Stage 16 Winner Mikel Astarloza

Stage 16 Winner Mikel Astarloza

It was a great stage win for Astarloza today escaping in the final kilometers from a 4 man group later forming into a 7 man group.  The highlight of the stage however was Lance Armstrong bridging to the Yellow jersey group on the final climb after being spit out the back moments before.  The gap had grown to nearly a minute between the Schleck brothers led break and the Peloton containing Vande Velde, Cadel and Sastre.  He looked like the Lance of old just powering to the group of seven leaders including Contador, Wiggins, Kloden, Frank and Andy.  While Sastre and Vande Velde were later able to bridge, Cadel could not, losing nearly 3 minutes to the GC contenders.  Zibriskie did an excellent turn on a completely bonkers 30km decent to lock in the Evans gap for Wiggins.  The stage was way more exciting than originally expected.  Nice to see Lance on top form and Astana in general looking more like a team.

Stage 16 Map

Stage 16 Map

Stage 16 Profile

Stage 16 Profile

Stage 16 Recap

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Stage 15 Results

1           Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi           4:14:20
2          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:00:06
3          Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
4          Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
5          Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence – Lotto
6          Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
7          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas          0:00:11
8          Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9          Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel          0:00:59
10          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
11          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
12          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
13          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
14          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
15          Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne
16          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
17          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux
18          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
19          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
20          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
21          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC
22          Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
23          Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
24          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
25          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
26          Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
27          David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:14
28          Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank          0:03:16
29          José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
30          Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          0:03:55
31          Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram
32          Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
33          Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
34          Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram
35          Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
36          Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
37          David Loosli (Swi) Lampre – NGC
38          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
39          Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
40          Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre – NGC
41          Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana
42          Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
43          Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha
44          Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux
45          Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
46          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto
47          Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana
48          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step
49          Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team
50          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram

Overall Standings

1           Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana           67:33:15
2          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:01:37
3          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:46
4          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:02:17
5          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:02:26
6          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:02:51
7          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:03:09
8          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:03:25
9          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team          0:03:52
10          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:03:59
11          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:04:38
12          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:04:40
13          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:05:05
14          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          0:05:26
15          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:05:40
16          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha          0:05:56
17          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:07:23
18          Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:08:23
19          Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          0:09:14
20          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          0:10:00

Allez915

Blah, blah, blah and blah.

Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Nuff Said!

Stage 15 Recaps

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Stage 15 Map

Stage 15 Profile

Stage 15 Profile

Stage 15 Results

1           Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana           5:03:58
2          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:00:43
3          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:03
4          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:06
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
6          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam
7          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:01:26
8          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:01:29
9          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:01:35
10          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:55
11          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:02:06
12          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:02:13
13          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
14          Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC          0:02:23
15          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:02:32
16          Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:02:33
17          Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence – Lotto
18          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram          0:02:36
19          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
20          José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam
21          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:02:41
22          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
23          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux
24          Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:02:52
25          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          0:03:14

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo TestTeam           218           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          200
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          126
4          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          122
5          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          110

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas           109           pts
2          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          101
3          Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          65
4          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          64
5          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          63
6          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          56
7          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step          56
8          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          52
9          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          46
10          Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo TestTeam          45

Overall Standings

1           Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana           63:17:56
2          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:01:37
3          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:46
4          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:02:17
5          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:02:26
6          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          0:02:30
7          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:02:51
8          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:03:07
9          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:03:09
10          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:03:25
11          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam          0:03:52
12          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:03:59
13          George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia – HTC          0:04:05
14          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:04:27
15          Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC          0:04:38
16          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:04:40
17          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:05:05
18          Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:05:27
19          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:05:37
20          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha          0:05:56

Allez915

Ivanov clears a 12-man break in a classic move propelling him to a stage victory today.  George Hincapie tried valiantly to create enough of a gap to acquire the Yellow jersey.

Stage 14 Winner - Ivanov

Stage 14 Winner - Ivanov

The gap was closed by mere seconds by a string of events that left him confused and disappointed.

Today’s breakaway of substance cleared at the 15km mark. The 13 man break included Hayden Roulston, Jens Voigt, Martijn Maaskant, George Hincapie, Nicolas Roche, Daniele Bennati, Daniele Righi, Christophe Le Mevel, Sébastien Minard, Frederik Willems, Sergei Ivanov, Gerald Ciolek and Albert Timer.  Hincapie was the closest to the Yellow Jersey at 5:25 back.  So it was rather peculiar that Nocentini’s team, AG2R, allowed the break to grow to over 8 minutes.  Putting Hincapie in Yellow on the road.  AG2R was not strong enough to reel in the break.  Garmin came to the front to whittle down the lead much to the consternation of Hincapie.  It was thought an unnecessary surge, as Hincapie was not considered a GC threat.

