16/07/15 - 10:15
Lannemezan - Plateau de Beille
Tour de France • Stage12

Lannemezan - Plateau de Beille

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No change in the overall standings then as Chris Froome and his rivals cross the line together after that sodden final ascent to Plateau de Beille.


And just like yesterday, Valverde manages to snatch back one second over the line... crossing with Froome and Quintana and the others just behind.


A little kick from Valverde in the closing straight...


And then Mikael Cherel of Ag2R-La Mondiale...


Romain Sicard (Europcar) is next...


Sixth for Jan Barta of Bora-Argon 18. These guys are the remnants of the initial break... 5:48 down on the stage winner, Rodriguez.


Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) outkicks Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) for fourth place.


Geraint Thomas still leading the group of main favourites with Froome in his wheel. They have 1.5km left to ride...


Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) crosses the line for third.


Second place for Jakob Fuglsang of Astana, 1:12 down.


That's the second win of the Tour for Rodriguez after his win on the Mur de Huy in stage three.


Victory in the torrential rain for Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha! The Spaniard punches the air with both fists...


Another dig from Quintana - but it comes to nothing...


Thomas is back on the front of the yellow jersey group driving the pace. They're about to catch Kwiatkowski. They're about 3.5km from the finish.


Rodriguez passes under the 1km-to-go banner... the hail has gone but it's still raining very hard.


Valverde creeps up while there's a lull and then the Spaniard pings ahead. Froome chases it down before Quintana has a pop. They're all going for it! But it's back together as Thomas, Nibali and Pinot return on their wheels.


ATTACK FROM FROOME! The yellow jersey puts in one of his big trademark attacks and only Quintana, Contador and Van Garderen can follow.


Bardet is 20 seconds behind Fuglsang so he could still take second place today. The yellow jersey group is 7:20 behind lone leader Rodriguez so they are very much out of the equation.


Purito is gritting his teeth and grimacing in the rain as he continues his surge to the line. He's 1:10 ahead of Fuglsang now so the win is his provided he keeps on pedalling...


ATTACK FROM QUINTANA! The Colombian edges ahead just as Richie Porte dropped off... Froome and Thomas keep their cool and up the tempo to reel him in.


Under the 4km-to-go banner for Rodriguez and the Spaniard is emerging from the trees as he nears the exposed summit of this cruel climb. The stage is his to loose because Fuglsang is making no headway behind.


Nibali is reeled in - and then there's another attack from Valverde. He takes the Sicilian with him, but then both are brought to heel by Porte.


Still the rain pounds down as Rodriguez continues his solo ride to the summit - he has 45 seconds over chaser Fuglsang.


Valverde attacks, prompting a response by Porte, who reels in the Spanish national champion for his man in yellow. They will catch Nibali soon.


Nibali's attack actually came just after Contador was reeled in by this main group of favourites - so the Italian is out ahead on his own.


And now Nibali has gone too! The Italian attacks in pursuit of Contador. No reaction from Sky, who stick to the watts plan with Porte and Thomas drilling for Froome.


Now Contador goes! The Spaniard dances clear of the pack and he's allowed to go. Remember, the kilometres marked are for the leaders - and these guys are about 4km further back, so this is an attack 10+ kilometres from the summit from Contador...


The likes of Nibali, Contador, Rolland, Valverde, Quintana and Van Garderen are all here with the Sky trio of Froome, Thomas and Porte. PInot is here - so he has not been dropped as initially reported. TGV also has Sammy Sanchez with him. Bauke Mollema is there for Trek too.


Fuglsang has caught and passed the world champion too. Rodriguez grits his teeth up the road - he's leading the race.


Rodriguez catches Kwiatkowski, but Bardet is struggling further behind Fuglsang.


Warren Barguil has been dropped... and Majka has peeled off the front - so it's now the Sky big boys leading the chase.


ATTACK: Rodriguez dances on the pedals and bounds clear of Fuglsang and Bardet.


Froome has Porte and Thomas ahead, and Quintana right behind, with Valverde and Contador. Kreuziger's work is done and he peels off to hand the reins to yesterday's stage winner, Majka.


Kwiatkowski has 30 seconds over the chasing trio.


Tinkoff-Saxo pair Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger are on the front of the pack. Alberto Contador promised he'd try something today - could this be it? He's riding a bit further back with Froome and Valverde...


Kwiatkowski passes under the 10-to-go banner. He'll have to pull something out of the bag if he wants to hold off Rodriguez et al.


