I expected to see a sort of clear front runner for the Tour on this stage, but it didn’t happen. The beginning of the race was marred with different breakaway attempts. Finally, a large breakaway got underway, but it was too large to be fruitful. The 6 climbs were hard on the riders, and in the final few kilometers, all of the favorites were almost evenly matched. Neither Frank nor Andy Schleck could distance Contador, and Evans as well as Voeckler were still hanging around. We’ll have to wait until the Alps to see a clear winner in this year’s Tour, as tomorrow, the stage is flat.
Today’s stage is 168.5km. There are 6 climbs. After the first cat 2 climb, there is the intermediate sprint. Then, there’s a cat 1 climb followed by another cat 2. Right after, it’s a cat 1 and 3. The stage finishes with a hors-catégorie climb in Plateau de Beille at over 1700m.
Right off the bat, there are some attacks. Every stage winner of this parcours ended up wining the Tour de France.
Evans has an early bike change. Chavanel is at the front of the peloton. It’s like a mad dash. The pace has been so hard that the peloton has split in order to chase the breakaway.
Chavanel has got 10″. There is a group of 19 riders chasing him. The chasers catch Chavanel. The breakaway includes Millar, Jens Voigt, and Sanchez.
Gerdeman, Bouet, Casar (FDJ), Delage (FDJ), and DeGent (Vacansoleil) are also part of the breakaway.
There is a chase group with Mallori (Lampre) trying to bridge the gap to get to the breakaway. He’s annoyed with his fellow chasers, who are trying to get to the lead group.
Gilbert has said that he might have to concentrate on the GC, because the HTC and Movistar squads are so organized, that it’s getting hard for him to get any points in the Green Jersey comp.
The lead is 2:36 and there are 155.3km left. The breakaway is composed of Casar (FDJ), Sanchez (Rabobank), Fares (Cofidis), Gerdemann (Leopard Trek), Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek), Di Gregori (Astana), Bouet (AG2R), Charteau (Europcar), Millar (Garmin Cervelo), Zandio (Sky), Riblon (AG2R), Mollema (Rabobank), Chavanel (Quick Step), De Gent (Vacansoleil), Izagirre (Euskaltel Euskadi), Silin (Katousha), Marcato (Vacansoleil), Koren (Liquigas), Vichot (FDJ), Quinziato (BMC) and Delage (FDJ).
The chasers include Gutierrez (Movistar). Costa (Movistar) is part of that as are Moreno (Euskaltel Euskadi), Ventoso (Movistar), Iglinskiy (Astana), Pineau (Quick Step), Malori (Lampre). It’s what they call *une échappée fleuve*.
At 152.1km, the lead is 3:16. It’s the first time this year that we’ve seen such a large number of riders getting away. The chasers are 50″ behind the breakaway.
Europcar are pacing the peloton.
At 146.7km, the lead is 4:05. They are starting the first climb, the Col de Portet d’Aspet, which is a cat 2.
Sylvain Schmidt (Liquigas) was very impressive on the climb of Luz-Ardiden.
There are 145.4km, the lead is 4:31.
Perez, Costa, Pineau and Malori have split from the other chasers. The pace wasn’t quick enough. Iglinskiy and Gutierrez are behind them. Ventoso is all alone.
Movistar has been very careful with the intermediate sprinting points. HTC has started copying their tactics.
Yesterday, Gilbert was complaining about something. He was complaining about the teammates of Rojas and Cav moping up the sprint points.
With 142.2km left, the lead is 4:56. In today’s stage, there are 72pts available in the KOM comp.
Delage sprints ahead to grab the maximum pts. He was followed by Mollema and Chavanel.
The Costa chase group is about 1′ behind the leaders.
The peloton is going over the first climb. They are 4:59. 137.1km.
Apparently, Thor Hushovd was going 112kph off the Col d’Aubisque yesterday. Wow. Now that is fast.
The intermediate sprint is coming up. All of the points are going to be mopped up by the breakaway.
Delage beats Millar in the sprint to earn maximum pts. Millar gave Delage a brotherly pat on the back after he won the sprint.
There are 126km left and the lead is 4:35. Europcar have been going down fairly quickly.
It looks like everyone is taking a wee while they go through a town named Illartein.
There are 125km left, and the gap is 5:04. The 1st group of chasers get into contact with the leaders. The breakaway has lifted the pace. The lead is 5:27 with 123.8km left.
With 122km left, the lead is 5:56. The lead is going up. With 120km, the lead is 6:13.
The breakaway is about to start the climb of the cat 1 mountain, the Col de la Core. Gutierrez and Iglinskiy are about to be caught by the peloton. They are riding a minute in front of the peloton.
14km to go to the summit. Europcar is still doing most of the pacing.
Gutierrez and Iglinskiy are caught by the peloton with 116.4km to go. The lead is still 5:57. I just saw the flag of Québec.
Française des jeux has done really well this year. They are a wildcard team.
With 112.6km left, the lead is 6:13. There are some riders, like Millar, who have been instructed by their team managers not to do anything to help the breakaway.
