92nd Tour de France - GT
France, July 2-24, 2005
Results & report
Stage 13 - Friday, July 15: Miramas - Montpellier, 173.5 km
Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and
Live coverage starts: 13:20 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST
Stage 13 profile
Good morning and welcome to stage
13, a relatively short transitional stage across the plains of Provence from
Miramas to Montpellier. Today will in all probability be one for the sprinters,
with perhaps a chance for a breakaway group if the sprinters' teams let them
get away. And it's going to be a hot one, with blazing sunshine and temperatures
already hitting 30°C and likely to be going up a few more yet.
The riders are now rolling out on the neutralised section to the official start.
Although there was some doubt about 5th-placed Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears)
who was suffering from a sore knee, he will indeed be starting.
13:42 CEST 10km/163.5km to go
And the pace is
a lively one with attacks going as soon as the flag drops, although none went
very far until Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) and Manuel Quinziato (Saunier Duval)
went clear at the second kilometre; they too have been caught again since then,
however and the bunch is all together.
Some patches of melting tar
are reported along the route, with the local authorities spraying water on the
roads ahead of the race to cool them down.
14:03 CEST 25km/148.5km to go
And now we do have
a proper breakaway, initiated by Carlos Da Cruz at km 15 and followed up by
a few of the usual suspects: Thomas Voeckler (who just took the day's bonus
sprint), Chris Horner, Ludovic Turpin and Juan Antonio Flecha.
quintet are now approaching the day's only listed climb, the Col de la Vayčde
- just a kilometre of 6%, nothing to get seriously worked up about.
Behind the Blue Curtain reporter
Chris Brewer has checked with his pre-stage report:
I spoke with
assistant Discovery Channel director Dirk Demol about the day ahead. "It should
be a day to recover. We have some pretty hard stages to come and it should be
pretty hot for the next couple of days. But we know this is the last chance
for many riders to get a stage win - some simply won't make it over the mountains.
As long as it's nobody dangerous we hope a not-too-big break goes down the road."
Medical update: Manuel Beltran had to stay in the hospital for a 24 hour observation
for a concussion but will then return home. He's fine, but after crashing and
wrecking his helmet he still wanted to continue racing, but had no memory whatsoever
of going down after touching wheels with another rider.
14:11 CEST 29km/144.5km to go
Chris Horner crests
the rise first, moving him up to something like equal 51st in the spotty jersey
competition,. ahead of Da Cruz and Turpin; probably not going to be a major
threat to Michael Rasmussen, but it's cash in the bank all the same.
14:20 CEST 40km/133.5km to go
The peloton are
still happy to let the breakaway go as the race heads down to cross the Rhone
at Tarascon - it simplifies matters, not least for the sprinters' teams who
will not have to faff about with the bonus sprints - and the gap has now crossed
the five minute mark; Chris Horner is the best placed rider, 29th on GC at a
mere 15.22 behind Lance Armstrong, so I guess that we may see Discovery chasing
if things get too out of hand.
Indeed, we had a word with Robbie
McEwen this morning on how the stage was likely to develop: "We've got four
guys that could ride, but they're also very, very tired. I don't expect Cofidis
and Credit Agricole to help in any sort of chase. All the other teams will be
sending riders up the road, trying to get in a breakaway. It's a normal scenario
at the end of the second week of the Tour. It just doesn't stay together."
14:37 CEST 48km/125.5km to go
After the gap opened
to more nine minutes clear as they raced through the Côte de Rhône
vineyards west of Beaucaire, Discovery Channel have indeed picked the pace up
a bit, and the lead is back down to just over 8 minutes.
scalp we collected in the village-départ this morning was Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis),
whom we drilled for info on the green jersey battle. "I think it's going to
be a hard competition. The Pyrenees are going to be very hot and very hard,
and there's a lot of very tired guys out there. I think it's going to be the
best of us (Hushovd, McEwen, O'Grady) that passes the mountains that takes the
jersey." Will it be a fight all the way to Paris? "It's possible, because what's
going to happen is that the three of us will try to neutralise each other out
of the race. A lot more is going to be played out in the hard stages of the
15:02 CEST 73km/100.5km to go
Lotto - mainly
in the persons of Johan Van Summeren and Wilfried Cretskens - is now helping
with the chase, and the gap is now falling back to six and a half minutes.
