Ion Izagirre took a brilliant solo breakaway victory on Stage 12 of the Tour de France with arguably the greatest ride of his storied career.
A select chasing group contained threats such as Thibaut Pinot and Matteo Jorgensen but never had the legs or organization to seriously challenge the outstanding Izagirre, who sustained a comfortable gap to the finish.
Overall race leader Jonas Vingegaard and rival Tadej Pogačar both finished safely in the peloton, with no notable changes in the General Classification on Stage 12 despite several aggressive attacks from the big players early in the day.
Izagirre Simply Too Strong For the Chasers
Though at times the six-man chasing group looked to have Izagirre restricted to a gap they ought to have been able to reel in, in truth, the Spaniard simply had the best legs on the day.
While the chasers certainly didn’t help their cause by failing to get themselves organized, Izagirre’s solo effort up front was so strong they were unlikely to seriously challenge him regardless.
Even with Ineos Grenadiers driving the peloton forwards late on to protect Tom Pidcock’s GC position from Pinot, remarkably the gap to Izagirre didn’t budge – demonstrating the sheer quality of his ride.
Though Izagirre already held the rare distinction of winning a stage at each of the Tour, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España, this fourth Grand Tour stage victory will be the sweetest, coming seven years after his first at the Tour de France.
The result also adds polish to a sparkling return to form for the Cofidis team, after Victor Lafay’s victory on Stage 2 ended a fifteen-year drought at the Tour.
“I knew my adversaries wouldn’t have me in sight”
“It’s incredible,” said Izagirre at the stage finish. “For the whole Tour so far, I tried to break away and it didn’t work out, but today, [it did].
“We were going well with Guillaume Martin all day. I attacked in the last climb from very far out, and I could maintain the time difference to get the victory for myself.
“I was confident in my strength. I knew that if I earned enough [of a] lead, my adversaries wouldn’t have me in sight and it would play in my favor. I felt strong in the last kilometers. Many things went through my mind – it’s all very emotional.
“It’s a very Basque Tour de France! It started at home for us and we took two stage wins. I’m happy to follow the line drawn by Pello Bilbao.”
The Mountains Await…
Tomorrow’s Stage 13 sees the race enter the mountains with GC fireworks expected on the final climb to Grand Colombier.
The Colombier has pedigree in that regard, having hosted then-defending champion Egan Bernal‘s implosion at the 2020 Tour de France.
Since its first appearance at the 2012 Tour, the climb has achieved modern classic status, and also has the particular record of crowning every rider who has gone on to win the King of the Mountains classification in each edition in which it has featured.
The Colombier is an unusual climb, with stop-start ramps offering alternating opportunities for attacks and recovery. Two pitches of around 12% – particularly the second which comes two-thirds of the way up – are likely to be attacked particularly aggressively by the likes of Vingegaard and Pogačar.
Tour de France 2023: Stage 12 Results
1. Ion Izagirre (Cofidis/SPA): 3:51:42
2. Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies/FRA): + 58 secs
3. Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar/USA): Same time
4. Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma/BEL): + 1 min, 6 secs
5. Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X/NOR): + 1 min, 11 secs
6. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ/FRA): + 1 min, 13 secs
7. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis/FRA): Same time
8. Dylan Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech/BEL): + 1 min, 27 secs
9. Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar/POR): Same time
10. Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Dstny/BEL): + 3 mins, 2 secs
General Classification Standings After Stage 12
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma/DEN): 50:30:22
2. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Emirates/SLO): + 17 secs
3. Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe/AUS): + 2 min, 40 secs
4. Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers/SPA): + 4 mins, 22 secs
5. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious/SPA): + 4 mins, 34 secs
6. Adam Yates (UAE-Emirates/GB): + 4 mins, 39 secs
7. Simon Yates (Team Jayco-AlUla/GB): + 4 mins, 44 secs
8. Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers/GB): + 5 mins, 26 secs
9. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ/FRA): + 6 mins, 01 secs
10. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ/FRA): + 6 mins, 33 secs