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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.

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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

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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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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

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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

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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

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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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The highlights of the stage were an exceptionally well ridden break by David Millar followed by a blistering sprint by Thor “The Hamma” Hushovd. Besides that the stage was marked wreck after wreck on the rain slicked roads mostly on the later half of the race.

Hushovd does a picture sprint to take the win and get back into contention on the green jersey competition

Hushovd does a picture sprint to take the win and get back into contention on the green jersey competition

In early riding, Zabriskie, Hincapie, Fletcha, Millar and Freire all took a stab at a break today. At around the 50 km mark, by Millar, Auge and Chavanel. They quickly gained a minute on the field over the next 5k or so. The lead grew to its max of 3:30 by the 65km mark. The peloton learned from the previous day not to let the break get to far out either that or Millar was seen a significant enough of a threat to keep it close.

A light rain began at the 80km mark, which didn’t bode well relative to the hilly terrain ahead. Astana comes to the front to keep its riders out of trouble. Txurruka gets free and bridges to the break by the 110km mark. Just after the base of the final climb, Millar attacks his compatriots. He gets a gap the others can’t match. He had about a minute over the peloton with the mountain and decent, a flat section of about 10km and some steep rollers in the last 2km to conquer.

Millar’s lead over the peloton slips to 30 seconds but by the end of the decent is back up to over a minute. Millar is burying himself on the flats to hold on to the tenuous lead. After 10km of wrecks, and looking at each other, the peloton wakes up and accelerates. The question is will someone jump to snag a few seconds, will Millar take advantage of the indecisive peloton or will it go to an unexpected sprint?

As the peloton bears down on Millar, Columbia’s Martin is up front with Cavendish but where was his regular lead out guy, Renshaw? Millar was caught at the 1km after a supreme effort. Columbia’s Martin tried to control the pace through the final Km to set up the sprint for Cavendish to no avail. On the sprint, Pozzato went left and Freire went right with Hushovd on his wheel. Hushovd takes it at the line.

Hushovd narrowly missed taking over the Green jersey lead over Cavendish by one point. What was expected to be a Cavendish rout is shaping up to be a very competitive sprint competition.

The unexpected sprint wins the day.

All eyes are on stage 7 and the mountains near Andorra. Tomorrow is the day were we see who has got the legs and more importantly which of Astana’s leaders can assert control. I think Lance is counting on strategy and experience and maybe seniority to hold onto control where Contador has raw horsepower. Either way it goes, it will be exciting to watch. There are several riders including Cadel, Sastre, and Schleck who are in need of some seconds and minutes. They may just have to take a chance and scramble for it on what is likely a Astana dominated stage.

Climbs of the day
Km 32.0 – Côte de Sant Feliu de Guixols – 2.0 km climb to 5.4% – Category 4
Km 55.0 – Côte de Tossa de Mar – 3.8 km climb to 4.2% – Category 4
Km 98.0 – Côte de Sant Vicenc de Montalt – 3.3 km climb to 5.2% – Category 3
Km 110.0 – Collsacreu – 4.1 km climb to 5.2% – Category 3
Km 159.0 – Côte de la Conreria – 4.7 km climb to 4.5% – Category 4

Stage Profile

Stage 6 Profile

Stage 6 Profile

Stage 6 Recap
Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

Stage 6 Video
Yahoo Sports

Stage 6 Results
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 4:21:33
2 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
4 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
6 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
7 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre – NGC
8 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto
10 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
11 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
12 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
13 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
14 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
15 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step
16 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC
17 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
18 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia – HTC
19 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
20 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana

Green Jersey Overall
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 106 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 105
3 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram 66
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 54
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 53

Overall Results
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 19:29:22
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:19
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:23
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:00:31
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:00:38
7 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:00:52
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:16
9 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:22
10 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:29

Allez915

Oscar Freire takes the sprint to the line by a full bike length off the wheel of Eric Zabel. Showing

Stage 14 Photo Finish

Stage 14 Photo Finish

excellent form, Freire made a picture perfect dash winning Stage 14 for Rabobank. Zabel, the picture of concentration gets nipped at the line by Leonardo Duque who finished 2nd leaving Zabel in 3rd. Both Cavendish and McEwen were off the back on the final Cat 4 climb leaving them out of contention. With Cavendish out, Team Columbia still drove the train to give Gerald Ciolek a shot coming into the finish to no avail. Ciolek ended up out of the top 10. In the process they swallowed up a game Chavanel who took a flyer from 9km out on the down hill run to the line. He held them off for almost 7km. Well done.

