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95th Tour de France - Stage 18 Live
 
By Staff
Date: 7/24/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 18 Live
 

95th Tour de France - Stage  18 Live
Two groups on the attack, the lead duo Barredo and Burghardt have 9 minutes on the peloton... and the chase is on... or is it?

Stage 18 Bourg d'Oisans - Saint Étienne 196.5 km
Stage 18 Profile
Welcome to our live coverage of stage 18 of the Tour de France. CSC's Carlos Sastre winner of the Epic Alpe D'Huez stage started the stage as overall leader in the yellow jersey.

We join the race in progress with 100 kilometers to go; currently two groups of riders in front with Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Marcus Burghardt (Columbia). The two have 3.25 on Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) and Christophe Le Mevel (Credit).

The bunch is 11.10 down on the break. Damiano Cunego crashed earlier in the stage and is over 10 minutes down on the bunch. Cunego is supported by three team mates.

96 km to go and the gap is 10.40 on the bunch. Cunego is 22 minutes down on the break now due to his nasty crash. Barredo (QST) attacked at the 68km mark. Burghardt and Feillu (AGR) went on the counter attack but Burghardt was the only able to bridge up to the Spaniard. Astarloza and Le Mevel later attacked and joined Feillu. Earlier in the stage seven riders attacked. The seven were Burghardt (COL), Pozzato (LIQ), Lang (GST), Bichot (AGR), Schroder (MRM), Auge and Monfort (COF). They had a lead of max 1.00 but were chased down. In the first hour the average speed was 55,7 km/h

Caisse D'Epargne is now leading the chase in the bunch. It's likely that Valverde wants to win a stage. Can be interesting for the GC too if he attacks with Sastre and Evans couldn't follow for example

The first sprint in Grenoble was won by: Freddy Bichot (AGR) leading Bjorn Schroder (MRM) and  Stephane Auge (COF)

The points at the top of the first climb in stage 18 of the Cat. 3 Col de Parmenie, were won by: Carlos Barredo, Marcus Burghardt and  Roman Feillu third;

We still have two climbs to come, the Croix de Montvieux of the 2nd category with top on 33.5 km to go to St Etienne is the toughest one of the two, it is not only the last significant climb of this years Tour, but could well provide the location for a decisive move. If not, the fourth category climb of the Cote de Sorbiers, that comes 8.5km away from the finish from Saint Etienne, could play a role in today’s proceedings.

1440 CEST - 86 km to go the gap down to 9.20. The three chasers Feillu, Le Mevel and Astarloza are 3.40 behind on Barredo and Burghardt. Caisse has brought the gap back to 9.37. It will be interesting to see what Valverde can do today. So far its been an easy day for CSC.

Top Transfer news: Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) is going to ride for Quick Step - Innergetic for the next 2 years. Jerome Pineau, Sebastien Minard and some other French riders are also rumored to be candidates for a contract with Quick Step. It's likely according to team manager Patrick Lefevre that one more French rider will join the team next to Chavanel.

Caisse D'Epargne is off the front as CSC has taken the control in the bunch now.

Some other strange news according to several news sites the French frontier guards have stopped and searched the car of Johnny Schleck, the father of Andy and Fränk Schleck. No other reports other than  we know for sure is that Schleck was allowed to continue to the finish in St. Etienne. So it's very likely the search was fruitless... I think the French are becoming even more paranoid than in previous years.

The GC placings of our two raiders up front are
100. Carlos Barredo  (Quick Step) at  2h 35' 55"
134. Marcus Burghardt  (Team Columbia) at 3h 18' 48"

1505 CEST - 77 km to go. The gap is up to 9.55 again as Barredo and Burghardt work well together. Burghardt won Gent-Wevelgem in 2007 and missed the first part of the 2008 season due to a knee injury. Barredo was 10th in the Vuelta D'Espana last year and won the fifth stage in P-Nice in 2008. They have the grinta to make Saint Étienne, that is unless the sprinters teams have chosen to close this down for a street battle at the finish.

