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92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

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Stage 9 - Sunday, July 10: Gérardmer - Mulhouse, 171 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and Anthony Tan

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 12:08 CEST
Estimated finish: 16:30 CEST

Stage 9 profile
Click for stage map

12:13 CEST    1km/170km to go
Welcome to Cyclingnews for our live coverage of Stage 9 of the Tour de France, a fairly lumpy 171 km between Gérardmer and Mulhouse. Today's stage could be an interesting one, even if the final climb is 55 km from the finish. It depends on how the GC riders and teams have recovered from yesterday.

The climbs on offer today: Col de Grosse Pierre (Cat. 3, km 6.5), Col des Feignes (Cat. 3, km 22), Col de Bramont (Cat. 3, km 32.5), Le Grand Ballon (Cat. 2, km 64), Col de Bussang (Cat. 3, km 98), and Le Ballon d'Alsace (Cat. 1, km 115). The latter is 9.1 km at 6.8%, and is a bit harder than yesterday's Col de la Schlucht.

There are also three intermediate sprints, at Husseren-Wesserling (km 87.5), Oberbruck (km 131), and Sentheim (km 143).

The weather today: sunny at the start, but with the chance of thunderstorms later.

After a short neutral zone, they're off and racing!

12:15 CEST   
All 180 riders started today, and at the moment the peloton is riding as one block on the first climb, the Col de Grosse Pierre. Polka dot wearer Michael Rasmussen is well placed in the front row. There are a lot of CSC, Saunier Duval, and Credit Agricole riders in front.

At the back, Juan Antonio Flecha is changing his jersey.

12:18 CEST    4km/167km to go
The first attack comes from a Domina Vacanze rider Andriy Grivko -who takes advantage of a slight downhill before starting the climb proper.

A crash at the back! Eisel is down, and two Liberty riders. Contador is one, he gets up and looks for his teammate Gonzalez de Galdeano, who is lying in the gutter.

Now Jens Voigt goes on the attack with Rasmussen on his wheel. They catch and drop Grivko.

12:20 CEST   
Moreau and Garate are up there, and a few more riders are coming across, including Botero. Rasmussen counters hard and Voigt leads Moreau up behind him. Botero is still there with them, and a Euskaltel rider.

12:22 CEST    5km/166km to go
Rasmussen now has a clear lead on a group of 20 or so riders with Voigt and Botero in it. Cioni is there, as is Moreau, Boogerd, Martinez...the peloton is at about 10 seconds.

Zabriskie, Kirsipuu, and Furlan are already dropped off the back of the peloton.

12:23 CEST   
McEwen has also been shelled as Armstrong makes it to the chasing group behind Rasmussen. This group is now essentially the peloton. Rasmussen has 16 seconds.

12:25 CEST    6.5km/164.5km to go
Rasmussen takes 4 points at the top of the climb, as Botero makes a move for second place. Boogerd marks him and takes third ahead of Caucchioli(?)

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has to abandon, in all probability. He looks to have damaged his lower back in that crash.

12:28 CEST    11km/160km to go
Three T-Mobile riders have stopped on the descent, waiting a long time for Ullrich, who must have had a mechanical. 45 seconds, but Ullrich is now chasing back on with Sevilla, Kessler, and Steinhauser.

Rasmussen is flying in front of the race.

Zabriskie has abandoned.

12:30 CEST    13km/158km to go
Dario Cioni has counter attack in pursuit of Rasmussen. The Liquigas rider is about 20 seconds behind.

The peloton has slowed down, perhaps waiting for Ullrich to get back on. He crashed, as he has scrapes on his arm and leg. Looks like he punctured his front wheel. That never helps on a descent...

12:31 CEST   
Rasmussen and Cioni are now together after 13 km.

12:31 CEST    14km/157km to go
The peloton is 58 seconds behind the two leaders as Ullrich collects a few more teammates and finds his way back onto the peloton.