Stage 14 offered up a steady climb of just under 600m from Narbonne to Nîmes over its length of 195km. There were two Cat 4 climbs the last of which broke the field apart to a degree. It was quite hot at 30c or 42c on the road.

Tomorrows 183km stage from Embrun to Prato Nevoso has some serious vertical to deal with. The 20km climb up the HC col Agnel at 6.5% and up to 12% towards the top is first at the 34km mark. The second climb is into the ski resort of Prato Nevoso which averages 8% to the finish. Expect Cadel to be under attack. There will no doubt be a shake up in the GC tomorrow.

Stage 15 Elevation Profile

Stage 15 Elevation Profile

Stage 14 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/5zyk9t

Stage Race Reports

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5d5tuw

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/68he8t

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6dv4tv

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/58ftl4

Stage 14 Results

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
4 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin Chipotle – H30
5 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quick Step
6 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre
7 Rubén Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole

Green Jersey Standings

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, 219 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, 172
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, 167
4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia, 156
5 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 144
6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 137
7 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, 110
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 105
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 98
10 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel, 94

Overall Results

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 59.01.55
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.01
3 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.38
4 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.46
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 0.57
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.28
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 1.56
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.32
9 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.51
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 4.18

Mark Cavendish appears to be unstoppable.  He was boxed tightly at 200m. As soon as a gap came

Stage 13 Winner - Mark Cavendish

Stage 13 Winner - Mark Cavendish

open, he was clear and powering to the front. It was nice to see Robbie McEwen released from Cadel support duties to contest the sprint this go around. It has been a long absence. As it was, he couldn’t match Cavendish’s speed to the line. “Cavendish is simply too strong and too fast” McEwen said. McEwen ended up 2nd and Freire finished 5th, putting in another consistent effort.

In Phil Liggett’s commentary he mentioned several times that Cav was the new McEwen. Little harsh but Cav certainly has McEwen’s acceleration from Tour’s past. Cavendish said that he was really taking a beating in the mountains which was keeping him from his best performances. I expect that a few more tour campaigns and he will be even more of a force.

As for Paris, “One day at a time” is how Mark responded to the Frankie Andrea question will you be retiring from the Tour for Olympic preparation? All I can say is too bad it is an Olympic year.

I’ve put a graph together to show how the top Green Jersey point’s leaders have place in each of the sprint stages. It is meant to show the trend of the riders over time. In Stage 3, a four man break made it to the line. I’ve netted out they’re positions relative the graph.

2008 TdF Green Jersey Sprint Stage Trends

2008 TdF Green Jersey Sprint Stage Trends

I’ll skip the run in to the sprint today as it was rather uneventful. If you are interested in the stage details, the video and race reports from news outlets are below.

Stage 13 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/59gosx

Stage 13 Race Reports

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/67mvuz

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/55wntk

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/5mbh5m

Bicycling: http://tinyurl.com/6rn42k

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6blrlc

Stage 13 Results

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia, 4.25.42 (41.10 km/h)
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence - Lotto
3 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
4 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
7 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
9 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30
10 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux
11 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
12 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step
13 Iñaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
14 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne
15 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
Green Jersey Standings

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, 184 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia, 156
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, 156
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, 141
5 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 138
6 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, 110
7 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 107
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 105
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 97
10 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel, 94

Overall Standings

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 54.48.47
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.01
3 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.38
4 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.46
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 0.57
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.28
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 1.56
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.32
9 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.51
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 4.18

Cavendish racked up his third win of the tour setting a record for British cyclists in the process.

