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Criterium Dauphiné Libéré - Stage 4 Live Coverage
By Locutus
Date: 6/8/2006
Criterium Dauphiné Libéré - Stage 4 Live Coverage

Criterium Dauphiné Libéré - Stage 4 Live Coverage
The first day of the three day "Climbers Fest" as the riders roll the first 148 kms on their way to the summit finish on le Mont Ventoux... A day that may produce a legendary performance on the legendary Giant of Provence

Hello and welcome to our Stage 5 live coverage. Today the Dauphiné Libéré takes its first step into a 3 day  "Mountain Men Festival" with the 186 km ride that officially starts at the 145 km point with the first gentle slopes of the climb to the mountain top finish of the notorious Mont Ventoux.

The Ventoux has been a fixture of the Tour de France since 1951, and has been the scene of legendary exploits and twists of fate that would alter the outcome of the race. Today we might see another legendary ride that will find its way into cycling legend and into the hearts and minds of fans; more likely we will see the first assessment of  strengths or weaknesses of form and preparation of the riders who dream of winning le Tour this year.

For fans of the "Giant of Provence," a few articles out of the Daily Peloton Archives you might enjoy are Tony Szurly's excellent Riding Le Mont Ventoux and equally entertaining Climbing Mont Ventoux Part 1 and Part 2 by Locutus. Both have excellent photos that will give anyone not familiar with the climb a good look at the challenge the riders will face today that you can't get by looking at the stage profile.

Stage Profile

Stage 4: Tain-l’Hermitage / Le Mont-Ventoux - 186 Km
Please use the F5 key to refresh the page and get the latest updates from today's stage.

0650 - There is a breakaway as we start the coverage of the Ventoux stage: nine men are off the front. They are Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Auge (Cofidis), Posthuma (Rabobank), Bak (CSC), Vasseur (Quick Step), Napolitano (Lampre), Voeckloer (Bouygues Telecom), Vanotti (Milram), and Stalder (Phonak). These men were working well together until just now, about 8km from the bottom of Ventoux, Stalder  attacked the little group. He was just brought back and people are back to taking turns.

Phonak is leading the peloton, clearly feeling that Landis has the legs to win the stage and take the overall lead. Ventoux is 13 miles long (over 20 kilometers), and there is no let up. It starts off easy at 4% for 4km, then BAM it is 10% for an eternity. Been there, done that, but feel more like it did me instead. This will blow the peloton to bits.

0655 PDT - The nine riders are on the shallow slopes of Ventoux. The Peloton is closing now. The gap for the leaders over the peloton is about 5'. I doubt anyone in that break is strong enough to make it up this ahead of the peloton. Wait, the riders aren't on the early slopes yet. Soon they will be. Yes there is 21.5km left, and so in about a kilometer they will hit the climb.

The peloton is only 3' 15" behind now. The climbers in the peloton, which is all together, are up at the front. Hincapie, Popovych, Landis, Leipheimer, Vinokourov, and the man who holds the record for the Ventoux ascent Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) are near the front.

0702 PDT - Yep, the nine men on the front are on the early slopes. Soon they will make that left turn into the forest, and that's when they will be at 10% for an eternity. The forest is where the race will be decided, as that is actually the hard part of the climb. Once you hit the moonscape of rocks near the top, it levels off to a mere 7%.

19 km to go, and the lead is only 2' 50" back. The nine leaders are still together on the flattish 4% lead in to the climb. Ventoux is looming to their left, giving them the psych job: they have to ride up THAT THING? The tower atop Ventoux looms like a middle finger in the distance to mock them.

0707 PDT - The peloton is on the early 4% slope, which they are riding over like it is flat. Phonak is still doing the leadout. So the leaders have just turned up the tough part of the climb, and men have blown off. Only six men are left: Voeckler, Posthuma, Auge, Vanotti, Stalder, and Vasseur. The peloton is stringing out now, and men are popping off the back. Auge is toast now. Voeckler is setting the pace in the lead group.

The peloton is only 16.5 km from the finish now, so they are going to really hit the hard part soon. In the break, Vanotti has attacked solo. Nobody is chasing hard: everyone is just setting their pace. The peloton is 1' 40" back.

0712 PDT - The peloton is clearly on a climb now. There are only about 50 men left in the peloton, with Phonak still bringing the pain. Vanotti is grimacing in the forest, the 10% climb really hurting his legs. Behind, the peloton is swallowing up the men from the break. Vasseur is not leading the three men in the break, but he immediately drops the other two. Vanotti's legs are gone, clearly. Ventoux takes no prisoners.

0716 PDT - The peloton is in the forest on the 10% grade. Men are falling off the peloton still, but the group is still fairly large. For now.

14 km left. The peloton is only 1' 15" behind Vasseur, and they can pick that up in 2km on this climb.

