Cycling: Millar extends Brit grip on Tour
(CNN) — British domination of this year’s Tour de France continued Friday as David Millar won the longest stage of the race in Annonay.
The Garmin-Sharp rider won a sprint against Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud at the end of 226km from Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne.
The pair had been in a five-strong breakaway group which finished nearly eight minutes clear of the main bunch.
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins kept the race leader’s yellow jersey with his Team Sky colleague Chris Froome in second place, two minutes and five seconds adrift.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) remained third behind the two Britons with defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) in fourth place, but three minutes 19 seconds behind Wiggins.
A fan cheers on the pack riding in the 226-km (140-mile) stage 12 of the 2012 Tour de France, starting in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and finishing in Annonay Davezieux, southeastern France, on Friday, July 13. The Tour de France, which weaves through the mountains and cobblestone roads of France and nearby countries, consists of 22 teams with nine riders each and runs through July 22. See all the action as it unfolds here.
Australia’s Cadel Evans checks technical problems with his radio-link earphones as he rides on Friday.
Fans wait for riders in Western garb during stage 12 Friday.
The leading men ride in a tunnel in a breakaway on Friday.
Team Europcar rider Pierre Rolland of France is cheered on Thursday, July 12, as he rides to victory in stage 11.
Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, left, and Bradley Wiggins of Britain celebrate at the conclusion of Thursday’s race.
Overall race leader Bradley Wiggins of Britain rides ahead of Cadel Evans of Australia, who started Thursday’s stage in second place.
Riders make their way through the French Alps on Thursday during the 11th stage of the Tour de France, which covers 91 miles starting in Albertville and finishes in La Toussuire-Les Sybelles, France.
Representations of Tour de France leaders’ jerseys hang along the road during Thursday’s race.
Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain, left, rounds a turn Thursday, followed by teammate Christopher Froome.
Australian fans cheer riders as they pass by during Thursday’s race, the first full stage in the Alps.
France’s Thomas Voeckler celebrates after winning stage 10, a 194.5-kilometer (120-mile) course starting in Macon and finishing in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, France, on Wednesday, July 11.
The cyclists cross a bridge in Macon at the beginning of Wednesday’s events.
Large cutouts of cyclists in colorful jerseys are featured on the facade of a building in Macon on Wednesday.
Frederik Kessiakoff of Sweden, wearing the polka dot jersey signifying his position as the best climber in the race, races among the peloton Wednesday.
Bernhard Eisel of Austria and Team Sky drive the peloton as they work to defend Bradley Wiggins’ hold on the overall race lead Wednesday.
Overall race leader Bradley Wiggins, right, receives a water bottle handoff from Team Sky teammate Mark Cavendish on Wednesday.
Race leader Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain rides through the French countryside in the main pack of riders Wednesday.
Thomas Voeckler of France, right, leads a breakaway group of four riders through the mountains.
Jens Voigt of Germany attacks on the final climb of Wednesday’s race. He finished third, unable to best Thomas Voeckler of France and Michele Scarponi of Italy.
Riders make their way up the Col du Grand Columbier, the most challenging climb of the race, rated as “beyond categorization.” Most climbs are rated from 1 to 4, with four being the easiest.
Voeckler crosses the finish line first at the mountaintop finish at Bellegarde-sur-Valserine on Wednesday.
Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins of Britain, in the leader’s yellow jersey, crosses the finish line during the individual time trial in the ninth stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Arc et Senans and Besancon on Monday, July 9.
Radioshack-Nissan rider Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland crosses the finish line during the individual time trials.
German Tony Martin rides for the Omega Pharma Quick Step team.
Stage winner Bradley Wiggins drinks before entering the anti-doping control bus at the end of the 41.5-kilometer Stage 9 individual time trial.
Sylvain Chavanel of France, riding for Omega-Pharma-Quickstep, races to fifth place in the individual time trials.
Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Liquigas-Canondale rides in Stage 9.
Australian rider Cadel Evans of the BMC Racing team rides the Stage 9 time trial.
World time trial champion Tony Martin of Germany rides the Stage 9 time trials on Monday, July 9.
Thibaut Pinot of France celebrates on the finish line after winning Stage 8 of the Tour de France on Sunday, July 8. The stage covered 157.5 kilometers (98 miles) from Belfort, France, to Porrentruy, Switzerland, with seven major climbs.
The main group, known as the peloton, departs from Belfort at the start of the race Sunday.
Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain went into Sunday’s stage wearing the yellow jersey as the race’s overall leader.
The pack rides past a field of cows in the French countryside Sunday.
Germany’s Jens Voigt, the oldest cyclist in the Tour at 40, attempts to break away from the peloton during the race Sunday.
Frederik Kessiakoff of Sweden, who led for much of the race, rounds a turn Sunday.
Fans cheer on Kessiakoff during the last major climb of the stage Sunday.
Overall leader Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain rides in the peloton with his Team Sky teammates Sunday.
The peloton makes its way through the narrow roads of the French countryside on the way to the stage finish in Porrentruy, Switzerland, on Sunday.
