93rd Tour de France - ProT
France, July 1-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 12 - Friday, July 14: Luchon-Carcassonne / 211 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan,
Hedwig Kröner and Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 12:10 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST
New maillot jaune Floyd Landis
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
Good afternoon from Luchon, where
we are about to commence today's Quatorze Julliet stage which will take
us 211 km to Carcassonne. After a couple of difficult days in the Pyrenees,
today is one for the breakaways. And given that it's France's national holiday,
we can expect a Frenchman or two to get in the winning break. In theory, the
stage could end in a bunch sprint, but normally the sprinters teams are too
knackered to chase anything down now, so a break usually gets away containing
no GC threats. That's the script, but let's see what happens.
starting point for an attack today could be the Col des Ares, a cat. 2 climb
coming after 27 km, averaging 4.5% for 7.2 km. That is followed by the Côte
de Pujos (km 47.5, Cat. 4, 1.3 km climb at 6.4%), Côte du Pâl de Pailhes (km
126, Cat. 4, 4.5 km climb at 3.6%), Côte de Pamiers (km 136, Cat. 4, 3.9 km
climb at 2.9%). The two intermediate sprints are at Caumont (km 76.0) and Mirepoix
(km 162.0). It's once again sunny and warm, and there is no rain predicted for
12:20 CEST 2km/209km to go
After a fairly short
neutral section, Sebastian Joly (FDJ) attacks almost straight away. And the
race is on!!
12:24 CEST 6km/205km to go
Joly, who was leading
the lanterne rouge classification (last rider on GC) for a while, is
now being pursued by Jimmy Casper (Cofidis), Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) and
Bjorn Schröder (Milram).
Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon-Lotto) is actually
the last placed rider on GC, eight seconds behind Joly. There's a certain symmetry
about the general classification, if you ignore the other 161 riders in the
Anyway, Joly's group is caught, and a counter move by David
Kopp (Gerolsteiner) goes nowhere too. All back together.
12:27 CEST 8km/203km to go
A new attack goes
with Jens Voigt (CSC), Robbie McEwen (Davitamon), Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne),
Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas) and a number of others
- 14 in total. They have 8 seconds.
12:31 CEST 12km/199km to go
The full composition
of the break: Jens Voigt (Team CSC), David Kopp (Gerolsteiner), Robbie McEwen
and Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon-Lotto), Daniele Bennati and Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital),
Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Tom Boonen (Quick-Step-Innergetic),
Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Francisco
Ventoso (Saunier Duval), Carlos Da Cruz (Française Des Jeux), Magnus Bäckstedt
(Liquigas), and Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom). They have 22 seconds on
the peloton, with Fedrigo being best placed on GC at 24'24 in 42nd spot.
12:33 CEST 14km/197km to go
It's an interesting
looking move this, especially with the presence of sprinters McEwen and Boonen.
Will they be allowed to go though? 28 seconds is the gap...
12:35 CEST 16km/195km to go
Discovery has missed
the move, and is riding on the front of the peloton. As they have no-one left
for the GC, they are going for stage wins now. This is a stage where you definitely
want a rider in the break. Half a minute is the lead of the front 14.
12:37 CEST 18km/193km to go
They're racing up
through the valley under the warm sun (32 degrees) with almost no wind. The
first climb of the day, the Col des Ares, is just about to start. The summit
is at 27 km.
12:44 CEST 22km/189km to go
The leaders have
38 seconds now as they hit the climb and loop through Antichan-De-Frontignes.
Not only did Discovery lose its GC chances yesterday, Paolo Savoldelli had to
get five stitches to his right eyebrow after being hit by a spectator while
he was descending the final climb after the stage finished. He is currently
getting treatment from the race doctor.
There's a crash in the peloton
involving Cedric Vasseur (Quick.Step), but it doesn't seem too serious.
Isaac Galvez (Caisse d'Epargne) abandons.
12:44 CEST 22.5km/188.5km to go
But as the climb
gets harder, the bunch starts to come back to the 14 leaders. The gap drops
to just 10 seconds.
12:46 CEST 24km/187km to go
The peloton has regrouped
on the climb, pulling back the 14 leaders. The pace is still high though.
