This stage has 66km of climbing. This is more than any other in the Tour de France. There are quite a few climbs, including two category 1 climbs and a category H climb, the C0l-de-la-Madeleine.
The GC part of Lance Armstrong’s race is over. He is placed 39th overall and he is no longer in contention for the win. He still wants to help his team. There are 12 men in today’s breakaway, including Pineau and Voigt. They lead the peloton by 6:16 at 55.2km from the end. The riders are hitting the Col-de-la-Madeleine. Pineau is dropped by the breakaway. Guiterez, Chateau, Sanchez are among the climbers who broke away. Tarrame is dropped off but Pineau is trying to join the breakaway again. He’s 37 seconds back.
Cancellara is at the back of the peloton. Vinokourov attacks when the peloton is at 5:19 behind the lead pack. Pineau and Fröhlinger are 1:40 behind. Guiterez, Moreau and Sanchez of the Caisse d’Épargne team are in the breakaway together. Vinokourov is at 4:17. Guiterez is leading with a blistering pace.
At 41.7km, the pace has split the breakaway. Only 5 remain. Gutirez has been dropped as well as Voigt. The peloton has been thinned as well. Pineau is dropping back. He’ll probably join Vinokourov, who’ll drop him. Vinokourov is at 4:30 and Pineau is at 3:50. Sastres is also dropped from the peloton. Astana is at the front with Schleck and Armstrong. Cadel Evans is dropping as well to the back of the peloton. Moreau is dropped from the breakaway. They are 4 riders, which include Kassar and Cunego. Vinokourov is back with the peloton.
Astana is pushing forward when they see that Evans has been dropped. They are at 4:33 from the leaders. Pineau is caught by the peloton. Levi Leipheimer is there as well, with Armstrong.
Sanchez is with only two others in the breakaway, Cunego and Chateau. Astana, Contador, and Schleck start distancing the peloton. Leipheimer and Armstong are behind. Both Schleck and Contador want to leave the others and start accelerating away. They both slow down and let another rider join them before accelerating again. It’s Sammy Sanchez. Schleck attacks again but Contador is close behind. Sanchez is long gone. Schleck attacks a few times, but Contador is just behind him. Contador won’t go to the front. He has to be asked a few times by Schelck before he does so.
They pass Gutirez, who passes his bottle to Contador and tries to hang on, but those two are too strong. The leaders are 7 minutes in front of the yellow jersey. Armstrong’s group is 4:30 behind. Evans is with Pineau in the back. Voigt is with Schleck and Contador. Cunego has joined the leaders again.
Leipheimer, Menchov, another Rabobank rider, are behind Sanchez, in front of the peloton and trailing Contador, Schleck and Voigt. The quartet of leaders is about to cross the head of the mountain. They have a 32 km descent. Chateau wins the climb and get 40pts in the KOM comp. Voight is dropped by Contador and Schleck. They go over the mountain 2:11 behind the leaders.
Sanchez is 40 seconds behind. The Rabobank group is a minute behind Contador. The Armstrong group is 4:20 behind. Contador is trying to distance Schleck on the descent. Contador is in front.
Evans has lost almost 10 minutes to the leaders. Van den Broeck has got a flat tire on the descent. Charteau will win the polka dot jersey. Schleck and Contador are joined by Moreau. Sanchez is 30 seconds behind.
Sanchez makes up some good time. He’s got t0 make up 20 seconds. At 12 km, Sanchez is 11 seconds behind. While Schleck was leading the group, he slowed them down. This enabled Sanchez to make up quite some time. Contador is 1:25 behind at 10km. Sanchez has dropped back to 1:47.
Armstrong and Basso are 4 minutes behind the leaders. Contador and Schleck are a minute behind the leaders. Sanchez is 1:39. Contador continues eating into the lead. They are at 52 seconds. At 3km, it’s 36 seconds. At 2km, it’s 20 seconds. I’m really impressed by both of these amazing riders. They are at 17 seconds. The finish is slightly uphill, so it could favor them. At 1km, they are at 10 seconds. They bridge the gap.
Schelck makes a move but Casar wins the stage. Sanchez is 52 seconds behind. Leipheimer and Menchov finish 2:07 seconds behind. Armstrong is 2:50 behind. Vinokourov finishes 3:47. Wiggo finishes 4:55 behind. Evans finishes 8:08 behind.
Schleck has the yellow jersey. Contador is 41 seconds behind.
It was revealed after stage 9 that Evans broke his elbow during stage 8.
In the GC, Armstrong is 31st, 15:54 behind the leader Andy Schleck. Kloden is at 9:05, Evans is at 7:47, Wiggo is at 7:18, Leipheimer is at 3:59 and is 6th, and Menchov is at 2:58 and is 4th. That was a very interesting stage. There are more mountain stages to come, so there will be more changes in the GC. I think that Armstrong is out of it, because it’s really hard to make up that much time on two of the world’s best riders. Plus, there are more mountain stages to come, including the Pyrenees.