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94th Tour de France - Stage 13 ITT Live Coverage
 
By Staff
Date: 7/21/2007
94th Tour de France - Stage 13 ITT Live Coverage
 

94th Tour de France - Stage 13 ITT Live Coverage
What a day for a time trial... rain, wind and slippery roads greeted the riders this afternoon for the 54 kilometers in Albi.

Stage 13 Albi - Albi - 54 km ITT
Map, Stage Profile,

Stage 13 is a crucial test for the contenders in this year's Tour de France. The 54km ride around Albi is trickier than many may expect. The first 20 kilometres are uphill, which is followed by a descent which takes us down towards the feed zone at Rioux-dal-Bosc. The fourth category climb of the Côte de la Bauzié comes 8.5 kilometers from the start gate and is 3.4 km in length with an average gradient of  4 %  average will give us a great indication of who is competing for the stage win and the Maillot Jaune. The run down into Albi is tricky, with narrow roads and a very tight hairpin bend.

To make things worse, the rain has been coming down for the last couple of hours. Currently in first place is Britain's Bradley Wiggins, who started his ride in the dry, however the roads were very wet come the end of his ride earlier on today. His time of 1hr08.48 is the benchmark; his intermediate times are the fastest too.

Leif Hoste is in second for the time being, forty two seconds back. Another Brit, David Millar, is currently in third. Interestingly, he made up several seconds on Wiggins on the final few kilometres. One victim of the rain was World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara. He crashed, but his first split time was over a minute shy of Wiggins' effort.

Christian Moreni, a teammate of Bradley, has just begun his ride, which will take him around 1 hour and five minutes. Stage winner into Marseille, Cedric Vasseur, sets off to a enthusiastic French response.

The conditions are not dissimilar to the final time-trial in 2003, which was from Pornic to Nantes. Ullrich was pushing very hard that day, and his crash ended his challenge to topple Lance Armstrong, who sat up in the latter stages. However, with the Tour so firmly poised as it is, the favourites for the GC cannot afford to ride conservatively. In addition to the wet conditions, the wind has been picking up. At the start of today's stage, the speed was around 10km/h. Now, some two-and-a-half hours in, it has more than double in places along the route.

Wiggins' times are so quick that only one man is within a minute of him at each intermediate point.  Zabel comes to the finish, losing 5'19" seconds, he's currently in 29th place.

A France Televisions moto has come down in the first five-hundred metres, showing how dangerous and slippery the conditions are. Salvodelli is on the first descent towards the feedzone, he is taking it very cautiously. He is just passing the corner where Cancellara crashed heavily. This fourth category climb is a worthy addition in today's course; the riders are out of the saddle and their rhythm is firmly ruined.

1441 CET - Its a nasty day today, where we may well see the rain becoming more important than the ride itself. Bert Grabsch also hit the deck at the same place where Cancellara went down, and Savoldelli was close.

Current standings:
1. Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) 1:08:48
2. Leif Hoste (Predictor/Lotto) 42"
3. David Millar (Saunier Duval/Prodir) 01'13

We've currently got several of the 'midfield' riders out on the course; Mario Aerts is 20km into his first, Jerome Pineau has just passed the second time check and Laurent Lefrevre is around three kilometres ahead of him. Millar's teammate David de la Fuente has just passed the fourth time check, while last to finish was Martin Elminger from Ag2R. Savoldelli also soft-pedalling today, not willing to take any risks. On the second time check, he is already 4 minutes behind Wiggins.

1448 CET - American road-race champion George Hincapie has just set off. We can only hope that the weather clears up before the GC riders come out, or we are likely to see road-rash galore. The support riders can choose to minimize risks; those at the top will be forced to push it.  Wiggins just commented that he did not take any risks on his ride, and hopes it will be enough for a Top-10. With the weather as it is, it looks like his time may stand for quite a while.

Hincapie the 130th rider to leave the gate is pushing a big gear; his position looks slightly Armstrong-esque.  Lampre's Bruseghin, former Italian Time Trial champion, crosses the line 1h12.36 which is currently the twelfth fastest time. At this point we are about an hour and a half away from the start of the leaders, and about three hours away from  the outcome of the time trials effect on the general classification.

1458 CET - Vladimir Gusev (Discovery) the Russian Time Trial Champions sets off. In the London prologue, he held the fastest time for a long period until Kloden eclipsed it.  This weather may play into an advantage for Rasmussen as a former mtn. bike champion; that is if his bike handling skills hold up (that's a big if) and help him make his run through the rain drenched streets. At any rate it may make it harder for the favorites to close his lead. It well may, but when even an acrobat on the bike such as Cancellara crashes, it will be tough proposition.