12:49 CEST 25km/186km to go
But the attacks continue,
of course. Now George Hincapie (Discovery) goes away with Voigt (again), Bennati
(Lampre) and Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne).
Mountains leader David de la Fuente
is already in trouble...
12:51 CEST 26km/185km to go
The break grows to
10: George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Jens Voigt (Team CSC),
Guerini (T-Mobile), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Damiano Cunego and Daniele
Bennati (Lampre-Fondital), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears),
Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), David Millar (Saunier Duval) and Michael Albasini
(Liquigas). They have 20 seconds.
12:53 CEST 27km/184km to go
(AG2R-Prevoyance), David Moncoutié and Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) are chasing
the lead group of 10, which is just about at the summit of the first climb.
The peloton sits 25 seconds behind.
The lead group splits again, with
just Hincapie, Voigt, Rasmussen, Bennati and Pereiro remaining up front, but
there may be some regrouping on the descent.
12:59 CEST 33km/178km to go
Rasmussen takes the
10 points at the summit, but he's still well off the mountains jersey. Hincapie
is second ahead of Pereiro, Bennati and Voigt, then Guerini at 8 seconds in
sixth, followed by Hushovd at 28 seconds and then the front bit of the peloton
But it doesn't look like this break
is going to go the distance. The bunch has regrouped and has pulled back most
of the lead on the descent.
13:03 CEST 35km/176km to go
The five leaders
manage to keep their advantage though, as Stephane Goubert (AG2R-Prevoyance),
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Moncoutié
and Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) try to bridge the gap. But they need to close
13:08 CEST 37km/174km to go
This looks more promising.
We have 15 riders in the lead now, after various groups joined together on the
descent: Damiano Cunego (best on GC at 16'17) and Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital),
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Jens Voigt
(Team CSC), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Stephane Goubert
(AG2R-Prevoyance), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi),
David Moncoutié, Cristian Moreni and Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), David Millar
(Saunier Duval), Michael Albasini (Liquigas), Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile).
The bunch is at 55 seconds, and that's a dangerous sort of gap.
13:10 CEST 41.5km/169.5km to go
The bunch hasn't
given up yet though. The gap comes back to 45 seconds as the 15 leaders continue
to work in front.
Jose Alberto Martinez (Agritubel) has quit the
13:13 CEST 43km/168km to go
The leaders have
covered 43 km, and are close to the second climb of the day, the Côte de Pujos.
The bunch hasn't let them go, and the time gap is still 40 seconds.
13:15 CEST 45km/166km to go
Alas for Savoldelli,
the Discovery rider has had to abandon as a result of his post-stage spectator
13:20 CEST 48km/163km to go
The riders have covered
46 km in the first hour. That has got to hurt after yesterday. The powerful
lead group is still 47 seconds head of the peloton, where Davitamon has been
chasing for a bit.
13:23 CEST 50km/161km to go
David Millar (Saunier
Duval) gets the points on the second climb, the Côte de Pujos, protecting his
teammate David de la Fuente's lead in the mountains competition. Rasmussen is
second ahead of Pereiro.
13:28 CEST 54km/157km to go
FDJ is also helping
Davitamon in its pursuit of the leading 15, which contains hitters such as Cunego,
Rasmussen, Hincapie, Voigt, Moncoutié, Hushovd and Bennati. The green jersey
threat of Hushovd and Bennati is the reason for Davitamon's chase.
13:35 CEST 61km/150km to go
Slowly, but surely,
the break's lead is increasing, despite the best efforts of Davitamon and FDJ
behind. 1'10 is the gap between the bunch and the front 15, who have plenty
of Tour stage winners in their midst.
13:39 CEST 63km/148km to go
In the points GC,
Bennati is over 50 points behind McEwen, so he can't take the green jersey today.
Hushovd is 80 points behind, so his chances of green are fairly remote. And
both of these riders would be doing well if they were able to finish with the
front part of the break, which is likely to attack itself to bits later on.
That's provided it stays away. No guarantee of that until the chase stops. The
gap is still a minute.
Benjamin Noval (Discovery Channel)
is the latest rider to abandon, and is the second from Discovery out today.
13:45 CEST 69km/142km to go
The leaders are approaching
the first sprint of the day in Caumont, as the terrain flattens out a bit. But
they are by no means sure of staying clear, as Davitamon has wound it up behind
to peg the gap back to 30 seconds.
