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95th Tour de France - Stage 11 Live Part 1
By Staff
Date: 7/16/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 11 Live Part 1

95th Tour de France - Stage  11 Live
After a rest day in Pau, the Tour peloton is back for a tough transition stage in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Stage 11 Lannemezan - Foix, 166 km
Welcome to our live coverage of stage 11, as the Tour de France peloton, ever so slightly less fatigued after the opening rest day, heads east through the foothills of the Pyrenees for a tough transition stage. The stage runs from Lannemezan to Foix, totaling 166 kilometers. Undoubtedly, the race as a whole will also be feeling reverberations from the bombshell of Moises Duenas's positive for the blood-booster EPO.

The crush of press at the Barloworld bus. more questions than answers.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

As for today's stage, it is another sign that Prudhomme has torn up Jean-Marie Leblanc’s rule book. With the riders slightly fresher having completed a rest day in Pau, this stage is neither flat nor mountainous.

Set in the Valleys of many significant and challenging Pyrenean climbs, the one peak of note, the Col de Portel, comes too far from Foix to be the springboard for success. It may lead to a breakaway emerging, but with 57km to the finish, anything could happen. This stage, put simply, is a great opportunity for a lot of riders.

Rock steady Christian Vandevelde signs in... Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Perfect for: Anyone bar a sprinter and a GC favourite. Rolling roads, precious little flat and several places to attack should contribute to a lively stage. Expect to see a Garmin-Chipotle rider in a leading group today.

© Amaury Sport Organization

Col de Larrieu, 49.5km (3rd Category)
Col de Portel, 110km (1st Category)
Col Del Bouich, 145km (3rd Category)

Saint-Bertrand-De-Comminges, 19.5km
Prat-Bonrepaux, 69km

1235 CEST - The riders will take the start in Lannemezan in around 5 minutes. However, all the talk at the arrivée are focused around Moises Duenas's positive test. Directeur sportif Claudio Corti still looked shell-shocked: "It's a surprise, it's incredible. The police came to take Duenas, and naturally we said to him that it was not possible for him to continue. Barloworld will, of course, be staying on the Tour, but it won't be the same."

Meanwhile, Tour virgin and South African youngster John-Lee Augustyn was similarly surprised: "We all went down to breakfast, and we just saw the cops outside...We just have to look past it. For sure, it's a surprise for me - I never thought anything like this would happen in our team. You still have to look positive, push it out of your mind and concentrate on the race itself."

Serious stuff. Well, do cycling fans celebrate another fish caught in the net or bemoan another hammer-blow for clean cycling? For cynics, there is an underlying "who's next" atmosphere; considering the rumblings coming from high-flying Tour de France sources, this will not be the last positive test from this year's race.

Cadel Evans rides to the start.   Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1239 CEST - And they're off! The peloton are on a circuit of Lannemezan, with the real start coming after 4 kilometres. The opening hour should be very hectic, what with an intermediate sprint at Saint-Bertrand, the long Cat 3 Col de Larrieu and attacks and counter-attacks galore. After all, most riders will know all too well that the breakaway has a great chance of making it to the finish in Foix today.

1300 CEST - The pack is barrelling towards the day's first intermediate sprint at Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges (19km), where they will briefly dip into the Haute-Garonne département. As for the jersey wearers, Cadel Evans and Riccardo Ricco should be able to enjoy their first days in yellow and polka-dots, with the Col de Portel a not overly cumbersome main obstacle. One wonders whether loveable attacker David de la Fuente will attack his team-mate for King of the Mountains points though...

1313 CEST - A thirteen-man group was hauled back just before the intermediate sprint at Saint-Bertrand. In the dash for the points, Cofidis man Leonardo Duque took the six points, followed by Thor Hushovd (four) and green jersey Oscar Freire (two). The Spaniard's closest rival at the moment is, in fact, Kim Kirchen, who will now be nine points adrift on 124. Former winner Hushovd is third in the maillot vert standings, with 109 provisionally.
Now even more attacks will rain down, as the one to stick is likely to get away in the 30-kilometre section between this sprint and the Col de Larrieu.

1334 CEST - As predicted, it's been non-stop attacking, with groups going for it, having a few minutes of freedom, then getting drawn back. The indomitable Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) was out on his lonesome ownsome for a spell, but at the moment there is a group of 11 men with a tenuous lead, spearheaded by big names Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) and Fabien Wegmann (Gerolsteiner). Just 9km from the Col de Larrieu, and this could be the key escape. They have 48 seconds on the bunch, and 16 secs on two chasers.

