Tour de France 2017: Stage 12
by Katie Haskins
Stage type: Road Race – mountains with mountaintop finish
Length: 214.5 km/133.3 miles
Route: Pau to Peryagudes
A 12 rider breakaway took off at the start of the race, including the green jersey leader, Marcel Kittel. This group managed to get over one Category 4 climb to contest the sprint point. Michael Matthews just edged Kittel. They still had 6 more climbs to do before the end of the stage.
On the bottom of the 3rd climb of the day, a Category 1, Kittel cracks and gets dropped. It’s foggy at the top of the climb and the peloton is almost 4 minutes behind as the leaders hit the top. The speed differential as the breakaway heads down the descent compared to the peloton that is still on the uphill portion is 33 mph vs 11 mph. By the time Michael Matthews gets to the bottom, hes’ reached 50 mph. He went so fast that when he sat up at the bottom to wait for the rest of the group, he was looking around wondering where everyone else had gone.
The breakaway had reformed by the time they reach the next climb. A HC called the Port de Balas. It’s 11.7 km in length, 2959 ft of climbing, 7.7% avg. gradient, with a max of 19.4%. The front group splits on this ascent. Six and four, Matthews having been dropped early on. Two riders attack from the front. When the leaders reach the top of this climb, the peloton is only 2:00 behind. What’s left of them anyway. There was a slight crash on the descent, a rider hitting the dirt embankment, but he got up quickly and continued to ride. By the time everyone hits the next climb, there are only 12 riders in the group with Chris Froome. The peloton is so strung out, it can no longer be called a peloton.
Climb 5 of 6 is a Category 1. As the Froome group came into the bottom, Froome and two other riders couldn’t make the sharp chicane and go straight into the crowd. Luckily they were breaking and everyone stayed upright. The leaders are caught with 8.7 km/5.4 miles left. There is a slight descent before the final climb. It’s a Category 2 of 2.4 km, only 600 ft of climbing, avg. gradient of 8.4%, and a max gradient of 14.1%. The commentators kept saying near 20%.
With 800 meters left, George Bennet attacks but it quickly brought back. With 500 meters to go Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet, and Rigoberto Uran attack. Froome cannot match the acceleration. Bardet crosses the finish first in 5:49:38. Froome is 22 seconds behind and loses the yellow jersey.
- Fabio Aru 52:51:49
- Chris Froome +:06
- Romain Bardet +:25
- Rigoberto Uran +:55
- Dan Martin +1:41