92nd Tour de France - GT
France, July 2-24, 2005
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Stage 17 - Wednesday, July 20: Pau - Revel, 239.5 km
Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and
Live coverage starts: 11:10 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST
Stage 17 profile
Good morning and welcome to our live
coverage of the Tour's longest stage through the attract. No Pyrenean peaks
today, but instead a stage that combines distance with an apparent total absence
of any flat road at all; although there are only four listed climbs in minor
categories, they hardly stand out from the rest of the day's profile course.
This is going to hurt a lot of tired legs, and looks the sort of terrain where
a bunch of unthreatening riders go clear and don't get chased down too hard.
That said, the race for the green jersey at least is still very open and the
sprinters' teams will still be after what they can get.
on is winding down now and the race convoy will soon be leaving the centre of
Pau with the race neutralised for a few kilometres to the city limits.
Today's climbs are the Cat. 3 Cote
de Baleix (km 22.5), Cat. 4 Cote de Betbeze (km 88.5), Cat. 4 Cote de Capens
(km 159.5) and Cat. 3 Cote de Saint-Ferreol (km 232.5). The latter could provide
the springboard for a winning attack.
Today's intermediate sprints
are at Rabastens-de-Bigorre (km 44.5km) and Gardouch (km 198).
11:43 CEST 7km/232.5km to go
The flag has now
gone down, with the first vain attempt to break away coming from Antony Geslin
(Bouygues) and Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R). No dice, though.
It's a fine,
sunny day, warm but not hot, practically windless. Nice day for a little ride
in pleasant countryside, really. Such a nice day that there are no non-starters,
with yesterday's crash victim Andreas Klöden turning out with his wrist in plaster
using a specially gear-change-friendly design.
12:05 CEST 22km/217.5km to go
The pace is pretty
brisk and there have been a whole series of attacks but none have succeeded
in getting more than a few metres clear of the bunch so far.
the pain of riding with a broken wrist is too much for Andreas Klöden and he
has just climbed into the T-Mobile team car; he managed to ride most of yesterday's
stage with it anaesthetised by the initial shock and the adrenalin from the
race, but crash injuries mostly hurt more the next day than they did when you
After the short but sharp third cat climb at Baleix (the
four spotty jersey points going to Bobby Julich) an attack finally goes clear,
and it is Pierrick Fedrigo going on the attack.
12:34 CEST 43km/196.5km to go
Fedrigo has been joined first by Kurt-Asle Arvesen and then by Erik Dekker and
Carlos Da Cruz. They hovered off the front of the peloton for a while and now
a larger group has formed around them and gone clear. So we now have Jose Luis
Rubiera and Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel), Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile Team),
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC), Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros-Würth),
Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole), Dario Cioni (Liquigas-Bianchi), Stéphane
Augé (Cofidis), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step), Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom),
Daniele Righi (Lampre-Caffita), Carlos Da Cruz and Thomas Lövkvist (Française
Des Jeux), Andrei Grivko (Domina Vacanze) and Samuel Dumoulin and Simon Gerrans
(Ag2r-Prevoyance) away, and their lead is increasing briskly towards two minutes.
This looks to the moderately informed eye like la belle, the good breakaway
for the day.
12:44 CEST 55km/184.5km to go
Not for the first
time in this Tour, Carlos Da Cruz took a bonus sprint, the first of the day
at Rabastens-de-Bigorre. The lead is now out to over three minutes, with an
average speed over the first hour of the race of 47.6 kph; the bunch seem content
to see this one go. The best placed of the riders away is Oscar Sevilla, who
is more than half an hour down on Armstrong, and no major contenders for the
other jerseys are involved either.
Chris Brewer, from Behind the Blue
Curtain, has checked in with his pre-stage reportage:
I spoke with
Discovery Channel Asst DS Dirk Demol before the start. "Today's all about staying
safe, it's a long day today for sure. We'd of course like to see an escape go
down the road like yesterday, but we have to be very aware of who's in the break
and control the race until it works out. And if it's a very big group we have
to have somebody in it as well so the other teams will work. [that seems to
be the case now with two Discovery riders in the break]
him if the team was aware of that Phonak had publicly criticized George Hincapie's
win atop Pla d'Adet - in a word, yes. "Why would they criticize George? When
you have a teammate who is leading the race behind you, why would you work?
Nobody would... Pereiro had lots of chances to drop George but he didn't. I
was behind George all day and I can tell you he was the strongest and he won
13:12 CEST 67km/172.5km to go
The break are still
pulling away, with the lead now over 8 minutes over a bunch who mostly seem
to have other things on their minds. The most notable absentees from the break
are Davitamon-Lotto, who are probably the only team who will be bothered to
chase the break down unless its lead reaches absurd proportions. We spoke to
their workhorse Johan Van Summeren this morning: "I'm feeling alright. Starting
to be tired but I guess that's normal. Most riders have that problem. Will you
be on the front today? "It's going to be difficult today. It's not completely
flat and there are just too many kilometres to ride with one team only. We can
ride only with four guys and that's not enough to chase a breakaway." Is it
mentally hard doing that all the time? "Oh no. When you see Robbie throwing
his hands in the air afterwards then it's no problem. But if you have to do
it every day for nothing, then I think it's more difficult."
