By @EchelonsHub

In a dramatic turn of events, Jumbo-Visma have successfully cracked Tadej Pogacar. The Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier were the stage of an intense battle between Primoz Roglic, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar, with the UAE Team Emirates rider resisting the attacks. However in the final climb the situation was different, with Vingegaard throwing a decimating attack, dropping Pogacar who cracked completely on the Col du Granon and taking the stage win. Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet finished second and third, with Pogacar falling to third in the GC behind Geraint Thomas. 

Positive: Jumbo lost Roglic definitely in the GC fight, but Vingegaard has put in the performance of a lifetime. He’s now in yellow, with the strongest team and undeniable proof. Both Quintana and Bardet with brilliant performances, very much within the fight for the podium. 

Negative: Pogacar cracked in a way I’ve never seen. He’s definitely not out of the fight for the win, but it will be a significant challenge to regain that time on Vingegaard. Roglic and Enric Mas also suffered and lost a lot of time today on the road. 

The Route

The riders descended into Briançon today and will be climbing back up it tomorrow. Stage 12 is the final Alpine challenge, a day with three mythical climbs that together form an extremely hard stage where the climbers will have another opportunity to deliver serious damage. 165 kilometers and 4600 meters of climbing. 

The riders immediately ride into the false flat of the Col du Lautaret. It’s a long false-flat valley ascent, and will take the riders back up into the Col du Galibier. Again altitude will be a challenge, the final 8.7Km have 6.5% average gradients with the steepest ramps in sight of the summit, however at this altitude all gradients are harder than what the numbers say. It comes early in the day though, so mostly it should be the place to form a breakaway. 

The next ascent will be the Col de la Croix de Fer. 29.1 kilometers at 5.2%, however with two descents in it’s bulk. It’s a hard ascent, with two short but steep sections in it’s first half. It’s a very long effort though, so most will be eyeing the final kilometers. Although altitude isn’t as high the riders will ride over 2000 meters, and see 6.5 kilometers at 8.3% near the summit – exposed and filled with hairpins, ideal for a long-range attack. It’s summit comes with 55 kilometers to go. 

After a long descent and a quick valley section the riders will arrive at the base of one of the most iconic climbs of the Tour de France, Alpe d’Huez. 13.9 kilometers at 7.9% average gradient, the maximum doesn’t go much higher but it does come at the base. In several occasions the decisive attacks have happened at the base.

In others it came down to a sprint. Everything is possible depending on the riders. This is a climb which will be packed with fans, packed with hairpins, exhausted riders climbing at their best whilst others try to survive, everything to see a real spectacle. 

The Weather

The heat may be felt, not the easiest of days for the peloton once again, as if the profile wasn’t hard enough already. There will once again be a slight breeze from the northwest, a headwind early in the day and possible in the start of the Col de la Croix de Fer, but nothing crucial. 

Breakaway chances: 40%

Jumbo have done it. They are in yellow and in control, with the strongest team by far. Pogacar will now have to attack, however it will be a much more complicated situation as UAE won’t have the capacity to blow up the race the same way that was the case today. 

With the uphill start and the more conservative race for the yellow jersey, it frees up the breakaway a lot more and also sees better chances of having the pure climbers ahead and fighting for the win. 

The Favourites

Jonas Vingegaard – What to say of Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma today? Brutal performance from the Dane who looks to be the strongest in the long ascents. Things can change everyday, however it will be very hard to drop him in climbs like these, and Jumbo-Visma have a support crew that looks incredibly strong. 

Tadej Pogacar – A bad day? Heat? Bad feeding? Fatigue? Covid? Who knows… It was a surprise to see Pogacar crack in such a spectacular way, but in terms of what this means for the race it signals that the Slovenian now has to be the one on the attack. If he’s back to his best he will be very dangerous, but for that he will need to feel a lot better than today. 

Nairo Quintana – A premier performance from Quintana today, reminiscing of his best days. With no exaggeration, Quintana is a big candidate to win on Alpe d’Huez, a climb he has shown in the past to thrive on. It’s a day for pure climbers and Quintana brought his A-game to the Alps. 

Romain Bardet – Now second in the GC and without a team, Bardet will be in no position to attack. However, he doesn’t need to, just needs to follow Jumbo and then do his own race at Alpe d’Huez. 

In the remaining GC fight you likely will not see a rider fight for the stage win as they will be covered, however you can expect strong performances from other riders trying to finish as high as possible. Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates will be present for INEOS, likely to try and keep the podium place they’ve worked for. David Gaudu, Alexey Lutsenko and Aleksandr Vlasov are also in the mix. 

As for the breakaway chances, some riders who were in front today such as Warren Barguil and Pierre Latour will be contenders, however those who saved themselves today – whether in the final climb or all day long – will have better chances as the damage from today was massive. The likes of Thibaut Pinot, Michael Storer and Valentin Madouas of Groupama, Lennard Kämna, Carlos Verona, Damiano Caruso, Rigoberto Uran, Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Woods and Nick Schultz are all possibilities. 

Inside The Bus

This morning I talk to…

#146 Magnus Cort Nielsen  – You’ve taken your stage win. You may get another, but here no need to be burning up energy, just stay in the grupetto and ride a relaxed day, as much as possible of course. 

#13 Steven Kruijswijk – Pogacar will likely try something. Through the day you will likely have little need to work as the guys will take care of it. Your work will likely be most important in the Alpe d’Huez, but to be honest your presence will be more important, in the case of something happening to Jonas. 

#35 Stan Dewulf – Nice and easy Stan, there will be some good days ahead and we don’t have anyone to protect for the mountains. Ride easy and save the legs. 

Prediction Time

⭐⭐⭐Pinot, Fuglsang, Vingegaard

⭐⭐Pogacar, Madouas, Verona, Quintana

⭐Bardet, G.Thomas, Storer, Barguil, Kämna, Caruso, Woods, Uran

A win for the French hero Thibaut Pinot on Bastille day. I think the day will be for the breakaway to win, and Pinot is looking fit and saved up for a mountainous day such as this. 

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Rúben Silva

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