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95th Tour de France - Stage 9 Live Part 3
By Staff
Date: 7/13/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 9 Live Part 3

95th Tour de France - Stage  9 Live Part 3
Col d’Aspin - Sebastian Lang on the attack then Kuschynski, then a group of 4 on the chase 5 minutes behind... can Lang hold out for victory?

Stage 9 Toulouse - Bagneres de Bigorre 224 km
1555 CEST - 39 km to go - Jalabert has been caught by Monfort, De la Fuente and Luis Leon Sanchez, the road is still descending, but not quite as sharply, which explains why this trio caught Jalabert so quickly. So we have Lang in front, then Kuschynski, then the four with Monfort and then the group Kirchen. Lang just started the climb of the Aspin. 12 km to the top; hopefully we get some fireworks from the G.C. contenders  here

1600 CEST - It's slightly shorter (12km) and slightly less severe (6.5%) than the Peyresourde, but the pace should be much hotter. We'll see how the likes of Valverde, Evans and Cunego do, all of whom have crashed recently. If anyone, I think Cunego will show - he needs to salvage his race. He didn't look too good on the Super-Besse. Cardenas won on Plateau de Bonasacre, NOT Plateau de Beille as previously said, in 2001. Stupid Pyrenees, too many Plateaus.

Agritubel's Nicholas Jalabert shows his grinta and soldiers on after being dropped.

Jalabert is dropped as soon as the road pitches up. Luis Leon Sanchez, Maxime Monfort and David de la Fuente are now on the Aspin too. The yellow jersey group has started the climb of the Aspin.

1607 CEST - 35 km to go. 10 km to summit Lang still holds 5'39" to the yellow jersey group, though one assumes the de la Fuente group are about 45 seconds in front of Kirchen et al. Txurruka and Tour virgin Augustyn go out the back of the bunch. Two Gerolsteiner men, one of whom is former maillot jaune Stefan Schumacher, sit in second and third wheel. Are they going to do some subtle slowing down for Lang? the other GST rider is Kohl. At any rate, the man in front pushing the pace is Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel.

Attack by Stefan Schumacher in the bunch... Piepoli is coming. gap down to 5 minutes to Lang. Why would Schumacher attack when his team mate is out front? Schumacher is caught as Ricco attacks - Piepoli and Ricco attacking. It's going fast now. He's lit the fuse, as more attacks explode around him.

Schumacher is still up front, gap down to 4.30. So too Valverde, Pereiro is riding solid better than Valverde. Kohl sits patiently in third wheel. Surely he won't attack - Lang has lost a minute in barely 2 km of climbing. Pereiro on the attack! He gets a gap, Piepoli responds, the Saunier rider chases him down. It's a strong move, nobody is directly in his wheel. The group is fragmenting behind. David Millar and Thomas Lövkvist go out the back.

Kreuziger attacks! He was reined in though, and there's a slight lull in pace as the leaders hesitate. Eduardo Gonzalo (Agritubel) attacks, Vladimir Efimkin counters, gap down to less than 4.00 Szmyd Attacks! Good tactics - the right time to attack.

Lang on the attack near the summit runs the gauntlet of fans.

1616 CEST - 6 km to the summit If he can keep 1'30" at the summit, maybe even a minute, the win is possible for brave Lang. 12 km to the finish after the descent, all downhill to the finish; but not your typical alpine descent.

5 km to the summit, the GC favourites are still saving their powder in the bunch, seeing how fellow contenders react to the recent attacks. Lang earns a few more seconds, the difference is 4'04".

Sandy Casar attacks out of the bunch as Rabobank takes the command. There is currently a lull in the peloton, this surely won't last long! Kuschynski is caught by the Monfort group. Indeed, let's not forget this chasing group who are eating up the kilometres in pursuit of Lang.

Gap down to 3.43; the group Monfort is 2.55 down on Lang. Astarloza, Kohl, Nibali and Casar in the chase too. Saunier with another acceleration. More accelerations going off the bunch. No-one can really control this.

30 km to go -  De la Fuente drops with Monfort and Luis Leon Sanchez; if Lang crosses the Aspin as first he is the new KOM leader. The group Nibali is caught by the bunch as Nibali leads the pace in the bunch. It depends on de la Fuente. Ricco again on the attack.

Riccardo Ricco on the attack.

No one has responded here, this could be a critical delay; Ricco is flying. What a move! He flew past the Monfort group, no it was the Szmyd group. Ricco bridges up with Luis Leon Sanchez and Monfort now, he goes up and gone he is. Monfort follows. Sanchez drops -  Schumacher is now struggling.

This is hurting Monfort. 2'44" is the gap, still about 3km for Lang. Ricco drops Monfort. Caisse d'Epargne lead the main group, attempting to shut the gap down to Ricco. Lang has 1.37 on Ricco. However, the opinionated Italian has a minute gap already. the bunch is 2.30 down on Lang. The yellow jersey group is 2.30 down on Lang. Caisse D'Epargne stay at the head of the bunch now Ricco is 1.00 down on Lang and closing. The bunch 2.15 down.

