2 little town and the riders will be thinking 'How bad could this be?' They soon find out as they exit the town and there is a vicious right-left switchback and a wall of road ahead of them for at least 2 kms before it flattens out a bit. The riders get a little respite but then it kicks back up soon enough to the summit. Add in that it is very hot on the climb and this effort should decimate whatever is left on the front of the race and decide who will contend for the stage win - or gain/lose time on GC.

"After the summit it's a narrow twisting descent to the much nicer roads
of the N85, and the Cat 4 climb is barely a lump in the road compared to
the previous effort. The final 4kms to the line are a descent leading
to a 2 km flat run-in to Digne-les-Bains. The only technical section is
a sketchy roundabout just before the 1km kite, but then it's a straight
shot to the finish."

15:03 CEST    138km/49km to go
In the chasing peloton, Vansummeren is a bit stuffed. I think that's the end of the Davitamon-Lotto push for the green jersey. The pace eases in the peloton. 4'11.

15:09 CEST    142km/45km to go
The 13 leaders are now 45 km away from the finish in Digne-les-Bains (they've just ridden through it the first time) and now have a pretty comfy 4'23 lead. Davitamon-Lotto is still on the front of the peloton, but not riding quite as hard. Armstrong's team is next placed, with McEwen also up there.

15:12 CEST    144km/43km to go
The break starts the climb of the Col du Corobin, a Cat. 2 ascent measuring 12.4km at 4.5% average gradient.

The peloton is riding through Digne-les-Bains for the first time.

15:13 CEST   
Robert Hunter (Phonak) is out of the race, having abandoned earlier in the stage.

15:14 CEST   
A quick weather report: it's sunny and warm, with temps in the mid to high 20's.

15:20 CEST    148km/39km to go
David Moncoutié has a little dabble off the front of the break on the climb, but nothing doing. The French are a bit outnumbered in the break on Quatorze Juillet, only making up three of the 13 leaders.

15:20 CEST   
Watch Lombardi too - he's good at winning from a small break.

15:21 CEST    149km/38km to go
Merckx attacks, hard! He gets Halgand and Vicioso for company, then Garate closes the gap. O'Grady and Hushovd are gapped, but O'Grady manages to get back onto the back of the break.

15:22 CEST    150km/37km to go
Nope - O'Grady and Hushovd are both dropped as the climbers light it up on the Col du Corobin.

Merckx now checks behind him as Moncoutié counters.

15:23 CEST   
David Moncoutié, who won on the 15th of July stage last year, has got a 10 second gap on the rest of the break as he powers out of a hairpin in a solid gear. This is a tougher part of the climb.

Vicioso, Lombardi, O'Grady, and Hushovd are all gapped form the rest.

15:25 CEST    151km/36km to go
David Moncoutié is now being chased by the remnants of the break, which has José Luis Arrieta (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne), Axel Merckx (Davitamon-Lotto), Massimo Giunti (Fassa Bortolo), Juan Manuel Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux) and Angel Vicioso (Liberty) in it.

15:26 CEST   
Moncoutié has 20 seconds. The next two behind the break are Giovanni Lombardi (Team CSC), and Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), then a gap to Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile Team), then another gap to Thor Hushovd (CA).

15:28 CEST   
We can forget about the peloton's chances today. It's Discovery who got back on the front as the climb started, and the gap to the leader is now 5'16.

Merckx is doing most of the chasing work behind Moncoutié. O'Grady and Lombardi are doing their best to get back on.

15:29 CEST    151km/36km to go
Hushovd is 13th on the road at the moment, getting some encouragement from his team car.

Moncoutié is 5 km from the summit and has 25 seconds on the Merckx group, which is losing Vicioso, and 40 seconds on O'Grady and Lombardi.

15:31 CEST    152km/35km to go
Pellizotti and Giunti are also dropped from the break, but Pellizotti gets back on as the climb flattens out for a bit and even goes downhill.

15:35 CEST    155km/32km to go
Moncoutié now has half a minute on the first group of chasers, where Merckx is doing a lot of work and where Vicioso, Pellizotti and Giunti have got back on.

O'Grady and Lombardi are another half a minute back, then Hushovd with Schreck at 1'30. The peloton is at 6'14.

15:36 CEST   
Pellizotti and Giunti are dropped again as the road goes up for the last 2 km of this climb. Vicioso tries to hang on.

15:38 CEST    156km/31km to go
The leader, David Moncoutié (Cofidis) is driving towards the summit, getting cheered on by the French fans as he tries for a Quatorze Juillet victory. He has 40 seconds.

15:40 CEST    157km/30km to go
Moncoutié is now at the top, taking the maximum points of course.

Garate leads the next group over at 36 seconds, with Merckx, Arrieta, Casar, Halgand, and Vicioso the others in that group, crossing in that order.

15:42 CEST    157km/30km to go
The descent of the Col du Corobin is narrow and technical, and Moncoutié is doing his best to hold off the chasers. He has 38 seconds. Pellizotti is at about a minute, then Giunti at 1'34, then O'Grady, Schreck and Lombardi at 2'05, and Hushovd at 2'15.

15:44 CEST   
Merckx leads the chase on the descent, gapping the others a bit.

Hushovd is now with O'Grady's group.

15:45 CEST   
There are places on this descent where the tarmac is already very hot, melting, and sticky... They've put people up there with yellow flags to signal the riders where the dangerous places are.

15:48 CEST   
The peloton is now at the top of the climb, 7'42 behind the break.

Moncoutié is navigating the descent well, holding 50 seconds on Merckx's group. The O'Grady/Hushovd group is at 2'05.

