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Photo ©: Bettini

92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

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Stage 11 - Wednesday, July 13: Courchevel - Brianšon, 173 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and Hedwig Kröner

Live report

Live coverage starts: 12:20 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST

Stage 11 profile
Click for stage map

12:26 CEST   
Welcome back to Cyclingnews for our live coverage of the second Alpine stage of the Tour de France, from Courchevel to Brianšon over 173 km. It's a downhill stage, starting at 1374m and finishing at 1237m, so it should be a walk in the park.

Well, it would be except for a couple of small hills. The Col de la Madeleine (km 55, a Hors Categorie climb, 2000m, 25.4km at 6.1%), the Col du Telegraphe (km 110, Cat. 1 climb, 1566m, 12km at 6.7%), and the mighty Col du Galibier (km 133, HC climb, 2645m, 17.5km at 6.9%). Well, at least it's downhill to the finish from there.

There are also two intermediate sprints at Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (km 97.5) and Moulin-Baron (km 162.0).

The stage has started with a 19 km descent from Courchevel into the valley. It's 24 degrees and sunny, but it will get a bit cloudy later on.

12:28 CEST   
There are 172 riders in the race with Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) being the only non-starter this morning. He and his wife were arrested by police after quantities of EPO were found in his wife's car. Sound familiar, anyone?

12:30 CEST    6km/167km to go
The stage start was given at 12:21pm, but as yet there haven't been any attacks on the descent.

12:34 CEST    11km/162km to go
The peloton is flying on the descent with a couple of riders opening up a gap now.

12:36 CEST    12km/161km to go
It's Thor Hushovd and Samuel Dumoulin who are off the front.

Green jersey wearer and Hushovd's main rival Tom Boonen has crashed... Not good. He has to sit down as the doctor looks after his knee. He's being helped up as a crowd of photographers surround him. He's back on the bike.

12:37 CEST    15km/158km to go
Boonen is riding again with his teammate Guido Trenti, but not too fast at the moment. They can see the valley below them coming closer.

Meanwhile, Dumoulin and Hushovd are well ahead of the peloton.

12:40 CEST    17km/156km to go
The peloton is not really chasing, allowing Boonen to come back. The man in green is glued to his teammate Trenti's wheel as they go in search of the peloton. Boonen's had a pretty up and down Tour, winning two stages at the start and taking green, then crashing several times.

The two leaders, meanwhile, are a minute up on the bunch.

12:42 CEST    18km/155km to go
Boonen is still 1'30 behind the bunch and 2'50 behind the two leaders. Hushovd and Dumoulin definitely aren't waiting. They'll want to try to get over the Madeleine in order to get to the first bonus sprint of the day.

The race doctor is trying to treat Boonen's left knee as they near the bottom of the descent. Boonen's right knee is also scraped.

12:48 CEST    23km/150km to go
Dumoulin and Hushovd are now on the flat in the valley as Boonen makes it back to the peloton. He chats to Erik Dekker and Robbie McEwen. The bunch is moving very slowly, and the two leaders will quickly get several more minutes.

12:54 CEST   
The two leaders are now 4'40 ahead of the peloton, which is being led by Armstrong's Discovery team at a lethargic pace.

12:55 CEST    30km/143km to go
Hushovd and Dumoulin are at the foot of the Madeleine and will have a 5'20 lead as they start the 26 km climb.

13:01 CEST    33km/140km to go
The gap is up to 6'30 now as Benjamin Noval lead the peloton along at a steady pace. The summit of the Madeleine is still 22 km away for the leaders.

13:03 CEST    32km/141km to go
At the foot of the climb, the peloton is at 6'43 behind the leaders. We'll see how Boonen survives this little ascent.

Pereiro attacks on the climb, and gets a Credit Agricole rider with him for company.

13:05 CEST   
The Credit Agricole rider is Pietro Caucchioli, and he's about 20 metres off the back wheel of the Phonak rider. The riders are restless in the peloton, even though Discovery is trying to keep a lid on things so they can annihilate everyone a bit later.

13:08 CEST    33km/140km to go
Hushovd has now dropped Dumoulin. The big Norwegian is climbing the Madeleine alone in front.

Vinokourov has attacked the peloton with Horner, Mancebo, Martinez, Heras, Botero...they've caught Caucchioli and Pereiro.