12:33 CEST    15km/156km to go
Ullrich gets on at the foot of the Col des Feignes, a 9.0 km climb at 2.9 %, rated as Cat. 3. Armstrong is on the front of the peloton, which has definitely waited for Ullrich.

12:35 CEST   
Inside Discovery diarist Chris Brewer reports that, "While the mood around the Discovery Channel dinner table last night was admittedly not as upbeat as in days past, no heads are hung and the team is still relaxed and focused - game faces are definitely on. Dirk Demol says DC's game plan is similar to yesterday - mark the GC hopefuls but if the right break goes down the road they probably won't aggressively defend."

Contador has made it back to the peloton. His teammate Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano was caught up in an earlier crash and has definitely abandoned.

Armstrong, Hincapie and Moos sit on the front of the bunch at a cruisy pace, giving the two leaders 1'50.

Ullrich crashed on the descent, but not as a result of a puncture.

12:37 CEST   
In his online diary on www.feltet.dk/michaelrasmussen, Michael Rasmussen said that he would try to get additional points for the mountains competition. "It is OK if people know already that I am going for the jersey. Now, there are no more secrets, and hopefully the jersey won't shift owner again. Hopefully I enjoy that much respect that it takes some of the will to attack from the rivals. Tomorrow (today) will be really important. If I can add further to the gap, I believe that most of the rivals to the jersey will draw in their horns. It doesn't mean that I am solely going after the jersey. I really would like to win a stage wearing the jersey."

12:40 CEST    16km/155km to go
There's a bit of a rearguard action from Philippe Gilbert (FDJ), Moos, Voigt, Caucchioli, Quinziato, and four others who have gone in pursuit of Rasmussen and Cioni. A Discovery rider attacks in pursuit of the group.

12:42 CEST    19km/152km to go
The chase group is growing, as Voigt drives it alone. It's 2'40 behind the two leaders Cioni and Rasmussen.

Kirsipuu is not looking very good at the back of the race.

12:43 CEST    20km/151km to go
The peloton has come back to the chasers as they get to 3 km from the summit of this second climb. But the attacks continue, with Voigt and Moos always up there.

Furlan is dropped.

12:44 CEST   
Voigt, Moreau, Moos and an Illes Balears rider are trying to get clear, as a Liberty rider joins them - Angel Vicioso. They have a nice gap to the peloton.

12:46 CEST   
Voeckler is towards the back of the peloton with Zanini. Probably not a good place to be in at the moment. Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) is last wheel.

12:47 CEST    22km/149km to go
The chasers are six: Voigt (CSC), Moos (Phonak), Moreau (CA), Vicioso (Liberty), Zandio (Illes Balears), Landaluze (Euskaltel). They are 2'13 behind Cioni and Rasmussen, who are at the summit of the climb. Rasmussen takes another four points with Cioni on his wheel.

Michael Rich gets a front wheel change.

12:48 CEST   
Voigt is obviously the best placed of the chase group, 1'00 behind Armstrong on GC. He hasn't been allowed to go yet. He and Moreau are doing most of the work, as Landaluze now comes through for a turn. Zandio is suffering.

12:50 CEST    24km/147km to go
Moreau drives it hard to the summit and takes third ahead of Zandio and Voigt. Moos, Landaluze, and Vicioso are next. They are 25 seconds ahead of the peloton.

12:54 CEST    30km/141km to go
Beat Zberg is trying to bridge up to the chase group on the descent. 30 seconds is a long way, especially as this descent is non-technical. Discovery is leading the peloton.

Of the two leaders, Cioni is the best placed on GC, starting the day at 5'54 in 54th. Rasmussen is in 68th at 7'05, so neither of these riders are a huge threat.

But Voigt (second on GC at 1'00) and Moreau (17th at 2'48) in the chase group are a bit more dangerous.

Sevilla has a puncture and has to chase to get back on. At least it's downhill.

