Ion Izagirre solos to victory on frantic stage 12 – Tour de France

Tour de France 2023

Stage 12

Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) took an incredible 30-kilometre solo victory on stage 12 of the Tour de France after one of the hardest days of racing in the 2023 race. In an action-packed opening to the hilly stage, it took 80 kilometres for a breakaway to finally form.

The Basque rider attacked the remnants of the breakaway 2.4km from the summit of the final climb and safely navigated the 28km undulating descent into Belleville-en-Beaujolais. It was Cofidis’ second Tour de France stage victory in 2023 after Victor Lafay broke the French team’s 15-year drought by winning stage 2.

“It’s incredible, we came here with the intention of winning a stage, said Izagirre on Cofidis’ great start to the 2023 Tour. “We wanted to try and get in the top ten as well, but we have two victories and Guillaume [Martin] is doing a great Tour as well so it’s all going to plan.”

Izagirre extended his advantage throughout the final 10km and with Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) stifling any attacks behind, the Basque man closed in on his second Tour de France stage victory after also descending to victory on stage 20 of the 2016 race.

“I’ve tried to get in the breakaway throughout all of this Tour so far, but today I made it so I wanted to make the best of it,” said Izagirre. “We worked really well today all day long and on the last climb I was feeling really strong and I fell behind but then I managed to pull out in front and just held on for victory.”

Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) eventually finished second on the day 58 seconds down on Izagirre, with Jorgenson in third and the rest of the break finishing in ones and twos behind.

“It was 30 kilometres [solo] which is a really long way, but I had to trust myself and I didn’t know if it was going to be enough, but in the end, although I didn’t have any visual references, that meant that I could just put my head down and go for it and I was feeling strong in those last kilometres,” Izagirre said. “It was emotional certainly.”

Mathieu van der Poel had gone solo 47km from the finish after dropping Andrey Amador (EF Education-EasyPost), before Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) bridged the gap to him on the Col de la Croix Rosier and a large group containing Izagirre joined them soon after.

Izagirre celebrates as he crosses the line for a sensational solo victory.

Van der Poel tried to follow Izagirre’s initial acceleration once the group swelled and he launched, but blew himself up in the process and with the climb not yet finished and a descent still to come, he would play no further part in the finale.

Pinot was the big winner in the GC on the day with his sixth-place finish moving him up to 10th overall and only 32 seconds behind his team leader, David Gaudu.

The current overall podium had a nervous start in that explosive opening with race leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) all being forced to mark each other within the first hour.

Thankfully for them, things would calm down once our break finally formed 85km from the finish and anyone who had missed out on earlier moves such as Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla) was able to rejoin the peloton before a calmer run to the line.

After the calm of stage 11 yesterday, the Tour de France was reignited with some of the most relentless opening 80 kilometres of racing you will ever see to get the 12th stage underway.

Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) was the first to attack as soon as the flag was dropped, but he would be far from the last, as once we began to head east out of Roanne, the road started to rise on an uncategorised climb and the fireworks started.

There were unsurprising players in the opening phases, with Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep), Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek), Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) among those most interested in making the break of the day.

The elastic wouldn’t snap over the first categorised climb, the Côte de Thizy-les-Bourgs, but we would get an early sign of how attentive the GC riders would have to stay, with both Vingegaard and Pogačar fending for themselves at times in different splits to try and stay out of danger.

The breakaway riders on the road towards Belleville-en-Beaujolais.

There was an unfortunate crash for Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) and David de la Cruz (Astana Qazaqstan) on a descent which forced the Spaniard to abandon the race and leave in an ambulance.

Small trios and quartets would create splits over the opening 40km, but none would be able to gain more of an advantage than 10 seconds.

Our current GC podium of Vingegaard, Pogačar and Hindley were amazingly, already being forced to mark each other with 120km to go, as they were all isolated and in a group around 50 seconds in front of Simon Yates and polka-dot jersey, Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost).

With the peloton absolutely decimated, we started to see the primary signs of our break finally forming when Dylan Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech) and Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) attacked away prior to a long descending section and Pedersen bridged across.

They were joined by a second trio in Jorgenson, Izagirre and Amador, before our big break finally started to form with Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates), Vingegaard and Pogačar taking a moment, for the first time in 80km, to calm down.

Pinot, Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek) and Alaphilippe would also make it into the big group that contained Van der Poel, Izagirre, Jorgenson and Victor Camapenaerts (Lotto-Dstny) after jumping away late from a peloton now happy to stop racing full gas after one of the most difficult starts to a stage in recent memory.

Jumbo-Visma momentarily assumed control, before AG2R-Citroën curiously took up the mantle of controlling the breakaway. They would stabilise the gap to around 2:35 with 58k to ride, but it’s unsure what reason they were riding for with no real GC hopeful.

There was another unfortunate crash in the peloton for five riders and Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek) stayed down for a moment as the worst affected, but eventually got back on his bike and on his way despite visible pain on his face.

Tadej Pogacar lunges towards the line.