13:25 CEST 75km/164.5km to go
The lead has settled
down a bit now, falling back under 8 minutes for a few kilometres before starting
to climb again; Lotto and Gerolsteiner are doing their bit behind.
If this break stays away and stays together, the best sprinter on the block
is clearly Allan Davis, but he has no team-mates for support and is likely to
need to respond to a lot of attacks. Otherwise the stand-out rider for this
sort of stage is Erik Dekker, who has won here in Revel before, the second of
his hat-trick of stage wins in the 2000 Tour.
The leaders are now approaching the
second of the day's official climbs at Betbèze, but really it's barely any bigger
than the other climbs in the endless succession of ups and downs we have today.
The lead is up to nine minutes now.
13:40 CEST 88km/151.5km to go
The sawtooth profile
of this section of the stage is taking its toll, as evidenced in an average
speed for the second hour of "only" just over 36 kph despite which the break
are still pulling away.
For the record and not much else,
it is Andrei Grivko who takes the mountains points on the 2.2 km Betbèze climb
ahead of Dumoulin and Righi.
13:54 CEST 100km/139.5km to go
The bunch climb
the cat 4 climb more than ten minutes down on the breakaways with Discovery
riders at its head, although with Rubiera and Savoldelli in the break they won't
be putting too much effort into the chase.
14:14 CEST 113km/126.5km to go
The gap is up
to 12 minutes now, as the break enjoys some more freedom from the peloton.
14:27 CEST 120km/119.5km to go
We're just past
half distance now, and this middle 50km of the stage is a bit less lumpy than
the preceding couple of hours, so the pace has picked up a bit again. The gap
is steady at 12.20 with all 17 breakaway riders working together.
14:37 CEST 128km/111.5km to go
It is still a
rather uninterested (and indeed largely disinterested) Discovery Channel team
who are heading the bunch, with Armstrong in sixth wheel, and Basso and Rasmussen
close behind him. They have now let the break out to over fifteen minutes ahead.
14:49 CEST 134.5km/105km to go
leaders take the feed with over sixteen minutes lead (Arvesen actually dropped
his musette and stopped to pick it up); it doesn't look like it's going to come
back now. That would still leave a few points for the sprinters to fight over,
but otherwise they will only be in the hunt for a few bonus sprints and the
win on the Champs Elysées in this Tour.
14:59 CEST 144km/95.5km to go
goat George Hincapie leads the chase; the gap has dipped slightly but that is
probably because the break are eating and the bunch hasn't got up to the feed
yet, rather than the determination of the chase. T-Mobile are passing around
a piece of paper with some air of amusement - probably next season's contract...
15:08 CEST 148km/91.5km to go
The peloton are
something like 12 km back down the road from the break, and passing through
the feed zone as the leaders go back to a steady rhythm; their body language
shows that they are clearly a lot more interested than anyone behind.
15:20 CEST 158.5km/81km to go
upped the pace of the bunch a fraction, but there seems very little doubt now
that the stage winner will come from the seventeen riders up the road and the
lead has just nudged over 20 minutes now.
The leaders are now onto
the 4th-cat climb at Capens that marks the end of the flatter 50 km section
that I mentioned above. They are still working steadily together, no fireworks.
15:23 CEST 159.5km/80km to go
Once again it is
Andriy Grivko who jumps clear to pick up the prime money at the top of the climb;
a few more euros in the kitty.
15:37 CEST 169.5km/70km to go
The bunch has gone
into early holiday mode, with Hincapie and Armstrong joking with the TV cameras.
The lead is still stretching - at this rate Sevilla will be getting a sniff
at a top ten place, although T-Mobile are likely to be the losers today - their
team classification lead is under threat as they have only Sevilla in the break
against Rubiera and Savoldelli, and the break has made up the 19 minutes deficit
that Discovery had on them.
With the climb and descent in the last
few kilometres today, master descender Paolo Savoldelli could also be a prime
candidate could for the stage today, as well...
15:45 CEST 173.5km/66km to go
With the bunch
on the climb, Salvatore Commesso is sporting sleeves rolled up for that macho
look, as the temperature rises under clear blue skies. The bunch look quite
frankly bored, and the lead is up over 22 minutes; at this rate Discovery will
need to start worrying about Sevilla's lead soon. Well, probably not, but it
would make a diverting change.
