The Spanish cycling team that had not won a stage in the Tour de France in the previous four editions made up for it in just three days. Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) won the twelfth stage on Thursday, after Pello Bilbao’s victory on Tuesday.
Izagirre, who won alone in this twelfth stage, between Roanne and Belleville-en-Beaujolais, of 168.8 km, also adds his second victory in the history of the Tour, after having won the twentieth stage of 2016, ending in Morzine.
“Already two victories for Basque cyclists and we hope we get some more,” said Izagirre at the end of the stage.
Curiously, the last three Spanish stage winners in the Tour de France have been Basque, the previous one having been Omar Fraile from Santurtziarra in 2018.
Spanish cycling has not won two stages in the same Tour de France since 2015, when Joaquim Rodríguez had two partial victories and Rubén Plaza one.
Vingegaard remains leader
In the general classification, the Danish Jonas Vingegaard continues to lead with a 17-second advantage over the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who entered just over three minutes behind the winner of the stage.
Both seem to be reserved for the next stages, starting with the one on Friday, in which the Grand Colombier will be climbed, one of the most difficult climbs in France (17.4 km climb at 7.1% average gradient).
“Tomorrow will be a decisive day,” Vingegaard said. “It’s a long hard climb, it all depends on who feels good and who doesn’t,” he said.
Pogacar did not hide his intention to go in search of victory: “I want to win. It’s a good climb, if I have the legs for it, I’ll attack.”
Izagirre escaped from a leading group made up of half a dozen breakaways, on the climb to the fifth and last mountain pass of the day, the second-category Col de la Croix Rosier, 30 km from the finish line.
The 34-year-old Gipuzkoan cyclist had advantages of almost a minute, without the group of escapees reacting, although he reduced the disadvantage a bit with about 20 km to go.
“On the last climb I felt good, so I accelerated and in the end I was able to maintain the advantage. I felt very strong,” explained the winner of the day.
The fact of having a Cofidis teammate in that small group of pursuers, the French Guillaume Martin, helped Izagirre’s escape to continue as the French runner served as a brake on the pursuers.
The Basque cyclist, three times Spanish time trial champion, also used his good skills as a wheeler to maintain the advantage.
“I tried many times to be in the good break and today it happened. It went well since Guillaume (Martin, his partner in Cofidis, NDLR) joined me in the break and helped me all day”, said Izagirre.
Second victory for Cofidis
Izagirre has won stages in the three major rounds, since in addition to the two that he added in the Tour de France, he also won the sixteenth of the Giro d’Italia in 2012, adding two partial victories in the Tour of Spain, in the first , a team time trial, in 2019 and in the sixth of 2020.
It is also the second victory in this Grande Boucle for the Cofidis team, after the triumph of the Frenchman Victor Lafay, who had ended a fifteen-year drought for the French team, when he prevailed in the second stage, ending in San Sebastián .
“Victor (Lafay) won in Donosti. This Tour is very special for the Cofidis team,” said the Basque cyclist.
Izagirre, with tears in his eyes, dedicated the victory to his daughter, Iraia, who had a birthday this Thursday.
“Well yes, there are many days away from home and we miss beautiful days. I spoke to her this morning and congratulated her,” said Izagirre, with tears in his eyes, at the finish line to the SER chain.