As the break approached 12km, riders began to fly off the front.  After several failed attempts, Ivanov launched a well-timed and powerful attack that stuck.  He was able to hold off the remaining break riders who failed to form a cohesive response.  Hincapie finished 16 seconds back when the clock started on the Yellow.  His Columbia teammates tried desperately to balance the need to leadout Cavendish with the desire to maintain the gap for Hincapie as best as they could.  In the end it wasn’t to be for either rider.  The gap was closed 5 seconds shy of what Hincapie needed to clear the jersey.  In the sprint to salvage the remaining points, Cavendish was DQed because he blocked Hushovd from the line intentionally or otherwise.  He gained no points as a result and fell further behind Hushovd in the Green Jersey competition.

Stage 14 - George Hincapie makes a run for Yellow

Stage 14 - George Hincapie makes a run for Yellow

Hincapie did take second in the overall displacing Contador and Armstrong in the process.   He is not expected to contest for the mountainous stage 15 tomorrow however.  It is likely that there will be a GC shakeup.  Riders are eager to mix it up and the string of Cat 3’s, a 2 and a mountain top Cat 1 finish should provide the canvas.

Stage 14 Recaps

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Stage 14 Map

Stage 14 Map

Stage 14 Profile

Stage 14 Profile

Stage 14 Results

1           Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha           4:37:46
2          Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale          0:00:16
3          Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo TestTeam
4          Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin – Slipstream
5          Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
6          Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre – NGC
7          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux
8          George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia – HTC
9          Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
10          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          0:00:22
11          Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano          0:00:26
12          Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas          0:03:41
13          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo TestTeam          0:05:36
14          Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia – HTC
15          Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
16          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
17          Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano
18          Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
19          Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo TestTeam
20          Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo TestTeam           218           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          200
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          126
4          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          122
5          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          110

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas           98           pts
2          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          95
3          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          64
4          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          59
5          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step          53

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale           58:13:52
2          George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia – HTC          0:00:05
3          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:00:06
4          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:00:08
5          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:00:43
6          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
7          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:00:54
8          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:00
9          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
10          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:49

Allez915

An emotional Heinrich Haussler does a brilliant performance to take Stage 13 for team Cervelo.  He powered up the last two climbs to distance himself from his nearest rival, a surging Txurruka, by over four minutes.

Stage 13 Winner - Heinrich Haussler

Stage 13 Winner - Heinrich Haussler

More to come.

Stage 13 Profile

Stage 13 Profile

Stage 13 Map

Stage 13 Map

Stage 13 Recaps

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Stage 13 Video

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Stage 13 Results

1           Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team           4:56:26
2          Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:04:11
3          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          0:06:13
4          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step          0:06:31
5          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram          0:06:43
6          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
7          Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale
8          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
9          George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia – HTC
10          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
11          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
12          Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano
13          Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank
14          Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram
15          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
16          Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank
17          Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
18          Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step
19          David Loosli (Swi) Lampre – NGC
20          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team           205           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          200
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          116
4          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          110
5          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          100
6          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank          97
7          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas          81
8          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          74
9          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          64
10          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step          57

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas           98           pts
2          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          95
3          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          64
4          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          59
5          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step          53
6          Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          49
7          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          46
8          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          46
9          Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team          45
10          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux          43

White Jersey Standings

1           Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC           53:31:30
2          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:00:49
3          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:00:54
4          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:01:40
5          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          0:02:56

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale           53:30:30
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:00:08
4          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
5          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:00:54
6          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:00
7          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
8          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:49
9          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:54
10          Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:02:16

Allez915

With two surges, Sörensen escapes first the break then from his partner in crime Calzati to take the win in Vittel.

The race started slowly today with a few break attempts but nothing sticking.  Unusually, the full sprint points were still up for grabs for the first intermediate sprint.   Cavendish took the first sprint over Hushovd in the dash for the line.  By successfully contesting the first intermediate sprint at 32km, Cavendish clearly confirmed his intent to go for Green.  As a consequence he also is agreeing to do 6 mountain stages and a TT.  For a sprinter it is not something to signup for lightly.

  • Cavendish – 6 points,
  • Hushovd – 4 points
  • Casar – 2 points

A break formed at 75km included Lefevre, Calzati and Pellizotti, as well as Markus Fothen, Pauriol and Martinez.  Chasing to get on were Avermaet, Sörensen, Freire, Mevel and Ignatiev.  Of the chasers, only Sörensen cleared the gap to joint the break at 83km and so there were seven.  A group this size and strength certainly had a chance to hold off the peloton.  The rest of the sprint points were rendered moot as the break would eat them up.  On the other hand, the Pellizotti/Martinez KOM battle came front and center.