13:51 CEST 73km/138km to go
Six of the 15 have
sat up, including Hushovd, Moreni, Chavanel, Cunego, Pereiro and Rasmussen.
That actually might give the break a better chance of succeeding. The gap is
still 30 seconds.
13:52 CEST 74km/137km to go
Think of a number,
any number, and take away the number you first thought of. That leaves: Daniele
Bennati (Lampre-Fondital), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Jens Voigt (Team
CSC), Stephane Goubert (AG2R-Prevoyance), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi),
David Moncoutié (Cofidis), David Millar (Saunier Duval), Michael Albasini (Liquigas),
and Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile).
13:56 CEST 78km/133km to go
The nine leaders
survive to the first sprint at Caumont, on the outskirts of the sleepy town
of Caumont. Davitamon have been assisted by Bouygues (who have no guys in front)
in the chase.
13:58 CEST 79km/132km to go
Bennati takes the 6 points in Caumont ahead of Beppe Guerini and Hincapie. Now
the break's lead is going up again: 45 seconds.
Stéphane Goubert (AG2R) is in the
break today. He told CN this morning, "The team worked hard yesterday, trying
to defend the jersey, so we're all really tired. We'll see how the day unfolds.
Of course we would like to show ourselves again today for the quatorze juillet,
but with everything we gave yesterday, I'm not too sure. You just can't do everything,
14:03 CEST 84km/127km to go
FDJ is also chasing,
bringing the nine leaders back to 25 seconds. Will this be closure? There's
still a lot of racing to go in this stage.
14:10 CEST 89km/122km to go
There is a bit of
attacking going on in the front group, as Michael Albasini (Liquigas) has a
go through the feed zone, joined by Hincapie, Voigt, Goubert and Moncoutié.
The latter has obviously been saving himself for this stage!
five leaders have 38 seconds on the bunch.
14:14 CEST 90km/121km to go
The other four (Verdugo,
Millar, Bennati and Guerini), are absorbed by the bunch, which has not given
up its pursuit of the break! Still 25 seconds.
14:20 CEST 96km/115km to go
And the break has
finally been caught after about 70 km out in front. Peloton groupé.
Stuart O'Grady (CSC) was all smiles
at the start in Luchon this morning. "I'm so happy," he said to Cyclingnews.
"So happy to have made it through the first mountains. I'll last until Paris
now I'm sure. The other day, when I attacked in the finale, I was testing myself
a little, and it worked well. A great boost for my ego!"
14:23 CEST 97km/114km to go
The average speed
after two hours is a brisk 46.6km/h! Everyone wants to be a winner today, it
looks like. Now the counter attacking is starting, with a group of 20 or so
splitting off the front of the peloton.
Poor old David de la Fuente
(Saunier Duval) is still behind the bunch though. He's going to lose a bit of
14:25 CEST 99km/112km to go
Popovych is in the
new break, with Freire, Ballan and Le Mevel. They have a small gap on a group
of 20 chasers, with the bunch at 20 seconds.
Johan Bruyneel (Discovery
Channel) told us today, "Yesterday was a big disappointment, but I think we
can get the boys back on track. From now on, each day in the Tour de France
is considered as the last one over here. There are still ten chances to win
a stage, and we want to have a go on every one of them."
14:32 CEST 105km/106km to go
This is an interesting
move, with Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) - best placed on GC at 9'00), Oscar
Freire (Rabobank), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), and Christophe Le Mevel (CA).
But it may not be allowed to go far, with Popovych and Freire there. 34 seconds
is the gap.
14:38 CEST 110km/101km to go
It looks like they've
done it, for the time being at least. The four up front lead by 1'29 as Popovych
drives it along.
14:44 CEST 114km/97km to go
The leaders increase
their advantage to 2'36, after a bridging attempt by McEwen, Hunter, Bennati
and Commesso failed. Now Phonak has settled into setting tempo.
14:47 CEST 117km/94km to go
Landis sits with
his Dutch teammate Moerenhout and chats about the situation. They won't want
to give Popovych too much rope, because he's only 9'00 down on GC.
