Valloire to Annecy (129 km)
With the Tamié and the Forclaz to climb and just 14 seconds between the two best riders overall, Christophe Moreau and Cadel Evans, the outcome of this race was always going to go down to the wire.
After 11 kilometres of racing the expected breakaway made good its move. Thor Hushovd ( Crédit Agricole) was the animator and seven other riders joined him, they were: Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner),
Maxim Iglinsky (Astana),Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux),
Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quickstep-Innergetic) and Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital). These riders never gained much more than 2 and a half minutes on the peloton , and with Euskaltel lending their weight to the chase the gap started to fall rapidly as the race approached its final climb.
The climb of the Forclaz saw the peloton reroup before the inevitable attacks. First to try his hand was Laurent Lefevre , and he gained a 20 second advantage.
Behind him the pressure was on as Contador upped the pace. And the cruel slopes saw the peloton rapidly thin, leaving Moreau isolated. Contador attacked again, but Piepoli was prepared to chase him down, with Moreau in his shadow.
Lefevre was caught still on the climb with 22 kilometres to go, as Piepoli set an awesome pace at the front. Zabriskie, Moreau, Menchov, Beltran, Leipheimar, Contador, Evans, Vinokourov, Kasheckin, Leiphemer, Pereiro, Valjavec were amongst the top men at the head of affairs.
Rain made the descent tricky and Piepoli descending as quickly as he ascended the climb gained a small gap on the Moreau group of 8 seconds
Then with 9 kilometres to go Cadel Evans attacked and this injection of pace saw Piepoli caught, first by Menchov who immediately upped the pace, but Piepoli digging deep, managed to hold onto his wheel
They were caught and Leiphemer countered and with 5 kilometres to go had a small gap which Vinokourov tried to bridge.
Then disaster for the rider from the USA who fell heavily on a roundabout as Vinokourov sped by.
Vinokourov, as we have seen in the past is a master of this situation and he managed to build a 12 second gap with 2 kilometres to go.
Vinokourov took a great solo victory, which adds to the impressive Astana haul in this race. Safely home Moreau can be proud of 2 stage victories and the overall, and also captaining the only team that did not seem in awe of the Astana Team throughout the race.
Result, Stage Seven :
1 71 VINOKOUROV Alexandre AST (KAZ) 00"
2 45 PEREIRO SIO Oscar GCE (ESP) 37"
3 91 EVANS Cadel PRL (AUS) ' '
4 31 MENCHOV Denis RAB (RUS) ' '
5 161 VALJAVEC Tadej LAM (SLO) ' '
6 131 BELTRAN MARTINEZ Manuel LIQ (ESP) ' '
7 11 MOREAU Christophe A2R (FRA) ' '
8 78 REDONDO RAMOS José Antonio AST (ESP) ' '
9 75 KASHECHKIN Andrey AST (KAZ) ' '
10 2 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto DSC (ESP) ' '
General Classification, Stage Seven
1 11 MOREAU Christophe A2R (FRA) 29h50'35" 00"
2 91 EVANS Cadel PRL (AUS) 29h50'49" 14"
3 75 KASHECHKIN Andrey AST (KAZ) 29h52'02" 01'27"
4 31 MENCHOV Denis RAB (RUS) 29h52'27" 01'52"
5 101 ZABRISKIE David CSC (USA) 29h52'51" 02'16"
6 2 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto DSC (ESP) 29h54'59" 04'24"
7 143 ASTARLOZA Mikel EUS (ESP) 29h55'35" 05'00"
8 131 BELTRAN MARTINEZ Manuel LIQ (ESP) 29h55'36" 05'01"
9 161 VALJAVEC Tadej LAM (SLO) 29h55'52" 05'17"
10 81 CHAVANEL Sylvain COF (FRA) 29h56'13" 05'38"