Basso Wins Stage 12 in Pyrenees; Voeckler Keeps Yellow Jersey
Ivan Basso (CSC) has won Stage 12 of the Tour. The Italian outsprinted five-time defending champion Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) to win the mountainous, 197.5-km ride from Castelsarrazin to La Mongie in 5:03:58. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) finished third at 0:20. Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere) remains the maillot jaune.
The racing began early. Kim Karchen (Fassa Bortolo), Frederic Finot (RAGT), Marcus Ljungqvist (Alessio), and Wim Vansevenant (Lotto) attacked from the gun and led by 4:00 at 97 km. U.S. Postal rode tempo, and the lead gradually dropped to 1:15 by 124 km.
For a time, T-Mobile, Rabobank, and Quick Step took over at the front. At the base of the Col d'Aspin, however, U.S. Postal Service began to press the pace. The American squad's pressure split the peloton in two.
As the field approached the summit, a series of attacks occurred. The attacks ended with Martinez and Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) in the lead. Martinez was dropped, but Rasmussen forged ahead.
U.S. Postal Service kept Rasmussen on a short leash. At the base of the final climb, Euskaltel went to the front and pressed the pace. The Postal Service matched the pressure when Jose Luis Rubiera and Jose Azevedo went to the front of the 30-strong group. A massacre resulted.
Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) was dropped with seven km left. Not long afterward, Rasmussen was caught and dropped. Five-time runner-up and 1997 champion Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) slid out of the back with five km remaining. Carlos Sastre (CSC) attacked and forged a 20-second lead, but Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) led Basso and Armstrong to him. Basso and Armstrong dropped the others with two km remaining. In the final meters, the former under-23 world champion edged ahead of Armstrong.
In the overall, Voeckler leads Armstrong by 5:24 and Sandy Casar (La Francaise des Jeux.com) by 5:50. Stage 13 will reshape the standings more than Stage 12 did. The 205.5-km ride from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille will feature two Category 1 climbs and an Hors Categorie finishing ascent. Expect Armstrong to take the yellow jersey from Voeckler. Who will win the stage? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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