91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004
& Results Stage
Live Report Results
Stage 10 - Wednesday July 14: Limoges - St Flour, 237 km
Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 10:48 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:10 CEST
A massive stage across the Massif Central is on the menu for Quatorze
Juillet with not a meter of flat all day. This stage was used for L'Etape
du Tour a few days ago and the most optimistic time schedule for Stage Ten calls
for six and a half hours of racing across the unrelenting climbs of Cantal.
One Cat 1, two Cat 2 and five Cat. 3 ascents are on Wednesday's program, which
is expected to be run as Quatorze Juillet stages always are, in front of huge
crowds out to celebrate France's national fête du velo on France's national
Km 67: Col de Lestards, 7 km at 4.7%
Km 162: Col de Néronne, 8.3 km at 3.5%
Km 173.5: Col du Pas de Peyrol, 5.5 km at 8%
Km 205.5: Plomb du Cantal, 8.2 km at 6%
10:48 CEST 3km/234km to go
The riders are now rolling out of the porcelain town of Limoges on the neutralised
section. The weather is sunny and warming up nicely (a welcome change for most
of the peloton. Previous stages have seen actin right from the gun but it's
possible that on this stage things will be a little less hyper; there are plenty
of opportunities to open a gap up today.
But no, after just a couple of kilometres it is Crédit Agricole who start the
action with a solo attack by Patrice Halgand.
Massimiliano Mori gets across to Halgand who is still in sight in front of the
bunch and looking a little laboured. The duo are then joined by another three,
and then another duo coming up afterwards. Right on time, it's Richard Virenque.
Further riders are bridging the gap now, and it looks as though it's all coming
back together. It does.
10:59 CEST 8km/229km to go
The road is rolling in these early stages as a succession of unsuccessful attacks
leave the bunch strung out down the road. There are a lot of riders out there
who are in a hurry to get in the break - patriotic Frenchmen, riders who want
a bit of a lead to keep them inside the time limit at the end, mountains points
collectors and the normal chasseurs d'étape.
Another promising looking group of a dozen or so goes away but comes back. Meanwhile
Filippo Simeoni is off the back, going back to his car already.
11:08 CEST 16km/221km to go
The situation is still fluid at the front of the bunch, but nobody has yet managed
to get clear. Brioches La Boulangère have men up to police the attacks, which
are almost constant. Simeoni is back in the bunch again.
11:22 CEST 27km/210km to go
More of the same - repeated attacks, rapidly countered. Everybody wants to be
up the road and the bunch is in one long line.
Richard Virenque has another go, but it doesn't last. At the back of the bunch,
Levi Leipheimer isn't where he should be, while Mikel Pradera is getting some
treatment from the doctor's car.
11:32 CEST 32.5km/204.5km to go
The first prize money of the day is a bonus sprint at Laucille, and Danilo Hondo,
who had clipped off the front, takes the 6 points and an irrelevant 6 second
bonus. He is followed and caught by a group of ten riders including Virenque,
Lotz, Voigt (of course), Merckx, and Tombak. Tombak and Voigt take second and
third and another five riders come across. The group
US Postal take up the pace in the chase as the lead goes out to half a minute.
The lead group keeps growing, and Axel Merckx and Richard Virenque (who must
have had this day marked off in his calendar since Christmas) take off in front
At the back Christian Vandevelde gets a wheel change.
US Postal bring back the rump of the breakaway - just two up the road now.
Three up the road now as Chavanel joins Virenque and Merckx.
11:43 CEST 40km/197m
The first climb of the day is the fourth-cat le Mont Gargan, and to nobody's
great surprise Virenque takes the points ahead of Merckx and Chavanel. The lead
trio are still not out of sight of the bunch, though, so this may not be the
day-long escape that Virenque undoubtedly had in mind.
At the back, Saeco seem to be having problems, with Mirko Celestino and then
Salvatore Commesso seemingly struggling. Knaven, Rinero and Peschel all also
reported as in difficulty.
Chavanel has been shelled out of the break, but the other two persist. The chase
has eased up, and Sébastien Joly, joined by Karsten Kroon, are now trying to
bridge the increasing gap.
11:57 CEST 44km/193km to go
Brioches la Boulangère are now taking up the chase in the bunch, as Karsten
Kroon has an attack of common sense and sits up to wait for it.
At the back, Pradera is with the doctor's car again.
