(Reuters) - Defending champion Alberto Contador warned Tour de France race leader Andy Schleck what to expect in the Pyrenees stages with a blistering attack on one of his favourite climbs in Mende on Friday.
Contador was beaten on the finish line of the 12th stage by fellow Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez but his move in the last two kilometres allowed him to take 10 seconds off Schleck, whom he now trails by 31 seconds in the overall standings.
Stage 12 Results
1 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha - 4:58:26
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
3 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana - 0:00:04
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto - 0:00:10
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
6 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
7 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank - 0:00:15
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo
General classification after Stage 12
1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank - 58:42:01
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana - 0:00:31
3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi - 0:02:45
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank - 0:02:58
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto - 0:03:31
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack - 0:04:06
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank - 0:04:27
8 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha - 0:04:58
9 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne - 0:05:02
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo - 0:05:16
Full results here..
Links to news sites...
"Contador shakes Schleck, Rodriguez wins 12th stage
By Justin Davis (AFP) -
MENDE, France - Alberto Contador fired a warning shot at yellow jersey rival Andy Schleck on Friday with a daring attack that allowed him to steal precious seconds off the Tour de France race leader.
Defending champion Contador went into the 210.5km stage from Bourg-Peage to Mende, where the finish was one kilometre after the punishing 3.1km 'Jalabert' climb, with a 41sec deficit to the Saxo Bank team leader.
But a quick glance at Schleck less than halfway up told the Spaniard he had to take his chance -- although what looked like a promising attack allowed him to steal only 10sec off his main rival.
Contador came into the home straight on the runway of Mende aerodrome with fellow Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez for company after he had attacked before Contador on the final climb.
In the end Rodriguez's superior sprint allowed him to hand Katusha their maiden win on this year's race, with Schleck finishing among a small group 10sec later to limit the damage.
"I came here to look at the stage before the Tour and liked the look of it, although I knew it would be pretty hard," said Rodriguez, whose maiden win on his race debut allowed him to move up one place to eighth overall at 4:58 behind Schleck.
"But when Contador came across to me I knew I could resist his attack."
Contador knows the big battle for the yellow jersey will be played out over four punishing days in the Pyrenees beginning on Sunday." Read more from the AFP...
"Rodriguez beats Contador to win Tour's 12th stage
(AP) MENDE, France - Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain won a hilly 12th stage of the Tour de France on Friday, leading a two-man sprint to the finish with overall contender Alberto Contador.
Rodriguez and the defending champion burst from the pack in a steep final climb, leaving behind race leader Andy Schleck and overtaking several breakaway riders.
Contador ended up gaining 10 seconds on his rival and now trails Schleck by only 31 seconds.
Rodriguez, a 10-year veteran on the Katusha team riding in his first Tour, held off Contador in the last few hundred meters of the 131-mile course from Bourg-de-Peage to Mende.
Rodriguez stretched out his arms, looked back and smiled as he nosed Contador at the line in 4 hours, 58 minutes, 26 seconds. Contador's Astana teammate Alexandre Vinokourov was third." Read more from the AP...
"Contador cuts into Schleck's lead after 12th stage drama
(CNN) -- Alberto Contador finished second on the 12th stage of the Tour de France to trim 10 seconds off the lead of yellow jersey leader Andy Schleck of Luxembourg.
The 210-km stage was won by Spain's Joaquin Rodriguez, who outsprinted his illustrious compatriot and defending champion to claim a victory in his first appearance in cycling's most famous race.
But Contador was the other big winner on the day as he rode away from Schleck on the steep three kilometer climb towards Mende which concluded the day's proceedings.
He now trails the Saxo Bank rider by 31 seconds in the overall classification.
Third place went to Contador's Kazakh teammate Alexandre Vinokourouv, a survivor of a breakaway group that went away after 60 kilometers." Read more from CNN International...