1344 CEST - There are some big players up the road. The situation is that there are 13 men in front with a lead of 2'30": Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC), Classics king Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), Alexandre Botcharov, Dmitri Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Gert Steegmans (Quick Step), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Fabien Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Rabobank pair Koos Moerenhout and Peter Weening, Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom). The latter two bridged the gap.

Considering the number of squads represented and the quality in the break - almost every rider is dangerous and/or has enjoyed a big win in his career - it will be interesting to see whether the sprinters' teams will be motivated enough to chase. In my opinion though, the winner will come from this lucky group of 13.

1356 CEST - Over the Cat 3 Col de Larrieu (49km), Alexandre Botcharov was best of the break, ahead of Fedrigo, Ballan and Moinard. Coincidentally, the Russian is also the best-placed man overall in this lead group, currently 35th overall at 20'47". Now it's 50 kilometres of gentle rolling road before the Col de Portel starts. After a frenetic first hour's racing, things will settle into a rhythm now.

Belgian sprinter Gert Steegmans was jettisoned from the lead group on the 5-km climb of the Larrieu. He is now in no man's land with chaser Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne) for company, 1'30" in arrears. As for the bunch, they are 5'30" behind the twelve-man escape.

1415 CEST - 100km to go for the leaders, who lead the bunch by 8 minutes. Garcia Acosta and Steegmans have both sat up and been caught by the peloton.
Behind, the Tour sees another abandon, and it's Barloworld man Paolo Longo Borghini, with a fractured clavicle. In the first week, Longo was a member of the successful break on the road to Nantes.

1430 CEST - At the day's second and last intermediate sprint in Prat-Bonrepaux (69km), Liquigas man Filippo Pozzato crosses the line in front of Marco Velo - Velo is in the break, but NOT Weening as previously mentioned. A little correction there - and Koos Moerenhout. There are enough men to keep a strong through-and-off going in front, and it's showing as the gap is now out to 9 minutes. Looking at the men in this group, despite the star presence in abundance, Pozzato and Fedrigo are the only men to have won Tour de France stages before. The likes of Ballan, Wegmann and Elmiger will be among the favourites to have their day in the sun.

85 km to go - The bunch is 11'55" back on the break with Botcharov the best ranked at about 20 minutes nobody is dangerous for Evans. Recapping the break: Arvesen (CSC), Ballan (LAM), Botcharov and Fofonov (C.A), Elmiger (ALM), Wegmann (GST), Moerenhout (RAB), Vaugrenard (FDJ) and Moinard (COF), Pozzato (LIQ), Velo (MRM) and Fedrigo (BTL).

The road is about to start rising slightly before the actual beginning of the Col de Portel. It seems to me this Cat 1 mountain will have a big impact in splitting up this break, perhaps with four or five riders emerging as strongest. The Col del Bouich could act as a springboard for attack, but it's still over 20km from the finish in Foix. The gap is now up to 12.30, with Silence-Lotto on the front.

1445 CEST - Gap 12:54 - Caisse D'Epargne in the front too. Are they willing to make something good on the Col de Portel - It's 12.6km at 6.8% with some narrow and steep sections. Could be interesting, though I expect the favourites will be content to watch one another and keep the pace.

It wouldn't surprise me if Lotto gave the yellow jersey away to a rider like Botcharov so the teams doesn't have to work all week. Indeed, 20 minutes is a lot though. It would be amazing for Botcharov - he's always been a good rider, but only enjoyed his first career win in the Tour of Med this year. He deserves something like this. With Silence on the front, 20 minutes is easy; especially with a calculator like Cadel and his sport directors Sergeant/Redant.

After one week of racing the prize money of the teams is as follows:
Saunier Duval-Scott – 50,970 Euros
Team Columbia – 50,680 Euros
Ciasse d’Epargne – 33,970 Euros
Cofidis – 24,550 Euros
Gerolsteiner – 22,360 Euros
Agritubel – 18,200 Euros
Garmin-Chipotle – 17,340 Euros
Francaise des Jeux – 15,710 Euros
Rabobank – 13,890 Euros
Credit Agricole – 13,440 Euros
Bouygues Telecom – 12,760 Euros
Barloworld – 11,700 Euros
AG2R La Mondiale – 10,890 Euros
Team CSC-Saxo Bank – 10,630 Euros
Liquigas – 10,440 Euros
Silence-Lotto – 8,270 Euros
Euskaltel-Euskadi – 5,860 Euros
Team Milram – 5,420 Euros
Quickstep – 3,220 Euros
Lampre – 1,050 Euros