12:55 CEST   
Sevilla flies through the caravan and rejoins the peloton after his flat.

The Voigt chase group is 1'58 behind the two leaders, with the peloton at 3'02. That means Voigt is the virtual maillot jaune now.

12:58 CEST    31km/140km to go
McEwen is back in the peloton, which doesn't look to be in a great hurry at the moment. Voigt has finally got his breakaway. Sevilla rejoins.

Noval and Padrnos have assumed the position on the front of the peloton, definitely not driving. Zberg is still in pursuit of the Voigt group, which has: Voigt (CSC), Moos (Phonak), Moreau (CA), Vicioso (Liberty), Zandio (Illes Balears), and Landaluze (Euskaltel).

The two leaders are on the Col de Bramont, another Cat. 3 climb, averaging 6.5% for 3.4 km.

13:02 CEST    33km/138km to go
Rasmussen and Cioni are riding up the third climb of the day, and Rasmussen gets a little gap over Cioni as he takes the points. A spectator, male, Caucasian, trouserless, runs beside them to give them some encouragement.

13:04 CEST    34km/137km to go
The Voigt/Moreau chase group hammers up the climb in pursuit. Moreau again takes the points for third, as he has probably got the mountains jersey in the back of his mind. Voigt is fourth and the trouserless spectator is not there. The gap is just over 2 minutes at the top.

Padrnos and Noval are leading the peloton another 2 minutes behind.

13:07 CEST    37km/134km to go
The peloton crosses the summit 4'25 behind the two leaders and 2'07 behind Voigt's group. McGee is on the back, riding no hands and looking for his team car. He swerves to avoid being run over by one of the red race directors cars.

13:08 CEST   
A time gap to Zberg: 3'10 behind the two leaders and a minute between Voigt's group and the peloton.

13:14 CEST    44km/127km to go
The average speed in the first hour was 41.5 km/h, which is not bad given that there were three climbs. Rasmussen and Cioni now have 2'20 on Voigt/Moreau's group of six, 3'05 on Beat Zberg, and 5'06 on the peloton.

13:19 CEST    45km/126km to go
The crowds are big in the Vosges, but not on the same level as the crowds in Germany. That was an incredible sight - the Germans love the Tour.

Rasmussen and Cioni are now 2'39 ahead of Voigt's group, and 5'42 ahead of the Noval/Padrnos led peloton. That means Cioni is also moving towards the virtual yellow, assuming that Voigt falls back further of course.

Quick.Step's Bram Tankink is getting some help from the race doctor.

13:22 CEST   
Zanini and Etxebarria have found each other at the back of the peloton. Well, off the back. Furlan also.

Everyone is on the long climb of Le Grand Ballon, which measures 21.9 km but averages only 3.6%.

13:26 CEST    48km/123km to go
Clearly, Jens Voigt is not being considered a serious threat for the overall yellow jersey, even if let go, he could hold it for a few stages. But maybe that is the tactic of Discovery Channel today, to finally let go of the yellow before the real mountains.

Rasmussen and Cioni are riding well in front, now 2'43 ahead of Voigt's group of six, which has 1'17 on the lone Zberg and 6'54 on Armstrong's peloton.

13:41 CEST    56km/115km to go
The leaders are nearing the top of Le Grand Ballon, as Rasmussen's tempo makes Cioni hurt a bit. Voigt's group is following further behind, now 3'00. The peloton is at 7'42, having caught Zberg.

Kirsipuu has abandoned.

13:43 CEST   
Vicioso is struggling to hold onto the back of Voigt's group as it nears the top of the climb. He's 10 seconds back.

13:57 CEST    66km/105km to go
Rasmussen takes the points on top of the climb of Le Grand Ballon, assuring his lead in the dotted competition. Cioni is second over. Moreau leads the Voigt group up behind at 2'20 to take third.

14:03 CEST    70km/101km to go
Bäckstedt and Cooke go off the back of the bunch, which is nearing the top of Le Grand Ballon. A Domina Vacanze rider punctures.