13:11 CEST   
A sprinters bus is already starting to form with Boonen, Cooke, and McEwen. A little way behind are Jens Voigt and Luke Roberts.

Discovery is still on the front of the peloton, but is letting Mancebo and Vino's counter attack go. That chase is 5'26 behind the lone Hushovd.

13:14 CEST    35km/138km to go
Mayo is not in that chase group, it's Egoi Martinez. It looks like Roberto Heras (Liberty) is there too.

The bunch is shedding riders quite quickly now. Is that McGee dropped? It looks like it. Very early in the piece. White, Vansummeren, O'Grady, Grivko, Davis are all gone.

But not Hushovd - he is leading the race!

13:16 CEST    36km/137km to go
The situation with 19 km to the summit of the Col de la Madeleine. Thor Hushovd (CA) leads Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) by 30 seconds, then a group with Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), Oscar Pereiro, Santi Botero (Phonak), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Roberto Heras (Liberty), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Pietro Caucchioli (CA) at 5'07, then the peloton at 6'56. Mancebo is the best placed of the counter attacking riders, starting the day 4'00 behind Armstrong on GC in 7th.

Discovery has already lost Noval from the peloton.

13:19 CEST   
The peloton is not letting the chase group go - it's sitting 30 seconds behind the Vino/Mancebo group. Armstrong still has plenty of teammates with him.

Heras leads the chase group now, then Horner takes over, pedaling a nice low gear. They are 4'30 behind the leader.

13:22 CEST    38km/135km to go
Hushovd reaches a flatter part of the climb and sticks it in the big ring, powering along with jersey flapping and a determined look on his face. The road is pretty shoddy here.

Vino now does a turn in the chase group, flicking the elbow for Mancebo to come through. That group has 33 seconds on the peloton, which has lost Brochard, Cortinovis and Gilbert. Brochard is wearing the red number for being the most aggressive rider yesterday.

13:36 CEST    44km/129km to go
The chasers are closing in on Hushovd, and are now 2'14 behind the Norwegian. They'll catch Dumoulin first. The Armstrong peloton is at 3'20, i.e. 1'06 behind the Vino/Mancebo chase group.

At the back of the race, Valverde is getting seen to by the race doctor. He sprints back to the bunch.

Dumoulin is now being hauled in by the chase group.

13:40 CEST    46km/127km to go
Heras can't follow the pace of the chase group and is about 15 seconds behind. That's not good - still 10 km to go the summit.

Dumoulin is naturally dropped and is nearly back with the peloton now. Armstrong still has five teammates with him, including Hincapie, Azevedo, Rubiera, Savoldelli and Beltran.

13:45 CEST    47km/126km to go
There's plenty more damage being done to the peloton, as Chavanel, Fedrigo and Sorensen all get shelled.

Popovych is also with the Armstrong group, but is towards the back. So he still has all his teammates bar two, vastly outnumbering all the other teams. The group is maybe 30 riders strong now.

Hushovd is being caught by the Vino chase group on the steep part of the Madeleine. He is chased by the Devil, who has donned a green outfit today. His red suit must be at the laundromat.

Caucchioli has been dropped by the chasers, leaving just Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), Oscar Pereiro, Santi Botero (Phonak), Chris Horner (Saunier Duval), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), and Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) with 1'10 to the peloton.

13:48 CEST   
Carlos Sastre (CSC) gets a wheel change in the peloton. He's trying to come back now as he passes Garzelli and Contador, who are being dropped. Kessler is also out the back. Heras has gone too! From the front to the back very quickly.

Armstrong and his team look rather strong today. Rasmussen is shadowing Armstrong, clad in his spotty outfit.

13:49 CEST    49km/124km to go
Hushovd fights to stay in contact with the lead group as Vino asks Martinez to do a bit of work. They have 0'40 on the Armstrong group.

13:53 CEST    51km/122km to go
The leaders are just over 4 km from the summit as Hushovd goes off the back again. He'll be forced to go back to the peloton now, which is not too far behind him.

(Horner is still with the lead group)

13:55 CEST    52km/121km to go
In the Armstrong group, all of the GC favourites are still there. Boogerd is riding next to his teammate Rasmussen, ahead of Ullrich and Kl÷den, then Evans and Valverde. The gap between the two groups is just 43 seconds.

Heras is fighting to get back to the peloton.

13:57 CEST    53km/120km to go
It's now just Vinokourov, Botero, Pereiro and Martinez in the lead as the others are dropped from the chase group. Horner is gone this time.