The wind today is a breeze coming off the sea, a cross-tail wind from the riders'
left, which is keeping the pace high. Alejandro Valverde was just at the tail
of the bunch, possibly following a visit to the race doctor to check on his
15:11 CEST 83km/90.5km to go
At the feed at Uzčs
Alejandro Valverde has dropped off the back of the bunch, waved his team-mates
away and looks as though he is trying to find his team car, which would be a
sad end to a promising looking race.
Valverde has indeed just stopped
and climbed into his team car. A massive disappointment for him and for us.
He is obviously very distressed.
15:18 CEST 87.5km/86km to go
The race goes on.
The main bunch is now lined out behind the Davitamon-Lotto chasers and the gap
is continuing to diminish; at this rate they will not be staying away to the
15:26 CEST 93km/80.5km to go
Hanging on the back
of the bunch now is yesterday's winner David Moncoutié, who will certainly be
taking it steady today after yesterday's efforts. Ahead Lotto now has a four-rider
train setting the pace for the bunch with help from Lampre.
Thomas Voeckler is talking to his team car and collecting bottles, a major preoccupation
15:39 CEST 102km/71.5km to go
The day's second
bonus "sprint" - rolled through with no change in the rhythm of the break -
was taken by Juan Antonio Flecha, a matter of purely academic interest.
15:50 CEST 106.5km/67km to go
Voeckler gets another
couple of bottles, which may give you some idea what the race's water consumption
is going to be like today. Behind them the pace has eased up fractionally and
the bunch is massed more than lined out, with a bit of an echelon to the left
in the front rank; they're not going to want to catch the break too early, for
fear that another will develop - Davitamon-Lotto and Lampre certainly seem to
have things well under control, though.
Lance Armstrong, for the record,
is riding comfortably on Benjamin Noval's wheel, with a bunch of Discovery vests
clustered behind the Lampre and Davitamon riders who are doing the lion's share
of the work. The other sprinters' teams seem to be keeping a low profile still,
The lead is down below three minutes now, and the break certainly
seems to be doomed.
16:12 CEST 123.5km/50km to go
On wide and open
roads through olive groves the bunch is once more lined out, in the right-hand
gutter on the most exposed sections, so there is a small danger that echelons
may form, splitting the bunch.
We can assume that McEwen is feeling
pretty good today, because he's certainly making his team work like dogs; I
would be a bit concerned that he may be short of support at the end of the stage
where other teams will be fresher. But then again, that may be why I'm a journalist
and not a team manager.
16:19 CEST 129.5km/44km to go
Horner is taking
some big turns on the front of the break; he's probably now going to be faced
with a tough few kilometres of hanging on after they get caught if he is not
to drop out of his fairly creditable GC position (and a long day on the attack
is not ideal preparation for the Pyrenees either). The lead is under 2 minutes,
but the bunch are perhaps easing up to avoid catching them too early now.
16:24 CEST 135.5km/38km to go
All the remaining
GC contenders are riding well up in the bunch, while Johan Van Summeren takes
yet another long turn.
16:30 CEST 138.5km/35km to go
The bunch are accompanied
by a rider on a grey horse for a few hundred metres, a reminder that we have
been passing fairly close to the Camargue here. The bunch is lined out again
and it takes a full gallop to keep up.
They're reining in the break
as well, gap hovering just over a minute.
16:36 CEST 143.5km/30km to go
Voeckler is collecting
bottles again. (Lots of other riders are doing so too, naturally). We're close
to many holiday areas and there have basically been spectators scattered along
the whole course; there are very few bits of road without at least a roadside
picnic or two going on.
The finish today is a bit tricky, with the
final kilometre a bit on the twisty side, so this could be one of the less well
organised bunch sprints today.
On the straightest bits of road the
break can now be seen by the bunch - game over, really.
Chris Brewer, from Behind the Blue
Curtain, reports that "We just drove the final 7 km and aside from the heat
it's not a very technical finish at all. With 7km to go the peloton has a wide
highway to work with that eventually funnels down with 2km to go to the traditional
more narrow 2-lane barriered finale. At 6500m there is a traffic island but
hopefully that won't come into play and the pack should split around it.
"With about 650m left there is a left had turn but it's more sweeping than painfully
sharp and then with 200m to go there is a gentle sweep to the left before the
final drive to the line. Non-technical and fast, fast, that's the way it is."
16:42 CEST 148.5km/25km to go
This will be the
26th time that a tour stage finishes here, with the last time 11 years ago when
Rolf Sörenson took the honours (on a day that Lance Armstrong was one of many
who packed in suffocating heat, if I remember correctly).
is indeed being held steady now, at around 50 seconds. Of course, that also
gives other teams a chance to organise themselves for the sprint.