Rodriguez, Fuglsang and Bardet riding in pursuit of Kwiatkowski now - they trail the world champion by 50 seconds.


Back with the main pack and Tony Gallopin has been dropped - he may lose his spot in the top ten today.


They reel in Vanmarcke and then Purito puts in a big dig - the Spaniard wants a second stage win...


Vanmarcke will be caught by the chasing riders soon after Fuglsang ups the tempo, taking Bardet and Rodriguez with him. Meintjes is there too, and Izagguire.


Dan Martin already dropped by the pack - and Thibaut Pinot... Sky lead the pack through Kennaugh and Stannard.


Europcar and Movistar move to the front of the pack as they approach the start of the climb... They're in Les Cabannes, which is the town at the foot of the road up to Plateau de Beille.


Kwiatkowski drives clear of Vanmarcke. The world champion is going for a long one... he has 1:25 over the Bardet-led chasing group.


Sky lead the peloton under the 20-to-go banner - so they're about 6km behind the leaders. Kwiatkowski is grimacing as he leads Vanmarcke up this beast of an ascent.


Ag2R-La Mondiale pair Cherel and Bardet lead the chase in the break. Bardet is the big favourite for the win - alongside Rodriguez, Fuglsang and perhaps Sicard.


The two leaders are onto the HC climb of Plateau de Beille (15.8km at 7.9%). It's an horrific climb - I did it last year on the back of 140 sweltering kilometres in the saddle during the Ariegoise sportive. While it's enclosed and sheltered for the most part, there aren't many bends which means it's psychologically demanding. The gradient is a consistent 8% and it goes on for 2km longer than Alpe d'Huez. All in all, a pure sufferfest.


The peloton has really strung out as they continue the speedy approach to the final climb. They're riding along on dry roads and have yet to hit the storm on the horizon. Thibaut Pinot is off the back with his FDJ team car... what a terrible Tour he's having.


Lieuwe Westra has been caught by the pack - the Dutchman was part of the initial break, but was tailed off from that second group on the Port de Lers climb.


Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke have hit the storm that has engulfed the final climb and summit finish at Plateau de Beille. They are utterly drenched as they continue their ride, 1:45 ahead of the chasers. The pack is still more than 11 minutes back so we will have two races on the climb - one for the stage, and another for GC.


The peloton are now passing through Niaux, a few kilometres away from Tarascon-sur-Ariege...


Pantani is one of five riders to have won atop Plateau de Beille: Until Belgian whippet Jelle Vanendert won in 2011 history dictates that if you win at Beille then you will ride into Paris in yellow. Just ask Marco Pantani (1998), Alberto Contador (2007) and Lance twice...


The two leaders are passing through Tarascon-sur-Ariege, which is where Laurent Jalabert and Marco Pantani led the peloton's sit-down protest at the start of stage 12 of the infamous 1998 Tour.


Eurosport presenter Ashley House shares the extent of the meteorological devastation at the finish...


The two leaders have one minute on a chasing group of Fuglsang, Rodriguez, Bardet, Izaguirre, Cherel, Sicard and Meintjes. Behind there is a second chasing group of Chavanel, Barta, Preidler, Delaplace, Coppel, Durasek, Navarro and Westra. The pack is at 10:30.


Meintjes is back with the chasing group, which is closing in on Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke. Back with the pack, and it's Kennaugh who sits on front ahead of Froome. Meanwhile, the hail continues the rattle the finish. Quite extraordinary!


The gap is down to 9:45 for the leaders. They have completed the hard part of the downhill and how have a 20km drag towards the foot of the final climb of the day, the fearsome Plateau de Beille.


CRASH: Louis Meintjes loses it on a corner and goes into the verge. His chain comes off but he sorts it out and gets back on his bike. He won't be the only one who crashes today...


Bryan Coquard is all simles as he's caught by the peloton just as he crests the summit of the Port de Lers. Sky lead - and they will need to protect Froome on this perilous downhill.


It's hailing at the finish now... and this current descent is wet in patches, and the road is very, very narrow. I've driven up this one and couldn't imagine a bike race coming down at speed.


Kwiatkowski takes 10pts over the summit, Vanmarcke 8pts, Cherel 6pts, Meintjes 4pts, Bardet 2pts and Fuglsang 1pt.


So explosive yesterday, Dan Martin - second at Cauterets - is paying for his efforts and going backwards. Cannondale-Garmin's disappointing Tour continues...


This is the climb the peloton is tackling right now - and which the escapees are about to complete. Sorry for the delay...