15:51 CEST 177.5km/62km to go
On the descent
after the 4th-cat climb (where the bunch had an impromptu cavalry escort for
a while) Stuart O'Grady comes up to the front for a word with Armstrong, who
is momentarily right at the front.
Sevilla looks to be taking it
easy in the break now, presumably with an eye to preventing the Discovery team
classification advantage from getting too big.
16:03 CEST 185.5km/54km to go
With the lead now
up to 24 minutes and still no sign of a reaction behind, the matter of the time
limit for the stage arises. At the current speed it looks as though the limit
will be 8% of the winner's time, which should be around half an hour. Although
the main bunch will be exempted should they come in outside the limit, it does
mean that it could be very unfortunate for any rider who gets dropped from it
in the closing stages.
Crédit Agricole have now moved to the front
of the bunch, presumably to protect Moreau from Sevilla's advance up the placings.
Hushovd will want some help over the last climb, though, with points still to
be won and lost at the finish even for 18th place.
To clarify, the team classification
is based on the aggregate times of the first three of a team's riders on each
stage, so at the moment Discovery's time for the day would be 2x the time of
the break plus 1 x the time of the bunch, while T-Mobile would count their one
man in the break and two from the bunch, so the difference here is the same
as 1x the advantage of the break. Which has just fallen below 24 minutes as
Dekker attacks out of the break and Bram Tankink goes with
him. there is some confusion behind - it's a bit early for this, maybe.
Grivko is trying to get across to
the two Dutch riders while behind there is a bit too much waiting for other
riders to take up the chase.
Landaluze has been dropped from the
bunch, with signs of a crash.
Gerrans is up with Grivko
16:18 CEST 198km/41.5km to go
After a series
of counter-attacks and bridging moves, it's now settled down with the break
splitting into two separate groups, the front eight are Andrei Grivko (Domina
Vacanze), Simon Gerrans (Ag2r), Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile Team), Paolo Savoldelli
(Discovery Channel), Daniele Righi (Lampre-Caffita), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step),
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC), Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole); they steam
though the day's second bonus sprint at Gardouch. With both FDJ riders missing
the split, it looks like they have to chase.
16:22 CEST 201.5km/38km to go
The front group
are working well together and have picked up half a minute already on the less
organised chasers. Savoldelli, Grivko and Sevilla look particularly strong.
Behind them the bunch have closed fractionally to 23.10.
The chasers have got their act together
now, with Dumoulin and Rubiera sitting on the back because of their team-mates
in front. The gap is up to 40 seconds with both groups riding hard, while the
big gap back to the bunch is now shrinking slightly.
16:33 CEST 208.5km/31km to go
The eight leaders
are still pulling clear of the nine who missed the cut, nearly a minute now.
The sprint was taken by Gerrans, by the way, although mainly just because he
happened to be doing a pull on the front at the time. They're working steadily,
moving up on the right and dropping back on the left; there's a bit of a breeze
coming from the riders' left.
Landaluze has made it back to the bunch,
which is being towed along by Laszlo Bodrogi.
Grivko takes a long pull on the front;
he is making himself a marked man here.
The bunch are lined out now,
but with the stop-start stuff disposed with for the moment ahead, the 8 leaders
are now back up to 23.21 ahead of the break. The second group look a bit resigned
to not getting back.
16:43 CEST 215.5km/24km to go
The leading octet
are now approaching the 20 km banner which marks the last point that they can
receive food and drink from their team cars, so they are taking it in turns
to collect a bottle or two. The terrain is still rolling, largely wooded; the
bunch are still a province or two behind.
The truce continues, but the leaders
are still going quickly enough to pull away from their 9 chasers.
A level crossing starts to close on the tail of the bunch, but the riders all
seem to have made it through, although all the team cars are stuck behind it.
Hope nobody punctures in the bunch...
16:55 CEST 225.5km/14km to go
Mario Kummer was
just interviewed on German TV about what T-Mobile would do to defend their team
classification lead. His answer: nothing. They are not in a position to do anything
about it - Klöden is out, Kessler and Steinhauser are
not feeling well,
they simply don't have the manpower for it.
The train passes the
crossing (where the barriers nearly beheaded Janek Tombak) and the team cars
and commissaires are now speeding up the road to get back with the bunch.
The front group are still working together, all coming through to take turns
on the front, as they drop into Revel; the course does a 12 km loop over the
final climb of the day to come back to the finish here.
are, the above notwithstanding, now working on the front of the bunch; if they
can pull the second group back by a few minutes they can save their team position.
16:58 CEST 227.5km/12km to go
The break should
be able to make it around this loop before the bunch get here for the first
time; they don't actually pass through the finish area twice, though, so they
won't be lapped as such.
16:58 CEST 229.5km/10km to go
The break should
be able to make it around this loop before the bunch get here for the first
time; they don't actually pass through the finish area twice, though, so they
won't be lapped as such.