Sevilla attacks! The T-Mobile rider is trying to show his team that he should be on the Tour de France squad. Sevilla has a gap, but he is about 5' behind all the big favorites, so he won't get chased. Sevilla catches Voeckler.

Sevilla's relatively low GC position will play to his favor. He's the kind of climber who could get away and win this stage. Voeckler can't hold Sevilla's wheel, and now Tommy V is going to be caught by the peloton. Now a Lampre rider attacks from the peloton.  Szmyd is the Lampre rider. Really, it is sickening seeing how fast these riders are flying up this 10% gradient. Vasseur is still alone off the front, and behind him is Sevilla, followed by Schmyd. The peloton led by Phonak is not far behind.

Sevilla is closing on Stalder and Vasseur, who are the lone men from the original break he hasn't passed. Szmyd is about 10" behind Sevilla. Well, the Yellow Jersey has been dropped from the peloton! Gilbert has popped off, and this is far too soon. He will lose his GC lead for sure.

0725 PDT - Now a Discovery rider attacks the rapidly shrinking group of GC favorites (can't be called a peloton any more, it isn't big enough). At the front of the race, Vasseur sets a steady pace, but he'll be caught soon. A few minor attacks off the front of the Phonak-led group of favorites, but no big name attacks. That group is down to about 20 men.

Azevedo of Discovery and Nibali of Liquigas are off the front on an attack now. They have a good gap! Sevilla has caught Vasseur at the head of the race. Vasseur will likely get dropped soon. Sevilla is really flying. Sevilla blows by Vasseur, and is not alone at the front of the race. Go Oscalito! Sevilla, the Flying Mountain Elf, is up to his old tricks again! Great to see it.

0731 PDT - Azevedo has caught Sevilla! Wow, that is amazing. And Mancebo has attacked the group of favorites! Mancebo of AG2r is flying up the road. Phonak still sets the pace. Hincapie, Landis, Vinokourov, and Leipheimer are all visible in that group of favorites. Well, at the front of the race Azevedo has now dropped Sevilla! What a climb this is, changing all the time, attack, bonk, reorganize, attack!

0733 PDT - So Azevedo is alone at the front of the race. Then Sevilla is chasing. The next man is Francisco "Neckbrace" Mancebo, followed by a pack of remnants from earlier attacks, and then the pack of favorites. So this race is still wide open, anybody can still win the stage though Azevedo is looking good. A Wurth rider has attacked, and Caisse d'Epargne leads Valverde at the group of favorites.

0736 PDT - Azevedo is still on that brutal grade in the forest. Behind, Moreau leads a group with Mancebo, Leipheimer, Hincapie, Sevilla, Menchov, and (I think) Vinokourov. These men have dropped Landis and Valverde! Now Mancebo looks to be struggling a bit under the pressure of his mate Moreau in that chase group. Leipheimer is looking good! Vinokourov isn't in this group, it is another Wurth rider. So where is Vino?

0740 PDT - The situation: Azevedo of Discovery is still alone with about a 30" lead on the next chasers, Sevilla and another man. Then Moreau and another T-Mobile rider are chasing. Next is Leipheimer in a small group with Menchov, and they have just rejoined with Moreau and Sevilla and Cauchiolli. Chavanel is in this Menchov/Leipheimer group. Moreau attacks this group. He'll pay for that effort later, unless he's on the best day of his life.

Menchov, Sevilla, Leipheimer, and a Wurth rider (Paulinho?) regroup with Moreau and a few others. These men constitute the first chase group behind the flying Azevedo. The 2nd chase group has Landis, Hincapie, and Valverde.

0745 PDT - Azevedo is making the turn at the castle onto the moonscape. He's smiling, because the road gets easier there. About 30" behind is the chase of Leipheimer, Menchov, Sevilla, Moreau, Chavanel, and a couple of others.

Moreau attacks again, and Menchov and Sevilla and Leipheimer are on him. You know, Leipheimer could be on his way to the lead on GC today. Landis and Hincapie are a ways behind him, and there has been no sign of Zabriskie on this climb. You know, it isn't Sevilla but Kohl of T-Mobile hanging with the Leipheimer group now. So Leipheimer leads the chase of four men in pursuit of Azevedo.

It's Leipheimer, Kohl, Moreau, and Menchov. Chavenel and Paulinho are trying to catch back on, but Leipheimer is motoring now. But Azevedo is still strong at the head of the race. Kohl is hurting under this pace of Leipheimer. He pulls out of line and Moreau takes his place. Kohl has blown to the sky! Now it's just Leipheimer who is actually leading Menchov and Moreau and they are closing the gap to Azevedo!

No sign of what happened to the other riders behind: the cameras are staying with this drama at the front. And yes, Leipheimer has pulled Azevedo back! So it's four men at the front of the race now: Leipheimer, Menchov, Moreau, and Azevedo.