This course reminds me of the course into Correze in the 1998 Tour. That stage was undulating, set along country roads with hardly an kilometre of flat road on it. The only difference that day was that the sun was shining on the riders.

1505 CET - Thomas Dekker sets a good time at the first time split to take third, but still a minute behind Wiggins. That is the best intermediate time for a while now, proving how strong Wiggins' ride was - though it could well be beaten by someone like Kloden.

One thing for sure today's conditions will make it harder for the fast men against the clock to gain time on Rasmussen and each other. However, Rasmussen could replicate his 2005 Saint Etienne time trial, where he hit the self-destruct button; one has to wonder if it is on his mind today. The yellow jersey, the wet conditions, the missed tests stories... testing times for the lean Dane.

Chris Horner might be one to watch today, Chris likes racing in the rain and he can do a solid time trial. So far it seems like a lot of riders are taking it 'easy', keeping one eye on the forthcoming Pyrenees. Vasseur let off a grimace as he reached the ascent of the fourth category climb - it is causing plenty of problems today.

This is like watching horse racing, who are the "mudders" (horses who love to race in the rain)? The mudders! blimey, I don't think Vino will mind it!

1514 CET - Speaking of 'mudders' Chris Horner has just set off, the start in Albi is looking slightly sunnier than the rest of the course. France de Jeaux young gun Thomas Lovkvist also crashed on today's stage, and will be  pleased if he manages to avoid the time cut. Lovkvist lost 9'03" to Wiggins. Sylvain Chavanel has caught his two minute man Txurruka, who was in yesterday's unsuccessful breakaway.

After 18km, big George has conceded 1 minute and 26 seconds in comparison to Wiggins first split. Savoldelli comments after his ride, that the descents are difficult and dangerous. And if the Falcon thinks it is tough, we can just imagine how others feel. Cancellara says that he injured his left side, but says it was his own fault for pushing it too much, as he wanted to win the stage.

Popovych launches from the start gate and we are about to see the top 20 riders make their attempt to turn back the clock on the general classification. Vino looks relaxed as he goes up to the ramp. Unlike the riders starting after him, the Kazakh has nothing to lose.

Gusev sets a new third best time at 18km, :56 seconds behind Wiggins. And here comes Vino! Only one knee is bandaged up for him now, he must be recovering. Has the rain stopped? The rain has stopped at the finish line for the first time in around three hours.

1527 CET - Rabobank's Thomas Dekker passes 38.5 km check in fourth, 2'12" behind Wiggins.  Now we can also see that the road is drying up. Good news for the competition, as the favorites will all have better conditions than one might have feared an hour ago. And Menchov rolls of  the start ramp, he will want to avenge a poor first half of the Tour today.

Barloworld's Soler goes off, this year's Columbian climbing surprise. Sylvain Chavanel bumps Gusev at the 18km mark, and sets new third best time. It is Bradley Wiggins, Cancellara at 29" and then Sylvain Chavanel at 30". Tommy Voeckler comments, "The descent is very dangerous. Over the flat it isn't so bad, but it is very tiring."

The drier roads are having an impact, George Hincapie has moved up to fourth in the rankings at the start of the climb 1:39 arrears of Wiggins.  Christophe Moreau is looking very focused as he prepares to begin his ride. The big French hope is underway; though the damage inflicted by Astana will scupper any hopes from l'Equipe. His Dauphine time-trial was disappointing, so it will be interesting to see if a focus on climbing has hindered his strength against the watch.

Alexander Vinokourov is approaching the first time split, Vino is 18 minutes into his ride. Thomas Dekker comes to finish, 1:10.38 , giving him provisional 5th place, a solid time trial for the Raborider. Sylvain Chavanel is through the 38.5 km check in a good time, only 42 seconds behind Wiggins.

1547 CET - At 38.5 km it is Wiggins, then Hoste at 23" and CHavanel at 42". CSC's Franck Schleck is off now. Jens Voigt has a catching Gusev, which is a shock  The Discovery rider has looked strong in this year's Tour CORRECTION Gusev caught Voigt!!!! Jens looks uncomfortable on this climb

Gusev is going to close on Wiggins at 38.5 Gusev will be just outside of Wiggins' time at this split. Vino is fastest at 18km -  23.09, ten seconds faster than Wiggins, a strong start. Gusev number 4 at the 38.5 km check.

George Hincapie finishes in 1:10.19, 5th place. A solid ride by George, very strong. And we crack the Top-10... Kim Kirchen ready to go. Vino looks so steady, so assured as he scorches the course. Menchov is 10th at 18km, more than a minute behind Vinokorouv. It is clear that Menchov has failed to live up to many people's expectations come July; the stage win at Pla-de-Beret showed his inconsistent ability. Juanjo Cobo has a superb ride... he has passed Beltran.