Moos actually took third place on the climb, ahead of Moreau.

The peloton is led by Noval over the top, some 7'53 behind the two leaders.

14:04 CEST   
Cyclingnews spoke to Joseba Beloki before the stage, and he told us that "This will be a complicated stage. The climb is hard, but a long way from the finish. For me it will be a good test to see how I'm going, just a couple of days from riding up to Courchevel. So I need to be in the front today like yesterday."

14:12 CEST   
Rasmussen and Cioni are at the foot of the descent of Le Grand Ballon, riding through huge crowds in Sewen. They still have 2'30 on the Voigt group and 8'00 on the peloton.

14:26 CEST    88km/83km to go
There's a crash in the feed zone, it looks like a Saunier Duval rider has broken his collarbone - Gomez Marchante. Also Commesso went down, but he's not as badly hurt. He's on his way again.

14:27 CEST   
Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval) is in a lot of pain, emotionally as well, because he has to pull out. Ouch, that hurts.

Commesso should regain the peloton.

14:32 CEST    95km/76km to go
Rasmussen is now going for it alone on the final climb of the day, the Ballon d'Alsace. Cioni is left behind. He still has an 8'30 gap over the peloton, so today might be the day that he wins in the polka dot jersey.

Voigt's group is still at 2'20. It's been a very stable situation for the last 70 km.

14:32 CEST   
Commesso is back with the peloton, getting medical assistance.

14:34 CEST   
We spoke to Discovery Channel's George Hincapie at the start today. He was a little bemused today, saying that "Yesterday we had a bad day. It was kind of a lapse in concentration when we were on the front of the final climb. It was really fast and we were sitting far back when Moreau attacked and it broke up. We just got caught behind. When we realised what happening, we couldn't really get across, so we just didn't worry about it."

Although Armstrong was up there in the final, the rest of the team realised that it wasn't the key moment of the Tour de France. They're back in force today, controlling the peloton since very early on in the piece.

14:35 CEST    98km/73km to go
Rasmussen is actually on the Col de Bussang, a third cat. climb before Le Ballon d'Alsace.

Armstrong is stretching himself on the bike. McEwen is right on his wheel.

14:39 CEST    98km/73km to go
Cancellara gets a wheel change but it quickly back in the bunch, which is now 9'00 behind Rasmussen, who is on track for a stage win today. Also Jens Voigt (at 2'06 behind Rasmussen) could well relieve Armstrong of the yellow jersey. He only needs a minute on the peloton.

Rasmussen takes the four points on the Bussang. Cioni should survive to take second.

14:41 CEST   
The saddle bag under Jens Voigt's saddle is a heart rate/power telemetry system. They can afford to have the extra weight because their bikes are so light to begin with, that it's not hard to make the UCI's 6.8kg limit.

Cancellara is back in the peloton now.

14:44 CEST    101km/70km to go
The Voigt group breaks up a bit on the Bussang as Moreau jumps for the points and gets them. Voigt finds himself back with Zandio and Vicioso, and has to close the gap himself. He's a bit annoyed at his other companions.

Hushovd has been dropped from the peloton. No green jersey points for him today, but he might be able to come back.

14:46 CEST   
We talked to Rasmussen's teammate Erik Dekker this morning, who told us, "I'm feeling pretty good but not so good on the bike. It's a big battle every day like yesterday. I expect war!" Dekker correctly predicted that Rasmussen would go up the road for the mountain points and also a possible stage win. He looks good for that now.

14:50 CEST    107km/64km to go
The peloton comes over the top of the Bussang 9'32 behind Rasmussen, and 6'00 behind Voigt's group. The names in that group: Jens Voigt (CSC), Alexandre Moos (Phonak), Christophe Moreau (CA), Xabier Zandio (Illes Balears), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel), Angel Vicioso (Liberty). Dario Cioni is about 1'00 behind Rasmussen now, and 2'00 in front of the Voigt group.