Second last year in Paris, Jean-Christophe Peraud has now been dropped by the peloton. Like his fellow podium finishers Nibali and Bardet, he's having a shocker this year.


The leaders are through the trees and are nearing the summit of the Col de Lers. They're having a little chat as the chasing group approaches - Bardet, Fuglsang and Meintjes have been swept up by a few others, including Rodriguez and Izaguirre.


Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke still evading the three chasers - they have 10 seconds, with the pack at 10:28.


Which means it will not be looking like this today when the riders head up in about an hour or so...


The rain is pounding down at the finish atop Plateau de Beille...


Bardet has been joined by Fuglsang and Meintjes in pursuit of the two leaders - and it won't be long before they join 'em. The pack - still led by Sky, through Wout Poels and Loe Konig - is riding at 11:50.


Preidler is really suffering and has been caught by the chasing riders - so it's just Vanmarcke, Kwiatkowski and Barta out in front now. In fact, Barta has been caught as Bardet steps on the pedals and edges clear...


Cherel and Meintjes up the tempo in the break and take Coppel and Delaplace with them. They're in pursuit of Barta. But it comes back together before Fuglsang and Bardet have a dig.


Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) has broken clear of the break in pursuit of the three leaders. Up in front, Preidler looks to be tiring as he drops a few bike lengths back from Vanmarke and Kwiatkowski.


Stannard and Rowe have disappeared now after all their pace setting for Sky. Riders are beginning to be tailed off as the pace ups on this climb. The gap is down to 12:20.


Over 13 minutes now for the three leaders, who are combining well. Preidler is the best climber of them all - although you'd expect the stage win to come from the group behind, which includes the likes of Fuglsang, Rodriguez, Bardet, Izaguirre, Sicard and Meintjes - all of whom are decent when the road goes up.


Look out for: Numerous castles precariously perched on the most unlikely of ridges: this was a key Cathar stronghold in the middle ages. Also, brown bears are known to roam these parts.


History: Lance Armstrong has twice won stages from Lennemezan to Plateau de Beille. Indeed, until Belgian whippet Jelle Vanendert won in 2011 history dictates that if you win at Beille then you will ride into Paris in yellow. Just ask Marco Pantani (1998), Alberto Contador (2007) and Lance twice. Although technically those Tour wins are no longer his...


The three leaders - Vanmarcke, Kwiatkowski and Preidler - have 1:45 over the other escapees, which is quite interesting - because it's the riders behind who include some of the better climbers, setting it up nicely.


The escapees are onto the Cat.1 Port de Lers (12.9km at 6%).


Still Sky lead the peloton through Stannard, Rowe and Kennaugh. Yellow jersey Chris Froome is at the end of their train, behind Geraint Thomas and ahead of the BMC team of Tejay Van Garderen. They trail the leaders by 12:35.


The leading trio have one minute over the other escapees, with the peloton now over 12 minutes back. The likes of Bardet, Navarro and Rodriguez can dream of a win today...


The escapees now have 11 minutes over the peloton - so they can dream of the victory, even if it will no doubt spice up considerably behind once Chris Froome stops peeing on the side of the road.


Preidler, Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke have gone clear of the other escapees. The world champion was distanced on that last climb but he appears to have second wind.


The yellow jersey just taking a natural break - prompting half the peloton to do the same... the grass will be grateful.


Bryan Coquard made it back into the break on the descent and he's now driving the pace for Europcar team-mate Romain Sicard. There's been a split, with eight riders further back and Fuglsang and Navarro stuck in between.


Tour tipple: Hypocras, a spiced red wine with honey and ginger, has been drunk in the Ariege region since the Middle Ages. Although today, I reckon the riders will settle for bidons of water - and a lot of it.


Plat du Jour: When I rode up Plateau de Beille in the Ariegeoise sportive last summer years ago I rewarded myself afterwards with a hearty cassoulet - a white bean stew with sausages, duck confit and pork - in the town of Vicdessos, at the foot of the Port de Lers, the penultimate climb of stage 12. Nothing tasted better.


The break has reached the bottom of the descent and it's South African Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) who is drilling the pace as the escapees hit the feedzone at Oust.


There's a lot of water on the road on this descent - even though it's bright and sunny up top. The break are taking the corners very gingerly - and rightly so. There will inevitably be a fall or two on this downhill... although I hope I'm wrong.


