Yates outpaces Bilbao and Muhlberger to seal stage 12 success
Simon Yates prevailed in a three-man dash to the finish as he claimed victory in stage 12 of the Tour de France on Thursday.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider was alongside Gregor Muhlberger and Pello Bilbao in surging well clear of the rest towards the end of the 209.5-kilometre route from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre.
With no danger of being caught by the chasers – who finished nearly 90 seconds adrift – the trio were able to conserve their energy for the final sprint, with Yates making his move inside the closing 200 metres.
Yates snuck on the inside of his rivals, ensuring he reached the last corner in front, and held off both Muhlberger and Bilbao to cross the line in first place and complete the hat-trick of having won an individual stage at each of the three Grand Tours.
The 2018 Vuelta a Espana champion is not a contender for the general classification, and the yellow jersey remains firmly in the possession of Deceuninck Quick-Step's Julian Alaphilippe, who came safely home amid the peloton, nine minutes and 35 seconds behind the leading trio.
All of which means Alaphilippe retains his 72-second advantage over Team INEOS' Geraint Thomas, whose colleague Egan Bernal sits in third, four seconds further adrift.
Stage 11 victor Caleb Ewan did not enjoy such a fruitful day this time around, crashing with around 45km remaining, although the Lotto Soudal rider did manage to get back on his bike.
UAE Team Emirates' Jasper Philipsen did not start the stage due to fatigue, meaning Bernal is the youngest rider remaining at 22, while there seemed to be confusion regarding Rohan Dennis, who abandoned mid-stage without any reason being given by Bahrain-Merida, who tweeted to say: "Our priority is the welfare of all our riders so will launch an immediate investigation but will not be commenting further until we have established what has happened to @RohanDennis.
"Meantime we continue to support our riders who are mid-race."
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 4:57:53
2. Pello Bilbao (Astana) +0:00
3. Gregor Muhlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:00
4. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) +1:28
5. Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) +1:28
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 52:26:09
2. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) +1:12
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS) +1:16
1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 277
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 191
2. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 184
King of the Mountains
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 54
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 37
3. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 30
Friday's 13th stage sees a change of pace as riders take on a 27.2-km time trial in Pau, which makes the mysterious withdrawal of reigning world TT champion Dennis all the more curious.