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95th Tour de France - Stage 7 Live
By Staff
Date: 7/11/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 7 Live

95th Tour de France - Stage 7 Live
50 kilometers into the stage as the peloton denies the breakaway attempts... six riders attack

Stage 7 Brioude - Aurillac, 158km
Welcome to stage 7 in the Tour de France from Brioude to Aurillac over 159 km. During the stage the riders have to do six climbs namely:
11 km: Cat. 3 Côte de Fraisse,  4,5 km avg. gradient  4,4 %)
52 km: Cat. 4 Côte de Villedieu, 3,4 km - 4,4 %
101.5 km: Cat. 2 Col d'Entremont,  6,5 km - 4,7 %
117 km: Cat. 2 - Pas de Peyrol (Puy Mary), 7,8 km - 6,2 %
150 km: Cat. 3 -Côte de Saint-Jean-de-Donne, 1,7 km - 9,9%

The first attack of the day came from Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) and William Frischkorn (Garmin) right after the start but they were caught after 4 km of racing. They immediately got the first climb of 4,5 km Côte de Fraisse. Millar took the points ahead of Casar and Moncoutie. After that we saw lots of break attempts but without success.

A break of  José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r), Jerome Pineau (Bouygues) et Arnaud Gérard (FDJ) didn't get away despite a very strong attempt and a lead of 30 seconds. So the bunch is still together after 36 km of racing.

 © Amaury Sport Organization 

Credit Agricole is leading the pace in the bunch after 42 km of racing as the first intermediate sprint comes in Saint-Flour. Hushovd to the front, he will want to take the points there for the green jersey battle.

Kim Kirchen started the stage in the yellow jersey with a 6 seconds gap on Evans and about 15 or 16 on Schumacher. Will it turn out to be stage for the GC guys or for a break, can Columbia control the peloton? So far no breaks were allowed to get away lets see if they lighten up after we get into the meat of the course.

Robert Hunter (Barlotworld) takes the first intermediate sprint ahead of Robbie McEwen and Thor Hushovd. We see new attacks in the bunch and they are on the Cote de Villedieu now; Jens Voigt and Carlos Barredo and a couple of others are trying to break away. The bunch is still not far behind, and the pace is high. 800 mt to the top of the Villedieu.

1439 CEST - 107 km to go. We have five leaders now. The five are Jens Voigt (CSC), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Xavier Florencio (Bouygues), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) and David Millar (Garmin/Chipotle) Voigt takes the points on the Villedieu as a rider of La Francaise bridges across. It's Benoit Vaugrenard. He was in the break as well a day ago.  The six leaders have 20 seconds on the bunch now.

Team Columbia is leading the pace in the bunch now. David Millar is the best ranked rider in front. He is 5th overall at 47 seconds of Kirchen. I don't think Columbia will let these guys go; no need to call a war council on that decision.. Gap up to 28 seconds. The peloton is in one line, with the wind in favor for echelons. Fireworks, lots of action especially from Millar driving the escape.

The ranks of the riders in the break in the GC:
5 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.47
27 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC - Saxo Bank 3.01
69 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step 10.25
125 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux 21.18
140 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Bouygues Telec
110 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 19.21

The bunch has split into several parts yet but some groups are coming back together in small group to chase; situation is fluid at the moment. Hincapie is leading the pace in the bunch.

100 km and the gap 23 seconds - The gap down to 15 seconds. The break doesn't get any space. Sivtsov and Hincapie setting the pace at the front. 10 seconds the gap as there is a crash in the bunch, luckily everyone is on his bike again and chasing. The bunch has split due to the crash of course. Damiano Cunego was one of the victims in the crash and has to chase with his team mates. 

The group Cunego is the third group. Damn you would expect and easy stage, but that's not what were getting; the attack has started an unseen series of events. The group Cunego is back in the 2nd peloton. The gap between peloton 1 and 2 is 10 seconds. Caisse D'Epargne in the lead of the first peloton -Gap again up to 26 seconds.

1456 CEST - 95 km to go.  Team Columbia again in the lead of bunch 1 but the 2nd bunch led by Euskaltel is coming closer. So it seems that Zubeldia, Astarloza and/or Sanchez were victims of the crash too. Millar seems to have a flat tire, as he is looking to his tyres. The gap down to 20 seconds, 12 seconds,
the 2nd bunch is 25 seconds down.

The break is caught; Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse D'Epargne) attacks. CSC is now riding in the first bunch. Sanchez isn't allowed to go either. Abandon Mauro Facci (Quick Step) "Spartacus" Cancellara himself is setting the pace in the bunch... Sanchez is caught.

The first pack is about 20 riders strong as lots of riders in the first bunch dropped off the pack due to the wind and the pace. CSC is making a hard race of it looking to put the hurt on a few of the competition. Evans is isolated, Kirchen is in the first group too.

1506 CEST -  In the first group we can see almost the whole CSC team, Menchov, Kirchen, Evans, Freire, Pozzato, Valjavec, Valverde, Lövkvist. The first group is extending the gap on the others... should we start calling it a break of 20... We hopefully get some attacks on the cat 2 climbs.