14:52 CEST 123km/88km to go
The lead increases
to 3'23 as the four in front hit the Cat. 4 Côte du Pâl de Pailhes, a 4.5 km
climb at 3.6%.
14:57 CEST 124km/87km to go
Grabsch, Pena, Jalabert,
Hunter and Perdiguero set the pace for Landis on the climb, keeping the break
at around three minutes. Freire's presence in the break may see Davitamon chase
it down towards the end - we'll see. Freire trails McEwen by 36 points in the
14:59 CEST 125km/86km to go
Popovych and Freire
are doing a fair bit of the work in front at the moment, with Popo spending
nearly 40% of the time taking the wind. They are 500m from the summit of the
Côte du Pâl de Pailhes.
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
15:01 CEST 126km/85km to go
Le Mevel takes the
points on the climb ahead of Freire, Popovych and Ballan, although they didn't
really sprint for it. The bunch is motoring up the climb, 3'40 behind.
Axel Merckx (Phonak) told us today, "AG2R wont take the responsibility as they
don't have the jersey. But if they want to take the jersey, they can. I expect
a crazy start with lot of attacks, but once the right group is gone it will
go easier. The right group is an escape with not too many riders who are far
away on GC."
15:06 CEST 131km/80km to go
The bunch goes over
the top of the climb with Phonak to the fore, 3'53 behind the leading quartet.
Now it's back down again.
The pace has been high thanks to a nice
French champ Florent Brard
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
We spoke with French champion Florent
Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) today, to see whether he was up for a Quatorze Julliet
stage win. "Today's a special day for French riders - they all want to be up
front today. Of course, the public especially wants to see the French champion
out there... Yesterday was a tough stage, and I have the cyclists' disease:
my legs hurt terribly. But I'll still try, and on top of that, I spoke to the
whole peloton to let me win today for the national holiday... they were all
OK with that - but maybe some of them lied...
"I like the stage profile,
but I'm sure it will will a very fast start, and the fight for the right breakaway
will certainly last a while until it's done. We might see a sprint finish today."
15:12 CEST 133km/78km to go
The leaders are now
on the Côte de Pamiers, the final climb in today's stage. It's fairly easy:
3.9 km at 2.9%. Ballan and Freire swap off, then Popovych comes through. Le
Mevel is the only French rider in this break, but he's going to have a hard
time winning against these riders. And the peloton, which is 4'04 behind.
15:15 CEST 136km/75km to go
to set tempo for the yellow-clad Landis in the bunch, which is also on this
climb. Phonak is stronger than it looked yesterday - Floyd explained this in
the post-race press conference, that he told his teammates to take it easy yesterday.
Axel Merckx was the only rider within cooee of Landis at the finish.
Popovych takes the points on the climb ahead of Le Mevel, Ballan, and Freire.
15:17 CEST 138km/73km to go
is wearing black and white shorts, as opposed to his teammates wearing yellow
and green. Maybe the Phonak yellow didn't quite match with the maillot jaune.
We wouldn't want a clash, would we? That would be very unhip.
Landis is also riding a black and yellow bike.
Discovery team director Dirk Demol
gave us some more info on Paolo Savoldelli, who abandoned earlier today. "We
driving up the Pla-de-Beret and suddenly we saw a rider standing next to the
road with a rag to his head. I hoped it wasn't Paolo, but of course it was him.
Paolo said that a fan suddenly, unintentionally, jumped on the road. He couldn’t
brake anymore and crashed into the person. He hit the ground with his head.
We rode back down immediately to investigate the wound. He needed ten stitches
and has got quite a headache now."
15:23 CEST 137km/74km to go
JaJa Jr leads the
bunch through Pamiers, roughly four minutes behind the four leaders. In front,
Popovych seems to be enjoying himself.
15:26 CEST 144km/67km to go
The back of the bunch
is a veritable hive of activity, as various riders go back to their team cars
for water. It's fairly strung out as they leave Pamiers, 3'47 behind the break.
AG2R, with Cyril Dessel, is in the second rank of the bunch behind Phonak.
15:33 CEST 150km/61km to go
McEwen drops back
to the team cars, or perhaps to visit the race doctor.
sit 3'50 ahead of the bunch, which has the situation well in hand as it rides
past the Pamiers-les-Pujols airstrip. And a fine airstrip it is too.