Hushovd is dropped from the peloton now. All that work for nothing, unless he can get on on the descent and get to the sprint.

13:58 CEST   
Casar and Sastre are being tailed off the peloton now as it gets towards the summit of the Madeleine. 2 km to go.

14:00 CEST   
Mancebo and Horner are on their way back to the peloton now, Mancebo with that permanent grimace on his face. Armstrong's Discovery team is very much in control today.

14:01 CEST   
Our Behind the Blue Curtain man Chris Brewer has filed this pre-stage report from the Discovery team:

"A real sense of accomplishment," was how Discovery Channel's DS Johan Bruyneel described the mood of the team following Stage 11. After a quiet celebration last night, the team rode their bikes down to the Courchevel start this morning.

The send off was quite sedate compared to all the other starts, apparently the Tour organizers limited who could come up Courchevel to minimize the traffic problems thereafter. The team feels that anyone who could possibly go off the front and make it stick would have to be a very strong rider on such a hard day, so vigilance and continuing the positive racing from yesterday is the plan.

Word is that DC is down one vehicle. On the descent after the first climb yesterday all the cars stopped suddenly on a hairpin turn, and Johan rear ended the CSC team car - then Popo, who had stopped to "relieve some pressure", rear ended Johan, and that's how he crashed...

14:02 CEST    54km/119km to go
Botero and Martinez are now being dropped by Vino and Pereiro. Martinez is angry at a moto cameraman who gets in his way.

Botero grunts his way back to the leading pair just before the summit.

14:05 CEST    55km/118km to go
Vino, Pereiro and Botero ride up the final steep part of the Madeleine with 500m to the summit. Thousands of fans with many green PMU hands cheer them on, trying their best to get run over by the lead motos. Vino looks much better than yesterday. But it's Botero who takes the points ahead of Vino and Pereiro.

14:06 CEST    56km/117km to go
Rasmussen and Moreau fight it out for 5th and Moreau easily takes it, 47 seconds behind the leaders. Rasmussen doesn't even bother to sprint but he gets 6th, and there'll be more for him on the Galibier. He is building an unassailable lead on the mountains jersey.

14:09 CEST   
Pereiro goes off the side of the road, maybe looking for a shortcut down the Madeleine. It's grassy, but he's not longer with the leaders. Oh dear.

14:10 CEST    59km/114km to go
And then there were two. Botero and Vinokourov lose their composure a bit after seeing Pereiro go off the road. He had a bit of food in his mouth and couldn't control it around a corner. He basically just kept going down into the field. But he's back! Riding again! Maybe he did find a shortcut?

14:12 CEST    62km/111km to go
Vino and Botero continue their descent, with Pereiro now chasing alone. A lucky escape, if you can call running off the side of the road "lucky".

14:14 CEST   
Martinez (who must have been fourth over the Madeleine) is now back with Vino and Botero. Pereiro should get back on too. The peloton is at 1'08.

14:16 CEST    63km/110km to go
We're now with four leaders again, who have 1'10 on the Discovery led peloton. Pereiro doesn't even look hurt, so perhaps he was able to hold it up when he went off the road earlier.

14:20 CEST    70km/103km to go
Vino, Martinez, Botero, and Pereiro are racing down the steep descent of the Madeleine, through the trees, which are getting thicker as they near the base of the descent. The peloton, one minute behind, is growing to perhaps 40 riders now.

14:22 CEST   
Vino's always last wheel of the four on the descent. Pereiro's is probably the best as he leads the quartet. No fear after his little run in with the Alpine flora. Luckily it wasn't Alpine fauna.

14:27 CEST    76km/97km to go
Of the leaders, Botero is the best placed on GC, starting the day at 5'20. But unless Discovery execute an unlikely collapse, he's not going to threaten the yellow jersey.

The four leaders are now on the flat, speeding towards Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne. They take on bidons and musettes in the feed zone, and will hope that the peloton does the same. The gap is 1'20.

14:31 CEST    79km/94km to go
The peloton does take time out to refuel, and the Discovery boys are a perfect example of how to do it without crashing. It's very orderly as they all unload their musettes into their back pockets and mouths.

14:33 CEST   
Armstrong loosens the straps on his shoes, maybe feeling a bit sore in the feet. It's a warm day and foot cramp is painful when it hits.

