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92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

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Stage 10 - Tuesday, July 12: Brignoud - Courchevel, 181 km

Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and Hedwig Kröner

Live report

Live coverage starts: 11:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST


Stage 10 profile
Click for stage map

11:38 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of Stage 10 of the Tour de France. We're back after the rest day and ready for some Alpine action today. Today's stage was scheduled to be between Grenoble and Courchevel over 192.5 km, but it has actually been shortened by 11.5 km to allow for a farmers' protest. That means it will officially start in Brignoud, a little way along the race route.

The Tour organisers have expressed sympathy with the farmers, who are concerned about wolves attacking their livestock. Thus, the stage actually starts 10 minutes earlier at 11:30 but will allow time for the protest.

11:43 CEST   
There are only two climbs today, but they're big ones: The Cat. 1 Cormet-de-Roselend after 118 km, a 20.1 km averaging 6.1%, and the Cat. 1 climb to the finish at Courchevel, a 22.2 km climb averaging 6.2%.

The day's two intermediate sprints are at Detrier (km 40) and Bourg-Saint-Maurice (km 138.5).

The weather today is sunny and warm-ish, with a chance of a shower at the end of the stage.

One rider didn't start today: Evgeni Petrov (Lampre). The Russian was blood tested this morning by the UCI and was found to have too high a hematocrit. He'll have to rest for two weeks for "health reasons", and will undergo further testing to see whether he used any illegal substances, such as EPO. 33 riders in total were tested, from Lampre-Caffita, AG2R, CSC and Discovery Channel. None of the others were declared unfit to start.

11:53 CEST   
Our Behind the Blue Curtain/Inside Discovery Channel reporter/diarist Chris Brewer has filed this report from the finish:

"Here at the finish line in Courchevel the crowds are forming, the weather is fantastic and the big question everyone keeps asking is will Lance attack? The climb itself is not that steep, but with 15kms to go there are several nasty switchbacks that could very well launch decisive attacks.

"I spoke with Davis Phinney as he led members of his Parkinson's Disease Foundation to the top. 'After 5 or 6 years of letting the Lance train dictate things and then letting Lance go, I think they've finally decided they have to take the race to him and that's why the last 2 stages have been extremely active. I would bet there will be some hard attacks right from the start again to try and break Lance and Discovery.'

"I asked Davis how he saw the stage playing out. 'This is a hard and long finish. I expect someone like Moreau or Rasmussen to set the break from the start to get mountain points. CSC if they're smart won't let it get too far. The GC guys will want to stay together and set a steady pace and see how it disintegrates going up the final hill. After all, you get to Courchevel and still have 10km to the finish. It's a deceptively hard hill to the end - and then in the back of your mind you're thinking tomorrow's even worse...'"

12:01 CEST   
Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer is riding on a modified bike today, because his Specialized was under the UCI weight limit of 6.8 kg. So he had to put a little weight on it to bring it up to the limit. [I don't understand how this makes the bike safer, even if that's one of the justifications for the rules].

12:15 CEST   
The peloton is now in Brignoud, getting ready for the official start.

12:28 CEST   
The stage start is still being held up by the protest.

We spoke to Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros) this morning, and he expects it to be a big day. Contador is sporting a scraped elbow from his crash on Sunday. "The injuries from Sunday's crash aren't too bad. It could be much worse because Gonzalez de Galdeano abandoned.

"We have to get in breakaways today but the only the bigger ones. At the end of the stage, we will meet again, and to see what the best thing is to do.

"Roberto [Heras] is very focused, has a lot of self confidence and knows his ability. Today's going to be the moment of truth for all and also for Heras. He will be in front for sure and I will be with him to help him in everything."

12:34 CEST    2km/179km to go
And they're off at 12:30 pm! The attacks begin straight away.

12:42 CEST   
Cyclingnews spoke with CSC's leader Ivan Basso this morning, and asked him what the plan was. "I feel good but we have to see how it goes later today."

Can Voigt defend his jersey? "It's possible. He's in very good form, so it's possible."

When will you take over the jersey? "I don't know [laughs] I hope I can do a good week next week."

12:44 CEST    6km/175km to go
Joost Posthuma and Laurent Brochard started the ball rolling, and were joined by Yuri Krivtsov, and then a trio of Luís Sanchez, Gianluca Bortolami and Mauro Facci set out in pursuit. The three leaders have a gap of a quarter of a minute or so.

You can rest assured that we shall be watching carefully to see if we can spot any wolves along the course today.

