87th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 1 - 23, 2000
Stage 7- July 7: Tours - Limoges, 205.5 km
Welcome to stage 7 of the 87th Tour de France, from Tours to Limoges. A 205 kilometre haul southwards through the mid part of France. Another day for the sprinters, although there is one category four climb en route. The three sprints are at: Loches (34.5km), Martizay (75.5km) and Roussac (165.5km), and the climb of the Côte de Maison-Neuve comes at kilometre 157. There is not a great deal of wind at the moment, so the race should be quite fast.
Only 175 riders will start today, after Polti's Rafael Mateos did not finish yesterday, and Credit Agricole's Stuart O'Grady had to pull out overnight. His broken collarbone and head injuries being the principal reason. However, he did note that it could have been worse had he not been wearing a helmet
Scheduled start time: 12:22 CET
12:30 CET - 3.0 km
After the customary short neutral period, the race gets underway out of Tours at 12:25 CET. Alberto Elli is in yellow today, leading Credit Agricole's Fabrice Gougot by 12 seconds. Rabobank, who had such a fantastic day yesterday, have Marc Wauters in third at 1.17. He rode incredibly yesterday to keep the break contained in the closing kilometres.
12:43 CET - 10.0 km
The mood is a little less aggressive at the moment, compared with yesterday. No attacks so far after 12 kilometres of racing. It's probably unlikely that Lance Armstrong will repeat his win of 1995 in Limoges today, unless something extraordinary happens. On that day, he dedicated the win to recently deceased Motorola teammate, Fabio Casartelli.
13:04 CET - 21.0 km
After 21 kilometres, the peloton is still together, moving along at a little above 30 km/h. There's a loong way to go, and no-one wishes to be suicidal just yet.
13:21 CET - 28.0 km
The complete field are rolling along to toward the first sprint at Loches (34.5km), with no great degree of urgency.
An update on the cyclingnews trivia question of yesterday: Who were the two least successful directors of the Tour de France and what relationship did they have to each other?
Answer: Jean-François Naquet-Radiguet, who was an intermediate director in 1987, the year that Stephen Roche won. He only lasted one year, as he had too many far out ideas of his own, for example, secret plans for a 1992 Tour start in Montréal.
His brother in law, Xavier Louy succeeded him in 1988, the year of the doping affairs of Pedro Delgado and Gert Jan Theunisse. He was sacked because he didn't take action in these affairs.
13:33 CET - 37.0 km
The results of the first intermediate sprint are as follows: 1. Erik Zabel (Telekom) 2. Lauri Aus (Ag2r) and 3. Marcel Wust (Festina). This means that Wust (101 pts) is in the lead for the green sprinter's jersey, just in front of Zabel (100 pts).
In this year's Tour, the proximity and length of the time trials near the start has meant that we have not seen a sprinter in yellow yet. First it was David Millar, who passed it onto Laurent Jalabert and now it is on the shoulders of Alberto Elli. Unless a break gets away with one of the big sprinter, Abdujaparov style, there won't be a sprinter in yellow at all this year.
13:40 CET - 43.0 km
A small break by a group of four formed after the sprint, including Estonian champ, Lauri Aus (2nd in the sprint). However, it was unsuccessful and the bunch is together again.
Memorycard Jack & Jones' captain, Jesper Skibby has abandoned the race.
13:49 CET - 50.0 km
O'Grady update: After his fall yesterday, the were reports that he would be out until September(!), thereby placing his Olympics in jeopardy. However, he was driven to Bordeaux this morning for further treatment, and the doctor pinned his collarbone up. According to O'Grady, he'll be up and training within two weeks, and out of hospital in a few days.
14:08 CET - 61 km
Some more action now, as an attempt is made by 10 riders to attack. Amongst them were George Hincapie (USPS), Farm Frites' Glenn Magnusson and Robbie McEwen. They are unsuccessful however.
