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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.

Stage 9 Map

Stage 9 Map

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 9 Recap

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Stage 9 Results

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

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Bbox’s Thomas Voeckler won the stage after a start to finish breakaway.  Voeckler was able to get a gap on his 5 other pirate friends on a round about at 5km.  He was able to hold the lead to the line to take the stage.

Voeckler takes the early break to the line with panache

Voeckler takes the early break to the line with panache

Today’s stage was a southwesterly route in the south of France.  The racers battled stiff crosswinds all day that had them on edge.  Riders were battling to get to the front to stay out of trouble.  A group of six escaped including Voeckler, Geslin, Hutarovich, Sapa, Ignatiev and Timmer at about 28km.  The break got a small gap that grew to 1.5 minutes as the peloton stopped on mass for a nature stop.  The lead steadily grew to over 8 minutes.

There were two cat 4 climbs at about the halfway point at which time Astana and Saxo began working on the gap.  Even Cancellara worked to drive the pace.  Saxo’s efforts paid off as the field split into a group of 40 followed by a chase of the remaining riders.  During this time the crosswinds were taking a toll on the lead six that exacerbated the time loss.  The lead was reduced to 40 seconds at the 30km mark.  It wasn’t looking good for the break at that point.  Saxo realized there nothing to work for in that all the top riders were in the lead chase so they let up.  That allowed the six-man break to grow the lead back to 1:40 giving them a chance to bring it home.

At about 6km out, Ignatiev started the jumps.  He tried twice without success.  At just under 5km, Voeckler made a thunderous jump and held it to the line fighting a strong headwind solo for the win.  Ignatiev held on for second as the wildly undulating peloton bore down nearly stealing the spot.  Cavendish led the charge taking third in the process.

No change in the GC.

Ignatiev digs deep to hold second as Cavendish breaths down his neck

Ignatiev digs deep to hold second as Cavendish breaths down his neck

Stage 5 Recap

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Stage 5 Video

ESPN Video

Stage 5 Results

1. Thomas Voeckler Bbox Bouygues Telecom in 4:29:35
2. Mikhail Ignatiev Team Katusha in 4:29:42
3. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia – Htc in 4:29:42 at 00:07
4. Tyler Farrar Garmin – Slipstream in 4:29:42 at 00:07
5. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram in 4:29:42 at 00:07
6. Danilo Napolitano Team Katusha in 4:29:42 at 00:07
7. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne in 4:29:42 at 00:07
8. Lloyd Mondory Ag2r-La Mondiale in 4:29:42 at 00:07
9. Oscar Freire Rabobank in 4:29:42 at 00:07
10. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team in 4:29:42 at 00:07

Green Jersey Standings

1. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia – Htc 96 points
2. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team 70 points
3. Tyler Farrar Garmin – Slipstream 54 points
4. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram 42 points
5. Thomas Voeckler Bbox Bouygues Telecom 41 points

Overall Standings

1. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank in 15:07:49
2. Lance Armstrong Astana
3. Alberto Contador Astana in 15:08:08 at 00:19
4. Andréas KlÖden Astana in 15:08:12 at 00:23
5. Levi Leipheimer Astana in 15:08:20 at 00:31
6. Bradley Wiggins Garmin – Slipstream in 15:08:27 at 00:38
7. Haimar Zubeldia Astana in 15:08:40 at 00:51
8. Tony Martin Team Columbia – Htc in 15:08:41 at 00:52
9. David Zabriskie Garmin – Slipstream in 15:08:55 at 01:06
10. David Millar Garmin – Slipstream in 15:08:56 at 01:07

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