Friday, 16 July 2010

Contador closes in on Schleck as Rodriguez wins the stage

Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain took the 12th stage victory ahead of Spainiard Contador (AST), who worked hard to lessen the gap between himself and rival Luxembourg rider, Andy Schleck (SAX). While it wasnt enough to claim the Maillot Jaune, it did bring down the time gap, albeit minimally.

On a day when the young riders proved that this is a young man's game, Radio Shack team leader Armstrong rolled in 3'35" down in 57th place, while Farrar of Garmin-Transitions who felt somewhat aggrieved by the actions of Renshaw (THR) yesterday, was forced to abandon the Tour; unsurprisingly since he has been riding with a fractured wrist since his crash on the run in to Spa for stage 2.

The loss of Farrar may go some way to making the HTC-Columbia camp feel a bit better after their loss which is sure to be a blow to Cavendish's hopes of winning the Green Jersey and a second win on the
Champs-Élysées. Having said that, it may be that a change of strategy sees Tony Martin go quiet in the mountains of the Pyrenées before blasting his Manx team leader to the line as replacement lead out man in the absence of the abdicating Aussie. With Hushovd (Cervelo) having gained enough intermediate points during the stage to regain the Maillot Vert from Petacchi (Lampre), it will now surely come down to these three riders.

Tomorrow will provide a last chance for the sprinters to do battle before the race heads into the Pyrenées, but the rough stage that will almost certainly end in a downhill sprint finish, is one for fighters; real sprinters and those who have not yet won a stage and who are looking at the map telling themselves that there might not be many more chances for the sprinters to light the blue touch paper. For afterwards, with Ax 3 Domaines, Bagnères-de-Luchon, Pau, and the Col du Tourmalet pass, there will only be the stages in Bordeaux and Paris.

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