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Cavendish utilized his team to perfection winning his second stage in as many days.  The real news was a crosswind induced break that led to an irreparable split in the field that shook up the GC standings.

It was another hot stage today in southern France.  The 196km Marseille to Le Grande Motte route was rolling on the first half and dead flat on the later half.  Strong crosswinds were expected on the flats which have the potential to force echelon formations and possibly induce breaks in the peloton.

Stage 3 Winner, Mark Cavendish

Stage 3 Winner, Mark Cavendish

A single break got away from the gun which included Moreno, Bouet, De Kort and Domoulin.  They held a lead over much of the stage with a gap of as much as 11 minutes.  The peloton was content to pedal at a comfortable pace, seemingly not worried about the break.  About halfway through the stage Saxo Bank, Rabobank then Columbia moved to the front in sequence to do the work of reeling in the escapees.  The lead steadily fell over the next 70km.  As the Columbia led peloton approached the break, the pace and cross winds, fractured the field.  Almost all of the Columbia team made the front group of 29 as well as Cancellara, Cavendish, Martin and Hushovd.  Three Astana riders made it including Armstrong, Zubeldia and Popo. Many contenders were in the chase group including Contador, Evans, Sastre, Leipheimer, the Schlecks and several of the sprinters. The gap hovered between 20 to 40 seconds into the final kilometers.  Even with strong chase effort the lead group held on to the line taking 40+ seconds out of the chase.

Cavendish was well positioned for the sprint with a single rider left on lead out.  Hushovd was on his wheel but didn’t have enough to get by.  Another great win for Cav.  Cancellara made a nice effort to snag 6th.  The GC changed considerably with Armstrong and Martin moving up and Contador, Kloden, Evans and Leipheimer moving down.

I’ll be very interested in reviewing the video and race reports today.  It seems Armstrong was urging his team on in the lead group even though his team lead, Contador, got caught in the chase group.  Hopefully an interviewer will extract an explanation.  Regardless, Lance has situated himself to possibly take the Yellow Jersey tomorrow with a high probability win tomorrow in the TTT.  That of course would have him protected as leader till the mountain top finish in Arcalis on Stage 7.  All bets are off at that point.

P.S. After reading and viewing interviews and commentary, It seems to me that Lance thought under the conditions that it was wise to stay up front in case a split developed.  Contador had been near the split but missed by a hair.  At that point, Lance mostly hung on to the Columbia freight train and ended up with a windfall.  Lance was unapologetic mind you but seemed to have a proper perspective of the time gain relative to the weeks ahead in the context of team politics.  Contador didn’t seem concerned in the least.

Stage 3 Race Reports

ESPN (best of the reports)
Velonews
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
Yahoo Sports
Cycling Weekly (Lances Motives…Not to Top Contador)

Stage 3 Video

Versus Race Recap
Versus Post Race Recap

Stage 3 Results

1. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia – Htc in 5:01:24
2. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team
3. Cyril Lemoine Skil-Shimano at 00:00
4. Samuel Dumoulin Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at s.t.
5. Jérôme Pineau Quick Step at s.t.
6. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank at s.t.
7. Fabian Wegmann Team Milram at s.t.
8. Fumiyuki Beppu Skil-Shimano at s.t.
9. Maxime Bouet Agritubel at s.t.
10. Linus Gerdemann Team Milram at s.t.

GC Standings

1. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank in 9:50:58
2. Tony Martin Team Columbia – Htc in 9:51:31
3. Lance Armstrong Astana in 9:51:38 at 00:40
4. Alberto Contador Astana in 9:51:57 at 00:59
5. Bradley Wiggins Garmin – Slipstream in 9:51:58 at 01:00
6. Andréas KlÖden Astana in 9:52:01 at 01:03
7. Linus Gerdemann Team Milram in 9:52:01 at 01:03
8. Cadel Evans Silence – Lotto in 9:52:02 at 01:04
9. Maxime Monfort Team Columbia – Htc in 9:52:08 at 01:10
10. Levi Leipheimer Astana in 9:52:09 at 01:11
11. Michael Rogers Team Columbia – Htc in 9:52:11 at 01:13
12. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas in 9:52:11 at 01:13
13. George Hincapie Team Columbia – Htc in 9:52:15 at 01:17
14. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas in 9:52:16 at 01:18
15. Gustav Larsson Team Saxo Bank in 9:52:20 at 01:22
16. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel – Euskadi in 9:52:23 at 01:25
17. David Zabriskie Garmin – Slipstream in 9:52:26 at 01:28
18. David Millar Garmin – Slipstream in 9:52:27 at 01:29
19. Jérôme Pineau Quick Step in 9:52:29 at 01:31
20. Haimar Zubeldia Astana in 9:52:29 at 01:31

Allez915

Today’s stage promised to be both explosive and decisive. The reason of course was the infamous pair of above category mountains on the schedule, the Col du Tourmalet followed by the Hautacam.Tourmalet is an 18km uphill at almost 8 percent which reaches to 7,000 feet while Hautacam is a 17km climb at a 7 percent grade with some fierce double-digit grades along the way. There were two Cat three climbs along the way but as you can see from the elevation profile, they look like rollers by comparison.

Stage 10 Elevation Profile

Stage 10 Elevation Profile - I mean, are you kidding me...get the oxygen!

The yellow jersey changed hands from Kim Kirchen to Cadel Evans as a result of a brilliantly

Evans, Vande Velde & Menchov

Stage 10 Contenders: Evans, Vande Velde & Menchov

executed plan by team CSC. CSC’s Jens Voigt and the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, pushed the pace to limit, unexpectedly popping Valverde, Cunego and Schumacher up the first climb. The other contenders including Evans, Ricco, Kirchen, Vande Velde, Menchov and Sastre were able to match the pace. There was the crazy Tourmalet decent which denied the dropped riders the opportunity to catch back on and even distanced them by an additional minute. Then there was the initial part of the climb up Hautacam which recaptured all the remaining break riders while dropping the yellow jersey, Kirchen. This two phased attack was led primarily by Cancellara the Swiss time trial champion. Jens Voigt continued the attack at an equally difficult pace putting the rest of the GC guys on the red line.  It was the “see you guys later” move by Frank Schleck who finally did the rest of the field in. Only a few could follow including

Stage 10 Winner, Peipoli

Stage 10 Winner, Leonardo Peipoli

the eventual stage winner Piepoli, with team mate Cobo of Saunier Duval-Scott, Kohl of Gerolsteiner and Efimkin of Ag2r. Frank almost rode himself into yellow in the process but missed it by one second to a rebounding Cadel. Vande Velde was a great story today. He was right in there to the line demonstrating he has the stuff to find his way to the podium.

There was a ton of action during the stage and it is hard to describe all the moves in this short brief. I’ve included the links to several race reports from the various news outlets as usual to give the detail.

Race Video: http://tinyurl.com/59r9kc

Race Reports:

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/5pbykk

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

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

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6kcpg3

Stage Results:

1 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval – Scott, 4.19.27 (36.08 km/h)
2 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval – Scott, st.
3 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.28
4 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.06
5 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.05
6 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval – Scott, 2.17
7 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, st.
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, st.
11 Moises Dueñas Nevado (Spa) Barloworld, 2.27
12 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.49
13 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 3.40
14 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.58
15 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 4.19

Overall Results:

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 42.29.09
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 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval – Scott, 2.10
9 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval – Scott, 2.29
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.32

American Placing Overall:

3 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.38
57 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia, 39.51
119 Danny Pate (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.25.36
149 William Frischkorn (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.40.53

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