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

Cavendish powered through the front runners, outpacing Sebastien Chavanel and Gert Steegmans to the line. The man looked like a freight train. It was fun to read all the Twitter activity congratulating Cavendish.  I’ve been wondering why he and the team haven’t been contesting for the Green jersey. In a post race interview he said that the team felt that it was plenty enough to contest the finishes. Adding intermediate sprints into the equation would dilute the focus and jeopardize they’re chances for stage wins. Well, there is always next year.

Other noteworthy finishers include Eric Zabel, who continues to consistently get in there. Today he ended up 4th. Oscar Freire was able to hang on for 5th while the green giant, Thor Hushovd managed to salvage seventh.  Robbie McEwen ended up in 11th place.

As for the rest of the race, it was a by the numbers stage on basically flat terrain. The heat and wind were the most serious impediment. A two man break got away at 40km from the start which included Arnaud Gerard and Samuel Dumoulin. They built up a lead of over 3:30 minutes and held on till about the 10km to go mark. Team tactics were in play for the intermediate and final sprints. Columbia put on an excellent show, towing their man Cavendish into superb position to contest. He did not disappoint.

Sad Note: Tour officials announced that Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval-Scott had tested positive for EPO after Stage 4. He apparently was using a new type of EPO called Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator or CERA. Now it is off to the police station and a summer of questions. I guess Saunier Duval-Scott was not able to justify remaining in the tour. The team pulled out just before the stage began.

Stage 12 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/59r9kc

Stage Recap Articles

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6qq23j

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5ul2db

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/56tr3c

Bicycling: http://tinyurl.com/5zmfvn

Stage 12 Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

043

CAVENDISH, Mark

GBR

THR

03:40:52

00:00:00

2

162

CHAVANEL, Sébastien

FRA

FDJ

03:40:52

00:00:00

3

097

STEEGMANS, Gert

BEL

QST

03:40:52

00:00:00

4

151

ZABEL, Erik

GER

MRM

03:40:52

00:00:00

5

133

FREIRE, Oscar

ESP

RAB

03:40:52

00:00:00

6

063

CHICCHI, Francesco

ITA

LIQ

03:40:52

00:00:00

7

081

HUSHOVD, Thor

NOR

C.A

03:40:52

00:00:00

8

186

DUQUE, Leonardo

COL

COF

03:40:52

00:00:00

9

193

DEAN, Julian

NZL

TSL

03:40:52

00:00:00

10

114

HAUSSLER, Heinrich

GER

GST

03:40:52

00:00:00

11

006

MC EWEN, Robbie

AUS

SIL

03:40:52

00:00:00

12

123

CASPER, Jimmy

FRA

AGR

03:40:52

00:00:00

13

058

HUNTER, Robert

RSA

BAR

03:40:52

00:00:00

14

105

ELMIGER, Martin

SUI

ALM

03:40:52

00:00:00

15

072

BALLAN, Alessandro

ITA

LAM

03:40:52

00:00:00

Overall Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

001

EVANS, Cadel

AUS

SIL

50:23:05

00:00:00

2

017

SCHLECK, Frank

LUX

CSC

50:23:06

00:00:01

3

191

VANDEVELDE, Christian

USA

TSL

50:23:43

00:00:38

4

115

KOHL, Bernhard

AUT

GST

50:23:51

00:00:46

5

131

MENCHOV, Denis

RUS

RAB

50:24:02

00:00:57

6

011

SASTRE, Carlos

ESP

CSC

50:24:33

00:01:28

7

041

KIRCHEN, Kim

LUX

THR

50:25:01

00:01:56

8

104

EFIMKIN, Vladimir

RUS

ALM

50:25:37

00:02:32

9

022

ASTARLOZA, Mikel

ESP

EUS

50:26:56

00:03:51

10

067

NIBALI, Vincenzo

ITA

LIQ

50:27:23

00:04:18

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