Hushovd has two teammates with him as he crosses the summit 1'00 behind the bunch.

14:51 CEST    108km/63km to go
Rasmussen is now on the Ballon d'Alsace, the final climb of the day. It averages 6.8% for 9 km, and is a Cat. 2 climb. Double points at the top though because it's the last climb of the day, so Rasmussen will get another 20 points to add to his total of 58.

14:56 CEST   
The polka-dotted Dane, Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) is riding up the Ballon d'Alsace with a 1'45 gap on his erstwhile companion Dario Cioni (Liquigas) and 3'42 on Jens Voigt's group of six. The peloton, led all the time by Discovery's Pavel Padrnos and Benjamin Noval, is at 9'30. Jan Ullrich, who crashed earlier today after changing his front wheel, is close by Armstrong. Vinokourov too. T-Mobile is moving up alongside Discovery. Wonder if Vino will attack on this climb?

14:58 CEST    111km/60km to go
Hushovd rejoins the peloton right at the foot of the climb. Oh well, better than not. Bäckstedt is back there along with Unai Etxebarria. Piepoli has a puncture and asks for a spare.

Padrnos takes over in front as Noval drops back. Rubiera is next.

Hushovd now asks for some medical assistance from the doc. Smart man.

14:59 CEST   
Despite getting assistance, Hushovd will not see the peloton again for a while. He's cruising along with Etxebarria.

Cioni (second on the road) is now just a minute ahead of Voigt's group, which is 4'00 behind Rasmussen.

15:01 CEST   
McEwen is now being shelled, but has plenty of riders with him, including Eisel. The Austrian is bearing, or that should be baring, the signs of an early crash.

Rubiera and Beltran have now taken over from Padrnos and Noval in the peloton. The pace is a bit higher.

15:02 CEST    112km/59km to go
Padrnos and Noval drop off, their work done. Discovery will probably try to bring back Voigt's group, which has just split up on the climb with Voigt, Moreau and Vicioso dropping Zandio, Landaluze and Moos.

15:03 CEST   
A sprinters' bus is forming as Boonen is also dropped. He looks better than he did yesterday, and is with three of his Quick.Step teammates.

15:04 CEST    113km/58km to go
Jan Ullrich sits behind Savoldelli and Armstrong.

Up front, Rasmussen is chased by Spiderman. Well, Spiderman in a loose fitting costume.

Moreau, Voigt and Vicioso have lost the other three now.

15:07 CEST    115km/56km to go
Moreau is doing most of the chasing work in his trio, as Voigt and Vicioso hang on. They still haven't caught Cioni.

Rasmussen is near the top of the Ballon d'Alsace as Christophe Prudhomme stands up in the lead car behind him and makes gentle waving motions towards the crowds. No-one gets run over, so it's all good.

Erik Dekker is cruising along on his own, waiting for the bus.

15:08 CEST   
Vicioso can't hold Moreau and Voigt, and has to let go. But he's not far behind and should be able to rejoin. They are bearing down on Cioni. Moreau wants the points.

15:10 CEST    115km/56km to go
Cioni has problems following Voigt and Moreau.

In the peloton, Qique Gutierrez (Phonak) has a little gap.

Rasmussen rides through huge crowds at the top of the climb. There's barely room to get through as everyone has their cameras out. He's at the top of the climb at last.

15:11 CEST    116km/55km to go
Zandio has been caught by the peloton now, leaving a total of seven riders up the road. Voigt and Moreau are still 4'22 behind Rasmussen, while the peloton is at 9'40 behind the leader.

15:13 CEST   
Garate, O'Grady, and Roberts all go off the back of the bunch on the climb. Arvesen, Voeckler, Aerts and a few more are in trouble. It's a harder tempo being set by Discovery now. Doesn't look like T-Mobile will attack today.