12:09 CEST 55.5km/181.5km to go
The two leaders are still edging clear as the race passes through the picturesque
little town of Treignac. Joly too has now been caught. Another 10 km to the
foot of the first climb of this Tour that actually calls itself a col, the third
category Col de Lestards, although the listed climbs don't tell the whole story
of this stage: Tyler Hamilton says "We came here in May and went over the stage.
We did about 200 kilometres up here and it was 200 very difficult kilometres.
The stage is 237 kilometres, up and down all day, just like yesterday, There's
not a flat piece of road. It's going to be the first day where there's a big
The yellow jersey of Thomas Voeckler drops back to his team car, and the bunch
ease up a bit, and the break goes further away.
Voeckler is back with his team-mates at the front now, and RAGT Sémences are
also showing up there; it is Bastille Day after all. Spotty jersey (for the
moment) Paolo Bettini is also well up there, presumably to mop up the points
that his team-mate leaves.
There's a lot of traffic at the back of the bunch, with riders going back to
their cars and changing wheels; there will be a big autobus today.
12:22 CEST 67km/170km to go
The Col de Lestards is a 7 km climb averaging a modest 4.7%, but it's certainly
enough to put a few riders in trouble at the back. At the front, however, the
pace is steady and Merckx leaves Virenque to take the points at the top without
Jérome Pineau is the second retirement of the day after Mirko Celestino, which
won't help his team-mate Voeckler hang on to his yellow jersey.
Paolo Bettini takes third over the top of the climb followed by Christophe Moreau.
The lead at the summit was 4.51; Brioches la Boulangère have picked up the pace
a bit now, though. Bettini now leads the mountains classification by 8 points
with Virenque up to 4th 10 points behind him. On GC the two leaders are both
just over 12.30 down on Voeckler, so unless he cracks they are unlikely to be
in contention for the yellow jersey today, but you never know.
12:37 CEST 79km/158km to go
The descent from the col is straightforward and trouble-free, and then it's
straight on to the third-cat Côte de Saint-Yrieix-le-Déjalat,a a shorter and
steeper affair at 2.7km @ 6.1%. Virenque takes the points again. I can tell
At the back of the race Haimar Zubeldia punctures and is chasing back now in
company of a few team-mates.
Bettini again mops up the third place points; Quick.Step clearly have this well
worked out to optimise not just Virenque's score but also to prevent anyone
else from getting any.
lance Armstrong emerges from his normal obscurity in the bunch to take a quick
stop for some reason, and is paced back up to the bunch by several team-mates.
The report of Pineau's retirement seems to be inaccurate; he's still in there.
Sorry about that.
13:02 CEST 96km/141km to go
The BLB-led chase is still steady, and still steadily losing time on the two
breakaways. Armstrong is safely back in the bunch; US Postal don't seem overly
perturbed by a situation on the road which has put Virenque nearly four minutes
ahead of Armstrong on GC.
Next primes along the road are the second and final bonus sprint at lapleau,
followed fairly quickly by the third-cat Côte de Soursac. But first it is time
for lunch, as the two leaders pass through the feed point at Egletons.
13:15 CEST 106.5km/130.5km to go
After the feed the BLB team has upped the pace a bit, so the lead has now been
steady at just under 8 minutes and is may be losing the odd second here and
Coming up to the sprint at Lapreau, Lotto lead Robbie McEwen up through the
bunch, so he looks to be chasing the point that will be remaining after the
leaders pass through; they do, and surprisingly Virenque comes through to take
the 6 points/seconds, which suggests that he is interested in the general classification.
There's a way to go before that is an issue, though.
No, it looks like Merckx actually took the points - Virenque was (I guess) showboating
for the crowds.
McEwen isn't going to be able to pick up the remaining sprint points, but Lotto
send Thierry Marichal up the road to prevent Hushovd or O'Grady from taking
them. Thor Hushovd tries to get across, but without success.
The two leaders are now on the climb of the Côte de Soursac (4.4 km at 4.9%,
category 3). Hushovd and Marichal are now together some way in front of the
bunch, but don't look to be trying to chase.
13:28 CEST 114.5km/122.5km to go
Indeed, Marichal and Hushovd are caught as the peloton hit the foot of the climb,
almost simultaneously as the two leaders go over the summit in the usual order.
Merckx must be on a substantial cut and/or a promise of the stage win here.
Once again Bettini and Moreau take the remaining points on the climb; all the
climbs so far have had exactly the same result, strongly suggesting that the
spotty jersey has been mentally consigned to Virenque already.