15:36 CEST 152km/59km to go
The peloton cruises
past a field of sunflowers, where approximately 500 photographers are camped
out waiting to take their Tour shot of the day.
15:42 CEST 157km/54km to go
The current gap is
just under 4'00, which puts Popovych into a virtual 12th overall. He's probably
not riding for a good GC position today, but for the stage win. He'll have to
beat Freire, Ballan and Le Mevel though!
Now, will the sprinters
teams work to bring them back? Davitamon might.
15:47 CEST 160km/51km to go
The leaders are approaching
the second and last sprint of the day in Mirepoix. Look for Freire to take the
Le Mevel is motivated, but is suffering from the heat a
bit. Salt is caked over his jersey.
15:49 CEST 163km/48km to go
Popovych leads them
until 200m to go, then Ballan comes through for a short turn before Freire cruises
past the Italian to take the six points. Le Mevel is third.
crowd cheers the riders through Mirepoix. I remember this street from when we
were trying to find our hotel at about midnight in 2003.
15:52 CEST 165km/46km to go
Grabsch leads the
peloton up towards the sprint, 4'11 behind the break. It doesn't look like Davitamon
is interested in chasing yet. Maybe they're saving their powder for Evans. McEwen
can at least pick up some points for fifth, if the break doesn't come back.
Cadel Evans (Davitamon) commented
to us this morning that "Floyd Landis really impressed me, he’s riding really
good. He’s looking as the strongest climber in the race. We'll see what the
Alps will bring.
"I wasn't really happy with Menchov and Sastre,
as they were only interested in the stage win. That’s why I worked with Landis
to gain more time on guys like Klöden. Sastre nearly got away from me, but luckily
I could beat him on the line."
Davitamon is doing a good job of
controlling the back of the peloton, with Steegmans, Vansummeren and Aerts all
there. Going back to the lanterne rouge classification, maybe they want
to protect Vansevenant's position as last on GC.
15:59 CEST 169km/42km to go
Dessel looks a bit
knackered as he sits behind Landis, with the bunch going through another field
of sunflowers. If there's any chasing happening, it's gotta happen soon.
16:03 CEST 173km/38km to go
The leaders are sitting
on 60 km/h now as they negotiate a small descent, 4'16 ahead of the bunch. Boonen
has moved up to the front of the peloton, so maybe Quick.Step is interested
in a chase.
Aha - two Milram riders are on the front with Phonak.
16:04 CEST 174km/37km to go
The peloton is sitting
in the right hand cutter as Christian Knees lifts the tempo in front. The gap
is 4'33. It might be too much, but we'll see.
Some small gaps are being created
in the peloton now as the tempo in front takes its toll. Crosswinds are always
16:08 CEST 175km/36km to go
A group has been
shelled from the peloton with Simoni, Casar, Albasini, Zberg, and Steegmans,
among others. They chase at 15 seconds. Simoni was quite far back when the tempo
Still two Milrams driving it with Phonak.
16:10 CEST 177km/34km to go
to catch back onto the peloton, making contact with the end of the long tail,
where he finds a very tired Phonak rider.
The Simoni/Steegmans group
has basically given up the ghost.
16:12 CEST 178km/33km to go
The gap seems to
be stable at 4'26 as no-one is really helping Milram. Quick.Step is near the
front with Boonen, but they don't seem to be interested in setting it up for
a stage win. Especially without Cretskens, who DNF'd yesterday.
16:16 CEST 181km/30km to go
The break rides through
Fanjeaux, which is perched on a small hill to ward off attacks. The bunch doesn't
look like catching the break, despite the efforts of Milram.
chats to Landis up front.
16:17 CEST 183km/28km to go
Milram has given
up the chase and left Phonak to control the bunch to the finish. The break will
not be caught now.
16:20 CEST 186km/25km to go
We descend gradually,
towards La Force, as the break rides along the tree-lined road. Ballan's lanky
form is quite distinctive. The other riders are a lot more compact.
16:23 CEST 188km/23km to go
Grabsch, JaJa Jr
and Pena lead the peloton past 25 km to go, as Rabobank moves up its main man
Menchov to the front. Alliteration for all, I say.
