Team Katusha’s Joaquin Rodriguez took the victory in stage 12 with GC favorite Alberto Contador finishing comfortably on his wheel in second place. More importantly, Contador gained ten seconds on overall race leader Andy Schleck, cutting his lead to just 31 seconds and setting up a showdown in the Pyrenees.
Schleck stays in yellow, however, if he’s not able to gain significant time in the Pyrenees, he has little hope of finishing atop the podium in Paris. Contador’s superior time trial skill will allow him to gain at least a minute if not two over the 52 kilometer TT. Rounds one and two went to Schleck with round 3 going to Contador who now has Schleck staggered against the ropes.
Thor Hushovd was able to get into the days early break and took six points in an intermediate sprint, regaining the green jersey. The points competition looks to be a between Hushovd and Petacchi with Cavendish and McEwen having an outside shot. Unfortunately Tyler Farrar abandoned on the days first climb which leaves Cavendish the favorite to win the remaining sprint stages even without the services of lead out man Mark Renshaw.
Tomorrow should be a day for the sprinters as the GC teams will be looking to conserve energy for Sunday’s summit finish atop AX-3 Domaines. There’s an outside shot for a break to make it to the finish but my gut tells me the Columbia HTC wants to make a statement tomorrow and will be looking to get Cavendish another stage victory.
One way or another the next five stages should provide plenty of drama; may the strongest man survive.
Thanks for reading & we’ll see you tomorrow…
For more great Tour analysis, visit my good friend Tim Liew @ The Armchair Sportsfan.