There is a large breakaway in this stage. They are at 2:08 from the peloton, which included Hushovd to sweep up some points. The break includes Charteau, Hushovd, Hesjedal (a Canadian), and Vinokourov (doping fiend on Astana) as well as Radioshack’s Kloden. They are 18.
At 53km, Hushovd beats Bole for another intermediate sprint and takes on the virtual green jersey. In the sprint before, Bole, one of Petacchi’s teammates from Lampré, won and deprived Hushovd of 2pts in the sprinting comp.
At 50km, Kloden and Vinokourov pick up the pace and drop Hushovd as well as a rider from Cofidis. A few kilometers later, Vinokourov, Kloden, Hesjdal, and Kiryienka split up the breakaway and are 3:13 in front. Erts is trying to bridge the gap with another rider. At 44km, Hushovd is caught by the peloton. The gap is now 3:44. The gap between them and their pursuers is 35 seconds.
At 28km, the lead is down to 3:09. There are a few shots of Vinokourov’s bike, a Specialized Tarmac SL3 S-Works with Nokon Cabling, nice paint, and an FSA Plasma integrated stem/handlebar.
Within 20km, the lead is less than 2 minutes. News comes over the race radio saying that Tyler Farrar has abandoned the Tour de France due to medical reasons.
At 10km, the lead is down to 1:20. The lead is slowly coming down. If the peloton doesn’t accelerate, the lead pack will finish first. At 6km, it’s 56″. The remains of the breakaway are going to be swept up by the peloton. At 4.4km, it’s about 30 seconds. Hesjdal is dropped off. Petacchi is pacing the peloton. Kloden is dropped at 4.2 km.
John Gadret form AG3R at 3.6km starts a move. He’s a few seconds in front of the peloton. Kiryienka and Vinokourov are in front. At 3.3km, the peloton is back at 40 seconds. Evans move toward the front. Gadret is caught. Vinokourov tries to distance Kiryienka on the climb.
Kloden joins Kiryienka while Vinokourov is still in front. Rodriguez from Katousha makes a move at 2.2km. Contador also makes a move, followed by Schleck. Schleck can’t make it and Contador is dancing away with Rodriguez. Contador joins Vinokourov.
Contador and Rodriguez drop Vinokourov. Schleck is coming up behind. He’s lost 24″ but he makes it up to 10″ at the end. Contador sprints but lets Rodriguez win. Contador was sprinting for time over Andy Schleck but he looked very concerned with trying to win the stage. I don’t know what he was doing. To me, it looked like he was checking for Schleck behind them.
The GC almost stays the same in the top 10. Rodriguez comes in at 4:58 as 8th.