To confirm, Durasek took 10pts over the top, Priedler 8pts, Cherel 6pts, Ladagnous 4pts, Chavanel 2pts and Bardet 1pt. None of these riders are a threat in the polka dot standings right now - but may well be so tonight if they stay out all the way to the finish.


It's raining at the finish line but the sun is back out as the peloton crests the summit of the Col de la Core a huge 8:35 down on the leaders. It's BMC and Sky on the front.


And here's a snap of the smiling Daniel Teklehaimanot, who last week became the first African rider to wear the fabled polka dot jersey...


Georg Priedler (Giant-Alpecin) was second over the summit there to add to his first place over the top of the last summit.


Frenchmen Jeremy Roy and Christophe Riblon have managed to rejoin the leaders going over the summit. They're on the descent now.


Back with the peloton and Mark Cavendish is beginning to be tailed off. It will be a real fight for some riders to finish within the time gap today - although the slow early pace will help them...


Lampre-Merida's Kristijan Durasek bounds clear to take maximum points over the summit of the Col de la Core.


It's not heavy rain - and may well be very welcomed by the riders on this climb - but it will make the next descent rather slippery. Daniel Teklehaimanot, the former polka dot jersey, has been dropped by the peloton - and he smiles at the camera and gesticulates at the rain. The Eritrean said this morning that he was happy it was so hot because that suits him just fine. He spoke too soon!


And it's started to rain... prompting Dani Navarro to put out his tongue in a bid to cool down. The Spaniard looks to be really suffering out there in the break. Who can forget the day he withdrew from the Tour last year with heatstoke - on his 31st birthday too.


Ian Stannard has come to the front to set the pace for Team Sky ahead of Luke Rowe. The pack trails the leaders by 8:45 at the moment - but don't worry, there will be fireworks on the next two climbs, for sure.


World champion Michal Kwiatkowski has rejoined the leaders after being tailed off at the start of the climb. The gap is now 8:30 back to the peloton, which is rolling along at quite a sedate pace to be fair.


Here's what the riders are tackling now, the Cat.1 Col de la Core...


Fuglsang and Westra were both on the front for Astana before the Dane drops back, perhaps to visit his team car. The break has seven minutes now, with the likes of Kwiatkowski, Brun, Ladagnous, Riblon, Roy and Coquard all distanced.


It's really clouded over and that storm Sean was talking about now looks like it may hit. That will make it very interesting... like that stage last year when Rui Costa won when it got eerily dark. Shame the Portuguese rider has already withdrawn.


Yes, already some of the escapees have been tailed off as Astana's Westra sets a fast tempo.


The break is now kissing the nursery slopes of the Cat.1 Col de la Core (14.1km at 5.7%). It will be interesting to see if they split up on this long climb - you'd expect some of the more climbing-minded riders to shed the deadwood quite soon... 22 riders is an awfully large unit for a climb.


We approaching the second climb of the day with the break holding an advantage of 6:55 over the pack. Siberg rides solo in pursuit at 2:00 after dropping Tulik...


Those two riders riding in between the break and peloton - Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal) and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) - have almost bridged over now. Tulik would be the third Europcar rider in the break - alongside Sicard and Coquard.


Two withdrawals to report: Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and Zak Dempster (Bora-Argon 18). Both riders suffered yesterday, with Australian Zempster in particular finishing in last place, 45 minutes down and almost 10 minutes slower than anyone else. Britain's Dowsett has been up against it since stage four, where he crashed hard an badly cut his elbow. He's a haemophiliac and so such a deep wound was never going to make it easy for Dowsett in his debut Tour. And this heat is just proving too much. Dempster was also suffering with saddlesores...


Just to confirm that it was Georg Preidler who took 5pts over the summit of the Portet d'Aspet, with Roy taking 3pts, Westra 2pts and Delaplace 1pt.


Frenchman Jeremy Roy of FDJ needs a front wheel change and after some difficulties he finally gets going. He'll be able to catch up the other escapees on the descent without too much ado - although there are so many teams represented in the break that it's proving quite a battle to fight through the car cavalcade.


Peter Sagan is on bidon duty for his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates, stretching out that green jersey of his. He's trying to catch them up in the pack as it crest the summit of the climb, five minutes down on the break. It's Europcar's Rolland who leads the riders over.


Over the top of the summit goes the break - and it's Preidler of Giant-Alpecin who darts clear to take the KOM points.


It's Luke Rowe of Sky setting the tempo on the front of the peloton with his jersey undone - no surprise, it's sweltering out there. Lucky for them this climb is mostly in the shade. There are a few Tinkoff-Saxo riders there, who yesterday lost Daniele Bennati to a knee injury following a crash.