14:16 CET - 68 km
After a first hour where the riders covered 33 km, there is some more aggression now. The latest attack has come from Ag2r's Christophe Agnolutto and Memorycard's Nicolaj Bo Larsen.
14:18 CET - 72 km
Christophe Agnolutto and Nicolaj Bo Larsen have been joined by Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis) and Frédéric Guesdon (FdJ), and the quartet have established a 15 second lead.
14:43 CET - 86 km
The four leaders were caught just before the second sprint at Martizay (75.5km), eventually won by Lotto's Jacky Durand. In second was Christophe Agnolutto (Ag2r) followed by Vincente Garcia Acosta (Banesto). Agnolutto then counter-attacked, and at the latest check is 1'10 up on the peloton.
14:53 CET - 93 km
Agnolutto has increased his lead to 2'25 minutes through the feedzone. He will make it to the TV coverage soon at least. He will find it hard to stay away though, because there are strong sidewinds for the alst 50 kilometres, and the parcourse is not easy.
15:02 CET - 102 km
The TV comes on, and Ag2r's Christophe Agnolutto has a 3'40 gap to the bunch. He will be out for a few more kilometres yet.
15:15 CET - 110 km/96 km to go
Agnolutto's gap is still growing, and is 4'35 at the last check.
15:30 CET - 121 km/85 km to go
Agnolutto is riding strongly with 85 kilometres to go, despite a strong crosswind. In the bunch, Telekom are riding tempo (with a small 't'). Agnolutto will have to maintain his advantage until 10 kilometres to go, when the parcours is all downhill. However, the next 50-60 km are quite difficult.
Agnolutto has a while to go before he can be considered for the Virtual Malliot Jaune classification, as he is 82nd, 11:02 behind Alberto Elli. They will likely give him some more rope yet.
15:49 CET - 127 km/78 km to go
The gap has stabilised now at around 7 and a half minutes, with Agnolutto riding hard against the crosswind. The average speed is a little over 41 km/h to date. However, taking into account the slow first hour (34 km), the past two hours have been at 45 km/h.
16:05 CET - 143 km/62 km to go
As we head uphill for the last 60 kilometres, Ag2r's Christophe Agnolutto is finding his lead diminishing. Telekom are still setting a steady tempo, but once they decide it's time, they will bring it down quite quickly.
16:21 CET - 153 km/52 km to go
Agnolutto is nearing the only climb of the day, the category 4 Côte de Maison-Neuve (km 157). His lead is still 7 minutes or so, and he is nearly into the last 50 kilometres. It's not easy at all though, as a strong westerly wind is blowing across him.
16:31 CET - 161 km/46 km to go
Telekom are still cruising along, not bothering to chase too hard at the moment. Agnolutto takes the KOM points on offer at the Côte de Maison-Neuve, with an 8 minute gap. He has 13 seconds in hand per kilometre left, but it's going to be hard if the other teams start to chase.
A little more data on this rider from Ag2r: Christophe Agnolutto is 31, and he is currently ranked 426th on the UCI standings, having a total of 5 professional wins. He has ridden since 1996 with Casino, which became Ag2r this year. His wins include a stage in the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of Romandie in 1997. He has finished as high as 31st in the Tour, in 1998.
Second and third placings on the climb were taken by the KOM leader, Paolo Bettini (Mapei) and Udo Bolts (Telekom).
16:49 CET - 173 km/32.5 km to go
Christophe Agnolutto still has 6'37 on the peloton, and there is some intermittent rain. With only 35 kilometres to go, he is looking quite good and may end up in Limoges with a couple of minutes.
The results of the last sprint at Roussac (165.5km): 1. Agnolutto, 2. Zabel, 3 Wust. This may well put Zabel in the green jersey, depending on the outcome of the finale. Steels held it at the beginning of the day, with 100 points, versus Zabel's 94 and Wust's 99.
16:53 CET - 174 km/31 km to go
Danish rider, Michael Sandstod (Memorycard Jack&Jones) has attacked the bunch with 32 kilometres to go. He is pursuing Agnolutto, whose gap is coming down over this difficult stretch of the course. The last 10 kilometres is all downhill though.