The gap held steady grew steadily too as much as 4:16.  At the Grands-Bois climb (2.3km at 5%) it’s Pellizotti followed by Martinez. Just 6.5 km later, Pellizotti topped Morlaix climb (2.1km at 4.2%) ahead of Martinez again. Martinez lead over Pellizotti was still 18 points.  On the final climb of the day, Bourmont climb (0.8km at 11.1%), It was Pellizotti again over Martinez.  The points were Pellizotti 71 to Martinez at 88.

With 40km of flat remaining, the sprint teams were likely thinking they should rope this group in to take the stage.  With a 3:30 gap and seven strong riders in the front their work was cut out.  The gap actually grew to 3:50 over the next 20km answering the question of a chase.  Someone in the break was going to take the stage.

At the 20km mark it was the 2006 stage winner, Calzati, who jumped with the veteran Sörensen following close behind.  The lead pair had 20 seconds quickly and 5 minutes on the peloton which was resigned to roll in behind the breaks.  At 15km the gap of the two over the 5 man chase was a tenuous 18 seconds. Sörensen is burying himself to hold on to a diminishing lead in to the 5km banner.  It was then that he decided to jump on Calzati quickly kicking the gap back up to 23 seconds! The fight was out of the chase and Sörensen walked away with the stage.

The chase came in 48 seconds later with Lefevre and Pellizotti, taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.  The peloton rolled in a comfortable 6 minutes back with Cavendish taking the top of the few remaining sprint points extending his lead over Hushovd a bit further.

On the daily podium today, Sörensen was heard humming a tune as he stepped up on the top spot.  It was later discovered to be an American classic…

There was no change to the GC today.  Leipheimer and Klöden hit the deck on the run in to the finish.  It didn’t look like there was any damage of consequence.  In that they were within the 3km safe zone, neither would lose time at the finish.

Pellizotti continues to demonstrate strength, which doesn’t bode well to Martinez. The Polka Dot Jersey competition is shaping up to be a highly contested prize.

Tomorrow brings the first of a string of mountain stages that calumniate with the Stage 20 climb up the Ventoux.  With so much ahead, this year’s race won’t be decided anytime soon.

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Results

1           Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank                    4:52:24
2          Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          0:00:48
3          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
4          Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram
5          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
6          Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel
7          Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          0:01:33
8          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          0:05:58
9          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
10          Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
11          Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre – NGC
12          Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step
13          Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
14          Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
15          Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana
16          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
17          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
18          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
19          Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
20          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne

Green Jersey Standings

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           200           pts
2          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                   190
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          116
4          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream                   110
5          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                            100
6          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                   97
7          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                            81
8          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                   74
9          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          64
10          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                   55

Overall Results

1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 48:27:21
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:00:39
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:00:46
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54
7 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:00
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:24
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:54

Allez915

On a relatively flat stage in central France, Johan Van Summeren and Marcin Sapa escaped the peloton at 27km. They valiantly fought to stay out front but with only the two of them there was little chance of bringing it home.  Still,

Stage 11 Winner Mark Cavendish just holds off Farrar at the line

Stage 11 Winner Mark Cavendish just holds off Farrar at the line

they pedaled steadily for hours and hours achieving a maximum gap of 4:15 before they were reeled in like a marlin on 80lb test.  The fishermen of the day were the teams of Columbia, Rabobank, AG2R, Milram and Garmin/Slipstream, each trying to give their sprint monsters a chance for Glooorrreeee as it were.  They were finally caught with at 5km remaining and quickly shuffled to the back of the train…so sad, so so sad. Makes you just want to go over there and bring them a batch of warm cookies for there trouble.

Here is what the break riders had to say:

Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto)

“The team was not in a good mood, I had the impression that some were growing nervous. Today’s instructions were short but precise: one of us with each attack.

“After the peloton started again after a big crash, Chavanel attacked. As soon as he was caught, I jumped away on the other side of the road. Only Sapa joined me. With so far [to ride], and just having two [in the break], I knew that dreaming was useless.

I was always at top speed… it was pleasant to spend so much time at the head. I did enjoy it. An as Most Combative Rider of the Day, I had the pleasure of kissing Gert Steegmans’s girl; she is an hostess with the sponsor of that challenge.”

Marcin Sapa (Lampre)

“When I’m in a breakaway I’m happy even if, as today, it’s very tough to get amongst the action. With Van Summeren the agreement was good, but this time it [the break] was neutralized when there were a few kilometers to go”.

