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TOUR DE FRANCE

Nicki Sorensen wins 12th stage of Tour de France

The Danish cyclist breaks away early and rides alone across the finish line. Lance Armstrong remains third overall heading into the weekend's Alpine stages.

July 17, 2009|Associated Press

Lance Armstrong is ready to climb again, ready to leave the pack at the Tour de France after days of flat riding that belonged to sprinters.

After three days of sitting back in the main pack while others challenged for stage wins, the worst thing to happen to Armstrong was a small puncture in his back tire in Thursday's 12th stage. Nicki Sorensen of Denmark won the stage, Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy kept the yellow jersey and Armstrong's tire was repaired within a flash.

Today it's back to serious business as Armstrong goes up against his Astana teammate Alberto Contador on a tricky trek that features one grueling mountain climb.

"Tomorrow is hard, that is a real stage," Armstrong said Thursday. "The climb up Col du Platzerwasel is difficult, it is a long way. It is a longer day and anything can happen."

Armstrong, who retired after his seventh straight Tour win in 2005 only to stun the cycling world by announcing he would race again this year, expects some of the Tour contenders to make their move today.

Quote of the day: "I'm 34 years old now and it's a big thing for me to perform at this level at this age. I started bike racing when I was 19 and I always hoped that I could maybe go on for many years and I think it shows today that it is possible." -- Sorensen

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STAGE 12 RESULTS

Nicki Sorensen, Denmark

4:52:24

Laurent Lefevre, France

:48 behind

Franco Pellizotti, Italy

same time

Markus Fothen, Germany

same time

Egoi Martinez, Spain

same time

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OVERALL STANDINGS

Rinaldo Nocentini, Italy

43:27:21

Alberto Contador, Spain

:06 behind

Lance Armstrong, United States

:08 behind

Levi Leipheimer, United States

:39 behind

Bradley Wiggins, Britain

:46 behind

Today's stage: The 13th stage is a 124.2-mile ride between Vittel and Colmar that features two difficult climbs: the Col de la Schlucht, and the Col du Platzerwasel.

Destination Colmar: This Alsatian commune in northeastern France has the privilege of being referred to as two distinct capitals. It is first the capital of the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace where the appellate court, the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, is located. Secondly, Colmar is considered the capital of Alsatian wine. Although the riders will be participating in the rigorous Tour, just a month prior, the annual Paris-Colmar Walk took place in which competitors walked about 279 miles in three days and three nights. Furthermore, one important figure who was born in Colmar was the sculptor Frederic Bartholdi. His name may sound familiar because he is the Frenchman who created the beloved Statue of Liberty that can be found today in New York Harbor.

-- Lauren Goldman

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