17:01 CEST 231.5km/8km to go
And the first attacker
on this closing section is Bram Tankink, and again there is far too much looking
at each other behind him
Grivko tries to chase but Tankink is clear
on the lower slopes of the 3rd-cat climb.
Sébastien Hinault goes straight by
Grivko and then up to and past Tankink. Then it's Savoldelli's turn and he is
up and past Hinault, who latches on his wheel.
17:04 CEST 232.5km/7km to go
and Arvesen are next behind Hinault and Savoldelli; the Giro winner goes over
the top of the climb ahead of the Frenchman with a few seconds advantage.
Hinault is not working, just hanging
on Savoldelli who is know in full flight on the descent, his favourite terrain.
Gerrans is hanging on to Arvesen with difficulty, and Grivko is dropped.
17:07 CEST 235.5km/4km to go
Hinault is coming
through now - despite being clearly pretty stuffed - but Arvesen and Gerrans
are only a handful of seconds behind.
17:09 CEST 236.5km/3km to go
Savoldelli and Hinault
are watching one another but working, while Arvesen has some trouble getting
Gerrans to come through. He does, and the four come together.
jumps clear as they come together though...
Back together again, and it's cat
and mouse now, We are off the descent onto flat road running onto the finish
Gerrans counters, Savoldelli sits
on him then jumps under the flamme rouge
Savoldelli is towing Hinault back;
Gerrans is cooked
Savoldelli has the legs and drops
Hinault, but he has a long way to go to get up to Arvesen on the finishing straight,
the Norwegian going flat out. But Savoldelli has grand tour winner's legs, and
he can just close Arvesen down in the closing 30 metres, and he takes Discovery's
third stage win of this Tour. Gerrans gets past the shattered Hinault for third;
Grivko and Sevilla come in alone in fifth and sixth, and then the remnants of
the seventeen who were away all day all come in in ones and twos
The last time check for the main
field was 24 minutes; they're not going too fast but there is a group of 20
off the back as they come into Revel for the first time. T-Mobile are setting
the pace still.
A crash at the back under the 10
km banner - Mancebo is down, along with Tombak and Matt White.
On the climb it's Vinokourov setting
the pace in his celeste Kazakh champion's jersey., with Armstrong well up behind
It was not Mancebo who fell, but Arroyo; he is up but hurting
and in danger or elimination.
Ullrich goes with Armstrong on his
wheel, then Rasmussen and Popovych. Leipheimer is having trouble getting across,
but is helped when Basso comes up. Landis is missing from this little all-star
break that has a significant-looking gap, possibly caused by that crash.
Vinokourov and Mazzoleni are also
up with Armstrong and Ullrich et al, but Phonak are chasing hard for Landis,
enough seconds behind to maybe move the Kazakh a couple of places on GC..
Evans and Moreau are also dropped;
the Armstrong group is now at 5 km to go on the descent.
Vinokourov comes up to take a long
pull, but now it's mostly Hincapie and Popovych pulling them along. 2 km to
go, 20 seconds back to Landis.
We had anticipated action from the
green jersey contenders; O'Grady and Hushovd are back with Evans and Landis,
but not likely to be up in the remaining 8 places that have points on offer.
Armstrong leads his group into the finishing straight and Popovych leads the
group of favourites in, 20 minutes and a bit behind Savoldelli; Moreau finishes
alone and then Hushovd and O'Grady have a go at the front as their group comes
in but it is academic because they are out of the points. They are 17 seconds
down on the Armstrong group and Vinokourov has picked up more than the 9 seconds
he needed to leapfrog Evans and Landis.
More riders are coming in
in groups up to five or six minutes further back. According to our calculations
the elimination time on this stage will be 30.43, which may be touch and go
for some, although riders involved in the late crash may be allowed a greater
margin; the bulk of the field has made it inside that with no problem, however.
Thanks for following us here on cyclingnews.com; we'll be back tomorrow to bring
you the interesting-looking stage across the bottom of the Massif Central to
Mende with a vicious little summit finish that could still upset a few apples
in this seemingly fairly stable cart.
1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 5.41.19
2 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r-Prevoyance 0.08
4 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole 0.11
5 Andrei Grivko (Ukr) Domina Vacanze 0.24
6 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile Team 0.51
7 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick.Step
8 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 0.53
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance 3.14
10 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth
11 Pierrick Fédrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
12 Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
13 Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) Discovery Channel
14 Carlos Da Cruz (Fra) Française Des Jeux 4.09
15 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank
16 Stéphane Augé (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone
17 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux
18 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 22.28
19 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team
20 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
General classification after stage 17
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 72.55.50
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 2.46
3 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 3.09
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5.58
5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 6.31
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 7.35
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 9.38
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 9.49
9 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 9.53
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 12.07
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