14:41 CEST    86km/87km to go
The four leaders: Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), Oscar Pereiro, Santi Botero (Phonak), and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), are motoring along the main road in the valley towards Saint-Michel-De-Maurienne, pursued by a 40 rider peloton led by Discovery Channel at 1'30.

14:53 CEST    95km/78km to go
Armstrong now has five teammates leading him 1'42 behind the break of four, which will get a bit more of a bonus now because Armstrong drops to the back of the peloton, again loosening and adjusting his shoes. They're giving him problems today.

14:58 CEST    98/74km to go
The leaders pass through the sprint at Saint-Michel-De-Maurienne, with Vinokourov leading them through ahead of Martinez and Pereiro. They have nearly 2 minutes as they start the Cat. 1 Col du Telegraphe, 12 km at 6.7%.

15:02 CEST    100km/73km to go
The peloton starts the Telegraphe and Hushovd is dropped straight away. He didn't get any sprint points today, so there will be no changes at the top of the green jersey classification - Boonen is still with the sprinters bus. Remember Hushovd had nearly 7 minutes at the bottom of the Madeleine, but was caught at the top.

Martinez is dropped by the leading three as the Telegraphe gets harder.

15:05 CEST    101km/72km to go
Martinez is falling further back as Botero is also dropped, leaving just Vinokourov with Pereiro and a 2'05 gap to the peloton. Just 72 km to go lads...

15:08 CEST   
The Disco train is led by Rubiera, Beltran, Popovych, Savoldelli, and Hincapie, with Armstrong in sixth wheel. The peloton is perhaps 35-40 riders strong as it tackles the Col du Telegraphe.

There was a bit of rain on the Galibier, our CN car reports.

Vino gets a bit of encouragement from the side of the road. For those wondering, he's wearing the blue and yellow kit because he's the champion of Kazakhstan.

15:10 CEST    103km/70km to go
Casar and Sastre are dangling on the back of the peloton, and probably won't last much longer. Vino looks very composed up front, and Pereiro is having another good ride today. He was in the counter-attack yesterday.

15:12 CEST   
Botero is slowly losing time to the two leaders, and is at 15 seconds. Martinez is further back, then the slimming down peloton at 1'40.

15:16 CEST    105km/68km to go
Botero has made it back to the two leaders, who can probably do with his help later.

Meanwhile, Rubiera is setting the pace in the bunch with Beltran ready to take over. Discovery has looked very strong all day today, even if Armstrong has had a couple of problems with his shoes. We'll see on the Galibier how all the rivals fare. Can Rasmussen do something? He's the only one close enough at the moment.

15:21 CEST   
We spoke to Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans before the start today to ask him how he thought today would go. "Today will be much harder than yesterday. Maybe some will be intimidated by the course or maybe they will make the race even harder than yesterday, I don't know. It's a much harder climb, but then it's not a hilltop finish so we'll see."

Michael Boogerd does domestique duties for Rasmussen in the peloton. Savoldelli does the same for his teammates.

15:22 CEST   
Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo) has abandoned. Surprise. He was in the top 20 yesterday, but he was dropped early today.

15:25 CEST    107km/66km to go
Martinez has now been caught by the peloton as the three leaders increase their gap to 2'20 with a couple of kilometres from the summit of the Telegraphe. Not so many spectators on this climb - most of them will have gone to the Galibier.

15:32 CEST    110km/63km to go
The gap is up to 2'46 now as Botero, Pereiro and Vinokourov near the top of the Telegraphe. A few more folks up here, cheering them on from the sides of the roads, which are packed with campervans.

Savoldelli is back with the Discovery car, going for bottles or maybe suffering.

15:34 CEST    110km/63km to go
Botero takes the points for the Telegraphe ahead of Vinokourov, with Pereiro in third.

15:37 CEST    112km/61km to go
Rasmussen and Moreau go for the fourth place points, and Moreau gets them easily as Rasmussen again doesn't contest it. He is keeping his powder dry for the Galibier. The gap at the top is 3'22.

The three leaders are speeding down into Valloire. Not much of a descent, but it's a bit of a break before the Galibier.

15:42 CEST    117km/56km to go
The leaders are on the long climb of the Galibier, another 17.5km at 6.9%. There's a bit of a cash bonus at the top as it's the highest climb of the Tour at 2645m. Their gap is now 3'21, which is quite decent. Botero's two minutes off the maillot jaune.

