2012 Tour de France-Stage 17

19 Jul

I’m not above repeating myself: What a long strange Tour it’s been.

I say it now because it is more true after today’s stage than when I first said it after Stage 14.

First I’ll give you the highlights of today’s stage:

  • Another win for a non-GC guy from the early break – Valverde today.

  • Voeckler making sure he beat his closest rival for the polka-dot jersey Kessiakoff in all 4 climbs wrapping up the jersey competition. Voeckler finishing 4th overall last year, narrowly missing the podium, will wear the red and white jersey as the best climber in this year’s Tour.

The lowlights:

  • Nibali managing to sneak away from Wiggins and company in the fog on the descent of the first climb and join the breakaway. What a move! So what does he do? He sits up and waits for the leaders. Two questions I will forever have: what did Valverde say to get Nibali to leave and why did Nibali do it?

  • After Nibali rejoins the Friggins train, he sends his Liquigas teammates to the front to chase down the break – apparently so he can reel them in so he can then getaway to try and win the stage!?

  • Near the finish the Friggins duo manage to drop everyone and reduce the gap to Valverde to around :30 and enough road to catch him. What do they do? Nothing. They discuss, Froome jumps ahead obviously wanting to go for the win – and obviously able to do it – but doesn’t. Valverde goes on to win the stage by :19 over Wiggins and Froome. Wiggins being the nice guy he is let Froome finish ahead of him. Like one of the journalists said today – Wiggins should buy Froome a yacht he owes him so much.

 

We are used to seeing the strongest guy, particularly the strongest climber wearing the yellow jersey at this stage in the game and he isn’t.

We’re used to seeing him alone with no teammates because he’s the strongest guy on the team – at least the best climber – he isn’t.

Not this year. Froome is even close in the TT to Wiggins ability and given his climbing prowess it would seem he could have gapped Wiggins enough in the last 2 plus weeks to be wearing the yellow. I would think it would be weird for Wiggins – we all saw the bizarreness of Froome actually waving Wiggins to bridge and join him so he could catch and drop Valverde and win the stage but he didn’t. Froome either decided on his own to drop it or team management communicated it to him through his ear, we’ll probably never know.

Wiggins doesn’t care does he.

Cycling Tour de France
And then there’s Nibabli – he’s another strange one. In addition to the “I give up” move and returning to the peloton, he had his team stay on the front setting the pace – which I get if you can set it high enough to put the Friggins train in trouble, but the only person put in trouble by all the work done by Nibali’s team – especially Basso, yeoman’s effort today for his leader – was Nibali! He popped at the point on the last climb when he was meant to attack.

Today’s stage was another disappointing one in a Tour of disappointments.

There was a slight change in the GC: Nibali lost :18 more to Wiggins and Froome, but maintained 3rd place, Van Garderen moved up to 5th after Zubeldia slipped to 7th, and Evans moved up one spot to 6th although he lost more time to the leaders so there was some good news.

 

Stage results

  • 1. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, Movistar, in 4:12:11
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at :19
  • 3. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, at :19
  • 4. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at :22
  • 5. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at :26
  • 6. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at :26
  • 7. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at :37
  • 8. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at :54
  • 9. Christopher HORNER, RadioShack-Nissan, at 1:02
  • 10. Daniel MARTIN, Garmin-Sharp, at 1:11

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 78:28:02
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:41
  • 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:53
  • 5. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 8:30
  • 6. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 9:57
  • 7. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 10:11
  • 8. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 10:17
  • 9. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 11:00
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 11:46

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