At the beginning of the stage, there is a breakaway. There are two category 1 climbs at the beginning of the stage, as well as two hors-categorie climbs, one right after the two cat 1 climbs and one 2/3rd of the way into the stage.
The lead is 25″. That’s not much and it’s happening on the 1st climb. I’ve switched to Eurosport since they cover almost the whole stage and I’ve gotten used to the commentary team. They are quite knowledgeable. It’s going to be a hard day for Astana, who will try to catch all breakaway attempts to secure Contador’s yellow jersey.
Already, the peloton has been split because of the brutal pace. Armstrong, Horner, Wiggo, Kreuzinger, Szmyd, Hesjedal, Roche, LLoyd, Barredo, Costa, Verudo, and Capecchi are in the breakaway. Casar is trying to bridge the gap to the breakaway. The front group is also shedding riders who can’t maintain the pace. Charteau is trying to get into the breakaway. He’s followed by Sastre, Kiryienka, Vinokourov, and Paulinho.
Van der Broeck tries to get into the breakaway. Charteau takes 13 pts in the KOM comp. On the descent, the gap is up to 51″, then it comes down again to 18″. The 2nd climb has begun. If 5 more riders join the front group, this will become the peloton. The yellow jersey has split from the peloton. They are chasing. The yellow jersey group is 24″ behind the lead group. The Sanchez group is at 50″.
Charteau crosses the col 1st and gets maximum pts in the KOM comp. Casar is at the front of the group on the descent with Charteau behind him. Casar is descending by himself and he’s going very fast. He’s got 25″ over the group he left behind. Omega Pharma Lotto are pacing the peloton, but not fast enough. On the descent, Gesink has a mechanical fault. His front wheel is replaced but he’s somewhat back.
Casar starts the Col de Tourmalet climb. At 142.8km, the peloton catches the breakaway. Casar is still at the front. Fedrigo attacks. Armstrong is trying to get away as well. He catches up with Casar easily enough, but Armstrong continues to pace hard. Van der Walle, Fedrigo, Moreau and Cunego are away.
Armstrong is at 1:02 at 140.1km. 500 m later, Armstrong leaves him behind. He wasn’t happy with the pace. In an interview yesterday, Lance led to believe that his legs might have come back. Two km later, it’s at 1:42. Cunego is in hot pursuit with Fedrigo. Cunego is angry at Fedrigo, because he doesn’t want to do any pacing. At 137.1 km, Contador goes back to have his front derailleur adjusted. He’s fine. The lead is 2:35.
Casar is dropped by Moreau and Van der Walle. They join with Armstrong and Cunego. Casar joins up. Hushovd makes a move from the peloton.
Charteau is in front of Hushovd. He’s 2 minutes down from Armstrong. Barredo and Plaza join up with the breakaway. Ignatas from Cervelo is trying to get there as well. Hushovd is about to be caught by the peloton.
Moreau gets the 20 pts for the KOM comp. At 91.5km, the gap is at 6 minutes.
At 73.1km, Barredo makes a move. Armstrong and Cunego go after them. Fedrigo is already there with Barredo. Plaza is also trying. Armstrong isn’t letting them get away. He’s really strong today. At 71.4km, the lead is 7:45. Barredo tries a few attacks and he’s not winning himself any favors. The lead is at 8:41 at 67.5km.
Moreau gets the next 20pts for the next HC climb. He’s about 15pts from Charteau. At 44.5km, Barredo makes a move again. At 34.5 km, Barredo is 43″ ahead of Armstrong’s group. At 16km, it’s 17″.
At around 10km, the Armstrong group relaxes the pace. The lead is back up to 20″. The peloton is at 7:52 at 5.5km. Gesink has a puncture and needs a rear wheel change. Barredo is 23″ at 4.4km. Gesink makes it back to the peloton.
Barredo is still in front at 3.2km. The peloton is at 7:34. The breakaway needs to work together to catch him, but they’ve slacked the pace for the last few km. Moreau is trying to pace the group to Barredo. The lead is down to 14″. It’s down to 9″. Moreau has done a great job to catch Barredo. He’s caught. There is 1km left. Fedrigo wins the stage. He was the strongest sprinter in the group. Armstrong tried but the young riders were too strong. Casar is 2nd. That’s the second stage win by BBox.
This is the sixth victory for the French during this Tour. Hushovd manages to get 7 pts for the sprinting comp. He gets the green jersey again. The top 10 of the GC hasn’t changed.