PLATEAU DE BEILLE: Joaquim Rodriguez won the 12th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday to claim his second victory this year and third in total as Chris Froome maintained his lead in the race.
Spaniard Rodriguez, 36, won the tough 195km Pyrenean stage from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille, adding to his success at the Mur de Huy on the third stage.
Denmark s Jakob Fuglsang was second at 1min 12sec with young Frenchman Romain Bardet third at 1min 49sec back.
Froome came home in 10th position at 6min 47sec amongst the group of favourites having fended off a series of half-hearted attacks from Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali, the reigning champion having rediscovered his form after two difficult days in the mountain.
On a day that was supposed to be marked by higher temperatures than even the suffocating heat of the previous two days, the race finished under consistent rain, although the riders were lucky to miss the thunderstorm, lightning and hail that had been lashing the finish-line a little earlier in the day.
Temperatures dropped from 38 degrees Celsius to 12 degrees at one point but superbly marshalled by teammates Richie Porte and the indefatigable Geraint Thomas, Froome managed his lead to bat away all challengers.
Yet there was perhaps hope to be had for his rivals before the race reaches the Alps as the 30-year-old Briton did not gain any more time on his challengers.
Tejay Van Garderen remains second at 2min 52sec with Quintana third at 3min 09sec.
Contador is sixth but Nibali moved up from 11th to ninth.