15:52 CEST    120km/53km to go
Pereiro is now off the back of Vino and Botero as they lift their tempo a bit on the Galibier. The hardest part of the climb is still to come, but if they make it to the top...

The gap is still 3'11 to the peloton.

15:53 CEST   
Mayo's gone from the Armstrong group. Not really his Tour this year.

15:54 CEST   
Francis Mourey (FDJ) is next off the back of the bunch. Kessler is also towards the back.

15:59 CEST    123km/50km to go
Vino is pedaling with a nice cadence now, leading Botero up towards the nastier bit of the Galibier. They have 3'04 on the Discovery led peloton, where Beltran has just dropped off looking tired.

The green jersey group is reported as 20'00 behind the leaders.

Vino has dropped Botero! The T-Mobile rider is now alone.

16:02 CEST    124km/49km to go
It's all Alexandre Vinokourov now, as he gets to within 9 km of the summit of the Galibier. Nice riding by the Kazakh champ, who has 3'15 on the Armstrong group, which still numbers 30 or so riders. Savoldelli is leading it now, and there are still Popovych, Azevedo, and Hincapie ahead of Armstrong.

Boogerd is dropped.

16:05 CEST    125km/48km to go
Garzelli goes out the back with Goubert as Savoldelli continues to set the pace in the Armstrong group. Mancebo, Jaksche, Rasmussen, Evans, Valverde, Julich, Leipheimer, Mazzoleni are all there.

Botero is 27 seconds behind Vinokourov, with Oscar Pereiro at 1'28, and the bunch at 3'00. Vino is now on the steep bit of the Galibier, where Pantani left Ullrich behind in 1998.

16:07 CEST    127km/46km to go
Vino started the day 6'20 behind Armstrong on GC, so he's no real threat for yellow.

The pace is slowly increasing in the peloton and things are stretching out. Sastre and Horner are in last and second last wheels, just behind Ullrich's teammate Guerini.

16:10 CEST   
Rubiera is also off the back of the Armstrong group, no surprises there. There are still perhaps 25-30 riders (yes, Basso as well) with the maillot jaune.

A fan with a long horned helmet, a brown skinsuit and a flag of Texas cheers the Armstrong group along. What a sight.

16:11 CEST   
Pereiro is caught by the Armstrong group, as Horner goes out the back too.

16:12 CEST   
It's just Vinokourov versus Botero on the Col du Galibier, with Vino getting to within 5 km of the summit. It looks like Armstrong is riding a controlled race today, not trying to win but limit the damage.

Pereiro is dropped from the Armstrong group immediately.

16:12 CEST   
Kl÷den is in trouble at the back of the group with Guerini and Totschnig. Rogers is fourth last wheel.

16:14 CEST   
Some names in the Armstrong group: Armstrong, Savoldelli, Popovych, Azevedo, Hincapie, Basso, Ullrich, Evans, Landis, Mazzoleni, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Mancebo, Valverde and Rogers.

16:16 CEST    129km/44km to go
Vino has his sunnies reversed with nothing getting in the way of his sight now.

He has 37 seconds on Botero and still 3'00 on the Armstrong group. It looks like either he or Botero will win today.

Kl÷den is really struggling to hold on.

16:17 CEST   
Vino is pumping up and down, staying in the saddle and concentrating on getting to the top of the Galibier. So is Botero, who uses a slightly bigger gear.

About 15 riders left in the Armstrong group now.

16:20 CEST    130km/43km to go
Kl÷den, Guerini, Kashechkin, Rogers and Zandio(?) are going off the back of the Armstrong group, which is 2'51 behind Vino. But Vino has less than 3 km to the summit. Botero hasn't given up, and could well catch him on the descent into Brianšon.

It's now Hincapie, Savoldelli and Azevedo leading Armstrong, with Popovych also there. Rasmussen, Ullrich, Valverde are close behind.

16:24 CEST    131km/42km to go
Vino gets to 2 km to the summit, with 44 seconds on Botero and 2'51 on the Armstrong group.

16:25 CEST    132km/41km to go
Vino is now just 1 km away from taking the Souvenir Henri Desgranges, and with a very decent chance of winning the stage. He's really fighting now, and is keeping his 2'51 lead on the Armstrong group and 51 seconds over Botero.