Bettini is still leading the competition, now by six points from Virenque. The
two leaders are already on the next climb now, the 3.5km at 6.9% of the Côte
de Chalvignac; after that there is no descent - it's basically almost all uphill
from here to the second category Col de Neronne and the hardest climb of the
day, the Pas de Peyrol.
13:51 CEST 126.5km/110.5km to go
This is the first climb that has put Virenque and Merckx onto the small ring.
They're still pulling away, though - over nine minutes in front now.
Back down the road, Pradera is in a bit of trouble. Indeed, a number of riders
look to be taking it steady and forming an autobus, with Robbie McEwen
Once again, Bettini and Moreau take the third and fourth spots on the Cote de
Chavignac behind the two leaders; nobody else seems to be collecting them. With
its being the first mountain stage on a sunny public holiday, the crowds are
enormous today even in this fairly unpopulated region and even on relatively
flat bits of the route.
The cows are more lively today, with a herd of Friesians keeping pace with the
bunch for a while.
14:07 CEST 139km/98km to go
It's sunny, open and "false flat" , and there are plenty of jerseys open to
the waist in the bunch. At the rear, Thor Hushovd is consulting the doctor -
he has been having some breathing problems. He is handed an aspirin and sent
back up the road to suffer. The lead is now over 10 minutes.
14:20 CEST 147km/90km to go
The pace is still steady, with another 6 km of false flat before the official
beginning of the Col de Neronne; Merckx and Virenque are still going further
away. The arrow-headed peloton is still very large, although McEwen seems to
be absent so it appears that the small autobus group didn't get back after the
14:31 CEST 152.5km/84.5km to go
Vicioso is in trouble and going off the back of the bunch, but there will be
company for him behind.
The bunch is still being led by the La Boulangère train; the two leaders are
getting on with their job and riding smoothly, now passing Salers and approaching
the foot of the climb.
Ewen Stewart asks what the cows are doing now. They are outstanding in their
field, of course.
14:44 CEST 160km/77km to go
The two leaders are now properly on the climb of the Col de Neronne with clear
views over the valleys below. behind, Phonak have arrived en masse behind the
Brioches La Boulangère train.
Angel Vicioso is still yoyoing off the back of the bunch, although once the
climb gets going he'll probably be back in the gruppetto of a dozen or so riders
including McEwen and Hushovd. Up here the spectators are beef cattle, who seem
less inclined to chase.
Vicioso isn't interested in the gruppetto; he climbs off. One less team-mate
for Roberto Heras.
14:49 CEST 162km/75km to go
Richard Virenque leads Axel Merckx over the summit of the col, 1442 metres above
sea level. A quick descent, and then it is the steep slopes of the Pas de Peyrol.
The bunch are more strung out now on the upper slopes of the col, although it's
still BLB jerseys at the front; the principals have not yet made their appearance.
Merckx and Virenque have hammered down the 6km wooded descent, which is fast
but not particularly technical, and are now at the foot of the Pas de Peyrol.
Virenque is climbing in his normal out of the saddle style, with Merckx riding
seated; there doesn't seem to be much between them so far.
Moreau and Bettini move to the front of the bunch, but now there are a few blue,
orange, pink and green jerseys at the front. But Bettini jumps and Moreau once
again can't outpace him. Same order again for the first four.
BLB take up the chase once again on the descent, but the big boys are close
behind them which suggests that someone thinks there will be something happening
on the Pas de Peyrol.
The two leaders are still together, Virenque leading up the climb which is lined
with spectators from the foot. With 10.50 lead still it looks good for both.
Spoke too soon: Merckx is suffering and has let a gap open up between him and
Virenque; they are on a very steep passage here.
15:11 CEST 170km/67km to go
In the back group we have McEwen, Bäckstedt, Hushovd and Pradera. The time limit
should be quite long today - 50 minutes to an hour - but they have a way to
Merckx is riding tempo but still losing ground - about 20 seconds down - but
Virenque may want to wait for him if the gap isn't too big at the summit.
The hapless Ivan Mayo has a mechanical problem on the climb.
A Liberty Seguros rider rides clear of the bunch; not Heras, but maybe setting
the scene for an attack by him later.
15:15 CEST 174km/63km to go
It's Marcos Serrano. Mayo comes back into the peloton.
Virenque and then Merckx, half a minute down, crest the summit.
