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2012 Tour De France Stage 7: Bradley Wiggins Takes Yellow as Mountains Bite Hard

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, FRANCE - JULY 03:  Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and SKY Procycling rides in the peloton during stage three of the 2012 Tour de France from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer on July 3, 2012 in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Craig ChristopherAnalyst IJuly 7, 2012

Stage 7 of the 2012 Tour de France held the promise of shaking up the field as the first serious climb of the Tour will start to see the sprinters and classic specialists slip from the leader's list.

For the first time, the breakaway du jour contained riders that the serious contenders couldn’t totally ignore. Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) have both previously won stages at the Tour.

Although neither are race favourites, the leaders didn’t want to give them too much latitude and caught them easily with about five kilometres to go.

Although there were two third-category climbs early in the stage, today was always going to come down to the final six-kilometre long Category 1 climb to the ski station at La Planche des Belles Filles.

While it is far from the most difficult climb of the Tour, the last few hundred metres kicked up to over 20 percent and caught out a number of riders.

Even before the final climb, the peloton had started to shatter. At five kilometres to go, yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara of Radioshack-Nissan cracked and started to slip back and surprisingly, so did teammate Frank Schleck.

One of the race favourites, Jurgen van den Broeck and stage favourite Alejandro Valverde had mechanical issues at the worst possible time, just before the final climb, destroying any plans they may have had.

Van den Broeck lost almost two minutes while Valverde lost two and a half.

As the climb approached the peak, the number of riders in the lead group dwindled to only five as Team Sky piled on the pressure for their man Bradley Wiggins. They managed to shake off everyone from Cadel Evans’ team BMC—with the exception of Evans himself.

While Wiggins looks composed on the bike, Evans looks like he has been sentenced to ride as opposed to born to do it. His riding style looks tortured, but looks are deceiving—his courage and heart make him a formidable rider.

Although most pundits believe that the race is between Wiggins and Evans, Liquigas team leader Vincenzo Nibali refused to be shaken and sits comfortably in third place and is one to watch as the race unfolds.

Although Team Sky teammate Chris Froome broke free to claim the stage win, Wiggins inherits Cancellara’s yellow jersey and Evans moves into second place, 10 seconds behind Wiggins with Nibali a further six seconds back.

Evans will be happy with that position, being close enough to strike, but without the added weight of the yellow jersey. It will be interesting to see how Team Sky deal with protecting the yellow and whether Wiggins will cope with being a target.

With a few climbs on the menu tomorrow, we won’t have to wait too long.

 

Standings after Stage 7 (Courtesy letour.fr)

1.

WIGGINS Bradley

SKY PROCYCLING

34h 21' 20''

 

2.

EVANS Cadel

BMC RACING TEAM

34h 21' 30''

+ 00' 10''

3.

NIBALI Vincenzo

LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE

34h 21' 36''

+ 00' 16''

4.

TAARAMAE Rein

COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE

34h 21' 52''

+ 00' 32''

5.

MENCHOV Denis

KATUSHA TEAM

34h 22' 14''

+ 00' 54''

6.

ZUBELDIA Haimar

RADIOSHACK-NISSAN

34h 22' 19''

+ 00' 59''

7.

MONFORT Maxime

RADIOSHACK-NISSAN

34h 22' 29''

+ 01' 09''

8.

ROCHE Nicolas

AG2R LA MONDIALE

34h 22' 42''

+ 01' 22''

9.

FROOME Christopher

SKY PROCYCLING

34h 22' 52''

+ 01' 32''

10.

ROGERS Michael

SKY PROCYCLING

34h 23' 00''

+ 01' 40''

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