15:49 CEST    166km/21km to go
Merckx is off the front of the chase group, which has regained Pellizotti. But Merckx knows he can't close the gap on his own and waits.

15:51 CEST    167km/20km to go
The seven man chase group is now 22 seconds behind Moncoutié, who goes under 20 km to go.

15:52 CEST    168km/19km to go
The chasers are asking for food/water, even though they're in the final 20 km and feeding isn't usually allowed from the team cars.

Further back, Hushovd gets some refreshment from his team car.

15:54 CEST    170km/17km to go
Moncoutié continues to drive the pace on his won, as the chase group is disorganised. Halgand doesn't want to work because Hushovd is behind.

The first chase group is at 25 seconds, then the Hushovd/O'Grady group, which has caught Giunti and also has Lombardi and Schreck in it, is at 2'05.

Heras has a flat in the peloton. A teammate waits for him.

15:55 CEST   
Moncoutié knows he's got a good chance because the group behind is arguing about who should work. Halgand won't, that's clear. The group is at 0'28.

15:56 CEST    172km/15km to go
Halgand is working now, and that might make a difference as they race under rock formations towards Digne-les-Bains. But Moncoutié has 32 seconds!

15:58 CEST    173km/14km to go
Under 15 km to go, the chase group comes through exactly half a minute behind David Moncoutié. There's also one more climb today, the Cat. 4 Col de l'Orme, 2.7km at 3.9%.

16:00 CEST    174km/13km to go
Moncoutié is fighting hard for every second, and now has 33 of them. The Hushovd/O'Grady group is at 2'20, while the peloton is at 8'36!

16:04 CEST    176km/11km to go
Merckx is doing a huge amount of work in the chase, but the others aren't really contributing enough. It's not over yet as Moncoutié starts the Col de l'Orme.

Garate attacks, with Halgand and Merckx and the rest coming back.

16:05 CEST    177km/10km to go
The cooperation is gone and Moncoutié now has 36 seconds. He's hurting as Vicioso puts in a counter attack behind. That's fairly enterprising. Merckx closes the gap fairly comfortably. Arrieta is in trouble.

16:07 CEST    178km/9km to go
Merckx attacks as Moncoutié reaches the top. The gap is 28 seconds as Garate takes second place ahead of Merckx.

Hushovd's group is now at 2'45, and the peloton over 9 minutes back. Casar will move up a bit on GC today.

16:09 CEST    179km/8km to go
David Moncoutié is strong today on Quatorze Juillet and has 37 seconds on the seven chasers. They're not going to get him now.

16:10 CEST    180km/7km to go
Merckx urges the others to work in pursuit, but they're not interested. Now Vicioso and Casar try to attack, but the others come back, gradually.

16:10 CEST    181km/6km to go
Pellizotti and Arrieta are pretty knackered, and just want to get to the finish. Not much more is going to come from their legs today.

16:12 CEST    183km/4km to go
Moncoutié has 29 seconds with just under 4 km to go to the finish. He'll win the stage, and become the first French rider to do so in this year's Tour.

16:13 CEST    184km/3km to go
It's slightly downhill now and the chasers are closing the gap a bit, but 27 seconds is too much.

16:14 CEST    184km/3km to go
Moncoutié flies under 3 km to go as Merckx puts in another little attack that goes nowhere.

16:15 CEST    185km/2km to go
2 clicks to go for David Moncoutié, who is on track for another Tour stage win. He won almost exactly one year ago.

16:15 CEST   
The chasing group is sorting out who will be second today. Merckx is the strongest, but can't sprint. Vicioso might get it.

16:16 CEST    186km/1km to go
Moncoutié is under the 1 km to go banner as he is cheered on by the big crowds at the finish. He takes the tricky corner and is in the straight, still with 31 seconds.

16:17 CEST    187km/0km to go
David Moncoutié (Cofidis) rides up to the finish line in Digne-les-Bains at full gas, looking back, then celebrating his win with 100 metres to go. Excellent ride by the French climber!! He's delighted with it.

16:18 CEST   
The sprint for second is like a track sprint, as they all slow down to 20km/h. Then Arrieta jumps and nearly gets it but it's Casar and Vicioso in second and third.

16:21 CEST   
Schreck leads out the sprint for 9th place with Lombardi, O'Grady, and Hushovd in tow. But he goes from too far and sits up at 700m. Then Lombardi gets to the front and slowly leads out with O'Grady ready to jump. The Australian goes with Hushovd on his wheel, but the Norwegian gets it and takes more green points. O'Grady 10th.

16:29 CEST   
The peloton is sprinting for a few points as a Cofidis rider - Marichal - tries to break the rhythm of the Davitamon-Lotto train in the final kilometres. But no luck, and it's McEwen who takes the sprint for 14th. Tombak challenged him, but nearly took himself out against a Gerolsteiner rider. The gap is well over 10 minutes at the end, so Casar will move himself up into the top 15-20.

16:36 CEST   
That's all folks from Stage 12, which turned out to be one for the French after all. Please tune at tomorrow at 13:20 local time (-6 hours USA east, -9 hours USA etc.). No big changes to the GC, or the white jersey, or the polka dot jersey, but Hushovd managed to gain a small advantage over his main rival O'Grady in the race for green.


1 David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone             4.20.06
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux                                  0.57
3 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth                      
4 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole
5 José Luis Arrieta (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
7 Axel Merckx (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                               
8 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
9 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit                                            3.15
10 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
11 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
12 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team
13 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Team CSC
14 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                10.33

General classification after stage 12

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                          46.30.36
2 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                                     0.38
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                              2.34
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            2.40
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne              3.16
6 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                         3.48
7 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                                   3.58
8 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne               4.00
9 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                      4.02
10 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                  4.16

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