Posts filed under ‘Tour de France’
Starting on a tip of coastline near the town of Béziers, the 178-strong peloton got underway in perfect conditions from Le Cap D’Agde, already 27 degrees Celsius and breezy at the 12:45 p.m. départ réel.
After 29 kilometres, two breakaway groups of three combined to form a lead sextet, including Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Geslin and Hutarovich (Française des Jeux), Sapa (Lampre-NGC), Ignatiev (Team Katusha) and Timmer (Skil-Shimano). When the peloton behind them decided to take to the call of nature, it became a definitive sign that the aforementioned six would be the break du jour.
Forty kilometres in, 8:45 was the distance between break and bunch, and that’s as far as they got; the undulating mid-section of Wednesday’s stage with a pair of Cat. 4 climbs after 112 and 115 kilometres, combined with the inevitable start of the chase-down, inexorably reduced the lead group’s advantage.
Determined not to be caught out in the wind again, Astana and Saxo Bank began assembling their troops at the fore some 80 kilometres from the finish, and when the team of maillot jaune Cancellara started driving in the heavy Tramontane crosswinds, the peloton eventually split, a lead group of 40 forming at the head. This time, however, most of the GC favourites made the move – the exception being Rabobank‘s star climber Robert Gesink, who crashed hard before the mayhem and never recovered, X-rays later revealing he had broken his wrist and ruling him out of starting the following day.
A consequence of the crosswind craziness was that it all but chewed-up-and-spat-out the lead of the early escape. But when those driving at the front let up, realising there was nothing to gain, a regrouping occurred, the break’s advantage went back out to a minute-and-a-half, and stood an even chance of surviving to Perpignan.
Française des Jeux held the upper hand with two in the move – but among them there was someone who’d been itching for a big win ever since he became a household name at the Tour de France, exactly five years ago.
|1||Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom||4:29:35|
|2||Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha||0:00:07|
|3||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC|
|4||Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream|
|5||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram|
|6||Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha|
|7||Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne|
|8||Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|9||Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank|
|10||Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team|