1600 CET - And Chavanel comes to the line. 200 meters left, and he doesn't beat Wiggins. But he takes a good second place, only 24 seconds behind Wiggins. Excellent ride by the former French TT champion.

Gusev is down!!! A nasty crash on the wet asphalt... there went his chance today. And now we cut to Vinokorouv, and we can see just how careful he is riding. The descent is dangerous, and Gusev may not be the last casualty today. And here comes Kloden out of the start gate.  Much is expected of the German, he needs to gain at least a minute today to aid his GC chances.

Carlos Sastre is ready to go. He will be hoping to exploit the hills today to minimize the time difference. Leipheimer's style looks very comfortable, he is perched at the top of the saddle. And Carlos Sastre is down the ramp and off. That illustrates how much time the Russian lost after his crash Kloden has already won a Time Trial this year: Stage 2b in April's Circuit de la Sarthe

Gusev comes to finish in 1:09.30, fourth place for the moment. Alberto Contador sets off; this is a big test for the young Spaniard. Vino is around ninety seconds away from the second split. Moureau is way off the pace at 18km, with 2'55" off the pace. A catastrophical start to the stage.The Cofidis riders time will surely be beaten by the Astana rider.  Vino is closing down the gap to Popovych.

And here comes Cadel Evans out of the gate. Will he take the yellow today? Split (35.6 km) - Vino is 52 seconds ahead of the Brit's fastest. CSC's Frank Schleck passes at 18km, losing 2'28", not a good day for the young rider from Luxembourg.

Vino is eating up the road, even on the climb he is maintaining a strong pace, and is firmly rooted to his saddle.  Popovych passes the second time check in a good time, but his trousers are torn and there is blood on his knees.

Alejandro Valverde flies off the ramp, lying where he does on the G.C. right now he must be one of the favourites to take the Maillot Jaune; he will need to hammer the roads if he wants to beat the Astana riders up the road. Though Evans is the better man against the watch, and the Aussie trails the Spaniard by seconds in the G.C.

And now Michael Rasmussen starts. Ras  needs to forget everything around him and ride like he's never done before. He's lost over 12 minutes to Kloden in the two time trials last year; surely he'll lose yellow today. Rasmussen dreamed of only losing 2 or so minutes today; I think we can say pretty confidently that it will remain a dream today.

1522 CET - Vino's predicted time is 1:07.27 - which would be eighty seconds faster than Wiggins. We'll see if the pre-Tour favourite stays at his current pace. Leipheimer passes 18 km mark 1'31" behind Vinokorouv. Vinokorouv passes the roundabout where Gusev crashed without problems. Kloden is next at the 18km mark; how is he doing in comparison to his teammate? Kloden's time - 34 seconds lost to Vino.

Vinokorouv at the final time check, and he is 1'57" in front of Wiggins now. Vino is moving as fast as his Locomotiv sponsor, and only 5 kms to go now. I think Vino will even beat French Television's predicted time.

Sastre passes 18km at 1'41" behind Vinokorouv.  Rasmussen will surely post a similar time at the time check.

Vino comes to finish his time is stunning. Popovych comes in only 2 seconds behind Wiggins, but Vinokorouv comes in right behind. Vinokourov  sets the time to beat, 1:06.34 - 2 minutes 13 seconds faster than Wiggins! It's difficult to see who can better that time.... the only threat is his teammate Andreas Kloden.

1635 CET - Could Vino be climbing back into contention? If he gained over two minutes to a Time Trial specialist, how much will Kirchen, Mayo et al lose. Evans comes in at the 18 km check 57 seconds behind Vino... a good ride by the Australian. And not forgetting next Saturday's Time Trial, which is 55.5km, so similar in length to today.

Kloden has a chain problem, crash! Moreau has a an abysmal time at 38.5 km more than 6 minutes behind VInokorouv. He is not descending so cautiously, that has probably cost him a minute. And with that, we can pretty much start to celebrate Vinokorouv as the winner. He will take minutes from the other favorites.

Vino: 'I wanted to prove to myself that my days are not over yet. I've giving everything for Kazakhstan and the spectators. I gave them maximum effort. Yes, I'm still in pain, but when you're racing you get on with it. 'All the staff have worked very well and they encourage me an awful lot........I think that the two days in the Pyrenees can help me decrease the gap'

But before Vino's fans start becoming too happy, keep in mind that tomorrow will be a terrible stage, and the extreme effort that Vinokorouv has put forth today may very well punish him tomorrow.

