Maiden win for great Dane
Nicki Sorensen's late burst secured victory on stage 12 of the Tour de France. Rinaldo Nocentini retained the yellow jersey.
Last Updated: 17/07/09 8:26pm
Saxo Bank's Nicki Sorensen produced a superb late burst to take victory on stage 12 of the Tour de France.
The Dane rode alone for the final five kilometres to claim his maiden Tour de France stage win in his 10th year as a professional.
"I am extremely happy, it is something than I hardly thought of. I was lucky to win this one," said the 34-year-old.
"I don't get many chances for myself but I got it today."
The stage provided ideal terrain for a successful breakaway with five minor climbs taking up 30km of the 211.5km route from Tonnerre to Vittel.
And, with the big guns keen to conserve energy ahead of a three-day spell in Alps starting on Sunday, it was an opportunity for some of the peloton's less heralded members to shine.
Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans, ninth and 18th respectively in the overall standings, had tried their luck early on but were swiftly reined in by the bunch.
Sorensen was part of a seven-man breakaway alongside Sylvain Calzati, Markus Fothen, Laurent Lefevre, Egoi Martinez, Remi Pauriol and Franco Pellizotti that went clear after 64km.
And, as they worked together to open a gap of more than six minutes, it became apparent entering the final 25km that they would fight it out amongst themselves for stage honours.
Sorensen, initially in the company of Calzati, jumped off the front and, after shedding the Italian with 5.5km remaining, produced a lung-bursting final effort to take the victory.
Bouygues's Lefevre came home second, 48 seconds later, with Pellizotti taking third for Liquigas in the same time.
Britain's Mark Cavendish, of Team Columbia, kept hold of the green jersey after wining the sprint for eighth as the peloton arrived in Vittel five minutes and 58 seconds after Sorensen.
AG2R rider Rinaldo Nocentini, from Italy, retained the yellow jersey after finishing safely in the main bunch.
But Astana's Levi Leipheimer, fourth in the general classification, suffered a bruised left thigh and sore wrist in a crash near the finish.
Leipheimer, a key lieutenant of Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, will be credited with the same time as the bunch as his fall occurred inside the final three km.
"He went straight to the hotel, he did not look happy," revealed Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens.
Stage 12 result:
1 N Sorensen (Denmark /Saxo Bank) 4hrs 52mins 24secs
2 L Lefevre (France /Bbox-Bouygues) +48"
3 F Pellizotti (Italy /Liquigas) same time
4 M Fothen (Germany / Milram)
5 E Martinez (Spain /Euskaltel)
6 S Calzati (France /Agritubel)
7 R Pauriol (France /Cofidis) +1:33"
8 M Cavendish (Britain/Columbia) +5:58"
9 T Hushovd (Norway/Cervelo)
10 M Bandiera (Italy/Lampre)
1 R Nocentini (Italy/AG2R) 48hrs 27mins 21secs
2 A Contador (Spain/Astana) +6"
3 L Armstrong (US/Astana) +8"
1 M Cavendish (Britain/Columbia) 200 points
2 T Hushovd (Norway/Cervelo) 190
3 J Joaquin Rojas (Spain/Caisse d'Epargne ) 116