12:57 CEST    19km/162km to go
Euskaltel's Ińaki Isasi has also managed to bridge the gap to the chasing trio, so now there are four. The best placed of the leaders is former World Champion Laurent Brochard, who is a fairly safe 7.58 behind Jens Voigt this morning; he's not succeeded in scaring the peloton enough to energise a chase yet, anyway - they've let the breaks go and are quickly some 4 minutes behind. There's a long way to go and more important business to deal with later.

13:01 CEST    26km/155km to go
The two breakaway groups are looking to come together now, with the four chasers closing to under 20 seconds behind the three leaders. Still no reaction behind them.

They're together now and pushing six minutes ahead of the still uninterested bunch, with CSC at its head.

13:12 CEST    32km/149km to go
With the lead now out to 8 minutes and counting, Laurent Brochard is now maillot jaune virtuel, race leader on the road. Gianluca Bortolami took the Day's first bonus sprint at Détrier; none of the break are in contention in the points competition so it's just for the cash, really.

13:18 CEST    39km/142km to go
The peloton has finally shaken off some of its lethargy now and they are starting to peg back the leaders gradually.

13:29 CEST   
Cyclingnews asked Jens Voigt whether he would attack in the yellow jersey today? "Oh no that's not for me. The yellow jersey traditionally rides defensively to save energy and everything else is up to the teams who want to win the race."

13:46 CEST    58km/123km to go
Looks like it was more a case of the leaders being briefly disorganised than any sort of reaction from behind; the breakaway have once again pulled clear and the gap is over ten minutes, although Crédit Agricole have got on the front of the bunch to hurry things up a bit; maybe Christophe Moreau feels as though he's on a good day. The leaders will soon be at the feed at Grignon, after which the road starts to drag up towards the foot of the Cormet de Roselend climb.

14:05 CEST   
Crédit Agricole, who do hold second place in all the three main jersey classifications with Moreau and Hushovd, are still closing the gap down; at a wild guess Moreau may be wanting to try for the mountains points on the Cormet de Roselend to close the gap on Mickael Rasmussen; he's way behind the Dane but there are 15 on offer for the first man over the top. The final climb counts for twice that, but its quite likely that the big points will go to riders who are far more interested in the yellow jersey than the polka dots.

We questioned Rasmussen's Rabobank team-mate Michael Boogerd this morning about their intentions:

Can Rasmussen keep the polka-dots? "I think so, I hope so. He's got it now and he's in super shape."

How about the yellow jersey? "He can always try. He's very close, and maybe he can make it. The yellow jersey would be nice, even for one day. It's possible."

14:07 CEST    74km/107km to go
Feeding stations are a traditional place for disheartened riders to retire from the race, and this one is no exception; adding to Lampre's already miserable day (and a bonus sprint win isn't going to make much difference after Petrov's exit this morning), Gerrit Glomser climbs into the team car. The breakaways' lead is now back down to just over nine minutes.

14:22 CEST   
The wonders of technology! If I say anything really dumb on here I can just make it vanish again, as though it never happened and as though I hadn't been reading the wrong page of results at all.

The race is now all but at the foot of the Cormet de Roselend, but it remains to be seen whether it will produce any fireworks; summit finishes tend to dampen down the enthusiasm for attacks on early climbs, as evidenced by T-Mobile's Alexandr Vinokourov, when we cornered him this morning: "I feel good now that the mountains are starting. I'm in good shape." Have you got a strategy for today? "What strategy? As usual it will be attacking. Jan feels good, Andreas too, so we are very motivated." Will you attack on the first climb? "No, it's too far from the finish."

14:42 CEST    93km/88km to go
Both break and chasers are now onto the Cormet de Roselend proper, and the non-climbers are starting to drift off the back of the bunch - Servais Knaven, Jean-Patrick Nazon, among them, along with Thor Hushovd and a few other Crédit Agricoles who have been pushing the pace on the false flats.

The seven breakaways are still hanging together although Facci looks to be having a bit more trouble hanging on.

14:47 CEST    95km/86km to go
Tom Boonen (in see-through ventilated mesh Maillot Vert - it's hot out there) and Fabien Cancellara are among a steady trickle of riders off the back. Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady are on the back of the bunch but not really looking too enthusiastic about the pace.

The gap is closing faster now, down to 6.42; the bunch is climbing hard but steadily with no attacks so far; all the action is at the back...

14:55 CEST    97km/84km to go
Half way up the climb now and the seven leaders and their chasers are still riding tempo; behind them many more riders are going backwards now, including Thomas Voeckler, to the despair of the mid-Berkshire chapter of his fan club, no doubt, and Karsten Kroon, despite his collection of climber's jerseys from all three major tours.

