Marc Hirschi became the first Swiss cyclist to win a Tour de France stage in eight years, taking stage 12 a day before the Tour re-enters the mountains.
Hirschi, who in earlier stages placed second and third, attacked from his leading group of three with 17 miles left on the 135-mile longest day of the three-week Tour. Frenchman Pierre Rolland was second, 47 seconds behind.
“It’s hard to find the words,” said a tearful Hirschi, a 22-year-old in his first Tour. “It’s my first pro victory and then at the Tour, it couldn’t be better. It’s like a dream.
“I never believed that I could win a stage at this age. Just to start was a dream.”
Hirschi is not among the contenders for the overall title. The last Swiss to win a Tour stage was his manager, Fabian Cancellara, who took the prologue in 2012.
The top riders in the overall standings, led by Slovenian Primoz Roglic, finished together.
The Tour continues Friday with its longest mountain stage and the first of five mountain stages in a six-stage stretch (6 a.m. ET, NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold).
The last of seven categorized climbs is a summit finish atop an extinct volcano sure to shake up the overall standings.
“I expect the necessary attacks and a fight for the GC on the final climb,” Roglic said.
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