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Roche slips in Tour GC as Martin break comes up short

Posted 12 July 2012

Nicolas Roche has dropped out of the top ten at the Tour de France after a punishing day on stage 11 which packed four categorised climbs into 148 kilometres of racing.
Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) lost contact with a select group of race favourites just over nine kilometres from the finish, dropping 5’20” on Bradley Wiggins (Sky) who retains his race lead.
He finished the stage over six minutes behind Pierre Rolland (Europcar) who soloed to victory after distancing the remnants of a large breakaway on the summit finish at La Toussuire.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was part of that 31 man break who were clear over the first climb of the hors category Col de Madeleine, but he too suffered a tough day.
The first cracks in Martin’s armour began to show with five kilometres to the top of that climb although he rallied to rejoin a reduced group of six leaders, including Rolland, over the summit.
The 6.9% average gradient also caused difficulties for Roche who lost ground in the chase group containing Wiggins with a torturous seven kilometres to the summit.
Roche made full use of the descent to regain contact with the Wiggins chase group ahead of the next climb of the Col du Mollard where Martin finally cracked under the strain of the pace set by Rolland up front.
The real showdown took place on the 18 kilometre long climb to the finish at La Toussuire where the chasers soon swept up Martin.
Attacks from Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liguigas-Cannondale) shredded the chase group, with Roche snapping midway up the climb.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) made his exit with 4 kilometres to go leaving Wiggins and teammate Chris Froome, Nibali, Van Den Broeck and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat) to fight for yellow as Rolland wrapped up the solo stage win.
Pinot made it a French one-two with Froome taking third after an astonishing display of resilence on the latter stages of the climb in which he dropped back, returned to the front of the chase group, attacked and then waited after distancing Wiggins.
Roche finished 19th some 6’17” down while Martin crossed the line 33rd at 14’15” in arrears.
Roche now lies 13th in the GC with accumulated losses of 10’49” while Wiggins now leads Froome by 2’05” with Nibali returning to third overall just 18 seconds further back.
Tour de France
Stage 11: Albertville – La Toussuire-Les Sybelles, 148 kilometres
1.  Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 4:43:54
2.  Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:55
3.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
4.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:00:57
5.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
6.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
7.  Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:01:08
8.  Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:01:58
9. Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team 0:02:13
10. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:23
19. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 6 minutes, 17 seconds
33. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 14 minutes, 15 seconds
General classification after stage 11
1.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 48:43:53
2.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05
3.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23
4.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:03:19
5.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:04:48
6.  Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:06:15
7.  Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:06:57
8.  Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:07:30
9.  Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:08:31
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:08:51
13.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 10 minutes, 49 seconds
51.  Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Sharp 1:01:10

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