Maillot Jaune Jens Voigt is riding in the front rank of the bunch, looking fairly comfortable. Heras and Jaksche are up there with him.

In the break Posthuma and Brochard put some pressure on and only Krivtsov and Sanchez are able to follow.

14:59 CEST   
Saturday's hero Pieter Weening is dropping back to his team car, probably to get bottles for Rasmussen and Boogerd who are still up there.

Bortolami and Isasi are trying to limit the damage in front, with Facci trying to get back to the lead quartet.

Garzelli, Jaksche and Moos have jumped clear of the bunch. Riders all over the place now, basically; still a few kilometres of this climb to go. Mancebo jumps across to them.

15:05 CEST   
Alejandro Valverde jumps across to the most recent attackers and then the bunch accelerates to gradually get across to them, but not without doing some damage at the back - and now it's not just the sprinters and rouleurs falling by the wayside, but Iban Mayo and Beat Zberg, among others.

The bunch is down to forty or so riders now and Discovery and T-Mobile are setting the pace.

15:07 CEST   
Jens Voigt is in a bit of trouble now, drifting off the back and then grinding his way back on. Disappointingly early in the day for the elastic to be stretching for him.

15:15 CEST    104km/77km to go
Facci is back with the leaders now, 4 km from the summit, with Isasi and Bortolami keeping the gap under control; if the break stays clear they may well be able to make it back on the descent. Discovery are still putting the pressure on, with three - now four - riders up in front: NOval, Beltrán, Rubiera, Hincapie - Telekom massed close behind with Sevilla as chief of police, CSC not making their presence felt at all. A herd of cattle stand in an Alpine meadow doing their thing. Voigt is still hanging on in there, but not at the right end of the group.

15:21 CEST    105.5km/75.5km to go
Voigt is dropped, and CSC don't send anyone back to help him, but he grinds his way back on as the gradient eases up. Jaksche, Leipheimer are well behind the Discovery train who are keeping it steady rather than going berserk.

15:25 CEST    107km/74km to go
A few big black clouds are looming over the summit, and a few of the break are picking up rain capes before the summit.

Laurent Brochard jumps clear to take the points at the top of the climb ahead of Posthuma. A kilometre back down the road Oscar Pereiro jumps clear of the bunch and is joined by Jörg Jaksche.

15:26 CEST   
Jaksche and Pereiro cross the summit 3.18 down on the five leaders, with the bunch at 3.43.

15:32 CEST   
Pereiro is descending at 100 kph plus, with Jaksche behind urging him to go faster on the first section of the descent, which is fairly open and hairpin-free. Brochard is still alone ahead and back down below the treeline.

Christophe Brandt gets a rain cape tangled up in his back wheel at speed but manages to hold it upright.

15:37 CEST   
The descent is definitely a downhill rather than a slalom, in skiing terms. Brochard is really hammering down it, but the peloton are taking it steady rather than risking too much. Jens Voigt is back up near the front. Jan Ullrich drops back but is brought back up again.

15:38 CEST   
Iban Mayo told us this morning, "Today's a very important day. We will see who can stay in front. Everything will happen on the last climb but even the first part of the course will be raced very fast. I feel good, I don't have any health problems so I hope everything goes well for me."

Unfortunately for Mayo, he was in a bit of trouble on that last climb.

15:38 CEST   
Yaroslav Popovych has punctured and crashed on the descent; he's back up and on the bike, though.

15:43 CEST   
Chris "Behind the Blue Curtain" Brewer reports, "At the finish line it is still quite warm, the sun is shining, but there are some rather dark clouds coming in over the summit."

15:45 CEST    127km/54km to go
Brochard is now coming up to the day's second bonus sprint at Bourg-St.-Maurice, which is a few more euros into the team pot. Bortolami has made it back to his erstwhile companions and takes the second spot, while Isasi seems to have been dropped more definitively. Pereiro and Jaksche are still trying to get across.

15:48 CEST   
Jaksche and Pereiro are 2.15 ahead of the bunch at the foot of the descent proper and about the same behind the Bortolami/Postuma group. - it's a fast descending false flat down the valley from here to Moutiers.

Luis Sanchez makes it up to Brochard, so now we have two leaders.

15:52 CEST   
Popovych is back in the bunch and grinning cheerfully for the TV cameras; his left shoulder is well muddied up.

15:56 CEST    136km/45km to go
Iban Mayo has ridden through his bad patch and is now back with the bunch, coming up through a gaggle of riders who have dropped back to their team cars. Jens Voigt has just been back to the car to collect bottles for his team leader, despite his own yellow jersey.