If you watched hard in Hautacam, you'd have seen Cunego and Tiralongo dancing for money... poor guys of Lampre, Quick Step, Milram and Euskaltel. Especially the ones of Lampre. Riding one week and only 1050 euros of prize money. If you divide this by nine they rode a week for about 116 euro's a rider. Poor guys. Cunego may come good in Prato Nevoso. Italy expects. Then again, Piepoli and Ricco seem to be in better fettle.

Gap up to 14 minutes - Botcharov to do a Pereiro move? win the race? Give him enough time to ride in yellow and  it would be hard for others to beat the Russian; indeed, but he's no Pereiro. Pereiro had the capabilities to ride top 10-15 overall. Botcharov is more top25-35. Positive energy... I can see what you mean though. Botcharov could be more of a Dessel figure. I think it'll be about 18 minutes at the finish my prediction.

Bart and myself are just discussing the possibilities if the break gets over 20 minutes. It'd most likely be Alexandre Botcharov in yellow. From there, could he be a Pereiro 2006 figure - so difficult to budge and given great energy and determination by the maillot jaune? A Dessel figure, a tad easier to dislodge but tenacious enough to hang in the top 10 by Paris? Or maybe a Kivilev 2001 figure, worrying the favourites but finishing top-five? Answers on a postcard.

Looking to the GC rankings of the riders in the escape:
35 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole 20.47
37 Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 26.11
41 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Crédit Agricole 28.41
51 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Rabobank 36.27
52 Pierrick Fédrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
77 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas 57.21
96 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC - Saxo Bank 1.10.30
98 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.10.36
102 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux 1.13.28
122 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre 1.26.50
124 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 1.27.40
59 Marco Velo (Ita) Team Milram 40.19

1500 CEST - 70 km to go. The leaders have past through Le Moulin - French for "the windmill" - and have started the 12.5km slog up to the summit of the Col de Portel. They lead the bunch by 14'19". It's pretty narrow. Norwegian champion Arvesen and Moerenhout are sat on the back, not looking so comfortable, but still in touch. 59 km to go from the top of the Portel to Foix riders who dropped on the Portel are likely to have problems to rejoin a break. It's a good thing for them to make a gruppetto quite fast so they are sure not to arrive outside the time limit.

Tinkoff announces stagiares: Jaroslav Marycz, Alberto Contoli, and Massimo Graziato, three talented under 23 riders make plans to "intern" with the Tinkoff squad August 1. Marycz currently races with the team and so far this season has won the U23 time trial championship in his native Poland, the Trofeo De Gasperi, and the Tour of Bern. Italians, Contoli and Graziato are currently under the guidance of Mirko Rossat.

Talking about transfers: Nick Nuyens has signed a pre-contract with Rabobank. Officially the contracts can be signed from September 1, and last but not least Allan Davis (Mitsubishi) is going to ride next year for Garmin/Chipotle. Interesting one, considering his Puerto link - even if it was proven to be wrong. The bunch has to slow down to ones and twos as they go through a very narrow point. In fact, this is the first time the Portel has been climbed in the Tour de France. Brandt leads the bunch for Silence-Lotto; pretty boy Pippo Pozzato keeping things ticking over at the head of the break.

1509 CEST - Gap 15:05. The Italians are setting the pace in the break with Pozzato and Ballan.

65 km to go. still 6-7 km of climbing to the top of the Portel. Still waiting for someone, anyone, to be dropped from the break... Perhaps the hammer will go down on the Cat 3 climb instead?

Moinard attacks out of the break. Its still 7 km to the top. Moinard wants to reduce the number of riders in the break I guess. But nobody reacts so It's likely that Moinard kills himself with this effort. He's bored. And French. A classic combination for attacking. In all seriousness, Moinard is sitting pretty in the overall, inside the top 40, I've been impressed by his performance so far, and he stands to move up further after today.  He has 20 seconds on the others, who seem completely apathetic about chasing. the chasers have time enough to take Moinard back after the Portel Indeed, and enough strength. Pozzato, Ballan, Wegmann, Arvesen... all powerful men.

Our live coverage continues in: Stage 11 Live Part 2

Stage 11 Profile - Stage 12 Profile

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