With 111km to go, the summit is at 5km. the lead is 5:54.
Gilbert drops back to the team car. He wants another bike. With 108.6km, the lead is 6:05.
At the top, Delage (10pts) takes the KOM pts away from everyone. He’s followed by Chavanel (opts) and Casar (opts).
We see Eisel pouring a bottle of water on Cav, to wake him up. It does the job, as they start going a bit faster.
With 103.4km, the lead is 6:20. One of the riders on the descent has a speed wobble at high speed. It doesn’t dissuade him from going fast. It’s Fares (Cofidis). Casar and Fares are taking the lead down the mountain, as fast as they can.
With 100.6km, the lead is 6:26. Casar and Fares have taken off the front of the breakaway. With 100km, the lead is 6:38. They are flying down the mountain. With 99.5km, it’s 6:50.
Garmin Cervelo are still looking for a new sponsor at the end of the season. If they don’t, they might split up the team.
With 92km, the lead is 6:52. Casar and Fares come through the feeding zone. Millar is coming up right behind the other two.
Now, we see Voeckler coming down the mountain. Millar, Casar, and Fares have got a 1′ gap over the big breakaway.
With 86.7km, the lead is 7:09. The gap to the chasers is up to 1:35. Cav is back in the peloton. There is a little bit of a split.
With 85.5km, the lead is 7:20. At 81.6km, the lead is 8:25. The chase group is at 2:01. The lead is going up, bit by bit. With 81km, it’s 8:36. With 80km, the lead is 8:45.
The next climb is the Col de Latrape, and it’s a cat 2. The leaders have started it. They’ve got 5.33km to go to the top. The gradient is 8%. With 79.4km, the lead is 8:58.
The breakaway is completely disorganized. The break is split. They are 2:18 behind the leaders.
Riblon (AG2R) tries to get away from the breakaway. With 79km, the lead is 9′. The breakaway has started to splinter.
With 76.3km, the lead is 9:06. Cav was just dropped from the peloton. Leopard Trek are doing some pacing up the mountains. At the back of the race, riders are being dropped because of the high pace.
The tempo has started to eat into the lead. With 75.6km, it’s 8:43.
The leaders have got 500m to go to the top. The lead is down to 8:35 with 75km to go. 4 riders from the breakaway were dropped and made their way back to the peloton.
Casar gets the pts for the KOM comp. They start the descent and they are going fast. There are 40pts available for the rider who crosses the Plateau de Beille first.
Hushovd is also dropped by the peloton. With 69km, the lead is down to 7:50. They are starting the climb of the 1st cat Col d’Agnès. It’ 10km long.
Riblon makes it across the gap and joins the leaders. That was an impressive ride. He must have done it during the descent.
With 67km, the lead is 7:45. Millar has been dropped from the leaders. Izagirre, Di Gregorio, Costa, Quinziato, and Silin are chasing the leaders.
Leopard Trek continue the punishing pace. With 66.7km, the lead is 7:41.
In the chase group, Silin (Katousha) makes a move to get away from the chasers. He already sees Millar in the front.
The leaders are 3 Frenchmen. Silin rides right past Millar. Millar is falling back toward the peloton.
Silin is 20″ away from the leaders. Charteau is leading a four-man group closer and closer. They can see the leaders. They are 5km from the summit.
There is a regrouping in the leaders. The Charteau group has joined up with Casar, Fares, and Riblon. We have Voigt, Izagirre, Di Gregorio, Riblon, Zandio, Charteau, Casar, Fares, and Silin. With 62.4km, the lead is 7′. Chavanel and Gerdeman are about to join them. Chavanel makes the gap, but the Gerdemann doesn’t.
Geredemann finally makes it to the leading group. Voigt is speaking to him.
Bouet is caught by the peloton. There are 60.6km left. The lead is 6′. Koren is also caught.
The leaders have 1km to go. There are 11 riders in the lead group. They have 390m left in the Col d’Agnès.
Charteau accelerates away. he’S followed by Chavanel. Chavanel is right behind him and beats him. Charteau looked the wrong way and didn’t see Chavanel coming. The leaders are descending now. This is a short 4km descent. Chavanel gets 10pts, Charteau gets 8pts and Izagirre gets 6pts. Di Gregorio gets 4pts, Casar 2pts, and Riblon 1pt.
Nicholas Roche (AG2R) is about to be dropped by the peloton. With 57.2km, the lead is 5:45.
Izagirre (Euskaltel Euskadi) is at the front of the race, trying to get away from the leaders.
Pineau is caught by the peloton.
Ten Dam (Rabobank) crashes on the descent. He overshot a corner, and went into the grass. His front wheel must have caught a rock, and he vaulted over his handlebars. His face is bleeding.
With 52.1km, the lead is 5:14. Gilbert was dropped, but he’s keeping close enough so he’ll join the peloton on the way down the slope.
Izagirre has got 1km to go to the summit. After this climb, he’s got a 25km descent. He’s got 50″ over the rest of the group he left. He was very aggressive going down the slope, which means that he can make up even more of a gap when he goes down the long descent.