16:48 CEST 151.5km/22km to go
Carlos Da Cruz
jumps clear of the break, but Horner leads the chase back to him.
Servais Knaven jumps clear of the bunch and has a gap. Too good a rider to let
go clear at this stage...
16:51 CEST 155.5km/18km to go
rider Knaven is still trying to get across the gap as the race turns down the
umpteenth long, tree-lined road , but the bunch are unsurprisingly not letting
him get too far out of sight; he is caught again now.
16:55 CEST 157.5km/16km to go
have a cunning plan here as they send another rider away; the rhythm of the
Lotto chase has now broken up but that attack is quickly swamped; Armstrong
is very prominently staying up near the front as well.
(Lampre) has a go; no luck there either.
16:57 CEST 158.5km/15km to go
The cars have now
all been pulled out of the gap behind the breakaway. Discovery Channel are now
taking up the chase, more to try and keep the pace steady than to win the stage.
Chavanel attacks out of the bunch.
Chavanel doesn't look like he's going
anywhere; he's struggling to find a comfortable position and the pace is hotting
up behind him.
He makes it across to the breakaway and goes straight
through. They jump to get on his wheel.
17:01 CEST 162.5km/11km to go
Chavanel sits up
when he realises he's not going clear. Voeckler tries to jump away, but no joy.
After his quick rest at the back of the group Chavanel jumps again and this
time gets clear.
17:03 CEST 163.5km/10km to go
Horner gets with
Chavanel, while The remainder of the break are getting caught; it's still Discovery
keeping the pace high at the front of the bunch. They have a quarter of a minute
but it's a long way to hold that sort of a gap.
Salvatore Commesso is trying to get
across to the two leaders now in company with Andriy Grivko. They haven't actually
caught the other four breakaways - Da Cruz, Horner, Flecha and Voeckler - yet,
but they are not making any impression on the two in front.
Grivko and Commesso catch the quartet
but the bunch are hot on their heels now. Grivko tries to jump clear but they
are on his wheel, and then the peloton swallows them all up, with Liquigas on
Chavanel and Horner are hanging on for grim death in front,
though, with a 25 second gap.
17:08 CEST 168.5km/5km to go
Now it's Philippe
Gilbert for FDJ leading the bunch out - they have two sprinters still in there
and have been taking it steady all day by virtue of having a man in the break.
Ronny Scholz takes the front for
Gerolsteiner, with George Hincapie on his wheel and Armstrong himself behind
him and Ullrich and Vinokourov not far back either. Horner is leading from Chavanel
but their advantage is dwindling. 14 seconds.
17:12 CEST 171.5km/2km to go
Telekom are on the
front now but no team are really getting a big train together yet. The gap is
8 seconds, not enough.
17:13 CEST 172.5km/1km to go
Liquigas set a train
going, but under the flamme rouge the two leaders still have 8 seconds and Chavanel
is leading out - they can't mess about...
It's a few metres too far for Chavanel
and Horner, and around the last corner Fred Rodriguez leads McEwen out and the
Australian takes the stage with Stuart O'Grady coming up fast but not fast enough;
he makes a gesture of protest about McEwen's line but there was nothing to complain
about really. Not clear whether O'Grady or Rodriguez took second yet.
It was O'Grady in second spot, while green jersey Thor Hushovd could only get
fifth; he keeps the jersey but with a diminished advantage. The sprint was timed
at 74.6 kph! No change on general classification apart from the disappearance
of the unfortunate Valverde in fifth, who also thus leaves the white jersey
of Yaroslav Popovych.
McEwen rightly praises his team for a good piece
of work in giving him his third stage win. But tomorrow they will be back to
hanging on in there as we return to the mountains with a summit finish at Ax-les-Trois-Domaines.
So thanks for following the stage with us at cyclingnews and do join us tomorrow
for an earlier start, 10.45 CEST, to see what the Pyrenees bring us.
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 3.43.14 (46.632 km/h)
2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone
3 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
4 Guido Trenti (USA) Quick.Step
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
6 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
7 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas-Bianchi
9 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
10 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir
General classification after stage 13
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 50.13.50 (43.884 km/h)
2 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 0.38
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 2.34
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 2.40
5 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems 3.48
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 3.58
7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 4.00
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.02
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.16
10 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
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