2010 Tour de France: Stage 14 Revel to Ax-3-Domaines

It’s going to be a very hard stage. There is one category H climb, then a descent followed by another category 1 climb. It’s supposed to be the hardest last 40km in the Tour this year.

At 102 km, there is a breakaway that has a 9:55 lead. The breakaway is composed of 9 riders. The peloton is chasing. The pace has stretched out the peloton in a long single file. Liquigas and Astana are doing the pacing. At 90km, the gap is down to 8:44. Riblon, Vaugrenard, Thomas (SKY), Van der Walle, Zabriskie, Auge, Pavel Brutt, Rolland, Moinard are in the breakaway. They are of no threat to the GC.

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2010 Tour de France: Stage 13 Rodez to Revel

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.

2010 Tour de France Stage 12: Bourg-de-Péage to Mende

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.