July 20, 2007
Stage 12: Boonen finds a bonus
Most commentators saw today's stage as a long breakaway or a sprint from a select group, with a 2nd-Category climb about 45 kilometers/28 miles from the finish.
But things didn't follow the script. A long breakaway by Euskaltel-Euskadi's Amets Txurruka and Bouygues Telecom's Pierrick Fedrigo looked like it might stay away, but after the day's big climb, Lampre and Française des Jeux, both still seeking stage wins, powered the chase along a plateau and down into Castres.
By the time Txurruka and Fedrigo were caught, just outside of 1 kilometer to ride, Quick Step was setting up the blue train for Boonen, peeling its riders off one by one, and keeping the pace high enough that no one could counter.
Boonen came off of Gert Steegmans' wheel with around 200 meters to ride, and Erik Zabel and Robbie Hunter, trailing Belgium's former world champion, launched to either side of Boonen. Neither could match Boonen's finishing speed, and he took his 2nd stage win of the 2007 Tour.
Boonen also pads his lead in the green jersey competition, where his 195 points lead Robbie Hunter's 175 and Zabel's 174, with Thor Hushovd a distant 4th with 132.
Stage 12 Top 10:
1) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium
2) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, same time
3) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, s.t.
4) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
6) Bernhard Eisel, T-Mobile, Austria, s.t.
7) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
8) Nicolas Jalabert, Agritubel, France, s.t.
9) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
10) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, s.t.
No significant changes to the overall standings.
Overall Standings after Stage 12:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 57:37:10
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 2:35
3) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 2:39
4) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 2:41
5) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:08
6) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:39
7) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 3:50
8) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:53
9) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 5:06
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 5:20
Stef Clement of Bouygues Telecom finished outside the time limit, after a crash at 35 kilometers.
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