Great Britain’s Christopher Froome celebrates as he crosses the Stage 7 finish line on Saturday to take the win.
Bernhard Eisel of Austria leads the main group of riders, or peloton, through the French countryside during Stage 7 on Saturday.
The pack rides by during the seventh stage of the 2012 Tour de France.
Anthony Delaplace of France, who has an injured wrist, retired from the race Saturday.
Delaplace is the 17th rider to drop out this year.
Fans cheer on riders from bales of straw on Saturday.
From left, France’s Christophe Riblon, Switzerland’s Michael Albasini, Denmark’s Chris Anker Sorensen, Spain’s Luis-Leon Sanchez and France’s Cyril Gautier lead the race on Saturday.
Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen takes a drink during the ride Saturday.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, riding for the RadioShack-Nissan team, retained his race lead (signified by the yellow jersey) after Stage 6 on Friday, July 6, in Metz.
Riders make their way back to the peloton during Stage 6 on Friday.
Stage 6 winner Peter Sagan of Slovakia pushes to the finish line ahead of Germany’s Andre Greipel on Friday. The 207.5-kilometer stage began in Epernay and finished in Metz, in northeastern France.
A fan wearing a yellow jersey cheers on the pack riding in Metz on Friday.
The peloton was split by a crash in Gorze, with 25 kilometers remaining in Stage 6 on Friday.
A bloodied Ryder Hesjedal of Canada, riding for Garmin-Sharp, is accompanied by teammate Tyler Farrar of the United States as they ride to the finish of Stage 6 in Metz. Hesjedal was involved in a crash 25 kilometers from the end of the stage and was separated from the yellow jersey group.
Sweden’s Gustav Larsson, center, and Italy’s Daniel Oss were among the 30 riders involved in the crash Friday.
Italy’s Davide Vigano is lifted on a stretcher after the crash on Friday, July 6.
Belgium’s Johan Van Summeren reacts after the crash on Friday, July 6.
Race leader Fabian Cancellara chats to Ivan Basso of Italy at Stage 5, from Rouen to Saint-Quentin, on Thursday, July 5.
Andre Greipel, second from left, of the Lotto-Belisol team charges ahead to the finish line on Thursday to win Stage 5 of the Tour de France.
Fans wave French flags and cheer on riders Thursday as the main group passes on the way from Rouen, where Stage 5 of the race started, to Saint-Quentin.
Jonathan Cantwell of Australia lies on the ground after crashing near the finish of Stage 5 Thursday.
Tyler Farrar of USA riding for Garmin-Sharp sits on the ground dazed after crashing hard near the end of Thursday’s stage.
Farrar bleeds from multiple wounds as he rolls through to the finish line after crashing in the final sprint Thursday.
Riders pass a field of poppies as they race through the French countryside Thursday.
Fabian Cancellara of team RadioShack-Nissan holds on to the team car as he makes an adjustment during the race Thursday.
Fans cheer and a television helicopter flies above as the riders stream by.
From left: Julien Simon of Saur-Sojasun, Pablo Urtasun Perez of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Matthieu Ladagnous of FDJ-BigMat ride in a breakaway from the main group Thursday.
Fans line the road and wait for riders to pass along the 196.5-kilometer (122-mile) Stage 5 course Thursday.
Riders roll past a hot-air balloon sitting in a field along Thursday’s course.
Christian Vande Velde of the Garmin-Sharp team signs an autograph for a fan before the beginning of Thursday’s stage.
Jonathan Vaughters, director of Team Garmin-Sharp, addresses the media before the start of Stage 5 on Thursday.
Andre Greipel of Germany and the Lotto-Belisol team celebrates winning Stage 4, from Abbeville to Rouen, on Wednesday, July 4.
The pack of riders cycles past spectators during Stage 4.
The peloton fans out during Stage 4.
The peloton passes through wheat fields.
The pack of riders cycle through the city of Abbeville.
Liquigas-Cannondale rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia signs autographs for spectators.
The pack of cyclists streams along a country road during Stage 4.
An injured Mark Cavendish of Great Britain sits on the pavement just after crashing near the end of the 214-kilometer Stage 4.
Cavendish rolls to the finish with visible injuries and damage to his jersey and helmet after crashing near the finish.
The pack rides by the cliffs of Dieppe.
The peloton passes by windmills on Wednesday.
France’s David Moncoutie, Japan’s Yukiya Arashiro, and France’s Anthony Delaplace ride in a breakaway.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia celebrates while crossing the finish line Tuesday to win Stage 3.
Overall race leader Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, in yellow jersey, rides in the main group during Tuesday’s 197-kilometer (122-mile) stage.
Fans wave the French flag as the peleton, led by team RadioShack-Nissan, rides past.
France’s Thomas Voeckler grimaces during one of the course’s many climbs on Tuesday.
The peloton, the main group of riders, descends a hill during Stage 3.