16:26 CEST   
The Armstrong group has Savoldelli, Popovych, Azevedo, Hincapie, Basso, Ullrich, Evans, Landis, Mazzoleni, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Mancebo, Jaksche, Julich, Moreau, Sastre, Piepoli, and Valverde in it. Piepoli and Sastre are suffering though. Not far to go!

16:28 CEST    133km/40km to go
Vino is urged on by the crowds near the top of the Galibier. Incredible riding on the climb. It's dry at the top, but fairly cool.

Sastre gets some bidons from the CSC car, probably risking a time penalty too.

16:29 CEST    133km/40km to go
Vinokourov will take the maximum points on the climb and plenty cash too for the Souvenir Henri Desgranges. Botero will follow him as second over the top.

16:31 CEST    133km/40km to go
Vino gets cheered on all the way to the top by lunatic fans, who risk being run over by the L'Equipe moto. He will pocket €5000 for the first over.

Rasmussen has now attacked for third place.

16:32 CEST   
Botero comes over at 41 seconds, not giving up. Rasmussen will be next, as he has a nice little gap over the bunch.

16:33 CEST    134km/39km to go
If Rasmussen can descend faster than the group, he might even take the maillot jaune today - he started the day just 38 seconds behind, and he'd get an 8 second bonus for 3rd. That's a big if - Armstrong won't let the jersey go that easily.

16:34 CEST    136km/37km to go
Rasmussen is third over at 2'23, as Moreau sprints for the fourth place points at 2'40, closely followed by Azevedo and the rest of the Armstrong group.

Vino is now on the descent. Botero goes downhill a bit better than Vino, so he could catch him for the win.

Kl÷den's group with Rogers, Guerini, Zandio, and Kashechkin, comes over at 3'12.

16:35 CEST    138km/35km to go
Vino is taking the descent very gingerly, especially as the roads are a bit wet near the top. Botero is now 34 seconds behind.

16:38 CEST    140km/33km to go
Botero is just 17 seconds behind Vino, and should catch him soon.

Rasmussen has been caught by the Armstrong group. Valverde is off the back of it, but is chasing on now. The roads are dry.

16:39 CEST   
Boogerd comes over the Galibier at 7'22 in the company of Contador. Garzelli came over at about 5'00.

16:39 CEST   
Botero nears Vino's back wheel - he has done a great descent to peg back 40 seconds. Vino doesn't look really comfy.

16:41 CEST    143km/30km to go
They're together now at the Lautaret. Vino asks for help from the team car. He gets it - at very high speed. Botero also gets a bidon (bottle).

Four Discovery riders are towing Armstrong and his group.

16:42 CEST    145km/28km to go
The Rogers/Kloden/Guerini group has made it back to the Armstrong group, which trails Vino and Botero by 2'30.

16:44 CEST    148km/25km to go
Both leaders stand to gain some places on GC today, if they keep a 2'00-2'30 lead. Not really enough to threaten Armstrong.

Mourey and Rubiera are at the summit of the Galibier now, 12'30 behind the leaders. Rubiera actually stops to put newspaper down his jersey. He looks extremely knackered. Now Sevilla and Heras come up to join them.

Beltran is now over at 13'42, putting on his jacket.

16:46 CEST    149km/24km to go
Botero was a winner in Brianšon in 2000, so he could repeat today. But Vino also fancies himself as a bit of a sprinter, especially as he missed out in the first week.

Hincapie and Azevedo keep the tempo up on the descent.

16:47 CEST   
Iban Mayo is now at the summit of the Galibier in the company of Egoi Martinez...16'16 behind the leaders. That can't be good for his morale.

16:49 CEST    153km/20km to go
20 km to go and the two leaders, Santiago Botero and Alexandre Vinokourov, have a 2'25 gap over the 20-25 man Armstrong group, which will probably try to reduce the advantage over the final kilometres.

16:50 CEST   
We spoke to Joseba Beloki (who hasn't been spotted in front) today: "I feel tired, " he said. "Yesterday was a hard day for our team. We didn't perform well so I hope we will get better. We should have been able to stay with Ulle or with Basso, but we couldn't."

16:51 CEST    155.5km/17.5km to go
The bunch is now at the 20 km to go banner, streaking along 2 km behind the leaders.

16:52 CEST    156.5km/16.5km to go
Vino shakes his legs, probably suffering from a bit of cramp now as Botero drives the pace. Two pretty handy riders to have in a break, as they can both time trial.