So here we are at 5km.  Columbia is formed up five deep with Kirchen winding it up on a downward grade hitting speeds of over 70km/hour.  I think a “holy wiener schnitzel” is in order here.  All the while Milram tried to weasel their feral claws into the leadout for Ciolek, nearly disrupting the glorious Columbia train.  It was not to be as Hincapie shepherded the whole chaotic mess through the chicane to the 500. At that point it was the Renshaw Cavendish show.  Hushovd and Farrar were lined up tight to Cavendish as Renshaw drove the field up the inclined finish pulling off in the last 200.  In the end Farrar came around strong but missed it by a length.   Hushovd didn’t have it, falling of the wheel for a fifth place finish. Cavendish and his team earned the Green Jersey their effort while Thor was singing an familiar old song …

Here is what a couple of players had to say:

Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam)

“I was in good position for the sprint, but it just wasn’t my day. I am very disappointed of course, and will continue to fight for the green jersey.”

“I still want to fight for the green jersey. It’s still a long way to Paris. It was a hard fight for [Cavendish’s] wheel. It was difficult because everyone knows that is where you want to be. I will try to win another stage before this Tour is over. I will take it day-by-day.”

Julian Dean (Garmin-Slipstream)

“Today we took a different approach – I decided to wait back a little longer. Dave took me to 500 meters to go, and took me in with a heap of speed. George [Hincapie] moved off and Renshaw came over, so it took some of my speed away. But I think if that didn’t happen I could have set Tyler up for the win. He has the power and I have the power – it’s just about getting around the Columbia train.”

And a couple of GC contenders:

Alberto Contador (Astana)

“It was a transition day… boring for those who saw it on television, but it was also a day with a lot of tension at the beginning. There were some complicated falls but we avoided them.

“It calmed down up to the last 20 kilometers, where the whole world wants to be ahead to avoid losing any time and the truth is that I was fearful due to the speed we passed close to the fences. The two accidents I saw were ahead of me but I had time to stop the bike.

“I feel good, though it was one more day of punishment in the legs but also one less day of suffering. At the moment I want to think of nothing more than tomorrow, which is another difficult day and which I have to ride without losing time and without any type of falls. Then I will think about the mountains, which I want to arrive already.”

Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam)

“Today’s stage was a very fast, atypical and strange stage. There was a huge number of falls right from the outset and then the race was neutralized when one of the advertising balloons deflated, meaning that the pack split into two parts.

“It was a pretty strange race in which speeds didn’t fall below 45km/h on a really tough route with constant climbs and descents and badly surfaced roads… I think these stages are not really telling us anything about this Tour de France but they are adding to the tiredness of riders in the heart of the pack in the lead up to the last week of the race.

As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t have any problems today and I felt protected by my teammates again. It’s a shame that we lost Thor Hushovd’s green jersey but Cavendish is the world’s fastest rider right now and the most important thing is that we still have the chance to win it back. We will keep fighting it out to win another stage and to get that green jersey, as well as trying for other personal aims.”

Well that’s it for today.  No GC changes today.  Lots of rollers in tomorrows stage. A break should have a better chance of sticking.

Thanks to Cycling News for the Quote Clips.

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Stage 11 Results

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           4:17:55
2          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
3          Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
4          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
5          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
6          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
7          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
8          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9          William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
10          Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
11          Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
12          Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
13          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
14          Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
15          Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
16          Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
17          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
18          Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
19          Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
20          Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre – NGC

Green Jersey Standings

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           176           pts
2          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                   169
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          110
4          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream                   110
5          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                            100
6          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                   97
7          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                   74
8          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          64
9          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                   55
10          William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          54

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale                    43:28:59
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana                   0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana                            0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana                            0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana                            0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC                   0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank                   0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas                            0:01:54

Allez915

In France, Bastille Day is a holiday celebrated much like the Independence Day here in the US.  In the states, Bastille

Stage 10 Winner Mark Cavendish

Stage 10 Winner Mark Cavendish

Day is probably better known as a song by Rush, at least among forty somethings and/or nonhistorians.

There’s no bread, let them eat cake
There’s no end to what they’ll take
Flaunt the fruits of noble birth
Wash the salt into the earth

But they’re marching to Bastille day, la guillotine will claim
Her bloody prize free, the dungeons of the innocent the king
Will kneel, and let his kingdom rise!

Bastille Day by Rush

In the spirit of French independence, who will rise today I ask? Who between the kings of sprint or breakaway of the masses will prevail?  Read on cycling fan and see.

