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“Fat thighs”, postcard and all-terrain “WVA”

  • Today’s stage: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Nîmes, 159 kilometers

Standing on the pedals in the double ascent of Mont Ventoux, the peloton, relieved of eight additional riders (seven withdrawals and one out of time) left Provence for a lowland stage of 159.4 kilometers between Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux ( Drôme) and Nîmes (Gard), Thursday July 8.

If the legs of the “big thighs” creaked Wednesday on the steep slopes of the bald mountain, the twelfth stage seems promised to the sprinters. The slope of the Tharaux belvedere (4.4 kilometers at 4.6%), the only difficulty listed for the day, should not influence the massive arrival scheduled in Nîmes, a final identical to the 2019 Tour.

Read also the report: On Mont Ventoux, the pilgrimage to the Simpson stele

To get back in the saddle, the riders will start by going up the picturesque landscape of the Gorges de l’Ardèche in its entirety – a first on the Tour routes – before leaving these winding roads in favor of open sections.

Present since the start in Brest, the wind could cause edges and breaks before the intermediate sprint of Uzès, just over 20 kilometers from the finish. Unless it is the sun that reshuffles the cards in an overheated basin in Nîmes.

Route of the twelfth stage of the Tour de France 2021.
  • The rider to watch: Wout van Aert (again)

Second in the tenth stage of the Grande Boucle, beaten in the final packaging on Tuesday by the returning Mark Cavendish, the Belgian champion was no longer content with the place of honor. Yesterday, the neo-climber of Jumbo-Visma won solo in Malaucène, after having released the breakaways in the second ascent of Ventoux.

Read also Tour de France 2021: at Mont Ventoux, the burst of pride of Wout van Aert

Distanced overall, the all-terrain of the Dutch team is now chasing stage victories and could make a double blow this Thursday, taking advantage of a field of bald sprinters – the outgoing green jersey, Sam Bennett, is absent, the Australian Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Belgian Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) retired, and Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) finished late in Tignes on Sunday – to win the fifth stage of his career on round.

To do this, it will need to succeed in neutralizing the wolf pack (the “wolf pack”) from the Deceuninck-Quick Step. With four victories in eleven days, including three for Briton Mark Cavendish, the Belgian team seems perfectly oiled to allow its sprinter to equalize Eddy Merckx’s 34 stage victories on the Grande Boucle. Opposite, there are only five riders left in the Jumbo-Visma to derail the blue locomotive.

If Mark Cavendish has somewhat killed the suspense of the final wraps on the 108e edition of the Tour de France, the plain stages of the Women’s Tour of Italy are more contested. Beaten the day before by the Dutch Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), the Danish Emma Norsgaard took her revenge on Wednesday July 7th. The Movistar rider crushed the pedals to secure the sixth stage, ahead of the American Coryn Rivera (Team DSM).

A solo winner at the top of Prato Nevoso during the second stage, on July 3, Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) still dominates the general. The Dutchwoman is more than three minutes ahead of her teammates Ashleigh Moolman and Demi Vollering.

“The tempo was not too high, but I exploded at the end”

Hot weather in Ventoux for Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian knew he was in danger and he was right. Yesterday, the yellow jersey stuck, when changing gear, in the last kilometers of the “giant of Provence”. On the attack, the young Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), 24, took off on the second ascent to the top of the Vaucluse, taking up to 37 seconds in Pogacar when he switched to the descent towards Malaucène. Helped by Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), the UAE Emirates rider finally managed to get back on the Dane, who nevertheless took third place overall.

  • Photo: Tony Martin in the ditch

This new fall will have been fatal to him. After falling on the first stage, on June 26, when he had struck a panel held by a spectator and dragged a large part of the peloton into its fall, the German found himself in the ditch, his right thigh bloodied, before the 30e kilometer of the eleventh stage of the Tour, Wednesday.

The former world time trial champion is the third Jumbo-Visma rider to abandon this 108e edition, after the Dutch Robert Gesink and the Slovenian Primoz Roglic. The Belgian Wout van Aert thus loses a valuable support during the sprints, just like the Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni, whose teammate of Arkéa-Samsic, Clément Russo, decided to leave the Grande Boucle, after being let go at the start of the race. race.

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