Wednesday, 11 July 2012
2012 Tour de France: Gutsy Thomas Voeckler gives France 2nd stage victory
After suffering badly from a knee problem during the first week of the Tour, Thomas Voeckler showed what a battler he is by winning the first mountain stage today. Bradley Wiggins despite a number of attacks, especially on the descents, had a relatively comfortable day and can tick this off as another stage done and a step closer to Paris. Tomorrow's short and brutal stage in the Alps is likely to prove a big test.
Voeckler went away with the big escape of the day with 25 riders. At least there were until the big climb of the day – the Col du Grand Colombier – when the group was soon whittled down to four riders including Voeckler and Michele Scarponi, the best placed rider overall. Just before the finish the four became five when Jens Voigt caught them. A couple of kilometres from the finish it looked like Dries Devenyns was going to win, following an attack, but he died on the uphill finish. Voeckler caught, passed him and held off Voigt and Scarponi for a famous victory.
The much vaunted Col du Grand Colombier proved to be less selective than thought for the overall favourites. Perhaps at 43K away, it was just too far from the finish. Vincenzo Nibali gained about a minute on the descent from Bradley Wiggins and the other leaders but was unable to hold onto this on the last climb – Le Col du Richemond. Jurgen Van den Broeck attacked right at the top of this climb, gained on the descent and finished 34 seconds ahead of Wiggins. This means he has cut his deficit to 4.48. Tejay Van Garderen lost a little bit of time and slipped from 8th to 10th. Otherwise there was no change on the times of the top 10.
Cadel Evans tried and failed to take some seconds from Bradley Wiggins in the final uphill kilometre. So far Wiggins and Sky have proved to be a match for Evans.
Not only did Thomas Voeckler take the stage win but he also took over the Mountains Jersey. Whether he will still hold it after tomorrow's mountainous stage will be another matter!