The race went something like this:  Hupond got the first break at 5km after the start.  He was marked by Vaugrenard, Ignatiev and Domoulin who bridged moments later.  And so it was for 40km over a series of Cat 4 climb over undulating landscape.

At 45km into the stage, the four leaders in the break, Hupond, Vaugrenard, Ignatiev and Dumoulin, held nearly a 6 minute lead.  The four worked well together extending the lead to six minutes at one point.  Without race radios however, the peloton could not allow too much latitude for fear the break riders would sneak away.  The work to close the gap began and within just 12km, the break had only a two minute advantage.

Several teams have donated a rider to do the work of keep the break in check including Milram Quick Step, Caisse d’Epargne, Astana and Ag2r.  The break hovered between 1:30 and 3.30 minutes for the next 90 kilometers.  The peloton and Columbia in particular intended to string out the break to the final kilometers to prevent riders from attempting to bridge up.

With 30km to go, the peloton finally began to reel in the break, rapidly dropping the gap to one minute.  The gap closed as follows over the remaining kilometers:

  • 20km, 20 seconds
  • 12.5km, 42 seconds
  • 11km, 38 secs
  • 10km, 35 secs
  • 9km, 30 secs
  • 7km, 26 secs
  • 6km, 21 secs
  • 5km, 20 secs – Garmin forms on the right for Farrar
  • 3.5km, 14 secs
  • 2km, 10 secs – Columbia lines up for the sprint
  • 1.5km and done – Hincapie is at the front for Columbia in the final curve laden section doing a monster of a pull

Renshaw took over then pulled off as Cavendish engages the nitrous.   Peanuts on a Popsicle stick, he was fast!  Hushovd was on his wheel but couldn’t get past.  No luck for Farrar either, coming in third.

Cavendish takes his third stage of the tour.  The kings have taken the day.  They take their place on podium high with throngs of admirers singing their praises.

Happy Bastille Day

Point of Interest:  The race organizers deemed today’s stage, radio free day.  That meant there would be no two way communications between riders and team directors.  Riders had to use other means to keep in touch as in days of old.  Riders and team directors have complained for days on the matter for a wide range of reasons many of which seemed reasonable though none of any true consequence.  As you can imagine it was drama all day.  It seemed like every rider had something to say about it.  Some of the riders even stripped jerseys in “protest”.  In the end, the fears and concerns were overblown and overplayed.

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1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 4:46:43
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
4 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
6 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
8 William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
9 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
10 Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
11 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
12 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
13 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence – Lotto
14 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank
15 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
16 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
17 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
18 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
19 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia – HTC
20 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre – NGC

Green Jersey Standings

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 147 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 141
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 97
4 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram 81
5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 80
6 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 73
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 55
8 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 54
9 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 49
10 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom 47

Overall Standings

1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 39:11:04
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
6 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:00
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:01
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:24
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:54

Allez915

How do you turn a mountain stage into a sprint stage?  Put the climbs in the middle and add a 30km decent to a 30km flat into the finish.  The result was that what was expected to be a battle in the GC leadership turned into a

Stage 9 Winner Fedrigo Takes a Sprint Finish over Pellizotti

Stage 9 Winner Fedrigo Takes a Sprint Finish over Pellizotti

typical sprint stage. Pierrick Fedrigo and Franco Pellizotti go one, two after working seamlessly for over 100km to hold off a fast chasing peloton.  The GC battle fizzled as the mountains were just too far from the finish.

Leading the race on to the base of the Tourmalet was the veteran Jens Voigt accompanied by Franco Pellizotti and Pierrick Fedrigo. The first chase group included Broeck, Astana’s Paulinho, Garate, Van Den Broeck, Ten Dam, Martinez, Txurruka, Moncoutie, the KOM on the road Egoi Martinez, and Stage 5 winner, Thomas Voeckler.  Thirty seconds back and trying to get on was Bouet who had just passed the Cofidis rider, Duque, who was going the other way.  The peloton was 4:10 back and includes the GC favorites though several riders including Cancellara and Popovych have fallen off.  The AG2R team was doing a great job leading for their yellow jersey teammate.

At 80km, Pellizotti jumped followed by Fedrigo.  Voigt was riding within himself to keep contact without blowing up.  Halfway up the climb the peloton was still a conspicuously large group.  With 8km to go to the summit it was surprising that none of the contending teams pushed the pace forcing Astana to cover.