1630 CEST - 2 km to the summit. Ricco is within 50 seconds of Lang... 33 seconds, it's plummeting. Ricco already has 1.30 on the Kirchen group. Riccardo Ricco has nearly caught Lang!

1km to the top of the Aspin as Ricco bridges up to Lang. Ricco drops Lang; but as they are near the top, maybe Lang can rejoin on the descent. The Saunier Duval man has 1.25 on the maillot jaune bunch; the gap is coming down slightly.  

This looks like being the day Ricco rides into contention for the overall. He's already saying he'll win on the L'Alpe du Huez too. Ricco is first on top of the Aspin. Still 26 km to the finish. Liquigas and Lampre in front of the bunch. Lang is second on top of the Aspin. He is 30 seconds down on Ricco. But he is probably the new polka dot jersey. Kohl attacks out of the bunch. They chase is on top at 1.10 off Ricco. 

1637 CEST, 22km to go and it's all downhill from here. Ricco isn't a good descender. De la Fuente will stay in the polka-dot jersey with 61 points, just four more than today's challenger Sebastian Lang. Ricco third. Ricco still has 1.10 on the bunch.

20km to go, gap now 1.00. Monfort caught by the bunch. Nibali bridges up to Lang. Samuel Sanchez attacks out of the bunch - no cooperation in the bunch as they lose more time. Kirchen sits at the back of the bunch, not looking too taxed. Tomorrow will evidently be the first battleground for aspiring maillot jaune-wearers. Caisse D'Epargne and Fränk Schleck leading the pace of the bunch.

1645 CEST - Ricco in the lead with 1.15 on the bunch. 15 km to go; the final 10 km are more flat with lots of headwind. The bunch is about 30 riders strong. Ricco is spinning fast, getting rid of the amassed lactic acid. If anything, he's put a few seconds into the pack in the first bit of this descent. Caisse, Rabo and Lampre in the lead of the bunch now, the gap 1.30

Gap down to 1.20 - By the way, Ricco is 27th overall at 3'52", so no danger even to the top-twenty overall provisionally. He can be a danger if he can make up the half of the 3'52 with tomorrows stage to come. However, the maillot blanc could be Ricco's; not yet he is 3.00 behind Andy Schleck.

He could become a dangerous person, or he could fade - if not tomorrow (having spent all this energy) then in the Alps. Who knows but Saunier is for sure an important team to shake up the GC

1648 CEST - 10km to go, and the Cobra is 1.20 up on the chasing maillot jaune group. Surely he won't be caught. The cooperation in the bunch is gone. A Euskaltel man recognises this and goes for it. Ricco has excellent chances here to take his 2nd win. 1:34 the gap. There is no way he'll be caught, barring a mechanical or crash. Casar, Astarloza and Efimkin in the counter-attack.

8 km to go - By the way, today is the 41st anniversary of Tom Simpson's death on Mont Ventoux. I remember the day hearing the news as a young lad... broke my heart. The Peloton do not seem bothered at all by Ricco. The Italian's hero is Marco Pantani, who started nearly 5 minutes off the GC lead before the Mountains began in the 1998 Tour, which the Pirate went on to win. Ricco started today 3'54" behind the Maillot Jaune of Kim Kirchen... he may want to emulate his hero, or should we say "will have to."

Ricco is still on the drops, working hard. He has some sunglasses today - you may have noticed the lack of eyewear during his celebrations on Super Besse. Astarloza and Casar are caught. Efimkin goes on. Valverde, his arm and leg wrapped in gauze, is the tail-end Charlie, right at the back of the lead group with Piepoli.

1655 CEST - 5 km to go. Valverde is smiling as the Camera pans to him in the group. Tomorrow, however, is another day and the next test for the Spaniard. Valverde seems not strong enough, if you ask me; as he was far in the back on the climbs. But tomorrow will tell. He's still smiling, so maybe he knows something we don't. Pereiro, on the other hand, looked better. Pereiro's attack caused problems for Valverde, or so it seemed.

4 km - Ricco has 1'10", as the pack use Efimkin as a carrot.

3 km - Vlad Efimkin has opened up a decent gap, about 8 seconds, on the bunch. They could shut him down in the sprint to the finish though. Ricco is still hammering it.

1657 CEST - 2 kilometres to go, he could get off the bike and walk and still make it. Ricco looks amazingly strong, and although the Peloton have taken a few seconds off of his gap recently, he is making an indent in the GC classification.

Riccardo Ricco closes in on the finish...

1 km - Not much of an indent to be honest, he still will just fall short of the top-20 overall probably.

500 mt to go...300 mt to go... He's out of the saddle still. And the winner of the 9th stage is


Crosses the line and celebrates his second tour win.

It is his 2nd stage win in this Tour after Super-Besse... Ricco's time 5hr39m28 (Av Speed 38.59km/h) That was a brutal acceleration he made on the Aspin. Efimkin is going to be second, fine riding.