15:15 CEST    118km/53km to go
Moreau leads Voigt through the crowds to take second at the top of the climb, 4'20 behind Rasmussen. Voigt is third. The crowds are massive here!

15:16 CEST   
Rubiera, Popovych and Hincapie lead Armstrong towards the top.

Pieter Weening, yesterday's winner, is a little way off the back with Moncoutié and a couple of Bouygues riders.

15:17 CEST   
Voeckler is one of the Bouygues riders with Weening. Not his Tour this year.

15:19 CEST    121km/50km to go
Fourth over the Ballon d'Alsace was Vicioso, followed by Cioni at 5'12, Moos at 5'30, then Zandio (who is still there) and Landaluze.

Rasmussen flies down the descent, making good time.

15:20 CEST   
The peloton crosses at 9'24, led by Discovery's Popovych. No attacks today, which is a little surprising even though Ullrich did crash.

15:23 CEST   
Rasmussen is nearing the second sprint at Oberbruck.

The first sprint at Husseren-Wesserling was won by Cioni, ahead of Rasmussen and Voigt.

15:26 CEST    129km/42km to go
Michael Rasmussen is still being chased by Christophe Moreau and Jens Voigt at some 4'00 plus. Moreau is doing the bulk of the work it looks like, which means Voigt must be a bit knackered as he is not one to shy away, especially when there's a yellow jersey up for grabs.

Rasmussen now has 88 points in the mountains classification, while Moreau and Voigt has 40 and 37 points respectively. That's a big lead!

15:27 CEST    130km/41km to go
The sprinters bus is already 16'24 behind the leader, while the main peloton has picked it up a bit and is at 8'54 behind Rasmussen.

15:29 CEST    131km/40km to go
Rasmussen reaches the sprint in Oberbruck where he takes the 6 points/seconds without contention. Not so many people out to watch him do it, but enough.

Rasmussen started the day 7'05 behind Armstrong on GC, so he may move into second overall behind Voigt today. Voigt is working fairly hard now on the flat.

15:30 CEST   
Inside Discovery's Chris Brewer reports from the finish: "The final 4 km play out like this: Not much for the first 1000m, the road all the way in is totally flat. Just after 3000m to go there are two consecutive roundabouts that could cause problems if someone goes down there. Just after 2000m to go there is a hard turn to the left, but it is wide enough. At 1500m the road sweeps to the left, then at 700m a right hand turn. At 600m the course sweeps to the left then from 450m
out it's a straight shot to the line. The roads are currently dry and it doesn't look like it will rain, but there is a stiff wind blowing in the riders' faces at the end."

15:33 CEST    135km/36km to go
The chasers cross the sprint line with Voigt taking second place and 4 seconds. Moreau is third.

In the peloton, Menchov flats and gets a messy change, but is on his way again.

15:34 CEST   
Voigt and Moreau are big motors, and are now clawing back the time gap to Michael Rasmussen. It's 3'45 and falling, but Rasmussen should have more than enough to stay away for the win. The real question is how much of a bonus will Voigt get for the yellow jersey? He has four virtual minutes lead at the moment.

Menchov gets a teammate to help him chase, along with Pellizotti.

15:38 CEST   
We spoke to Santi Botero (Phonak) and asked him about yesterday's stage and the mini-collapse of Discovery Channel. "Either they're not good or they are with him. I don't believe it was a tactical thing. Yesterday wasn't dangerous for Armstrong, but if he's alone again today, it could be, because he'll be under a lot of attacks.

"I'm feeling good right now. Although a little tired from a lot of racing before the Tour, from Romandie, Dauphiné, Catalunya. But it's getting better every day. During the next stages, I will be looking to improve on GC. But there's also the polka dot jersey and stage wins to aim for. So many things at the Tour."

15:40 CEST    141km/30km to go
Rasmussen is going great guns, keeping his gap at 4 minutes to Voigt and Moreau, who in turn have five minutes on the peloton. In between them, are remnants of the early break: Angel Vicioso (Liberty), Dario Cioni (Liquigas), Xabier Zandio (Illes Balears), Alexandre Moos (Phonak), and Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel), in roughly that order.

