Tour 2012: Brits Having A Field Day In France

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It was a good day for British cycling on the roads of France. Not only did Bradley Wiggins stay in the Yellow Jersey, and seems destined to all the way to Paris, but they also nabbed a stage win today when David Miller of Garmin-Sharp held off  Jean-Christophe Peraud and Egoi Martinez following a long breakaway. To add icing on the cake, Wiggins’ teammate Chris Froome, who grew up in Kenya but is riding under the British flag, is in second place over all and possibly riding better than anyone else in the race. Good day for the Brits indeed!

Today’s stage was a 220km (136.69 mile) ride from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux. It began with two big Category 1 climbs early on, but soon flattened out and became much easier. That let some of the sprinters remind fan that they’re still in the race and the rider who remain in contention for the Green Jersey stretched their legs some where they could. After the two grueling stages from Wednesday and Thursday, this was a relatively tame day in the race, and while we saw a bit of jousting, there wasn’t really any major changes to the standings.

As mentioned, Wiggins still rides in Yellow and his mate Chris Froome is in second 2:05″ back. In third place is Vincenzo Nibali an additional 18 seconds down. Nibali seems to be the only real threat to Wiggins at this point, and while he has attacked in the mountain stages, he’s been unable to shake the lanky Brit and his unflappable Sky Team.

In the battle for the Green Jersey, Peter Sagan extended his lead over Matthew Goss and looks tough to catch at this point. Goss was given a penalty by race officials for “irregular racing” that ended up costing him points. The ruling came after the Australian rider cut in front of Sagan as they both sprinted to the line. It was an abrupt move and it was difficult to tell if it was intentional, but as a result Goss was sent tot he back of the pack he was riding in and gave up the sprint points to his rival.

Fredrik Kessiakoff maintained his lead in the Polka Dot Jersey as well but with some big climbs coming up in the Pyrenees he is far from safe. Even though this was a tough week in the Alps, there are some really grueling rides to come and the King of the Mountains competition is still wide open. Finally, Tejay Van Garderen continues riding in the White Jersey for the best rider under the age of 25. He is just one of several young riders who have looked very impressive this year. We are seeing the future of cycling begin to mature on the roads of France.

Tomorrow will be a day for the sprinters with a mostly flat and fast stage. It’ll be a 215km (133.58 mile) ride from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d’Agde that has a few rolling hills and an intermediate sprint, but otherwise will have little impact on the standings. Sunday takes us back into the high mountains however with 192km (119.29 mile) route from Limoux to Foix. That ride includes a Category 2 and two big Category 1 climbs, with a downhill finish. If anyone is going to make a move on Wiggins, it won’t be until then.

The Pyrenees are looming next week, but at the moment Wiggins and the Sky Train look pretty tough to crack. It could be one of the least exciting finishes to the Tour in awhile, but at least the other jerseys are keeping things interesting.

Kraig Becker