15:58 CEST   
Jaksche and Pereiro have picked up Isasi, who has tagged on with them. And in two shakes of a marmot's tail they are up with the Bortolami group as well, with just Sanchez and Brochard in front.

16:00 CEST   
Discovery are now turning up the pressure a bit with eight riders at the front of the peloton, Armstrong being that eighth man.

16:03 CEST   
Pereiro is a bit more of a threat to the overall classification than Brochard, 5.20 down on Jens Voigt this morning. The group now has over 5 minutes on the peloton so he is close to being maillot jaune on the road, as it were.

16:06 CEST   
Brochard and Sanchez have been caught by Jaksche and Pereiro and their former breakaway-mates, so seven riders at the front. Behind them Noval and Padrnos are doing the damage for Discovery; they can certainly do it on the flat, but after Saturday, there must still be a bit of concern as to whether they can do it on the climb...

16:09 CEST   
Michael Rogers (Quick.Step) told Cyclingnews this morning that, "I'd like to finish with the front guys today. I've been climbing well the last couple of days so I want to move up on GC."

16:10 CEST    145km/36km to go
Telekom and CSC are sitting comfortably en masse behind the Discovery express, which is pulling back the leaders at a rate that suggests that they'll be caught before the climb.

16:18 CEST    154km/27km to go
The nine riders in the breakaway are taking their last chance to pick up bottles from their team cars (or any team car that's offering) before the final climb now; most of them are doomed to be caught very quickly, but some of them may well be there to help others who are coming up behind - Posthuma for Rasmussen, Jaksche and Sanchez for Heras, for example.

16:24 CEST    157km/24km to go
The Discovery chase has eased up just a little, and a lot of people are dropping back to the cars in the bunch as well; Nicky Sřrensen collects a pair of shoe insoles for someone.

Sanchez and Facci are dropped from the leaders on the drags up to the foot of the finish climb, which isn't supposed to start properly for another couple of kilometres.

16:27 CEST    158.8km/22.2km to go
Pereiro and Jaksche are leading the break as it comes through the official foot of the climb to Courchevel, 22.2 km averaging 6.2%; a steady climb that probably suits the all-rounders more than the pure climbers.

Dario Cioni is dropped from the bunch already, and Isasi is out of the breakaway group.

16:31 CEST   
Only Brochard and Krivtsov are able to stay with the pace set by Pereiro and Jaksche. The pressure from the Discovery team is telling and a lot of riders are trailing back from the main bunch as well.

Yuri Krivtsov punctures, just at the wrong time. Brochard is yoyoing off the back of the two who came across at the top of the Cormet de Roselend.

16:34 CEST    161km/20km to go
Jens Voigt is among the riders losing contact with the bunch, as is Iban Mayo again. Vinokourov is riding on Armstrong's wheel with Ullrich and Basso behind him; Armstrong has five team-mates in front of him.

Beltran, Chavanel, Caucchioli, Totschnig are all dropped.

16:36 CEST   
Basso is a bit further back now; Moreau and Beloki are up riding on Armstrong's shoulders. McGee, Kessler and Boogerd are off the back.

Brochard is dropped by the two leaders but still trying to stop the gap opening further.

16:38 CEST    164km/17km to go
Jaksche has put 30 metres into Pereiro and seems to be going for it. There's an awful lot of climbing to be done, though.

16:41 CEST   
The Armstrong group - not really a peloton any more - is now down to twenty or so riders, with Oscar Sevilla and Denis Menchov shelled out by the pace set by Paolo Savoldelli.

Heras is dropped.

16:43 CEST   
Beloki is dropped too, but there doesn't seem to be any disgrace in that now.

Carlos Sastre puts in an attack but is only hanging a few yards clear of the Discovery train.

16:45 CEST    166km/15km to go
Garzelli, Guerini, Karpets and Moreau are all losing contact/. And we're still 15 km from the finish here. Rogers too can't hold on.

16:47 CEST   
Horner, Julich and Botero are gone. Ullrich looks grim, Vinokourov stony-faced both just on Armstrong's wheel, with three other Discover riders left setting the pace. Mancebo, Valverde, Landis, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Klöden, Kashechkin and Evans are all still in there.

16:51 CEST   
Rasmussen and Valverde look relatively comfortable; Vinokourov has dropped to the back of the group.

Pereiro is caught.

Hincapie drops off, just Popovych left for Armstrong now.

16:54 CEST    11.5km/169.5km to go
Vinokourov is being dropped on one of the steeper sections (big climbs always gets steeper through villages, where the engineers have less space to play with), along with Pereiro who was hanging in there for a bit.