Valverde passes the 18 km check 2'18" behind Vinokorouv!!!  Kashechkin is looking great for Astana; they could have three riders in the top ten tonight. He is only 1"36' behind his leader at the bottom of the climb, which is where the second split time is taken. Gerdemann comes in on a reasonable time... only 3'08" behind Vinokorouv.

1645 CET - Valverde has lost 2"19 seconds on Vino after a mere 18 kms. Rasmussen passes 18 km at 1'42" - a good start to the ride for the maillot jaune. That is a solid start, though he could well lose three minutes today. But it could well be enough to keep hold of the jersey. Especially as Kloden crashed early on. 1:11.04 is the predicted time for Cadel Evans right now, 5 minutes slower than Vino's time. Say what?

1"16 is the gap between Vino and Kloden at the 2nd time check.

Current standings
1 Vinokourov Astana 1.06.35
2 Wiggins Cofidis 2.13
3 Popovych  2.15
4 Chavanel 2.37
5 Gusev 2.55

Evans through the tunnel section (where Cancellara crashed), and you can just see how tricky the section is. Hopefully no more will crash there. Klodi's crash has cost him over 40 seconds. Leipheimer comes through 38.5km at 2'35". Valverde's predicted time 1:15.00, that would lose him eight-and-a-half minutes to Vino.

Sastre rides steadily, but has lost 2'57" at 35.6km. Kloden is coming to the third split point. He looks good, despite his ealier fall. 51.26 is his split time, so he's clawed back a little time compared to Vino's split. Good riding, considering his crash. Evans is being very cautious on the first descent. There is a lot of paint on the road, which is lethal when wet.

Contador coming up with a great time, better than his team captain Leipheimer. Great... as in, less than 3 minutes behind Vinokorouv. Oh dear, Moreau comes to finish. He's going to be in the 1minute16 bracket. 1h16.00, losing 9 and a half minutes to Vinokourov! Astana's third rider, Kashechkin, completes his time in 1:08.18; second fastest overall, losing 1 minute 44 to his countryman. Great time!

1700 CET - Sastre passes 38.5km at 3'10" on Vinokorouv.  He will need to ride very fast on the last section, if he is to keep Vinokorouv behind him on the G.C.  Evans goes third at the second split, could the Lotto rider be riding into Yellow? Disco's Alberto Contador only 1'49" behind Vinokourov at 38.5km. Cote de la Bauzie, Split 3 - Evans comes across in 51.08, he's gained time on Vino.

Eleven seconds is Evans' gain within three kilometres. So he has stabilized the time since the 18km mark. Just goes to show how brutal the opening by Vino was. We can see that the roads are drying now, which will favor Evans and Rasmussen. Kloden could also claw back some time, which would be ideal for him.

Valverde has lost 4"03 at the bottom of the climb to Vinokourov! 2'50 seconds is his deficit to Evans at the same point. Valverde an astounding 4'03" at 35.6 km  If this continues, Rasmussen may even catch him. The Dane in the yellow jersey looks far more settled on the climb. Rasmussen 2'40" behind at 35.6km.

1710 CET - Leipheimer had ridden well today, cutting his losses to 2'39, which puts him in sixth place right now. Valverde is only 40 seconds up the road now. I think Evans is riding into Yellow. Andreas Kloden is in the finishing straight. He may not beat his teammate Kascheckin's time! Three Astana riders in Top-3 today. Kloden comes across the line: 1:08.13 - 1.38 down on Vino.

Valverde struggles toward the top of the climb.2'37 is his loss to Vino right now.  It looks like Moreau and Valverde are competing for the 'who can lose the most time' prize, And Rasmussen is right behind him, in a strong defense of the jersey. Valverde at 4'34" - he has taken back 20 seconds on Vinokorouv, but Rasmussen does it better. He gained three seconds at the top, which could be vital for him keeping yellow.

1714 CET - If the current position holds, then Rasmussen will still lead the race by 1'05" on Evans, with Contador in third, Kloden in fourth and Sastre in fourth, calculating from the 38.5km mark. Sastre comes in to the finish, 4'00" clean behind Vinokorouv, so he defends his position against Vinokorouv.

Contador is coming to the finish. This young man is looking like a great prospect. He loses 2.18 today, a good ride.  Evans is coming to the finish, and he has a great time... finishing strong. Cadel finishes 1'14" behind Vinokorouv... and he gets second. Remarkably, though, the Maillot Jaune looks set to stay with Rabobank. A day of surprises and disappointments, this. Rasmussen's estimated time of arrival, 1.10'28". Interestingly, 22% of people on letour.com thought Valverde would be in yellow tonight. Could they have been more wrong?

