Cycling: Tour de France briefs

Tour de France briefs during the 218 km 12th stage from Fougeres to Tours:

Czech gets a leg up on Tour peloton

Three riders from the Tour de France peloton awoke Thursday to the news that their performance in a 33 km individual time trial was bettered by a cyclist with one leg. However Jiri Jezek, a Czech who is the reigning Paralympic time trial champion from London, did use his prosthetic leg during Wednesday's race against the clock from Avranches to Mont Saint Michel. Jezek, who raced the course before the official start of the 11th stage, clocked a time of 43:11, meaning he was faster than the three slowest riders in the field.

Martin pulling extra teeth

Germany's Tony Martin revealed one of the secrets to his success in the Tour de France time trial on Wednesday -- using a massive gearing combination of 58x11. Martin's 58-tooth chainring, coupled with the smallest sprocket on his derailleur, theoretically allowed him to power ahead of his rivals -- although using such a combination takes a toll on the body and legs. Martin, the two-time world champion in the discipline, collapsed on the ground after his winning effort and took a long time to get up. Later in the day, race leader Chris Froome, who used a 56x11, came within 12secs of beating the Omega-Pharma rider.

Nervous wait for Voeckler and Europcar

Thomas Voeckler, a former yellow jersey holder and stage winner on the Tour de France, is among the French riders looking to end their stage victory drought on the 100th edition -- and his bid is not being helped by the uncertainty surrounding his Europcar team's future in the sport. Voeckler says the indecision could be one of the reasons they have failed to get anywhere near a win in the 11 stages held so far. "Let's be honest, it's not an ideal situation for us to be in," Voeckler told L'Equipe newspaper. But asked if the situation was affecting him physically, Voeckler, who raced back to fitness in June after recovering from a broken collarbone, said: "All I can do is concentrate on the race. So far I've not performed to expectations, but I want to make amends."

Struggling Van Garderen looking to Alps

Tejay Van Garderen, the winner of the white jersey for the best-placed rider aged 25 and under in 2012, is among the many Tour hopefuls wishing for a turnaround in fortunes as the race heads towards the Alps. The American came to the Tour primarily to help BMC team leader Cadel Evans but, having impressed last year, so much in 2012, hoping to gauge his own yellow jersey credentials for the future. Van Garderen, however, could only finish 49th in the 33 km time trial on stage 11, at 3:19 behind winner Tony Martin. He is now 51st overall, and said Thursday: "This Tour's been a bit of a struggle. For whatever reason, the legs haven't been there as they were at the start of the season. I'm trying to stay positive and hoping I can show myself in the third week."

jd/phz