Evans, Cioni, Sastre, Cancellara, Voigt, Schleck, Schleck, Valverde, Pereiro, Luis Sanchez, Kirchen, Lovkvist, Pozzato, Kreuziger, Nibali, Kohl, Menchov, Freire, Cobo, Vandevelde, Millar and another rider in the break the gap is about 40 seconds... V aljavec is the unknown rider.

85 km to go - 500 meter to the second intermediate sprint (Paulhac, 74km). Oscar Freire wins the second sprint ahead of Kirchen and Voigt. That will improve Freire's green jersey chances. The gap up to 45 seconds The break is 24 riders strong so we missed another two riders.

Lampre is leading the pace for Cunego in the second bunch. It will be a hard day in the saddle for the GC guys who missed the break. Gustov and Vaugrenard are the two missing riders in the break.

80 km to go. The 24 leaders have 45 seconds on a first bunch and 1.15 on a second bunch. We expected an early and long break today. We didn't expect a group with half the G.C. men to form in a large group in an escape. This isn't a break it's a war for survival for those left behind. 

It isn't just Damiano Cunego in danger; Stijn Devolder missed the break. From the current top 10 in the GC we are missing the third Stefan Schumacher and the 9th Stijn Devolder. Riccardo Ricco is in front too. The break has 34 seconds on the first chasing bunch. Quick step, Lampre and Euskaltel are setting the pace in the chasing bunch on the group with the big guns. The action is hot and furious and will be until the first Cat 2 climb Col d'Entremont at 101 km.

1525 CEST - 30 seconds the gap now - The third bunch already at 2.30 in 8 km they start the first 2nd cat 2 climb. If the first chasing bunch isn't back by then it will become very difficult for them on the climb. We forgot to mention that Lillian Jegou (FDJ) has abandoned the race too after a crash. He crashed into a tree and prolly has broken his shoulder, lets hope that's all it is.

It looks like Lampre is going to succeed in bringing Cunego back up front. Gap down to 24 seconds. they are coming closer. 70 km to go and the gap down to 15 seconds, they are now in the feeding zone. The chasing bunch is coming back... José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse D'Epargne) is in the break and not Pereiro. The gap stays 16 seconds.

Pereiro is up there too. So 4 riders of Caisse, in 2 km the first cat 2 climb starts. The gap stays at 15 seconds, so guys like Cunego, Samuel Sanchez and other GC guys in the chasing bunch have to bridge across alone on the climb... unless they can bridge up before the climb. 10 seconds the gap, the chasing bunch is back now two groups as we approach the Col d'Entremont.

So we have a big bunch again in the lead just before the climb. The third bunch over 2,30 down can forget it for today as they are not coming back anymore. They are now on the Col d’Entremont - Josep Jufre (Saunier Duval) on the attack Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse) bridges across; two leaders.

64 km to go - The two leaders are not dangerous for the yellow jersey as they are over 14 minutes behind on Kirchen. It also started to rain, another factor for an already exciting stage, more and more riders in the counter attack like Flecha take their leave off the front. The two in front have 23 seconds on the bunch led by the Columbia's again; in the group we see Nibali, Dessel, De La Fuente, Clement and some others in the counter but the bunch is not far behind 18 seconds the gap. We have 10 chasers now

1542 CEST - Nibali and De La Fuente in the chase now; the eight other chasers are chased down by the bunch. 4 km to the top of the D'Entremont. The bunch seems to go a bit more easy now. 30 seconds for Jufre and Luis Leon Sanchez. It looks like the peloton has issued a "no break allowed" policy for today.  Nibali and De La Fuente are 8 seconds down on the break. Nibali has to do it alone as De la Fuente is a team mate of Jufre; they close the gap and merge - four leaders.

1545 CEST - 60 km to go. So we have Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse D'Epargne) and the Saunier couple David de la Fuente and Josep Jufre in front. The bunch is 35 seconds down. Columbia leads the pace in the bunch and it is going little easier now. But what's easy on a climb?

Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) in the counter-attack on the four escapees; the gap 43 seconds. For Columbia the pace is set by Marcus Burghardt, Konstantin Sivstov and George Hincapie.

1 km to the top of the D'Entremont, De La Fuente takes the maximum points on the D'Entremont ahead of Jufre and Luis Leon Sanchez. The bunch is on top of the D'Entremont 1:19 down on the four leaders. The best ranked rider in the break is Nibali.
The GC places:
28 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 3.01
88 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 13.59
116 Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Saunier Duval - Scott 20.14
170 David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Saunier Duval - Scott 28.55

With gaps this large, Columbia may let the group escape. Columbia with still the same three guys working at the front followed by the jersey wearers Kirchen (Yellow/Green) and Lövkvist (White).

54 km to go - The gap 1.30 Now officially confirmed abandon Christophe Moreau (Agritubel).

Our live coverage continues: Stage 7 Live Part 2

Stage 7 Profile
Stage 8 Figeac-Toulouse, 174km Profile

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