The lead is down a tad to 9.52 as Virenque puts it on the 11 sprocket and gets
going, not apparently waiting.
Mayo has had more mechanical problems and is coming back into the peloton
again. Serrano is caught. Ullrich and Armstrong are riding tempo together close
to the front of the bunch.
Paolo Bettini won't get third on this climb; he has blown up and is among the
many riders dropped. The bunch is down to about 20 riders now.
Voeckler is still right up there with them. Klöden is now setting the pace,
and then US Postal take over.
Denis Menchov attacks out of the bunch, but the principals are riding tempo.
Michael Rasmussen is showing the Rabobank colours are the top, as Francisco
Mancebo shows the Spanish champions jersey off over the summit ahead of Voeckler.
Mayo is still chasing, the best part of a minute behind the Ar,strong/Ullrich
bunch at the summit, but the race will come back together a lot on the descent.
Virenque is still holding a 30 second gap from Merckx. He is now clear in the
lead in the mountains jersey competition.
A T-Mobile crashes.
It's Rolf Aldag.
Not Aldag, Kessler. He has hit a fence post and gone down hard. He is conscious
but clearly in quite a lot of pain. Sitting up now.
Kessler is up and looks to be OKish; he's carrying on for the moment.
Virenque is fast down the descent, and he and Merckx are now climbing again
on the third category Col d'Entremont. Behind, Oscar Pereiro has taken a flyer
out of the yellow jersey group which mopped up Menchov earlier.
The Armstrong/Ullrich?Voeckler group is now up to 50 or 60 riders, and the yellow
jersey's team are now taking the burden again.
Merckx is looking steady but crests this climb over a minute down.
A Credit Agricole rider has come down hard and is in a ditch; the stretchers
are out. It's Sébastien Hinault.
15:42 CEST 192km/45km to go
Virenque has his head down and is going for it, with one listed climb left,
the 8.2 km at 6% of the Col de Prat de Bouc, although it's not as if the rest
of the stage is all downhill. He should be able to make it from here.
Merckx is still chasing hard, but doesn't seem to be able to make any impression
Michael Rogers has some fans out there - he's with the Voeckler group
15:54 CEST 197km/40km to go
Virenque is now on the second category Col de Prat de Bouc, AKA the Plomb de
Cantal. He will be wearing his favourite jersey tonight. Merckx is slipping
The Voeckler group are still descending with BLB jerseys to the fore; Mayo is
among quite a lot of riders who have come back up to the group.
15:56 CEST 203km/34km to go
Virenque is now 2 km from the top of the climb, still holding an 8'15 lead over
the peloton. But Axel is suffering a lot on this climb, and is over three minutes
behind his erstwhile companion. He'll struggle to keep the peloton at bay.
15:57 CEST 203km/34km to go
Virenque is about mid-way up the final climb and looking fairly solid; today
has been his from beginning to end. Merckx is going backwards, now over 2.30
down and rocking and rolling a bit on the bike.
Axel is bobbing up and down, exhausted after such a long day. But Virenque is
riding strongly still, tongue out, pedalling hard on this last climb. He's almost
certain to win the stage and take the mountains jersey, as well as move himself
up a long way on GC. He only started the day 12'15 behind Voeckler.
15:59 CEST 204km/33km to go
The peloton is growing in size as Stuart O'Grady and Santiago Botero join on
the back. It's still three Brioches riders, captained by Didier Rous, leading
Voeckler. Great ride by the French champion, who doesn't look like losing any
time to the other GC riders today.
O'Grady is yo-yoing off the back a bit.
16:02 CEST 205km/32km to go
Virenque hits the 1 km to go sign to the summit of the Col de Prat de Brouc.
Merckx is 4'23 behind and going backwards at an alarming rate.
Status quo in the peloton. Dufaux, Leipheimer, Moreau (who just downs a coke),
Armstrong, Hamilton, Mayo, Ullrich et al are all in front.
Voeckler has looked pretty solid on all the climbs so far; he should hang on
to the yellow comfortably tonight, making it an all-round properly French quatorze
juillet. The principals have taken it steady, just avoiding losing anything
to each other. The least visible of them seems to be Tyler Hamilton, who has
reasons for being a bit out of sorts today.