At the summit of the HC climb, Pellizotti and Fedrigo took the double points for 1st and 2nd place.  The first chase came across at 2:50 minutes back having just picked up a struggling Jens Voigt.  Martinez took seventh padding his lead in the KOM by 16 points.  Bouet went to all the trouble to bridge up to the chase group only to fall back to the peloton after he was dropped on a steep section.  The number of RV’s and cars that lined the final km was astounding.  The peloton climbed steadily but didn’t make up much time on the climb at 4:50 back.  The placement of the mountains in the center of the stage as expected really sucked the life out of what could have been another exciting stage.  Considering tomorrows rest day, what was the point?

The first half of the Armstrong led decent was uneventful.  Columbia was given the go ahead to catch the breaks and force a sprint for the team.   At just under 5 minutes down, their work was cut out for them.  The peloton caught the chase at 40km to go narrowing the gap to 3:50. Caisse d’Epargne came to the front in support of their sprinter Rojas.  Rabobank came to the front to help salvage some glory today perhaps as Menchov has not panned out as expected.  They were attempting to set up Oscar Freire for the sprint if possible.  At 20km to go, the break was holding a tenuous lead over the peloton of 2:30 minutes.  It was still touch and go whether Pellizotti and Fedrigo could hold out.  They certainly were giving it there all.  The teams for the breakaway riders, Liquigas and Bbox, moved to the front in an attempt to disrupt chasing peloton.

With 10 km to go the gap between the break and the peloton had dropped to 1:22.  It seemed that the break would hold at this point.  Caisse was doing the lion’s share of the work to bring the break back stringing out the peloton in the process.

  • At 7km the gap was 60 seconds.
  • At 5km the gap was 44 seconds thought the peloton was bunching
  • At 4km the gap was 42 seconds Schleck flatted outside the 3km safety zone.  The whole team fell back to help.
  • At 3km the gap was 41 seconds. Voigt dragged Schleck back in no time flat
  • At 2km the gap was 39 seconds. Liquigas did a great job of disrupting the fading Caisse chase.
  • At 1km the gap was 36 seconds.  The break was going to hold.  Pellizotti no longer took a turn at the front.  Pellizotti jumped prior to the final turn at the 500 meter mark.  Bbox’s Pierrick Fedrigo tagged Pellizotti and came around to take the line.

Rabobank’s Oscar Freire took the field sprint for third.  Rojas was only able to muster sixth.  There was no change to the GC standings.

Well it looks like GC racing will be put on hold till the Stage 13 in the Alps on Friday.  Tomorrow is a rest day followed by three stages through central France.

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1           Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom           4:05:31
2          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
3          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank          0:00:34
4          Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
5          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
6          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
7          Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence – Lotto
8          Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel
9          Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre – NGC
10          Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi           78           pts
2          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          59
3          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas          55
4          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          49
5          Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          49

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team           117           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          106
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          75
4          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          66
5          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank          62

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana          0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:54

Allez915

Sanchez showed he had the best form of a breakaway group of four in the 8th stage today.  In the final kilometer, he first closed the final 5-second gap to the escaped Efimkin then clipped Casar at the line for the win.  It was a great performance on a dynamic but uneventful stage.

Luis León Sánchez Nips Sandy Casar at the Line to Take Stage 8

Luis León Sánchez Nips Sandy Casar at the Line to Take Stage 8

Today’s stage had a category 1 climb right out of the gate.  There was a great deal of churn as riders attempted to break on the challenging climb.  The peloton split into groups as Astana tried to stabilize the pace.  Sandy Casar got the KOM points followed by Kern and Martinez on the climb.  The rest followed in a string.  Casar maintained the lead over the summit followed by a chase including Cadel Evans, Zabriskie, Egoi Martinez, Efimkin, Kern, and La Mondiale at 53 seconds back.  The peloton was a further 2:10 back.  All this was occurring at 17km into the race.

On the decent Hincapie, Hushovd, Fletcha and Cancellara joined the chase though they couldn’t put time on Casar initially.  Eventually Casar is reeled in.  The break now had 1:35 on the Yellow jersey bunch.  It seems the battle for KOM and Green jersey points was providing the motivation for the composition of the break both for and against the titles.  Astana was controlling the peloton as expected.  They had it down to 45, not giving Cadel much latitude.

At 113km to go mark the pressure of the looming peloton forced a bailout by some and a capitulation to the capture by others.  The remaining break included Fletcha, Casar, Hushovd, Hincapie, Efimkin, and Cancellara with a 20 second gap.  Hushovd took the intermediate sprint making him the Green jersey on the road.  There were many changes as riders tried to bridge the relatively small gap.  Sanchez, Ignatiev, Astarloza and Rosseler joined on at that point while Cadel dropped off.  Hushovd took top points on the second sprint line to tighten his grip on green.  The break had 1:30 at the 86km to go mark.