16:58 CET - 177 km/28/5 km to go
Sandstod's gap is growing, while he pursues Agnolutto. He has 37 seconds on the Telekom-led peloton now, and will use his considerable TT skills to catch the lone breakaway.
17:01 CET - 180 km/25 km to go
Sandstod has 30 seconds to the peloton, and 5:30 to the leader, who is still looking good at 25 km to go.
17:10 CET - 186 km/20 km to go
Telekom have started to chase harder now, but the question remains whether they want to catch Agnolutto. Maybe to give Zabel some more points?
Sandstod is hanging onto 2nd place, but still only has 30 seconds.
17:13 CET - 188 km/17 km to go
17 kilometres, 10 of them downhill. Agnolutto should be able to do it. Sandstod is 4'07 behind him, and will probably not be able to bridge.
17:20 CET - 192 km/13 km to go
Agnolutto has crested the final climb of the day, apart from the uphill finish. He has 13 kilometres to go to become the first French solo stage winner since Cedric Vasseur in 1997.
17:25 CET - 193 km/12 km to go
Sandstod is slowly increasing his lead as well, but it is only 1'03 to a fast moving peloton. This can vanish in the closing kilometres, however they are downhill at least.
Agnolutto is riding well still, over 4 minutes in front of the bunch with 12 km to go. He will win for sure now.
17:28 CET - 197 km/8 km to go
There was an attack with 10 km to go by 10 riders, including Elli (yellow jersey) and Bettini. US Postal closed it down though, as it could have been dangerous. Sal Commesso was also seen in the move.
Sandstod was not bothered though, and he still has a minute.
17:33 CET - 203 km/2 km to go
The situation with 2 kilometres to go: US Postal is heading the peloton, making sure that no more funny business goes on. Agnolutto looks great now, and he's very happy. This will be a great win for Ag2r, after Kirsipuu was sick, and Salmon was injured.
17:37 CET - 205 km/0 km to go
Agnolutto is coming up the last hill to the finish, punching the air and being generally ecstatic. What a ride from the 31 year old! Sandstod is caught, and the peloton is coming up to the finish.
Marcel Wust from Festina takes out the sprint again from Erik Zabel, with Vainsteins on fourth. The peloton finish 1.10 behind. This gives Wust enough points for the green jersey instead of the KOM jersey that he had earlier in the Tour. What a race he's having!
1 Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 5.11.41 (39.5 km/h) 2 Marcel Wüst (Ger) Festina 1.10 3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 4 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 5 Zoran Klemencic (Slo) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 7 Jans Koerts (Ned) Farm Frites 8 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 9 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Team Polti 10 Glenn Magnusson (Swe) Farm Frites 11 Lauri Aus (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance 12 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis 13 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole 14 Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli 15 Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) La Francaise Des Jeux 16 Bo Hamburger (Den) Memorycard-Jack & Jones General classification after stage 7: 1 Alberto Elli (Ita) Team Deutsche Telekom 24.11.32 2 Fabrice Gougot (Fra) Credit Agricole 0.12 3 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 1.17 4 Pascal Chanteur (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 2.56 5 José Luis Arrieta (Spa) Banesto 3.08 6 Jacky Durand (Fra) Lotto-Adecco 3.21 7 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli 3.52 8 Servais Knaven (Ned) Farm Frites 4.31 9 Arvis Piziks (Lat) Memorycard-Jack & Jones 4.38 10 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 5.40 11 David Cañada (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 5.52 12 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 5.54 13 Abraham Olano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 6.13 14 Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) La Francaise Des Jeux 6.17 15 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal Service 6.23 16 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 6.29 17 Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 6.29 18 Peter Luttenberger (Aut) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 6.31 19 Marcos Serrano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 6.32 20 Miguel Angel Peña (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 6.34 Green jersey 1 Marcel Wüst (Ger) Festina 133 pts 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 130