At the head of the race on the descent of the Col de la Casse Froide (5.2km at 6.1%), Van der Poel slid off the front with only Amador for company, but the Costa Rican would get dropped on the Col de la Croix Montmain (5.5km at 6.1%), leaving Van der Poel solo with just under 50km remaining.

Some of those in the break started to pay for their earlier efforts on the first of two category 2 climbs, with Alaphilippe and Pedersen both unable to follow the still infernal tempo.

Van der Poel was giving everything on the descent and taking every risk to maximise his advantage at the front and Jorgenson had set off in pursuit of the flying Dutchman with Pinot close behind.

Jorgenson and Pinot made the catch with 32km of racing remaining, but the group containing Benoot, Martin, Izagirre, Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar), Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X) and Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) about to also make contact.

Jumbo-Visma retook control from AG2R once the French team ran out of riders and realised they couldn’t catch the break, which also meant the gap ballooned out to our leaders.

Van der Poel got attacked by Izagirre with 30km to ride and the Spanish rider dropped everyone 2.4km from the crest of the final categorised climb of the day, the Col de la Croix Rosier (5.3km at 7.6%). The Dutch rider blew up after looking so strong throughout the day and the rest of the break all left him behind.

Izagirre would crest the final climb 20 seconds ahead of his pursuers, but with a lack of cooperation and Martin doing his best to disrupt any concerted efforts to chase, that advantage quickly ballooned to over 45 seconds.

Even on the few uphill rises that came on the 28km descent into Belleville-en-Beaujolais, Izagirre still held his advantage and it became clear that he was about to take Cofidis’ second stage win at the 2023 Tour de France.

Race leader Jonas Vingegaard can expect a challenge tomorrow on the Grand Colombier.

Jorgenson attacked the chasing group inside the final few kilometres with only Burgaudeau able to follow, and the Frenchman got the better of him in the sprint as they rounded out the day’s podium.

Bastille Day tomorrow is expected to see a big showdown on the Grand Colombier. Stage 13 on Le Tour travels from Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne to the brutal pass in the Jura Mountains. It’s a relatively short stage, 137.8 kilometres long.

The Tour has never before visited Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne, a village 50 kilometres north of Lyon. The yellow caravan goes eastward to penetrate the Jura Mountains. The end station is the summit of the Grand Colombier, a mountain that was first used in the 2012 edition. This will be the fifth inclusion, while it will be the second finish at the top. The first Grand Colombier finish happened in 2020.

Back then, the race was kicking the peloton all over the Grand Colombier. Literally. The riders tackled the colossus from several sides before eventually pushing on all the way to the top. That day, Le Tour served Montée de la Selle de Fromentel (11.1 kilometres at 8.1%), Col de la Biche (6.9 kilometres at 8.9%), and the Grand Colombier (17.4 kilometres at 7.1%) in the last 75 kilometres. Strangely, nothing much happened. Jumbo-Visma set a blistering pace and eventually their leader Primoz Roglic was outsprinted by Tadej Pogacar. A nasty stain on a perfectly executed strategy.

The approach is less demanding this time, and let’s hope it inspires the peloton to more action. The riders climb to the Lèbe observatory – a long drag at shallow gradients – 16.4 kilometres at 3% -, before descending to Artemare. After 10 kilometres on the flat the finish climb kicks in from Culoz. Which is the same as in 2020, so the last 17.4 kilometres climb at 7.4% to the line. The final 3.4 kilometres rise at 9.2% to the line.

The Grand Colombier peaks out at over 1,500 metres. Since there are no surrounding mountains the panoramic 360° view is breathtaking.

Stage 12 result:

  1. Ion Izagirre (ESP, Cofidis) 03h 51’42”
  2. Mathieu Burgaudeau (FRA, TotalEnergies) +58″
  3. Matteo Jorgenson (USA, Movistar) +1:06″
  4. Tiesj Benoot (BEL, Ineos Grenadiers) +1:11″
  5. Tobias Johannssen (NOR, UNO-X Pro Cycling) +1:13″
  6. Thibaut Pinot (FRA, Groupama-FDJ) +1:13″
  7. Guillaume Martin (FRA, Cofidis) +1:13″
  8. Dylan Teuns (BEL, Israel-Premier Tech) +1:27″
  9. Ruben Guerreiro (POR, Movistar) +1:27″
  10. Victor Campenaerts (BEL, Lotto Dstny) +3:02″

General Classification:

  1. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN, Jumbo-Visma) 46h 34’27”
  2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO, UAE Team Emirates) +17″
  3. Jai Hindley (AUS, Bora-Hansgrohe) +2:40″
  4. Carlos Rodriguez Cano (ESP, Ineos Grenadiers) +4:22″
  5. Pello Bilbao (ESP, Bahrain – Victorious +4:34″
  6. Adam Yates (GBR, UAE Team Emirates) +4:39″
  7. Simon Yates (GBR, Team Jayco AlUla) +4:44″
  8. Tom Pidcock (GBR, INEOS Grenadiers) +5:26″
  9. David Gaudu (FRA, Groupama-FDJ) +6:01″
  10. Thibaut Pinot (FRA, Groupama-FDJ) +6:33″

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