BAGNERES-DE-BIGORRE, France (Reuters) – Briton Simon Yates won the 12th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, a mountainous 210-km (130-mile) ride from Toulouse, as the main title contenders stayed quiet in the first Pyrenean climbs of this year’s race.
With an individual time trial scheduled for Friday, none of the top guns attacked, and 40 riders broke away from the peloton.
France’s Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey with a 1:12-minute advantage over defending champion Geraint Thomas.
Tim Wellens, part of the breakaway, consolidated his lead in the mountains classification by reaching the top of the Col de Peyresourde (13km at 7%) first.
Yates, Austrian Gregor Muehlberger and Spain’s Pello Bilbao were alone in front at the top of the last ascent of the day, the Hourquette d’Ancizan (10km at 7.5%), and they stayed ahead in the final descent into Bagneres-de-Bigorre.
Yates took the final bend first and, with only 100 metres left, held a decisive advantage in a three-man sprint with Bilbao finishing second and Muehlberger third.
In contrast to his twin brother and Mitchelton-Scott team mate Adam, Yates has no ambitions in the general classification this year after finishing a disappointing eighth in the Giro d’Italia.
The spotlight will switch back to the overall contenders on Friday’s 13th stage, when Thomas will look to increase his lead over his main rivals in the 27.2-km time trial in Pau.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by John Stonestreet)