On the second climb of the day at 72km to go, it was Hincapie, Cancellara, Sanchez, Ignatiev, Efimkin, Flecha, Astarloza, Casar and Rosseler who was falling off but caught back on descending.  The Yellow jersey group were at 2:57, still climbing.

Andy Schleck upped the pace on the accent up the final climb of the day up the Col d’Agnès at 55km. The added pressure forced split in the peloton.  Notably the Yellow jersey fell behind the split.  It was a yeoman’s effort by the veteran Stephane Goubert to help Rinaldo Nocentini (GC leader) bridge back to the lead chase group prior to the summit.  He had lost more than two minutes prior.  That would have been it for Rinaldo had he not bridged.  Schleck’s brought the gap to the break down to 2:40 by the summit.

Several riders fell out of the breakaway leaving only Efimkin, Astarloza, Sanchez and Casar while the others fell back.  At 46km to go, Efimkin jumped halfway up the climb dropping Astarloza, Sanchez and Casar.  Astarloza and Sanchez fought back only to be dropped again by a resurgent Efimkin.  Casar fell off the pace trying to conserve energy the rest of the way up.  Efimkin was caught 2km prior to the summit and resolved to stay with the break.  Casar crested the summit shortly after and caught back on the break a few km down the mountain with a fabulous decent.

Just after cresting the Col d’Agnès with 40km to go Columbia’s Hincapie accelerated away from the chasing peloton.  He bombed the decent trying to bridge to the four in the lead break.  He knocked the gap to 1:10 before the break riders started working together to extend the lead again to over 2 minutes.  Hincapie started looking back after that giving up and waiting for the peloton to absorb him back in.  The peloton was just under 3 minutes back at 25km when the Astana lead pack finally reeled him in.

The peloton whittled away the lead slowly but surely.  At 15km the gap was reduced 40 seconds to 2:30. Nocentini’s AG2R squad assumed the lead at this point to protect the jersey on the run in to the finish.  The gap dropped below 2 minutes at the 7.5km mark

At the 4.5, Astarloza leaped but was quickly marked.  Seconds later AG2R’s Efimkin did a brilliant jump holding on to about 500 meters.  It was Sanchez who turned on the afterburners to close the gap with Casar and Astarloza close in.  Casar starts the sprint but Sanchez is just two strong and swings by in the last 50 to take the stage.  The peloton cut the gap to 1:50 by the end with no significant changes in the order.

Tomorrow’s stage presents the Col d’Aspin (12km at 6.6 percent) and the Col du Tourmalet (17km at 7.5 percent) both notoriously difficult climbs.  The tour organization strangely placed the climbs smack in the middle of the stage, which will limit any damage done by an enterprising rider of breakaway.  I expect there will be a few GC contenders who will have to give it a go.  In previous years Discovery would send up a sentinel who could fall back for support.  This year, politics may prevent all be a few nonthreatening teammates from the task.  Still it is a possibility.   My guess would be Popovych who made a similar attempt on stage 16 of the Giro this year.  He was caught on the mountain top finish by Sastre with just 2.5km to go after giving it all he had.  I think he would enjoy the green light to give it another shot.

As for the Astana drama, both Lance and Alberto were conciliatory in their morning interviews.  Apparently “it’s all good”.  Bruyneel, in an effort to build trust I suppose has offered that both riders will have an opportunity to challenge for the Yellow, So much for Leipy and Klöden’s ambitions.  Article by Martin Rodgers describing the goings on.

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1           Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne           4:31:50
2          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux
3          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
4          Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale          0:00:03
5          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:01:54
6          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
8          Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
9          Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux
10          Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne           59           pts
2          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          54
3          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          49
4          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          46
5          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux          43
6          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          38
7          Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale          35
8          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          34
9          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          32
10          Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          26

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team           117           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          106
3          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          66
4          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          65
5          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank          55

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale           30:18:16
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana          0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:54

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Brice Feillu steps out of his brothers shadow today to bring the honor of a stage win to his family and team.  Feillu was part of a nine-man

Feillu splintered a nine man break to take Stage 7

Feillu splintered a nine man break to take Stage 7

break that whittled down on the mountain top finish in Arcalis.  Initially looking weak, Feillu surprised all by jumping halfway up the above category climb.  He held on to take the stage.  The rest of the break straggled in behind him.  Contador fired the third shot in the battle for Astana preeminence (the first being the time trial – expected & second Lance’s crosswind attack – on the margins).  He took it upon himself to attack rather than cover attackers in the most blatant self-serving move to date.  Outside of the politics, it was a brilliant move.  He clearly has the legs to challenge the best.