France’s Sebastien Minard, left, and Denmark’s Michael Morkov, in the polka-dot jersey, lead a breakaway in Stage 3.
Mark Cavendish, left, rides with teammates from Britain’s Team Sky, wearing yellow helmets signifying their lead in the team standings.
Tour de France 2011 winner Cadel Evans of Australia rides in Stage 3 on Tuesday.
Team Sky sprinter Mark Cavendish of Great Britain arrives for the start of Stage 3 on Tuesday.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland riding for Team RadioShack-Nissan arrives Tuesday for the start of Stage 3, which is 197 kilometers (122 miles) from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Fans cheer on riders as they climb the Cote de la Citadelle de Namur (Climb of Namur Citadel) during Stage 2, which takes place in Belgium.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland holds the yellow jersey and overall race lead going into Stage 2 on Monday.
A spectator sits along the course Monday in Belgium, where Stage 2 of the race covers 129 miles from Vise to Tournai and is relatively flat.
Three riders broke away from the main group early in Stage 2, including (left to right): Anthony Roux of France, Michael Morkov of Denmark and Christophe Kern of France.
The main group of riders quickly fell several minutes behind the breakaway group as they traveled along Belgian roads Monday.
The peloton races through the Belgian countryside Monday.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia celebrates on the finish line as he wins Stage 1, just ahead of Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, on Sunday in Seraing, Belgium.
Cancellara, wearing the yellow jersey, rides alongside Cadel Evans of Australia, second from left, and Frank Schleck of Luxembourg, left, on Sunday.
The peloton follows the official Tour de France vehicle at the beginning of Sunday’s Stage 1.
A spectator waves the Belgian flag as fans wait for riders to pass along the Stage 1 route on Sunday.
A group of six riders, including Nicolas Edet of France, left, breaks away from the main group very early in Stage 1on Sunday. The riders were able to maintain a gap of several minutes until they were eventually caught about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the finish line.
The peloton travels along a narrow road through the Belgian countryside on Sunday.
Fans wait on the roadside for the almost 200 riders to pass during Stage 1 on Sunday.
Fans peer over a railing as riders crest a small hill on Sunday.
Anthony Delaplace of France leads the six riders in the breakaway group on Sunday.
The peloton begins the final climb of Sunday’s stage, called the Cote de Seraing, as riders near the finish of the 198-kilometer (123-mile) course.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia, right, sprints to victory at the Stage 1 finish line Sunday ahead of Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, left, and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, center.
Overall race leader Cancellara embraces former Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx after Sunday’s stage.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland lunges out of the starting gate for the individual time trial and first test in the 2012 Tour de France in Liege, Belgium, on Saturday, June 30.
Cycling fans sit on a bronze statue in the town of Liege, Belgium, to get a glimpse of the individual time trial on Saturday.
Nicki Sorensen of Denmark eyes the finish line as he nears the completion of the 6.4-kilometer (4-mile) course on Saturday.
Sylvain Chavanel of France rounds a sharp turn on the course in Liege on Saturday.
Bradley Wiggins of Britain sprints to the finish line on Saturday.
A performer wearing a hat decorated with toy cyclists poses for spectators on Saturday.
Andriy Grivko of Ukraine grimaces as he nears the finish line during the time trial, cheered on by fans.
Cadel Evans of Austraila, last year’s Tour winner, rounds a turn during the time trial. He finished witih the 13th best time.
Cancellara, who won the prologue with an individual time trial time of 7 minutes, 13 seconds, sprints to the finish on Saturday.
Cancellara celebrates on the podium Saturday and pulls on the yellow jersey, worn by the overall race leader.
Tour de France 2012: The best photos
Wiggins strengthened his position on the grueling 11th stage and was content to let Millar, Peraud, Egoi Martinez, Cyril Gautier and Robert Kiserlovsk go clear after the second climb of the day and with 120km still to go.
The 35-year-old Millar showed his experience as the five riders battled for stage honors and outpaced Peraud for his fourth career win on the Tour de France.
He theatrically collapsed on the ground to savor his victory, which comes exactly 45 years after the death of former British cycling legend Tom Simpson on the 1967 Tour.
Wiggins is trying to do what Simpson tragically failed to achieve and be in yellow until the finish in Paris on Sunday week.
After appearing to come under pressure when Froome attacked on the final climb Thursday, Wiggins looked strong on the two category one climbs early in the lengthy 12th stage and even mounted a brief attack to try to unsettle his rivals.
But at the finish all the focus was on Millar, who served a two-year doping ban, but has become a leading campaigner against drugs in cycling since his return with Garmin.
The team has endured a miserable race to date and lost its star rider Ryder Hejedal to injury in the first week, but Millar’s victory is some consolation.
“It’s massive. It’s been a horrific Tour for us so far,” Millar told Eurosport.
“I really wanted to do something… prove that we’re still here and show that Garmin-Sharp are one of the best cycling teams in the world.”
Saturday’s 13th stage stretches 217 km from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Cap d’Agde in the South of France and could offer a chance for sprint specialists to claim a victory.