TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 | STAGE 12 | ROANNE > BELLEVILLE-EN-BEAUJOLAIS
Inspired by the end of the 15-year drought for Cofidis and the end of the 5-year drought for Spain in terms of stage wins at the Tour de France, Ion Izagirre, 34, claimed his second stage win in Belleville-en-Beaujolais, seven years after his first one in Morzine as he emulated his team-mate Victor Lafay and his compatriot Pello Bilbao, a Basque rider like him who started with an exceptional motivation in Bilbao. Jonas Vingegaard retained the yellow jersey in an action packed stage in the vineyards.
CLASSICS SPECIALISTS ON THE MOVE
The start proper of stage 12 was given at 13.27 to 168 riders. One non-starter: Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-Quick Step). Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) was the first on the attack but no one wanted to go with him as he’d be hard to beat from a breakaway group. He was brought back by the compact bunch after 3km and that led to successive and unfruitful attacks for more than an hour. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) were among the specialists of the big classics eager to break away. David De La Cruz (Astana) crashed out in a downhill to St-Vincent-de-Reins (km 28). At km 45, Van Aert managed to go clear but he was brought back after 8km alone in the lead.
15 RIDERS IN THE LEAD
A strong leading group was eventually formed at half way into stage 12 by 13 riders in several waves: Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Andrey Amador (EF Education-EasyPost), Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Guillaume Martin, Ion Izagirre (Cofidis), Ruben Guerreiro, Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Dylan Teuns (Israel-PremierTech), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Dstny), Tobias Halland Johanessen (Uno-X) and Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies). Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) and Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek) came across on the line of the intermediate sprint at Régnié-Durette where Pedersen scored 20 points in first position. The peloton was divided in three groups with the likes of Sepp Kuss, Mikel Landa, Emanuel Buchmann and Louis Meintjes among the stragglers, which inclined AG2R-Citroën to pace the yellow jersey group in order to get Felix Gall move up on GC. Van der Poel and Amador rode away from the leading group with 55km to go. The Dutchman sped up and continued solo up the côte de Montmain.
IZAGIRRE ALONE IN THE LAST 31KM
32km before the end, Pinot and Jorgenson caught up with Van der Poel. It became an 8-man group with the reinforcement of Martin, I. Izagirre, Benoot, Guerreiro and Burgaudeau. Izagirre rode away by himself 31km before the finish. After the Kuss group caught up with the yellow jersey group, Ineos Grenadiers set the pace of that main peloton as Pinot was threatening the fourth place overall of Carlos Rodriguez. Izagirre reached an advantage of 50’’ with 15km to go. He forged on as the cooperation in the chasing group wasn’t great. Jorgenson and Burgaudeau attacked with 3km to go to round out the stage podium. The yellow jersey peloton crossed the line 4’14″ after the Spanish winner.
ION IZAGIRRE: “IT’S A VERY BASQUE TOUR DE FRANCE”
“It’s incredible. For the whole Tour so far I tried to break away and it didn’t work out but today yes. We were going well with Guillaume Martin all day. I attacked in the last climb from very far out and I could maintain the time difference to get the victory for myself. I was confident in my strength. I knew that if I earned enough lead, my adversaries wouldn’t have me in sight and it would play in my favour. I felt strong in the last kilometres. Many things went through my mind. It’s all very emotional. It’s a very Basque Tour de France. It started at home for us and we took two stage wins. I’m happy to follow the line drawn by Pello Bilbao.”
JONAS VINGEGAARD: “THIS IS A GREAT TOUR DE FRANCE”
“Every race day is full on, and today’s was no exception. From your perspective, I’m sure this is being a great Tour de France. Today’s stage has been very hard. The consequences of this difficulty will be seen in the third week. Everything is building up for a very hard Tour de France. I’m ready for a big battle tomorrow and hope for having my best legs.”
TADEJ POGACAR: “I TRIED TO PLAY IT SAFE TODAY”
“I’m satisfied about today’s stage. I had good legs, and tried to save some energy over the stage, in order to use them in the next few days. It has been a really hard stage, and I knew that every wrong move meant spending energy that would be necessary in the coming days. I tried to play it safe today, for no dangerous break to go away. It would have been great to put Adam Yates on a break, as then the team would have been able to take it easier. I know tomorrow’s final climb. I hope to have a good legs tomorrow.”
MATHIEU VAN DER POEL: “I WASN’T IN MY BEST SHAPE”
“I wasn’t in my best shape. Even if I felt better than on previous days, I was at the limit. I gave it all because that was ma last chance to try and get a win this week. But reality is that I wasn’t ready for a performance that would me a winner. I’ve tried to go away solo but in the last climb I was empty. I thought I had recovered enough but it was a crazy race. You need to be on top of your game to win a stage like this one. I hope to improve my condition in days to come and see if I can try again. My goal remains to win a stage.”
NEILSON POWLESS: “I’LL FOCUS ON STAGES WITH SEVERAL CLIMBS”
“I wondered if it was better to try and break away or to save energy for the Alps. After a while, I opted for riding quietly. I’m not focus on a particular rider to mark yet. It will be the case when we’ll be in the big mountains. Grand Colombier is demanding. There might be a breakaway to catch for going for the stage win but I think I’ll focus more on stages with several climbs and more KOM points to grab.”