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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 Profile

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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

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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

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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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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

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Stage 7 Map

Stage 7 Recap

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Stage 7 Video

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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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Stage 15 Winner - Gerrans

Stage 15 Winner - Gerrans

The riders faced a rather unpleasant start to the stage 15 with rain, cold and possible snow on the climbs. Four riders escaped the peloton at 15km including Martinez, Pate and Arrieta followed by Gerrans who bridged up a few minutes later. The grouped worked exceptionally well retaining a substantial lead most of the way to the finish. The break had a 12 minutes lead at the base of the final climb which was whittled down to about 4 minutes after the GC guys came in. Arrieta fell off as the break neared the final kilometers. Gerrans craftily accelerated to the line ahead of Martinez and a fading Pate to take the win.

The slippery roads and sharp descents caused many to go down and including the previous Tour

Stage 15 Oscar Pereiro Hits the Deck

Stage 15 Oscar Pereiro Hits the Deck

winner Oscar Pereiro. He lost his line on a hairpin and flipped over a guardrail launching down an embankment to the switchback below. He was originally thought to have broken a femur but it was determined that it was his shoulder bone. As it is, he is out of the Tour. There were other crashes including a massive pavement hugger on both sides of a roundabout at about 50k to go taking down several of the GC contenders.

The real fireworks came as CSC led a blistering attack up the Prato Nevoso led by Andy Schleck of CSC-Saxo Bank. The remainder of the peloton blistered away leaving the Evans, Menchov, Vande Velde, Bernhard Kohl, Valverde, Sastre, Frank Schleck and Andy Schleck, Kreuziger and Sánchez. Menchov attacked this group though he fell allowing the group to regain position. Kohl, Menchov and Sastre eventually escaped with Valverde bridging to get on with a few km left. Menchov fell off the back as the break approached the line. As Cadel and Frank approached the line 30 seconds back, Frank dashed to the line to take the last few seconds to take yellow. It was a very exciting finish

Cavendish bid farewell to the Tour before race start as was widely predicted. He would likely have been competitive at the finish in Paris though the beating of three mountain stages and a time trial might have done him in anyway. The price to play on the final day was just too steep literally. I think prioritizing Beijing was an obvious good choice. He will be missed.

Stage 15 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/55bbse

Stage 15 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5g4ssp

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/56hzza

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6puz9z

Stage 15 Results:

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Crédit Agricole, 4.50.44 (37.77 km/h)
2 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 0.03
3 Danny Pate (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.10
4 José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale, 0.55
5 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 4.03
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.12
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 4.23
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.41
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.43
11 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, 4.46
12 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.50
13 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
14 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.58
15 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 5.34

Overall Standings:

1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 63.57.21
2 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.07
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.08
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 0.38
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.39
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.49
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 2.48
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 3.36
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.11
10 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.34

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