It’s a 3-man breakaway including Chavanel, Flecha, and Fedrigo. They are at 4:23 at 83 km to go. Flecha is from Team Sky and it wasn’t planned, but the team director didn’t call him back when he went into the break.
Cavendish is also without his lead out man Renshaw, who got disqualified for head-butting Julian Dean. This punishment was too harsh and uncalled for, especially when other were actually fighting (Costa and Baredo) earlier and only got fined.
HTC is leading the peloton in a blistering pace to catch the breakaway or to keep the time lag manageable. The gap is at 2:30 at about 60 km to go. At 55km, it’s 2 minutes. At 40km, it’s down to 1:33. At 36km, it’s down to 1 minute. It won’t be long before they are caught. At 30km, it’s 37″. The pace is pretty quick at the front of the peloton. The peloton is all stretched out because of this. At 15km, it’s 26″.
At 13.8km, Astana rider #4 crashes, but he’s quickly back up. It was Fernandez and he was probably looking at the horse that was sprinting in a field. At 11.3km, it’s 12″. The crosswinds have caused a split in the peloton. They are caught a few moments later.
There is a 3rd category climb right before the end, at 8km. Ballan from BMC makes a move. Cunego and Baredo tried to join him, but drop back. Sanchez and Vinokourov move across the gap as well. Roche is there as well. This is pretty exciting. Vinokourov moves to the front and starts accelerating. Ballan can’t handle the speed. Voeckler makes a move as well from the front of the peloton to try and bridge the gap. There are 6.8km left. He’s made a 12″ gap. At 3km, the gap is 14″ to the peloton and 10″ to Voeckler. Voeckler is caught by the peloton.
Vinokourov is up by 18″. Vino wins. Cavendish is 2nd. He beat Hushovd and Petacchi. Contador is pretty happy for him. Cavendish was very impressive in his sprint. He easily beat Petacchi and Hushovd without any problems and without his lead out train. Armstrong loses 4:35. Petacchi has the green jersey by 2pts over Hushovd.