Tour de France stage 12 preview: A breakaway day for solo glory in the Alps?

The third straight day in the Alps won’t be as intense as the previous two days. But stage 12 of the Tour de France will still require the peloton on Friday, July 13 to face the challenges of two category 1 climbs and some long, technical descents before a final category 3 climb to the finish.

The field will ride 140.4 miles from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux with a small group breakaway a feasible scenario if the race leaders are willing to let them go.

Spain’s Luis Léon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) of Australia are strong breakaway riders and the profile could be conducive for debutant Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannodale) to go for it and claim his fourth stage of the race’s 99th edition.

The 12th stage will also be unique since Sky teammates Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome are now first and second overall, with Frome trailing the race leader by 2:05.

Froome’s aggressive ride in stage 11 resulted in some team confusion. And the result wasn’t too far removed from a scenario in the mid 1980s between teammate icons Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond.

The Tour last featured a stage finish in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne two years ago when Frenchman Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat) prevailed over Sanchez, who had beaten him the previous year in Saint-Girons.

The Tour de France is debuting in Annonay Davézieux, although the city has hosted stages of the Dauphiné Libere and Paris-Nice.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC), seventh overall and trailing by 6:57, is the leading American. Chris Horner is second among the seven remaining U.S. riders and is fourth among RadioShack Nissan riders. He’s 15th overall, trailing by 12:41.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) became the race’s Laterne Rouge in stage 11 and is now 167th and last overall, trailing by 2:20:40. It will be interesting to see if he remains in the event and if he does, if he can contend in any of the remaining sprinting stages.

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