Popovych Takes Stage 12; Landis Still in Yellow
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CARCASSONNE, France — Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) used repeated late attacks Friday en route to becoming the second Ukrainian stage winner on a scorching Bastille Day at Stage 12 of the Tour de France.
Floyd LandisAmerican Floyd Landis, center, was able to hold on to the yellow jersey for another day after Friday’s Stage 12.
Popovych, who began the day in 23rd place overall, moved into tenth place after claiming the 131.4-mile (211.5-kilometer) 12th stage from Luchon in four hours, 34 minutes, and 58 seconds.
Floyd Landis (Phonak) of Murrieta, California, finished 20th in the main pack, 4:25 behind and with all of his closest pursuers in the same group.
Landis, who became the sixth race leader when he finished third in the mountainous 11th stage, maintained his eight-second advantage over Cyril Dessel (AG2R) of France and a 1:10 cushion over Russian Dennis Menchov (Rabobank).
Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) of Italy and three-time world road titlist Oscar Freire (Rabobank) of Spain, respectively finished second and third, 27 and 29 seconds behind the winner on a humid and hot day during which temperatures surpassed 100 degrees.
Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) of Santa Rosa, California, who rekindled his Tour performance with a second-place finish in Stage 11, was 46th in the 12th stage, also in the main group. With Popovych moving into tenth place, Leipheimer fell one position to 14th and trails Landis by 5:39. Popovych, Freire, and Ballan tested each other in the final three miles, with Popovych the most aggressive with repeated surges off the front. His final attack with less than two miles left held, and he completed the stage unchallenged.
Popovych’s win also salvaged the overall chances of the Discovery Channel team, the former squad of retired seven-time consecutive race winner Lance Armstrong.
Greenville, South Carolina, rider George Hincapie held the race lead for one day after Stage 1 as one of four potential general classification riders for Discovery Channel.
But Hincapie faltered in the 11th stage to 39th overall and Paolo Savoldelli (Italy) abandoned the 12th stage. Popovych and Jose Azevedo (Portugal), who’s 19th overall, are the only Discovery Channel riders in the top 20.
With the abandonment of five riders Friday, the remaining field of 160 will contest the 142.9-mile (230-kilometer) 13th stage Saturday from Beziers to Montelimar. It’s the longest stage of the Tour and includes five Category 4 (the lowest-ranked) climbs.