Levi lead on the barren slopes of the "Giant of Provence."
Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

0752 PDT - Azevedo sat up a bit when he realized he was getting caught. Now he latches on to the back of the Leipheimer group. Leipheimer is doing all the work, because he is riding into the Yellow and Blue Jersey. The other riders know it, and are letting him do the work. Now Piepoli, Astarloza, Di Gregario, and another rider are chasing. They are closest to the Leipheimer group. No sign of Landis, Hincapie, Zabriskie, Valverde, Vinokourov, or the other favorites.

0756 PDT - Ah, here is Valverde: he's getting pulled along by a teammate. So he's not doing too badly. But still no Landis and Hincapie and Vino. There are only a few kilometers left. The riders roll around the corners up the moonscape, trying to reach that tower at the top of the climb. The air is thinner up there, and it is freaking hot right now too. The wind is blowing a bit, and that will help with the cooling, but it isn't strong enough to be a big pain.

Leipheimer leads, with Menchov, Moreau, and Azevedo in his wheel (in that order). Any one of these men can still win the stage. Gilbert is now out of the forest. He is 4' 10" down on Leipheimer. He's not doing badly, you have to hand it to the Belgian. He is still holding on to that leader's jersey! It will be very very close for Gilbert, but he's still clinging to life.

Now Azevedo is being tailed off of the lead group. He's paying for his earlier attack. It is only Leipheimer, Menchov, and Moreau looking strong. Now it kicks back up to over 10% near the top: the leaders are in the final kilometer.
Menchov attacks! He drops the other two.

The Sprint at the top of Ventoux... Photo (c) Tim DeWaele

Moreau tries to counter, but too late. Menchov wins it! Moreau made it interesting, almost coming back at the line, but Menchov has won the stage! Moreau 2nd, Leipheimer about 12" back in 3rd. Azevedo 4th at 30".

Chavanel comes in with Kohl at 56".
Mancebo finishes at 1' 04".
Paulinho is at 1'15" with Cauchioli.

0805 PDT - Gilbert is in the final kilometer now, which is so steep. Will he hold on to the leader's jersey?
Sevilla finishes 2' 09" back. Piepoli and Szmyd finish at 2' 30". No sign of Landis or Zabriskie or Valverde or Vinokourov.

Valverde, Hincapie and a Phonak rider come across in 3' 13" behind the winner. Was it Landis? Couldn't tell. Gusev of Discovery leads in a group about 3' 40" back.

Well, time has ticked away, and Gilbert is not going to do it. He will still be well up on GC, but Leipheimer is now going to be in the lead. A shot of Landis! He is still well down the mountain. He clearly has had a very, very bad day for some reason. Well, after his team did all that work on the stage, this will be disappointing for Floyd: he's a hard working, tough mentality kind of guy who really hates to let his mates down. It must be a physical ailment of some sort.

0811 PDT - A great win for Menchov, attacking on the steepest section in the last few hundred meters. Moreau did a great ride, attacking all day and still having enough for a close 2nd at the same time as Menchov. Leipheimer was 3rd at 15".

You know, Landis is looking ill, but he still looks a darned sight better than I did when I rode up that beast of a mountain. Landis crosses the line at 9' 30". He has Horner in his little group too, so C Ho is in and saving his legs for tomorrow.

Menchov says that he is satisfied with his victory, and he's not thinking about victory in this race or the Tour de France quite yet.

Moreau is making some faces of disappointment in his interview. Will he get anything for his effort, like a jersey of some sort? Not clear yet. I must say, this is the best Moreau has looked climbing a mountain in awhile. This must be heartening for him, and for France. He blew away a lot of the big favorites today.

Levi with a determined look on the podium today.
Photo (c) Tim DeWaele

Leipheimer steps up to the podium to get the Yellow and Blue Jersey of leader. He has a major lead, and he will be tough to unseat at this point. Leipheimer's lead over Menchov will be about 25" once the time bonuses get added in. With a rider like Menchov, he could well pull of the victory tomorrow. But Leipheimer is a tough character, and is obviously on great form.

yeah! Americans winning Paris-Nice and Le Dauphine in the same year... and different Americans... things are not so bad in the post-Lance era, eh?

Sorry for the "slow delivery or no delivery" the last part of the live coverage. The price of the continuing growth of the Daily Peloton readership is putting demands on our old server can't handle. However, we are happy to announce that we will be moving to a newer and faster server in the next week so we don't have this as a continuing problem in the future. Thanks for hanging in with us as we make the transition.

This concludes our live coverage... Discuss the race in progress tomorrow with fans and riders from around the world in the  Daily Peloton Chat Room  and  debate the outcome of tomorrow's stage, race tactics and your favorite riders on the Daily Peloton Forums.
Full official results  and photos to follow.

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Criterium Dauphiné Libéré - Stage 1Live Coverage
Criterium Dauphiné Libéré - Stage 2 Live Coverage
Criterium Dauphiné Libéré - Stage 3 Live Coverage

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