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2012 Tour de France - Stage 18
 
By Heath Langle
Date: 7/20/2012
2012 Tour de France - Stage 18
 
The Tour’s second longest stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde saw an early sixteen-man breakaway comprised of riders whose teams were still looking for a taste of Tour glory. The rolling course produced a speedy pace on a day thought to be one of conservation for Saturday’s time trial.

At 20 kilometers to go two riders Jeremy Roy (FDJ-Big Mat) and Adam Hansen(Lotto-Bellisol) launched off the front of the breakaway trying to secure a stage win. Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Nick Nuyens (SaxoBank-Tinkoff Bank) quickly joined. Vinokourov, most likely riding his last Tour, desperately pushed the pace to stay away. A three-man group; Nicholas Roche (AG2R ), Andreas Kloden (RSNT), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) bridged the gap and it looked for a minute like a victory for the breakaway.

However, Vino’s swan song was denied by an aggressive peloton. Despite weary legs from the mountains, the peloton closed the gap and snagged the breakaway in the final 1-kilometer, to allow a clash between the quickest wheelmen in the race for a sprint finish. In a furious dash for the line, Mark Cavendish (Sky) came from 10 riders back, after a gracious lead out from his team leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky), to claim a spectacular 22nd stage win. Matthew Goss (Orica-Greenedge) finished second with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) finishing third. Sanchez and Roche’s efforts were rewarded with fourth and fifth place finishes.

Today’s sprint finish may have provided a preview of the events that will unfold on the Champs-Elysees come Sunday as Cavendish will look to top off his stage victories. Twenty-two year old Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) will earn his first green jersey with an outstanding showing in his first Tour.

With no change in the GC standing, and having scorched the field in the Stage 9 individual-time trial, Tour leader, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) appears to be on the verge of his first Tour de France victory going into tomorrow’s time trial with a more than two minute lead. Absent some incredible breach of etiquette and team loyalty, Wiggin’s closest combatant Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), who finished 2:07 behind Wiggins in the first time trial, isn’t expected to fare much better on acourse 12 kilometers longer. That means a Tour victory for Wiggins, Team Sky and Great Britain.

Stage 18 Results
1. GBR CAVENDISH Mark SKY PROCYCLING 04h 54' 12''
2. AUS GOSS Matthew Harley ORICA GREENEDGE + 00' 00''
3. SVK SAGAN Peter LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 00''
4. ESP SANCHEZ Luis-Leon RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM + 00' 00''
5. IRL ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 00''
6. USA FARRAR Tyler GARMIN-SHARP + 00' 00''
7. SLO BOZIC Borut ASTANA PRO TEAM + 00' 00''
8. FRA HINAULT Sébastien AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 00''
9. RSA IMPEY Daryl ORICA GREENEDGE + 00' 00''
10. FRA DUMOULIN Samuel COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 00' 00''
11. GER GREIPEL André LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM + 00' 00''
12. ARG HAEDO Juan Jose TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK + 00' 00''
13. NOR BOASSON HAGEN Edvald SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 00''
14. GER KLÖDEN Andréas RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 00' 00''
15. NED DE KORT Koen TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO + 00' 04''
16. ITAPAOLINI Luca KATUSHA TEAM + 00' 04''
17. FRASIMON Julien SAUR-SOJASUN + 00' 04''
18. DENBAK Lars LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM + 00' 04''
19. GBRWIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 04''
20. ITAMARCATO Marco VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 04''

General Classification After Stage 18
1. GBR WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 83h 22' 18''
2. GBR FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING + 02' 05''
3. ITA NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 02' 41''
4. BEL VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM + 05' 53''
5. USA VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM + 08' 30''
6. AUS EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 09' 57''
7. ESP ZUBELDIA Haimar RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 10' 11''
8. FRA ROLLAND Pierre TEAM EUROPCAR + 10' 17''
9. SLO BRAJKOVIC Janez ASTANA PRO TEAM + 11' 00''
10. FRA PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT + 11' 46''
11. IRL ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 12' 54''
12. GER KLÖDEN Andréas RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 14' 05''
13. USA HORNER Christopher RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 14' 22''
14. DEN SORENSEN Chris Anker TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK + 18' 46''
15. RUS MENCHOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM + 22' 54''
 
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