Gruber Gallery: The Tour enters the Pyrenees; Uran climbs to second

    ASO allowed the peloton to ease into the second week of the Tour de France with back-to-back sprint stages following Monday’s rest day. Marcel Kittel (QuickStep-Floors) took two straight stage wins to open week two as #GreenArgyle devoted their energy and efforts to keeping Rigoberto Uran safe in the peloton. The Colombian started Thursday’s stage 12 in fourth overall, 55-seconds off the yellow jersey worn by Chris Froome (Team Sky).

    A 12-rider breakaway dominated the early action on the 214-kilometer day between Pau and Peyragudes, but by the time race hit the final three climbs in the last 45 kilometers, only Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) remained ahead of a thinned out peloton. Alberto Bettiol, Nate Brown, Andrew Talanksy and Pierre Rolland shepherded Uran up Porte de Balès until a selection of 12 riders had been made. Froome had three teammates for company. Every other rider in the group was without teammates.

    Uran fared well down the Porte de Balès descent and up the the Peyresourde. He hit the final climb to Peyragudes, 2.4 kilometers from the top, in the middle of the 10-rider leading group. Mikel Landa (Team Sky) controlled the pace on the steep slopes until the final 500 meters when the race deviated from the expected script. George Bennett (Lotto-Jumbo.nl) was the first to attack. Fabio Aru (Astana) countered. Uran marked the move. Froome proved unable to respond. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) responded swiftly, pulling alongside and eventually ahead of Aru and Uran.

    Bardet took the stage, with a two-second gap to Aru and Uran. Aru moved into yellow as Froome slipped down to second. Uran remains in fourth place but closes the gap to yellow at 35-seconds.

    Road caption Simon Clarke summarizes the day like this: “It was another successful day for the team, despite the time penalty drama, with Rigo taking second on the stage and inching closer to yellow.”