Savoldelli is now leading Hincapie and the Discovery chase.

16:54 CEST    158km/15km to go
The lead pair are on the straight, downhill run into Brianšon. One of these two will win the stage, that's for sure. Vino has to hope that he has enough in the tank to get around Botero in the sprint, but the Colombian looks stronger now, even if he wasn't on the climb.

16:55 CEST   
Vino's timing transponder has come loose and is banging against the spokes a bit. That ain't going to help...

16:56 CEST   
The T-Mobile car snips the time transponder off, so Vino is now in Stealth Mode.

16:57 CEST    161km/12km to go
Hincapie pounds the pace on the front of the groupe maillot jaune with 12 km left, as the two leaders keep hold of their 2'10 lead. It's coming down slowly, but they should keep the best part of two minutes at the end.

16:58 CEST    163km/10km to go
Botero should be able to move himself up to 6th on GC as a result, as he takes the 6 seconds for the intermediate sprint at Moulin-Baron. Vino looks a bit better now that he's gotten rid of the noise in his back spokes.

16:59 CEST    165km/8km to go
A big group, but it might not be the main sprinters' bus, is now at the top of the Galibier, well over 20 minutes down.

The maillot jaune is now 1'52 behind Vino and Botero with less than 9 km to go.

17:01 CEST    166km/7km to go
It's a bit of a crosswind as the two leaders motor towards the finish, Vino still shaking his legs, which probably feel like jelly now. Does he have enough to outsprint Botero?

1'51...

17:02 CEST    167km/6km to go
Who will it be? Santi Botero, who has three Tour stage wins already, or Alexandre Vinokourov, who has one? We'll know in about 7 minutes.

17:03 CEST    168km/5km to go
Vinokourov is saving himself as much as possible, stretching on the bike, shaking his quads. Botero just hammers along.

17:05 CEST    170km/3km to go
Less than 4 km to go and the advantage of the lead pair is just 1'40. They fly through the streets of Brianšon at 60 km/h.

17:05 CEST    170.5km/2.5km to go
They reach three km to go and keep working. 1'35 to Armstrong and co. There won't be big GC gains today.

17:06 CEST    171km/2km to go
Botero now does a long turn - his turns have been longer than Vino's. But they're still cooperating well.

17:06 CEST    171.5km/1.5km to go
Vino swings off under 2 km to go and lets Botero do another turn, then he takes the lead again.

17:07 CEST    172km/1km to go
Final kilometre, and the two leaders are going all out for the stage win and GC time.

17:07 CEST   
Vino is on Botero's wheel as they reach 1 km to go.

17:07 CEST   
Botero looks back at Vino, who is not going to come through. No way.

17:08 CEST   
Botero slows a bit, but not too much. Vino gets ready to jump. 500m to go.

17:08 CEST   
They both get out of the saddle and watch each other. 300m.

17:08 CEST   
They sprint, with Vino jumping first and powering away from Botero for the stage win!! Finally! He does it! He is very, very happy. That was a genuine sprint between the pair, who both wanted the stage win badly.

17:10 CEST    173km/0km to go
Hincapie leads out Popovych and Armstrong for third, but it's Moreau who takes it from Julich, Mazzoleni, and Armstrong, who gets no bonus.

17:28 CEST   
Moreau's finishing bonus of 8 seconds will move him into third on GC, while Botero is now in 6th and Vino is up to 12th. No other real changes on GC in today's stage, which was ridden in a very defensive manner by the powerful Discovery team, which still had five riders in the group at the end.

Rasmussen still has a nice big lead in the mountains competition (over 70 points) with Moreau and Botero occupying the minor placings there. Boonen keeps green, despite being banged up again, and Valverde will keep the white jersey of best young rider.

That's all from us from stage 11. Please tune in tomorrow for Stage 12 between Brianšon and Digne-les-Bains.

Results

Provisional

1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team               4.47.38
2 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems              0.01
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                   1.15
4 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                          
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                  
6 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                          
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                   
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                                     
9 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                                       
10 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                   

General classification after stage 11

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                41.59.57
2 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                           0.38
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                    2.34
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                  2.40
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne    3.16
6 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems               3.47
7 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                         3.58
8 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne     4.00
9 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                            4.02
10 Andreas Kl÷den (Ger) T-Mobile Team                        4.16

 

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