Tour de France20/07/2012 - 16:35 - Updated 20/07/2012 - 18:04
Arashiro shines again in break
Yukiya Arashiro spent most of Friday's stage 18 in the day's leading break before Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) took his second win of the race. Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland passed a quiet day in the peloton ahead of the Tour's final time trial on Saturday.
Team Europcar have managed to make the news every day in this year's Tour de France. Three stage wins, the polka dot jersey, a likely place in the top ten: Jean-Rene Bernaudeau's men have amassed an impressive tally of prizes this July.
On top of that, riders from Europcar have been pretty much involved in every major break the Tour has witnessed. On Friday's 222.5km stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde, Yukiya Arashiro kept that sequence going by being part of a 16-man group that jumped clear of the peloton with 150km remaining. It was the attacking Japanese rider's fifth break of the Tour.
Unfortunately for Arashiro, the peloton had different ideas and the 27-year-old rider was swept up inside the final 10km before Britain's Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) won his second stage of the race.
"It was a very fast stage with a break that was not allowed clear until very late on. Yukiya contributed strongly in the break but the escapees could never get more than three minutes over the peloton," said directeur sportif Dominique Arnould. "It's a shame, but we can take heart in the face that since the start of the race, we have particupated in all the breaks of the Tour except on two occasions when we decided in advance not to ride ahead. That says a lot about our mentality."
While Cavendish won Britain's fifth stage and his compatriot and team-mate Bradley Wiggins retained his yellow jersey ahead of Saturday's individual time trial, Team Europcar can be pleased to have kept their men out of trouble on a day which saw a handful of riders hit the deck after a collision with a runaway dog.
Pierre Rolland - eighth in the GC - stayed in the peloton surrounded by his team-mates while Thomas Voeckler comfortably finished the stage with the polka dot jersey safely on his shoulders. "The goal today was to make sure Pierre didn't crash or concede any time. Yohann Gene and Davide Malacarne worked enormously hard to deliver Pierre to the foot of the last hill in a good position," added Arnould.
Rolland now faces a tough test in the 53.5km ITT to Chartres as he bids to hold his place in the top ten to cap off another excellent Tour de France for Europcar. Voeckler is already ensured of climbing the podium in Paris as king of the mountains while the team's tally of three stage wins is more than any other French team in the race.