Virenque, surrounded by a major traffic jam of miscellaneous race vehicles,
comes up to the summit of the climb. The crowds are six deep for the final kilometre
Axel crests the final summit 6.45 down; he seems as though he wants to get back
into the bunch from here. Mercado takes up Bettini's earlier role as spoiler
for Virenque and mops up the third place points. Noval, the weakest (or least
strong, maybe) link in the US Postal chain, has been dropped but most of the
rest of them seem to be in the main group.
Up in front, Virenque summons his team car imperiously, as Axel sits up and
is caught on the descent. He's doing what he does best.
16:18 CEST 217km/20km to go
Virenque has maxed out for his day's effort, taking all 9 climbs for 68 points
and now leads the mountains competition from Axel (who took 9 second places...).
And with most of 7 minutes' lead at the 20 km to go banner, he should have a
stage win as well.
The front group now contains all the favourites and fancied outsiders, with
Julich, Caucchioli, Botcharov and Mancebo as well as the riders who have made
their presence more obvious; there are no major casualties as yet.
Chavanel, Pineau and Rous are towing the bunch along now on behalf of Voeckler;
they have done sterling work today. Jan Ullrich has looked solid, but Kessler's
crash and Botero's weakness on the climbs has to be a concern for them.
The strongest of the sprinters are still in the bunch as well, with Zabel and
O'Grady up there - O'Grady will be looking for a good placing at the finish,
although it is anything but a sprinter's finish.
16:29 CEST 227km/10km to go
Virenque comes under the 10 km banner, not as smooth as he was first thing this
morning, riding on the drops and rolling a bit, but still steady enough. This
will be his seventh Tour stage win.
16:37 CEST 229km/8km to go
Virenque is still trying to keep the gap open, not just take the win, which
is pretty much safe from here, so he will be interested in his GC position (which
will be 3 minutes or so ahead of Armstrong, Ullrich and co.)
There are 17 points on offer for second place (mountain stages are awarded fewer
points than flat ones; the Tour organisers like to make sure that the race follows
its script and that the green jersey goes to a sprinter). The bunch is now up
to 80 or so riders, so the sprint for second should nonetheless be a serious
affair, although the last kilometre his quite a climb.
Stéphane Goubert has a problem at the back of the bunch; looks as though he's
just cramped up.
The group with Bettini in it are reported as 20 minutes down, which should be
comfortably inside the time limit.
Virenque passes under the 4 km banner; out in the country on the flat it is
strangely subdued for a moment, as all the crowds are on the hills and in the
towns. But it will be a well-earned victory procession in a moment.
16:43 CEST 236km/1km to go
Virenque comes into the little town of Saint-Flour; on the outskirts of town
a cluster of Flemish Lions are on display, but today has been entirely tricouleur.
Virenque comes under the flamme rouge (located at 850 metres to go because of
road space limitations and up the stiff final pitch to massive applause.
Last corner, a glance over his shoulder, two handed salute, eyes and fingers
aloft, Virenque's seventh career stage win.
At 39.46 kph, that's just ahead of the fastest schedule. The time limit today
will be a fairly comfortable 1.04.52 or so (18% of Virenque's time). Some people
out there will be grateful for that.
Halgand leads the bunch under the flamme rouge with Brochard on his wheel. Mancebo
comes past them, with Voeckler on his wheel. Zabel comes past on the wheel of
Klöden, but surprisingly Zabel can't actually jump past on the line and the
German champion takes second place. With Zabel not too badly placed on points,
questions will be asked.
Richard Virenque tearfully dedicated his win - and an excellent win it was -
to Joel Chabiron, former logistics manager for Festina and involved in the Festina
affair with Virenque himself. He has also moved up to 4th on GC behind Voeckler,
who coped very well with his first mountains in yellow.
For trivia fans, there were no fewer than five of this years' national champions
in the top ten on the stage, with Voeckler, Klöden, Mancebo, Kirchen and Totschnig.
Thanks for following the stage (and its cattle) with Cyclingnews today; we'll
be back for tomorrow's stage from St-Flour to Figeac from the start at 1300
1 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick Step-Davitamon 6.00.24 (39.46 km/h)
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5.19
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
4 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto
5 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
6 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor
7 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner
8 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
9 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze
10 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi
General classification after stage 10
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 42.42.14
2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Crédit Par Téléphone 3.00
3 Sandy Casar (Fra) Fdjeux.com 4.13
4 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick Step-Davitamon 6.52
5 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 7.31
6 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 9.35
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 9.58
8 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 10.04
9 José Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 10.09
10 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto 10.18
the commentary team