Tour de France Stage 12: More Mountains, Many More Mountains!

Yesterday was a day for the sprinters: Stage 12, though, is back into mountain goat territory; the climbers will love it (and so will we).

By Whit Yost |

Stage 12 – Roanne to Belleville-en-Beaujolais (168.8km) – Thursday, July 13

The Tour de France doesn’t designate stages to honour local wines–like the Giro d’Italia does–but if it did, this one might be the pick. Beginning in Roanne, which welcomes the Tour for the second time, and ending in Belleville-en-Beaujolais, a first-time Tour host, this challenging transitional stage spends most of its time in France’s Rhône region, home to some of the world’s most famous (and delicious) wines.

In a sense it’s a day that can be viewed in two jagged halves: the first contains two Category 3 climbs (and a few others that aren’t categorised), before the stage heads down to the Saône River valley for the intermediate sprint in Régnié-Durette.

But then the stage heads back into the hills for the first of the three categorised ascents that should settle the stage–and possibly cause some GC shake-ups if the Tour’s overall contenders aren’t paying attention.

These three climbs–the Category 3 Col de la Casse Froide (5.2km at 6.1 percent), the Category 2 Col de la Croix Montmain (5.5km at 6.1 percent), and the Category 2 Col de la Croix Rosier (5.3km at 7.6 percent)–come back-to-back-to-back in close succession on tight, technical roads. It’s the perfect moment for the Tour’s puncheurs to come to the fore, and we expect a breakaway filled with them to use this point of the course to escape in a bid to win the stage–if they haven’t gone off the front already.

2023 Tour de France Stage 12 profileBut not so fast, Julian Alaphilippe! There are 8, 5, and 2 bonus seconds available at the top of the final climb, the Col de la Croix Rosier, and with Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) engaged in a tight battle at the top of the Tour’s General Classification, don’t be surprised if their teams bring the race back together before the final climb to give their captains a chance at taking a few more seconds.

For Jumbo-Visma there’s an added incentive to keep the front of the race together: Belgium’s Wout van Aert has been desperate to win a stage and can probably hang with the leaders over the final climb–in a manner similar to the end of Stage 2, when he made the leading group coming over the Category 2 Jaizkibel and came agonisingly close to winning the stage in San Sebastián.

This should also be an important day for American Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), the current leader of the Tour’s King of the Mountains competition. Powless still has an 18-point advantage over Austria’s Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën) and with 16 points available on the day’s five categorized climbs, the 26-year-old could build himself a solid heading into a 20-point Hors Categorie summit finish atop the Grand Colombier at the end of Friday’s Stage 13.

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