Tour de France: Kristoff takes stage 12; Nibali retains overall lead

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff won Thursday’s Stage 12 of the Tour de France, but Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali maintained his overall lead with a 2:23 advantage over Richie Porte.

Kristoff sprinted the final 250 meters of the 186-kilometer trek and held off Peter Sagan and Arnaud Demare to win his first-ever Tour stage.  Thursday’s stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne began with a flat, 100 KM stretch before a few difficult climbs tested the riders. It’s nothing compared to what Friday’s course offers.

“It’s a great feeling. I have been dreaming about this since I was a child. I have been close before and it is great to have my first time on top of the podium,” Kristoff said following the win.

Is this photo real? I hope this photo is real: 

Also this one. 

The overall leaders didn’t change as Nibali retained the yellow jersey, followed up by Porte and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde.

American rider Andrew Talansky was forced to retire from the entire race after narrowly finishing Wednesday’s stage under the time restraint. Talansky endured two brutal crashes within the past week, and he was also dealing with an upper respiratory infection. Wednesday’s grind was too much for the American to recover from, however.

“I’m absolutely heartbroken to leave the Tour de France. I built my season around the Tour and the team has supported me every step of the way,” he said in a statement. “I had hoped the rest day [Tuesday] would allow some time to recover from my crashes. … I’ll go home now and rest to recover, but I will be cheering for my team every day.” 

Friday’s stage 13 (nearly 200 KM) won’t get interesting until the final 30 or so kilometers, when the leaders will look to extend themselves as they charge up the mountains towards Chamrousse.

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