15:42 CEST    143km/28km to go
Rasmussen rides through the last sprint of the day at Sentheim (km 143), mouth open, going full gas.

15:45 CEST    145km/26km to go
Armstrong has got five Discovery Channel riders on the front of the peloton, probably trying to reduce Jens Voigt's gap a little before the finish. Hincapie powers on the front.

15:47 CEST    146km/25km to go
All the groups on the road have picked up their speed as they hit the final 30 km. Voigt takes second place in the final sprint ahead of Moreau, which will give him 10 bonus seconds for the day so far.

15:50 CEST    148km/23km to go
The peloton is strung out in a Discovery led pursuit of the leaders. They won't come back, but the gap will certainly diminish before the end. Voigt and Moreau are still four minutes behind Rasmussen, but the yellow jersey peloton is now 8'41 behind the leader. They'll look at getting that back to 6-7 minutes at the end, which means Voigt will have a 1-2 minute lead on GC.

15:52 CEST    149km/22km to go
Voigt and Moreau go under 25 km to go with a 3'56 disadvantage to Rasmussen. Their closest chasers (Cioni, Moos and Vicioso) are at 3'00 behind them. The peloton is at 8'46.

A crash in the peloton as Didier Rous hits a median strip. He's a bit winded, and sits on the ground for a while.

15:53 CEST    151km/20km to go
Rous is now standing up, looking a bit out of breath. He should be OK to rejoin the race as Dr Porte checks him out.

Voigt punctures! No teammates to haul him back, but Moreau might wait...

15:55 CEST    152km/19km to go
Moreau is indeed waiting for Voigt, which is smart thinking from the Credit Agricole man. Voigt doesn't get any "mechanical assistance" from the team car, as that could well cost him time on GC if the commissaires see it.

Voigt rejoins Moreau and the two continue their pursuit of Rasmussen.

15:56 CEST    154km/17km to go
Cofidis is now helping Discovery Channel chase, probably to put O'Grady in a position to gain more sprint points. He's the only sprinter in the peloton, it looks like. If they catch three of the six ahead, then that will give O'Grady the potential for quite a few points.

15:58 CEST    155km/16km to go
There are actually five riders in the group immediately in front of the peloton: Angel Vicioso (Liberty), Dario Cioni (Liquigas), Alexandre Moos (Phonak), Xabier Zandio (Illes Balears), and Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel).

15:59 CEST    156km/15km to go
Michael Rasmussen is on track to winning Rabobank's second stage, while Moreau and Voigt will finish about 4 minutes behind him. Cofidis is leading the peloton in pursuit of the five early attackers, who are 1 minute ahead of the main group.

The bunch goes across a set of train tracks, but no-one crashes, fortunately.

16:02 CEST    158km/13km to go
The Vicioso group has been caught by the peloton now, leaving just three riders in front: Rasmussen, Voigt and Moreau. Rasmussen is having a very good ride.

16:03 CEST    159km/12km to go
The two gaps are now 4'17 and 7'52, so it looks like Voigt will get a two minute GC lead on Armstrong. Moreau and Rasmussen might end up ahead of Armstrong on GC too.

16:03 CEST   
Voeckler has made it back to the peloton, as has Rous after his crash.

16:05 CEST    161km/10km to go
Rasmussen finds a little climb with 10 km to go, but muscles his way over it, in a bit of pain now. He'll win the stage and build a decent lead in the mountains GC, as well as moving himself up in the overall GC.

16:06 CEST    162km/9km to go
Rasmussen rides through the wheat fields towards Mulhouse, his long day in the saddle nearly over. Nine clicks to go.

16:09 CEST    164km/7km to go
Moreau and Voigt are neither losing nor gaining time, as Rasmussen keeps hammering 4'00 in front, and Cofidis eases off the gas a bit 4'00 behind.