We are waiting for a time on Valverde at the 49km mark. And here it is... 5'32", so Valverde will actually be passed by Vinokorouv on the GC.!!! And Michael Rasmussen is now catching Alejandro Valverde. Rasmussen catches Valverde!  Rasmussen accelerates past and leaves Valverde eating his dust.

Mayo is coming to the end of his ride; 1:12.38, he loses 6.04 to Vino. Remarkable, what a mixed day for the top two on GC this morning. Rasmussen getting the mythical boost of strength from riding in the Yellow jersey finishes in 1:09.29 ; a loss of just 2 minutes and 54 seconds. Valverde loses 6.08 seconds today.

Evans closes the gap to around one minute to Rasmussen, who's great performance keeps him in yellow and defends his yellow jersey, and the controversies will no doubt continue at this year's Tour.

1. Vinokourov 1h06.34
2. Evans @ 1m14
3. Kloden @1.39
4. Kashechkin @1.44

In the G.C. Rasmussen leads with Evans 1.00 behind, Contador at 2.31, Kloden at 2.34, Levi at 3.37, Kashechkin at 4.23, Sastre at 4.45, Astarloza at 5.00, Vinokourov at 5.10, Kirchen at 5.29

After Race Comments
Vino: 'I've found my motivation again for the Tour, and my legs are back. I'm not worried about tomorrow, my tour starts here'

Klodi :'I found my rhythm, but I was a bit nervous. My knee hurts along with my thigh, but I'm ok. Kash rode well, but it will be different in the mountains. I'll see how I feel tonight, we'll have to check the injury, suffer the pain and ride on'

Official Results Top 15
1. Vinokourov Alexandre 191 Astana 1h 06' 34"
2. Evans Cadel 41 Predictor/Lotto 1h 07' 48" 01' 14"
3. Klöden Andréas 196 Astana 1h 08' 13" 01' 39"

4. Kashechkin Andrey 195 Astana 1h 08' 18" 01' 44"
5. Wiggins Bradley 149 Cofidis 1h 08' 48" 02' 14"
6. Popovych Yaroslav 118 Discovery Channel 1h 08' 50" 02' 16"
7. Contador Alberto 112 Discovery Channel 1h 08' 52" 02' 18" Maillot Blanc
8. Chavanel Sylvain 141 Cofidis  1h 09' 12" 02' 38"
9. Leipheimer Levi 111 Discovery Channel 1h 09' 13" 02' 39"
10. Astarloza Mikel 73 Euskaltel/Euskadi 1h 09' 16" 02' 42"
11. Rasmussen Michael 58 Rabobank 1h 09' 29" 02' 55" Maillot Jaune
12. Gusev Vladimir 113 Discovery Channel 1h 09' 30" 02' 56"
13. Hoste Leif 45 Predictor/Lotto 1h 09' 30" 02' 56"
14. Gerdemann Linus 25 T-Mobile Team 1h 09' 43" 03' 09"
15. Garate Juan Manuel 174 Quick Step/Innergetic 1h 09' 46" 03' 12"

General Classification after Stage 13
1. Rasmussen Michael 58 Rabobank 58h 46' 39"
2. Evans Cadel 41 Predictor/Lotto 58h 47' 39" 01' 00"
3. Contador Alberto 112 Discovery Channel 58h 49' 10" 02' 31"

4. Klöden Andréas 196 Astana 58h 49' 13" 02' 34"
5. Leipheimer Levi 111 Discovery Channel  58h 50' 16" 03' 37"
6. Kashechkin Andrey 195 Astana 58h 51' 02" 04' 23"
7. Sastre Carlos 31 Team CSC 58h 51' 24" 04' 45"
8. Astarloza Mikel 73 Euskaltel/Euskadi 58h 51' 46" 05' 07"
9. Vinokourov Alexandre 191 Astana 58h 51' 49" 05' 10"
10. Kirchen Kim 27 T-Mobile Team 58h 52' 08" 05' 29"
11. Valverde Alejandro 18 Caisse D’epargne 58h 52' 27" 05' 48"
12. Mayo Iban 207 Saunier Duval/Prodir 58h 52' 27" 05' 48"
13. Gerdemann Linus 25 T-Mobile Team 58h 53' 38" 06' 59"
14. Pereiro Sio Oscar 11 Caisse D’epargne 58h 53' 43" 07' 04"
15. Popovych Yaroslav 118 Discovery Channel58h 54' 16" 07' 37"

Thanks for joining us for the live coverage today.
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