70 km to go the gap on the bunch is up to 10.17 . Except of the first 1h30 of racing the stage is not very exciting so far. The duo up front have a strong chance to battle for the stage win. For Columbia they could collect their fifth stage if Burghardt wins. The previous four were from Mark Cavendish. For Quick Step it will be the first stage win if Barredo wins. Quick Step won four stages with Steegmans, Vasseur and twice Tom Boonen last year.

60 km to go the gap 10.32. If Valverde wants to do something on his GC he has to attack on that Montvieux climb; otherwise it was strange to let his team work a few kilometers ago. I can't work out why Caisse d'Epargne pulled; surely there is no chance that CSC, Gerolsteiner et al won't let him get away if Valverde attacks? I think Valverde loses one more place in the G.C. in the ITT to Samuel Sanchez -
agreed.......and if Menchov hadn't have lost time two days ago, he'd be right in there too.

1527 CEST - Astarloza, Feillu and Le Mevel are 4.13 behind on Burghardt and Barredo. Menchov still can reach the podium depending on his form Saturday. But totally chanceless for overall win he isn't. If Sastre has a poor TT 2.33 on a better rider against the clock as Menchov on 55 km is not much. And if Evans has a bad day too about 1.00 - 1.10 on Evans either. It just depends on the circumstances like the weather and the form of the day. But normally Evans is still the man to beat. But Sastre will do everything to keep his 1.34 lead on Evans, and it doesn't matter how small that gap is... we'll be watching to see if riding in the yellow jersey gives him the added punch needed.

Volodomyr Gustov (CSC) has said that CSC may try something on the category two climb. They will try to put some extra pressure especially on Evans. They want to tire him as much as possible for the time-trial. The summit of the climb comes 33.5 km from the finish, so if CSC want to drop Evans, they have to hope that Kohl, Valverde, Menchov, Sanchez and Vandevelde make any split to avoid Lotto having help to chase back.

The climb is about 9-10 km long I think so they will enter the climb with about 43-44 km to go. Seems to me that CSC could do it... but they have to split the peloton - the problem is, after the first 9% section there is a downhill, then two 1% sections in the middle, then sections for 5 and 3% to end. Not brutal enough, and the peloton pace has been leisurely today too.

50 km to go- gap 10.16, Our leaders have started the cat 2 climb of the Croix de Montvieux.  According to television reports the French police in Grenoble interrogating Johnny Schleck. It seems the affair is without a conclusion at the moment. 14 km to the summit of the Croix de Montvieux.

45 km to go. The peloton is 10.00 down; 9.50 now.  Barredo and Burghardt will have to falter hard to lose this gap... but there is a chance others will attack to join them in the adventure to Saint Étienne.

1548 CEST - The CSC led peloton has started the climb of the Montvieux. Anyway the same TV reports are now announcing that they didn't find any doping products with father Schleck. Luckily no new scandal.

39 km to to - 9:54 the gap, the peloton is still compact with CSC nominally leading as the favorites spread out across the road 12 wide not pushing the pace hard. Upfront, Valverde, Efimkin and Valjavek the Ag2r duo.

5 km to the summit. Barredo and Burghardt have 3.42 on Feillu, Astarloza and Le Mevel and 9.55 on the bunch. Barredo and Burghardt are putting in a strong effort to stay away. I'm looking at Barredo's live data, and he's been going at 29km/h on this part of the climb

2 km to the summit for the B & B break. CSC doesn't do anything to step it up, so the plan for Gustov to set a fast pace will not be executed.

1610 CEST - 1 km to the summit for our lead duo. 34 km to go and they still hold a ten minute gap as they approach the summit... that says reams about the tempo of the chase. Barredo takes the max points going over the summit of Montvieux ahead of Burghardt. 33 km to go. Still the same riders of CSC setting the pace with Stuart O'Grady and Nicki Sörensen.

1616 CEST - 30 km to go, Our two leaders have 4'08" on our chasers and 10'11" on the peloton

Our live coverage continues: Stage 18 Live Part 2

Climbs
Cote de Sorbiers, 188km (4th Category)

Intermediate Sprints
Saint-Chamond, 181.5km

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