Ten Dam has got his face patched up and he is chasing down the peloton. There are 51km left, and the gap is 5:21.
Izagirre is 160m away from the top of the Port de Lers. There are 50.6km left and the lead is 5:22. It was only a cat 3 climb.
Voigt crashes during the descent. He looks fine. He wants a new wheel. He goes back on the bike. He’s 1:58 behind Izagirre.
Voigt crashes again. The melted tar gets him. He’s pissed but he looks fine. With 42.8km left, the lead is 5:09.
With 38.6km, the lead is 5:17. The climb starts in 22km. The original breakaway is about to catch Izagirre. They are only 15″ behind.
Jens Voigt is back in the peloton. He took the opportunity to grab a bunch of drinks for his team. He’s riding in front with Cancellara.
Chavanel and Fares try to get from the breakaway. Sanchez and Marcato are already in front of them. Izagirre has got a 51″ lead over them. They are caught again. They keep trying moves. There are more and more attacks.
It’s Sanchez, Fares, Mollema, Marcato, and Millar. They are caught. Now Costa tries to get away.
Izagirre was picked up and Chavanel has made a move. With 22.4km, the lead is 3:23. It’s every man for himself. This is to the advantage of the peloton. The breakaway is breaking apart instead of working together.
Perez and Sanchez join up with Chavanel. They’ve got 20km to go. The lead is 3:09. Mollema is trying to get across the gap.
With 18km left, the lead is 2:47. The breakaway group has split again. With 15.2km left, the lead is 2:11.
Jens Voigt is back in the front. Riders are being dropped at the beginning of the climb.
Casar is now at the front of the race. He’s making his run to the summit. He’s being chased by Zandio and Riblon.
Millar is caught by the peloton. Jens Voigt is punishing them all.
Gerdemann and Charteau are caught by the peloton. Di Gregorio is caught as well. Jens drops off from the front of the race.
With 12.8km, the lead is 1:49. BMC and Garmin Cervelo have come to the front.
Barredo tries to get away from the front. Europcar have come to the front. Voeckler is third wheel.
With 11.6km, the lead is 1:34.
Barredo is passing Silin and he goes forth. Voeckler is right at the front of the race.
An Astana rider tries to get ahead, but Vandewelde catches him. Silin is caught by the peloton.
Andy Schleck makes an attack. Contador is right there. Voeckler and Evans are following. Frank Schleck is following.
10km left and Casar has got 1:22. Roland is riding at the front of the lead peloton. They catch Chavanel. Andy Schleck goes ahead and Vanendert is following.
Contador comes across the gap.
Zandio and Riblon are caught. Basso, Cunego, and Sanchez are all in the lead group.
Andy Schleck makes another move and Voeckler is following. Evans is trying to chase. Schleck relents again.
With 8.6km, the lead is 50″. There are 12 riders in the lead group. The group is made up of all of the favorites.
Frank Schleck makes a move and he is covered by Evans. They slow down again.
With 7.7km, the lead is 55″. Voeckler keeps checking the Schlecks and Contador.
Both Schleck go ahead. Contador is following. Evans and Voeckler are right there. With 6.9km, the lead is 25″.
Vanendert goes ahead and makes his move. He’s off the front. The lead is 22″. They aren’t chasing him.
Vanendert is about to catch Casar. He just passes Casar. Schleck has come to the front. Voeckler is right there.
With 6.1km, the lead is 19″. Casar is caught.
With 5.1km, the lead is 25″. Basso is in front and Voeckler is right there. With 4.4km, the lead is 32″. Cunego is dropped by the leaders.
Sammy Sanchez goes for it, but Frank Schleck is right there. Voeckler is trying to make it across of the gap. He’s followed by Evans and Contador. Roland is dropped. Sanchez goes again.
Evans and Voeckler aren’t really chasing. Andy Schelck comes to the front. With 3.1km, Vanendert has got 40″. Roland is back into the leading group.
With 2.4km, the lead is 43″.
Basso makes a move and is followed by a AG2R rider.
Voeckler leaves the stars and joins basso and the AG2R rider. Evans tries to push away, but he’s quickly joined by Andy Schleck and Voeckler.
With 1.5km, the lead is 43″. With 1km, the lead is 56″. Sanchez is 24″ behind.
Vanendert wins the stage. He gets 40pts in the KOM comp as well. Sanchez is 22″ behind but gets 36pts.
Andy Schleck is powering away and he distances everyone. He gets 2″ over the others.
2. F. Schleck +1:49
3. Evans +2:06
4. A. Schleck +2:15
5. Basso +3:16
6. Sanchez +3:44
7. Contador +4′
8. Cunego +4:01
9. Danielson +5:46
10. De Weert +6:18
Voeckler keeps the Yellow Jersey. With 74pts, Vanendert takes the lead in the KOM comp followed closely by Sanchez with 72pts. Roy has 45pts. A. Schleck has 28pts.