Joaquin Rodriguez outsprinted Alberto Contador in Mende today to take stage 12 of the Tour de France. At 3.1km the climb to Mende aerodrome is one of the shortest classified climbs in the race, but metre for metre it provided more drama than any other.

As the remnants of the early break were scattered back down the climb that averages 10.1% but hits over 14% in places, they were swept up one-by-one by the bunch, even though the general contenders were playing a waiting game.

Saxo Bank set a steady place, but with the metres ticking by, no one looked ready to make a move. Ahead Alexandre Vinokourov, who’d left his break away rivals on the steep slopes, was stretching his lead out.

The pace of the bunch was enough to see a constant stream of riders fall out the back, but still no one would make a move.

Finally the waiting game was over. Rodriguez went, immediately followed by Jurgen Van Den Broeck, the surprise package of this year’s race.

They were just a few metres clear of the thinning bunch when Alberto Contador jumped up the left hand gutter. The reigning Tour champion was immediatley clear as Andy Schleck failed to react.

His hesitation cost him dear.

When he finally made his move Contador was 20 metres ahead and looking good. As the helicopter shot looked down on them it was clear that the Spaniard was moving faster.

Rodriguez stayed with him and the pair were quickly passed Vinokourov. Behind Schleck kept the pace high but Samuel Sanchez and Denis Menchov were able to claw their way up to him.

As the road narrowed with the weight of the crowd it looked like either group could be blocked by the motorbikes at any moment. Suddenly, as the riders crested the top of the climb the road opened up and Contador was time trialling his way to the finish line.

His gap looked good, perhaps not enough to take over the race lead, but enough to come within just a few seconds of Schleck. But on the short descent to the line Schleck was able to limit his losses to just ten.

Rodriguez’s win was a mere formality. The former Spanish champion is a fast finisher and did little to help Contador on the run in so it was no surprise when he took the stage win. Something that Contador would likely have given him had he pulled on the front.

Behind Schleck wasn’t getting much help either, as the two riders who are now dominating this race are being made to work for their win.


Tour de France 2010, stage 12: Bourg-de-peage – Mende 210.5km

1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha 4-58-26

2. Alberto Contador (Esp) Astana at same time

3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 4 secs

4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto at 10 secs

5. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank

6. Samuel Sanchez (Esp) Euskaltel Euskadi

7. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack

8. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank all at same time

9. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 15 secs

10. Roman Krueziger (Cze) Liquigas at same time


14. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 31sec

General classification after stage 12

1. Andy Shleck (Lux) Saxo Bank 58-42-01

2. Alberto Contador (Esp) Astana at 31 secs

3. Samuel Sanchez (Esp) Euskaltel Euskadi at 2-45

4. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2-58

5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto at 3-31

6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 4-06

7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 4-47

8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha 4-58

9. Luis Leon Sanchez (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne 5-02

10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 5-16


14. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 6-44

16. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 7-39

Points classification: Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo

Mountains classificaton: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom

Best young rider: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank

Team: RadioShack

Ryder Hesjedal leads escape, Tour de France 2010, stage 12

Ryder Hesjedal leads the escape group

Andy Schleck, Tour de France 2010, stage 12

Andy Schleck

Joaquin Rodriguez attacks, Tour de France 2010, stage 12

Joaquin Rodriguez in the winning move, with Alberto Contador right behind him

Joaquin Rodriguez wins, Tour de France 2010, stage 12

Rodriguez wins, and Contador gains some time on Schleck

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish’s win

Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour

Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?

Cavendish in a ‘must win’ situation for Tour’s green jersey

Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut

Roche alongside Tour’s top men ahead of Pyrenees

Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?

Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain

Bradley Wiggins: Tour rest day conference

Evans faces rough ride in yellow

Riis secures replacement sponsor but Shleck in doubt

Tour de France 2010: rest day review (July 12)

Armstrong’s Tour de France dream ends

Sky’s objective clear ahead of Tour’s high mountains

The Feed Zone (July 10): Tour de France news and views


Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour

Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race

Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day

Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head

Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white

Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up

Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour

Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims

Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC

Stage three live coverage: As it happened

Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa

Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters

Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Tour 2010 wallpaper

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos

Stage 11 video highlights

Stage 10 video highlights

Stage nine video highlights

Stage eight video highlights

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Stage five video highlights

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

Brits at the Tour 2010

Tout team guide

Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures

Tour team presentation, Rotterdam

Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special


  • NinePins

    No doubt there will be some long silences during Astana’s evening meal tonight – just like last year!