This break has one stage winner from this year's race in Joaquim Rodriguez, who took stage three on the Mur de Huy before dropping well out of the GC reckoning. The Spaniard, of course, was the first polka dot jersey of the race...


On TV Sean Kelly is talking of possible thunder showers later on today - which seems unlikely because the sun is high in a cloudless blue sky at the moment...


We're on the Cat.2 Col de Portet d'Aspet (4.3km at 9.7%) - which is short but sharp. In fact, it's the second steepest climb on the whole Tour. The gap is 6:10 for the escapees


We're approaching the first climb of the day - the Cat.2 Col de Portet d'Aspet (4.3km at 9.7%). On the way up the riders will pass the memorial stone commemorating the late Italian rider Fabio Casartelli, the Olympic champion and former Motarola team-mate of Lance Armstrong who was killed after crashing on a descent during stage 15 of the 1995 Tour de France.


Of course, Froome is also leading the king of the mountains classification after his HC haul two days ago. He leads team-mate Porte by 57 points to 40, with yesterday's stage winner Rafal Majka level with Nairo Quintana on 32 points. It's Porte in polka dots today because of his team-mate's yellow - and today the Australian is sporting a spotty helmet too.


The Sky team of Chris Froome, the yellow jersey, are on the front of the pack. They had three riders in the top six at La Pierre-Saint-Martin, including that one-two for Froome and Richie Porte. Geraint Thomas is having a storming Tour and is currently in fifth position on GC.


The 22 leaders have 5:55 over the pack, with two riders - Angelo Tulik (Europcar) and Marcel Seiberg (Lotto-Soudal) - trying to bridge the gap, 1:20 down.


Right, the break, in order of their place on GC: Jakob Fulgsang (Astana), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Sylvain Chavanel (FDJ), Mikael Cherel (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Romain Sicard (Europcar), Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Georg Priedler (Giant-Alpecin), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo), Anothony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche), Mattieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Jerome Coppel (IAM), Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Bryan Coquard (Europcar), Christophe Riblon (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Jeremy Roy (FDJ) and Frederic Brun (Bretagne-Seche).


Froome is currently off the back of the peloton with his Sky team car. The 2013 champion has received a barrage of nefarious doping accusations in the press since his win at La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Tuesday. He's taking advantage of a lull now, with the break riding more than five minutes ahead of the pack.


Team Sky's Froome is 2:52 ahead of American Tejay Van Garderen of BMC, with Colombia's Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in third at 3:09. We then have Valverde, Thomas and Contador all around four minutes down, while defending champion Vincenzo Nibali is languishing in 11th place 7:47 down.


The leaders have 3:35 over the peloton so this is the day's main break. Full composition coming right up...


So, we have a huge group of 22 riders out in front - half of which are French.


Cannondale-Garmin are on the front of the peloton, leading the chase after yet again missing out...


The two leaders have been joined by a cluster of riders, including Joaquim Rodriguez, Jakob Fuglsang, Romain Bardet, Jerome Coppel, Dani Navarro and Gorka Izaguirre.


Meintjes and Westra have a minute over the peloton with numerous riders trying to bridge the gap...


The rush of blood that went to Coquard's head has dissipated, and the young Frenchman drops back to the peloton.


As expected, numerous riders use the sprint as a springboard for an attack - and we have Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) out in front.


So, that reduced the gap to just two points - but there will be no birthday green jersey for Greipel today, as Sagan holds onto the points classification summit by a banana skin.


Giant-Alpecin launch the sprint, but it's Sagan in green who comes through... and here is the Gorilla! Birthday boy Andre Greipel swings on the inside and takes the maximum points ahead of John Degenkolb, who denied Sagan second place.


To bring you up to speed - Lotto-Soudal are drilling the pace early on, which is very, very fast. That's because the intermediate sprint comes after just 20km and the battle for green is really hotting up, with Peter Sagan yesterday taking back the lead from Andre Greipel...


We pick the stage up after 15km of riding after an early start in the Pyrenees... sorry for the delay to starting the live ticker - it's because I was filming the newspaper round-up for today's Bonjour Le Tour programme, which you can watch here now...


It's a hot, punishing day for the riders with the temperature already 32 degrees as the remaining 177 riders roll out of Lannemezan...


Good morning and welcome to live coverage of stage 12 of the Tour de France - the hardest of the Tour so far, with a succession of gruelling climbs culminating in the brutal summit finish on Plateau de Beille.