As it happened:  At about 45km a stable break formed to include Gutierrez, Martinez, Riblon, Nocentini, Kuschynski, Kern, Pineau, Feillu and Frohlinger.  The highest placing of the group was Nocentini at 3:13.  As such none were considered a threat by the GC contenders and were allowed to go up the road in the name of stabilizing the peloton.  The group extended their lead to more than 12 minutes over the next 140km.

The peloton largely stuck together with Astana taking the helm as if they held Yellow.  Saxo’s absence from the front was telling relative to their expectations of Cancellara.  With 25km to go, Astana started to turn up the dial as Paulinho, Popovych and Zubeldia set a blistering pace.  As they fell off one by one, the pressure ratcheted up but the gap had not fallen enough to clear all of the break riders from the GC standings.  The GC chase group, including all the favorites, continued to grab back time rapidly but was running out of real estate.  Ahead in the break, Feillu jumped at 5.5km fracturing the group in the process.  The GC chase heavy still with Astana riders stuck together until the Cadel took a shot.  He was marked rapidly but seconds later Contador took off.  Contador in his trademark acceleration pealed off the front leaving the chase in the dust.  He grew the lead steadily to the line putting distance all the favorites including his coleader, Lance.

Contador came close but did not gain enough time to garner the yellow.  The GC did shake up a little as the break rider, Nocentini, held enough of a gap to put himself in yellow.  Contador leaps Lance with Leipheimer and Wiggins rounding out the top 5.

When interviewed, Armstrong, Leipheimer and even the director Johan Bruyneel said that Contador was off script.  He was expected to work with the team as a group and prepare to cover the moves of the GC threats.  Contador’s was rather guarded in his after race interview.  He said he was testing his legs and was hopeful to put some distance on his competitors.  As if heeding Hinault’s words in commentary this morning, he effectively threw the gauntlet down.

Other Riders in the GC group look very good.  Though none has truly played their hand. Cadel Evans jump at the 2km mark showed excellent form though a straining chase group including Andy & Frank Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Levi Leipheimer, Tony Martin, Lance Armstrong, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre, Vladimir Karpets and Christian Vande Velde were able to marked him. Team Garmin continues to looks strong with a strong performance by Wiggins and Vande Velde.  I think this group was content to shake out their legs in readiness for the next two mountain stages.  There is as they say, a long way to go.

Contador crosses the finish a few seconds shy of yellow

Contador crosses the finish a few seconds shy of yellow

I’d love to be a fly on the wall on the Astana team bus tonight.  Things will probably get heated.  The individual and team expectation seem to be at odds.  Compounding the problem are matters of trust.  I wonder if Contador thinks the director favors Lance and as such is holding him back.  When riders are expected to sacrifice for the team, resentments are bound to follow especially when rolls are not defined. This seems like Lemond/Hinault all over again i.e. the senior statesman vs. the talent.  Were Contador to have earned the Yellow Jersey, Lance and the other riders’ options would be limited.  They would be expected to fall in line and support their rider.  As it is, the riders will feel less encumbered by prescribed strategy especially in the face of Contador’s defection from the team.  It will be interesting to see what face is put on this in the morning.

Now the final matter for today, what the heck is up with Boonen?  He can’t seem to catch a break in the last three days.

  • Stage 5 – two flats
  • Stage 6 – wreck
  • Stage 7 – another wreck
  • Not a single sprint point to date.

I’m throwing all the mojo I can muster at Booney to overcome his poor fortune and get in the mix.

Stage Profile

Stage 7 Profile

Stage 7 Profile

Stage 7 Map

Stage 7 Map

Stage 7 Recap

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Stage 7 Video

Velonews

Stage 7 Results

1           Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel           6:11:31
2          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          0:00:05
3          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          0:00:25
4          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          0:00:26
5          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:00:45
6          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          0:01:05
7          Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step          0:02:32
8          José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:03:14
9          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:03:26
10          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:03:47
11          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
12          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
13          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
14          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
15          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
16          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC
17          Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
18          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
19          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
20          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream

Polka Dot Jersey Overall

1           Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel           49            pts
2          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          46
3          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          46
4          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          43
5          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          34
6          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          32
7          Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step          23
8          José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          20
9          Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas          17
10          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          15

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale           25:44:32
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana          0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:54
11          Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step          0:02:10
12          Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC          0:02:21
13          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:02:25
14          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:02:40
15          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team          0:02:52
16          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          0:02:54
17          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas          0:03:03
18          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:03:07
19          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:03:10
20          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:03:16

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