Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha has won Stage 12 of the Tour de France at the Plateau de Beille, the Spanish rider attacking from the break on the final Pyrenean climb of this year’s race to win the 195km stage from Lannemezan.
It’s the 36-year-old's second stage victory in this year’s race, and again on one of the most eagerly anticipated finishes of the 2015 parcours, the other coming on the Mur de Huy on Stage 3.
Fellow breakaway riders Jakob Fuglsang of Astana and AG2R-La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet finished second and third respectively, the runner-up crossing the line 1 minute 12 seconds behind Rodriguez.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome retains the overall lead as the peloton prepares to tackle a series of transitional stages before hitting the Alps next Wednesday.
Stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha:
After the first two Pyrenean stages, my morale was pretty low. The only way to make it today was to break away. I always said I was coming to the Tour for GC but since I'm out of contention, I focus on stage wins. I've had a hungerflat at La Pierre-Saint-Martin. It hit me badly. I was strenghtless. Yesterday, I crashed in the neutral zone and my hip was hurting.
I like this climb to Plateau de Beille. I live about fifty kilometres away. I've come here a thousand times and I've dreamt of winning here a thousand times. Last time I was here training with Alberto Losada, I had a flat tyre but I didn't bring a spare one so I called my wife, she came to pick us up and we rode here again the day after.
Today I've seen many acquaintances on the road side, people who came here to cheer on me. I wouldn't say the last kilometres were easy but I managed to savour my victory. Everyone wanted to win here and it was even harder due to the weather conditions.
It means a lot to me to have won two stages at the Tour this year. I have never won a Grand Tour but it doesn't mean that I don't deserve it. I just haven't had the luck that is the trademark of the big champions.
Race leader Chris Froome of Team Sky:
I was happy to get through today's stage. I was fortunate to have Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas all the time with me in the hill. It was definitely a team effort in finding the right kind of speed all day. When I accelerated myself with 4km to go, I was just testing the legs to see who was at the limit but everyone was still pretty fresh.
There wasn't any attack by my rivals that was more threatening than another. I'm a bit more concerned about Nairo Quintana because from the attackers he's the closest to me on GC. We haven't seen Alberto Contador's explosive attacks yet but maybe it'll happen in the Alps.
But I pay the same respect to all the guys who are three or four minutes down on GC. I can't let them go. They'll have opportunities to attack me until we reach Paris, maybe in the crosswinds, maybe downhill, I expect it to happen anywhere.
Geraint Thomas has been fantastic again today. Riding as a helper is a role I'm familiar with. I've done it in the past. Can he be on the podium like me with Bradley Wiggins in 2012? At this stage, nothing is impossible.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.