Sanchez wins 12th stage, Voeckler keeps yellow | Pakistan Today

Sanchez wins 12th stage, Voeckler keeps yellow

Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel claimed his maiden Tour de France stage victory on the 211km 12th stage from Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden on Thursday. Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, of Europcar, upset the formbook to retain the race leader’s yellow jersey after the first of three consecutive days in the Pyrenees.
On the first high mountain stage of the race defending champion Alberto Contador lost over 10secs to his key rivals when he dropped off the pace late on the 13.3 km climb to the Pyreneean ski station. Spaniard Sanchez came over the finish line ahead of Belgian Jelle Vanendert of Omega-Pharma after attacking his fellow breakaway companion in the final 500 metres.
Overall contender Frank Schleck, who had escaped from the yellow jersey’s chase group earlier, finished third, just ahead of a group which contained fellow rivals Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso and his younger brother Andy Schleck. In the overall standings Voeckler now leads Frank Schleck by 1min 49sec, with Evans third at 2:06 and Andy Schleck fourth at 2:17.
Contador, who lost over a minute to his rivals in a crash on the first stage, is now seventh overall at 4:00 behind.
Yellow jersey, Kloden among crash victims: Race leader Thomas Voeckler and German Andreas Kloden were among a small group of riders who fell victim to a crash during the 12th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday.
The pile-up occurred just after the chasing peloton had crested the first of three major climbs, La Hourquette d’Ancizan, 141.5km into the 211km stage from Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden ski station. Europcar leader Voeckler, wearing the yellow jersey, skidded before tumbling into a car parked at the side of the road after breaking to avoid crashing harder. In his wake Kloden, who is competing despite suffering from a back injury sustained in a heavy crash on stage nine on Sunday, came down much harder.
Former podium finisher Kloden got back on his bike to continue, apparently suffering from grazes and cuts to his right shoulder and elbow. His RadioShack team are already reeling following the retirements of Chris Horner and Janez Brajkovic, two key riders for the crucial mountain stages.
Six minutes earlier, Welshman Geraint Thomas, who was part of an early six-man breakaway, provided drama when he almost crashed twice within 500 metres.
Shortly after cresting the summit the Team Sky rider braked hard as he came around a right-hand bend and, as he headed towards the grass and a possible drop over the edge, he came off his bike.
Thomas got back on but barely 500 metres further on he rode into the grass verge again after failing to negotiate a left-hand bend. The 12th stage is the first of three consecutive days in the Pyrenees.

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