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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.

Stage 11 Map

Stage 11 Map

Stage 11 Profile

Stage 11 Profile

Stage 11 Recap

Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

Stage 11 Video

Versus

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

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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

Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Yahoo Sports

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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