Vladimir Efimkin finished as second 1.03 down on Ricco: 2. Efimkin (Ag2R) @1m03s, 3. Dessel @1'16,
4. Knees Another Ag2r rider wins the sprint of the favorite bunch at 1,16: 4. Fofonov, 5. Knees, 6. Monfort, 7. Valverde, 8. Kreuziger, 9. Cunego, 10. Popovych

Stefan Schumacher leads in a group at 1.55. Lang may not be best pleased with his team-mate's moves on the Aspin. On the other hand, that's bike racing, and Lang was caught anyway, well before the finish.

KIM KIRCHEN KEEPS the yellow jersey. It may be a different story on Hautacam tomorrow. The suspense was held today. Thomas Lövkvist loses lots of time. He is now led in by Hincapie 6.25 down on Ricco. Andy Schleck is the new white jersey.

Another group containing Velo, Zabel, Vogondy and Voigt cross the line 9'03" after Ricco; also Zubeldia in this group.

Stage 9 top 12 Results
1. Ricco Riccardo 171 Saunier Duval - Scott 5h 39' 28"
2. Efimkin Vladimir 104 Ag2r-La Mondiale 5h 40' 32" - 01' 04"
3. Dessel Cyril 101 Ag2r-La Mondiale 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"

4. Fofonov Dmitriy 85 Credit Agricole 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"
5. Knees Christian 153 Team Milram 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"
6. Monfort Maxime 189 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone 01' 17"
7. Valverde Alejandro 31 Caisse D’epargne 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"
8. Kreuziger Roman 65 Liquigas 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"
9. Cunego Damiano 71 Lampre 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"
10. Popovych Yaroslav 7 Silence - Lotto 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"
11. Lang Sebastian 117 Gerolsteiner 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"
12. Kirchen Kim 41 Team Columbia 5h 40' 45" - 01' 17"

New Overall Top 10
1. Kirchen Kim 41 Team Columbia 38h 07' 19"
2. Evans Cadel 1 Silence - Lotto 38h 07' 25" - 00' 06"
3. Vandevelde Christian 191 Garmin Chipotle 38h 08' 03" - 00' 44"

4. Schumacher Stefan 111 Gerolsteiner 38h 08' 15" - 00' 56"
5. Menchov Denis 131 Rabobank 38h 08' 22" - 01' 03"
6. Valverde Alejandro 31 Caisse D’epargne 38h 08' 31" - 01' 12"
7. Devolder Stijn 91 Quick Step 38h 08' 40" - 01' 21"
8. Pereiro Sio Oscar 37 Caisse D’epargne 38h 08' 40" - 01' 21"
9. Sanchez Samuel 27 Euskaltel - Euskadi 38h 08' 46" - 01' 27"
10. Sastre Carlos 11 Team Csc Saxo Bank 38h 08' 53" - 01' 34"

"It was a pretty hard stage," says Stijn Devolder, sounding ever so slightly sarcastic. "All the classification riders looked at each other all day. I guess everybody is waiting for tomorrow, because for sure they will try something on Hautacam. Ricco, it was a good moment to attack because he was a few minutes back in the classification. No-one wanted to go after him because of tomorrow's stage."

So the jerseys are:
Yellow: Kim Kirchen
Green: Kim Kirchen
Polka dot: David de la Fuente
White: Andy Schleck

Ricco said that they play Piepoli his cards for tomorrow. Is this tactic? or don't they go for the overall ranking anymore. A lot of it depends how Ricco recovers; but the Saunier Duval/Scott duo, Ricco/Piepoli will be a couple to watch for tomorrow in the first real mountain top finish to Hautacam preceded by the fearsome Tourmalet during the stage.

I'm surprised by Vandevelde... a black horse in the race? Tomorrow he'll fall down the G.C. I think, it's still an impressive performance; definitely, especially after Super Besse, the time trial and today. He's been top-25 the last two TdFs he's done though... a Slipstream (Garmin/Chipotle) rider in the top 10 would be some achievement. Vandevelde seems to have ridden himself into form in the Giro d'Italia. I for one will be keeping an eye on him as he has been marvelously consistent so far in the tour, and only seemed to get stronger; which is an excellent result coming in supposedly as a support rider for Millar.

Thanks for joining us for the live report. Thanks to our commentators Bart Hazen, Andy McGrath and Nick Bull. Join us tomorrow for the second day for the mountain goats to make an impression on the general classification before the rest day in Pau. Stage 10 from Pau to Hautacam a test of 154 kilometers following today will be a day of suffering for most of the with nine days of racing in their legs.

 Stage 10 Profile.  Read Nick Bulls preview and predictions for the second weeks stages here.  

Stage 10 Climbs
Cote de Benejacq, 38.5km (3rd Category)
Loucrup, 67km (3rd Category)
Col du Tourmalet, 106km (Hors Category)
Hautacam, 156km (Hors Category)

Stay tuned for complete results and photos.
Stage 9 Profile

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