16:10 CEST   
Voeckler is laughing now as he knows he's made it through the day with the peloton. Rest day tomorrow!

16:12 CEST    166km/5km to go
Once again, we have seen another interesting stage with several races within a race. Yesterday probably took the take as we had separate battles for the polka dots, green, yellow (a bit) and stage win. Today it's been more the dots, stage win and yellow, but the latter will certainly change teams today.

Rasmussen is now in Mulhouse with 5 km to go. The crowds are getting thicker.

16:14 CEST    167km/4km to go
Voigt might even end up with a 3 minute bonus on GC, as he and Moreau are still just under four minutes ahead of the bunch. Discovery has taken over the pace making from Cofidis, with six men leading Armstrong in yellow.

The two relevant gaps: 3'50 and 7'50.

16:15 CEST    168km/3km to go
This is hurting Moreau and Voigt a lot, but they will have a rest day to recover tomorrow. Same goes for Michael "Chicken" Rasmussen, who has realised his goal of winning a stage in the polka dots.

16:16 CEST    168.5km/2.5km to go
Rasmussen goes under 3 km to go and is just four minutes away from his stage win. It's been perfect weather for him today - not too hot and no rain, despite the grey clouds on the horizon.

3'41 and 7'37.

16:17 CEST    169km/2km to go
Anyone want to work out who gets second on GC today, Rasmussen or Moreau? Rasmussen started the day 7'05 behind Armstrong, while Moreau was at 2'48. Sort out the bonus seconds and get back to me. Free ride in the blimp for a correct answer ;-)

16:18 CEST    170km/1km to go
Rasmussen is slowly running out of gas, so he might slip to third on GC. Voigt and Moreau are 3'30 behind him with 1 km to go.

16:18 CEST   
The rail-thin figure of Michael Rasmussen rides up towards the finish in Mulhouse, cheered on by great crowds. What an impressive ride by the Rabobank rider!

16:19 CEST    171km/0km to go
Michael Rasmussen drives it all the way to the line, celebrating as he gets to the line, totally knackered but totally happy. Great ride!!

16:21 CEST   
Voigt and Moreau continue to cooperate to the finish, trying to maximise their GC gains. They've ridden a great race too, and finally Voigt has got his breakaway.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen is congratulated by his DS Frans Maassen.

16:23 CEST   
Voigt sits behind Moreau, who takes him to the line. No sprint for second, but Voigt is the new leader! The gap is 3'04 to Rasmussen, so Moreau will be second on GC.

16:26 CEST   
Discovery leads the peloton in as Cofidis masses at the front to lead out O'Grady. Two Cofidis riders lead O'Grady into the final corner. Gilbert is up there on O'Grady's wheel, as are Flecha and Glomser. Vasseur performs the final leadout at 500m, but it's a bit far. O'Grady has to follow the Liquigas riders, then sprints up the side to take fourth and 18 green jersey points. Gilbert is fifth.

The gap is 6'04 or so at the finish, so Voigt will have a 1'50 lead on Moreau on GC, with Armstrong in third at 2'18. Rasmussen is fourth at 2'43.

16:35 CEST   
That's all folks until Tuesday's serious mountain stage to Courchevel. Armstrong's team can take a bit of a break from defending now, as CSC have that pressure on their shoulders. Well, Voigt doesn't think it will last that long, saying in the post-race interview that he'll only defend the jersey on the rest day: -)

Back in two days!


1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                                   4.08.20
2 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                               3.04   
3 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                         
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                 6.04
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux                           
6 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             
7 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner                               
8 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                           
9 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             
10 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Lampre-Caffita                         

General classification after stage 9

1 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                         32.18.23
2 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                               1.50  
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                               2.18
4 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                                      2.43
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                              3.20
6 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                           3.25
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                             3.44
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                       3.54
9 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                              
10 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                              4.04

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