David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) emerged victorious from a five rider break that finished nearly eight minutes ahead of the bunch on stage 12 of the Tour de France. The Brit outwitted his breakmates to deliver the American outfit their first win of the 2012 Tour in what has proven previously to be an unlucky race for the team. Matt Goss and Peter Sagan battled head to head in the field sprint with Goss crossing the line in front of Sagan only to later learn he had been relegated for irregular sprinting. The race jury bumped Goss back to seventh place and fined him 30 points in the points classification. Sports Director Matt White discusses the day in detail below.
There was a very aggressive start today. The pressure was on during the first two climbs until the break finally neutralized. At one point, there were more than 30 riders up the road. Finally, a group of five went clear. In the end, it was these five that would contest the stage win amongst themselves.
After the five went clear and began to build up their lead, Peter Sagan (Liqugas-Cannondale) made a cheeky move on the descent off the second summit. He went up the road with seven other riders. Once our guys regrouped on the descent, they led the chase to bring Sagan’s group back, which they did quite successfully.
The team rode well up until the intermediate sprint, and at that sprint, Matt Goss earned best of the rest. With five riders up the road, he took ten points for sixth place. Sagan finished in eighth place with eight points, so Goss continued to edge closer to green jersey.
From there we concentrated on the final, and Daryl Impey once again gave Gossy an incredible leadout. By now it seems most people know what happened after that. Although Goss beat Sagan to the line in the field sprint, the commissaires determined that a slight movement to the left by Goss constituted irregular sprinting. They relegated him to seventh and stripped him of 30 points.
I don’t agree with the decision that was made. Rules are rules, but I don’t believe what Goss did impeded the sprint of Sagan. Both guys had their heads down and had a clear run towards the line. Goss drifted slightly, and movement like that is not uncommon in the sprint. I don’t think he deserved relegation.
There is a rule that says a rider relegated in the final sprint will be docked 30 points, so the two decisions were taken together. We still received the points that come along with seventh place, 13 points on today’s stage, because there was a split in the group. Riders are relegated to the last place in their group, which in this case was seventh place because Gossy’s group consisted of only him and Sagan. The two crossed the line one second ahead of the bunch. While we don’t agree with the decision, we obviously know we must accept the decision that has been made and move forward.
I’d also like to address something we’ve heard from the riders and that is the treatment of Richie Porte and Michael Rogers, both of Team Sky, by Australians fans out on the road. I think it’s very un-Australian for fans to be critical of Richie and Michael. Neither of these riders are racing against Cadel Evans (BMC), they are racing for their team leader Bradley Wiggins. That’s their job. That’s their role on their team. That’s what they are paid to do.
I’m very upset to hear that Australians are criticizing their compatriots for doing their job, and I want to be very clear that here at GreenEDGE, we understand that riders are doing exactly what they need to do for their respective teams. Riding for your team is nothing against anyone else. It’s simply doing the job that you’re paid to do.
Looking towards tomorrow, expect to see a very fired group of gentleman take to the start of stage 13. The relegation decision hasn’t been well-received. You’ll see a motivated team looking for that first stage win come tomorrow.