16:57 CEST   
Popovych is putting in a kick, to launch Armstrong, and suddenly it's down to half a dozen: Basso is on Armstrong's wheel, but Ullrich is dropped - T-Mobile are out of it. Rasmussen, Valverde are up there as are Mancebo and Evans. Valverde moves through to take up the pace.

16:58 CEST   
Leipheimer and Klöden are the closest chasers now.

16:59 CEST    171km/10km to go
Armstrong moves back on the front under the 10 km to go banner, with Rasmussen on his wheel. The Dane moves up and takes a turn; Evans can't hold it and is drifting off.

17:01 CEST   
Jaksche is caught and not unsurprisingly dropped; the group with Armstrong are the leaders on the road now. Ullrich is digging very deep in company with Kashechkin but has lost half a minute already.

17:02 CEST   
Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) told us this morning, "Today, above all, I have to try to be in front with Paco [Mancebo]. I don't know about what attacks will be going on the first climb, but there will surely be plenty of attacking on the second." He's right!

17:03 CEST   
Armstrong drops to the back of the group and has a stretch as the gradient eases up, then back up to the front to put in a teasing attack.

Mancebo and Basso are distanced briefly but come back. Lance wants them all to work.

17:05 CEST   
Ullrich and Klöden are trying to limit their losses together now.

Armstrong kicks again and this time loses Basso; Mancebo is dislodged but crawls his way back up by the tips of his fingernails. Rasmussen and Valverde still looking relatively comfortable.

17:09 CEST   
Mancebo is clearly suffering, having trouble holding the line on Valverde's wheel. Rasmussen is on Armstrong's wheel, then the American drops to the back to have a quick gloat at the others. Well, probably to take a bit of a rest, mostly, but there's no harm in showing that you have the strength to move up and down the group at will.

17:12 CEST    176km/5km to go
Basso is reported as 15 seconds down; not fatal if he can keep it steady.

Mancebo is setting the pace now, looking in a lot of discomfort; Illes Balears having two riders there, they can sacrifice him for the faster finishing Valverde.

17:13 CEST   
Through the village of Courchevel and Armstrong kicks again and all the other three are stretched trying to hold him, but hold him they do.

17:15 CEST    178km/3km to go
Armstrong is mixing up the pace a bit to shake his companions. He drops back and lets Rasmussen take up the pace; the Dane really needs to attack at some point to try and get clear of Armstrong and Valverde, but not too early.

17:18 CEST    179km/2km to go
The quartet are all taking turns at the front, but the others are all looking nervously at Armstrong, for obvious reasons.

Rasmussen would need to finish 17 seconds clear of Armstrong to take the maillot jaune here, which is a big ask.

17:20 CEST    180km/1km to go
Through the tunnel to the flamme rouge now, Valverde taking a turn at the front.

Rasmussen takes a bit of a dig and Valverde is straight on his wheel, then Armstrong.

17:21 CEST   
Armstrong goes and only Valverde can go with him

17:22 CEST   
Valverde grits his teeth, digs deep, and takes the leadout gratefully, coming over Armstrong at the crest of the rise

Rasmussen pips Mancebo for third.

Basso comes in 1.01 down.

Leipheimer comes in at 1.14, then Jaksche who has done an excellent ride is just caught by a big group with Evans, Mazzoleni, Klöden and Ullrich on the line, just under two minutes behind.

Christophe Moreau comes in 2.57 down, having lost his second place overall to Rasmussen.

Garzelli comes in at 3.42.

A grimacing Vinokourov - the day's big loser? - comes over the line with Bobby Julich, 5.18 down on Valverde and Armstrong; Beloki and Astarloza are not far behind. Other riders are trickling in - Roberto Heras over nine minutes down can also say goodbye to any GC aspirations. Alejandro Valverde will take over the white jersey for the best young rider, Armstrong the yellow itself, of course, and Rasmussen has strengthened his lead in the mountains competition while riding himself into contention for a podium place.

That's it from the live crew today; thanks for following the stage with us and please come back for more of it tomorrow on the second Alpine stage with the climbs of the Madeleine and the Galibier. And in the interim we'll have the full results and more news as soon as we get it (and there are plenty of riders still coming up the mountain...)


1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 4.50.35
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                             
3 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                           0.09
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne            
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                  1.01
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                         1.14
7 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                        2.20
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                 
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team  
10 Andrei Kashechkin (Kaz) Credit Agricole                       
11 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems                            
12 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                   
13 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                    
14 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros-Würth                              
15 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                      

General classification after stage 10

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                37.11.04
2 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                           0.38
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                  2.40
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                    2.42
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne    3.16
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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