16:25 CEST 189km/22km to go
Simoni's group is
still sort of chasing, but Simoni doesn't seem to have his heart in it. He's
got teammate Ricardo Ricco with him. They are trailing the bunch by over a minute.
The leaders are now 4'45 ahead of the peloton.
16:26 CEST 190km/21km to go
The four in front
ride through Montreal. "Curse, we've come too far" [to paraphrase the late,
great Spike Milligan].
The four in front will start to think
about attacking soon. The road ascends slightly here. Good time to go...
16:29 CEST 191km/20km to go
The quartet goes
under 20 km to go, still cooperating well. Who wants to ride with Freire to
the finish? No-one. But Freire is pretty handy on his own sometimes...
16:32 CEST 194km/17km to go
Freire looks almost
lazy as he leads the break on the descent out of Montreal. Phonak has kept the
gap to 4'26, so Popovych will likely move up on GC to around 11th or 12th.
16:33 CEST 196km/15km to go
The break goes under
15 km to go, with no-one looking like attacking just yet. It's still a waiting
game. The stage was pretty hard early on, so maybe everyone is a bit stuffed.
16:36 CEST 198km/13km to go
13 clicks to go in
stage 12. Will a Frenchman win on Quatorze Julliet, or will it be an
Italian, Ukrainian or Spaniard? So many possibilities. Well, not that many.
I would still bet on the Spaniard, seeing as he is the triple world champion
4'20 to the peloton.
16:38 CEST 200km/11km to go
Although Freire could
make big inroads into McEwen's lead in the green jersey classification today,
McEwen could still take fifth in the stage. Freire did win one intermediate
sprint, so that's six of the 36 points he needs to get McEwen.
16:39 CEST 201km/10km to go
It's slightly downhill
to the finish in Carcassonne, so there are no really obvious places to attack.
The 10 km to go banner approaches. Well, the break approaches it. It depends
on your frame of reference.
16:40 CEST 202km/9km to go
Freire drapes his
hands over the front of his virtual TT bars, as does Le Mevel, who is building
up even more salt on his jersey. They ride past vineyards now, but no Vino.
16:42 CEST 203km/8km to go
Robbie McEwen is not
chatting to Landis.
Up front, Popovych has attacked very hard. Let's
get it on!!!
Popovych is chased by Ballan and
Freire, while Le Mevel has problems following. Ballan tows Freire up to Popovych.
Freire counters, but he'll be caught.
16:44 CEST 205km/6km to go
Freire, but Ballan closes the gap for the third time. Then Ballan attacks with
Freire, and Popovych has to chase. This is making Le Mevel's life hard.
Popovych closes the gap and rides to the front, keeping the tempo up.
16:45 CEST 206km/5km to go
The leading three
slow, prompting Freire to attack, but it's not hard. Ballan catches him. Poker...
Of course, Popovych goes again, and Ballan chases.
16:46 CEST 207km/4km to go
Popovych doesn't quite
have the has, and the three are still together. Ballan has done all the chasing.
Le Mevel gets some help from a moto to try and rejoin the leaders. Not much
Popo goes under 4 km to go, and Ballan
chases him yet again. Freire watches on Ballan's wheel, seeing how far the Disco
rider will get.
16:47 CEST 207.5km/3.5km to go
The gap is closed
and Ballan looks back at Freire, but the Spaniard is not budging. He doesn't
have to - he looks to be the strongest today.
Le Mevel is dying,
16 seconds behind.
16:47 CEST 208km/3km to go
Popovych goes again,
Freire waits, and Ballan lifts the tempo. 3 km to go. Popovych looks good.
16:48 CEST 209km/2km to go
Popo puts his head
down and hammers, 10 seconds on Freire and Ballan, who are not really chasing.
Freire must be too tired, as he could have closed that gap easily otherwise.
He chats with Ballan.
16:49 CEST 209.5km/1.5km to go
Popovych is on
track to win the stage in Carcassonne, as he glides around several corners and
keeps the power down. A massive crowd cheers him to the finish.
16:50 CEST 210km/1km to go
Popovych goes under
1 km to go, weaving his way through the town with the crowds three or four deep
here. He looks back, and realises that he'll get it. He's happy, and so will
his team be.
Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)
rides up the finishing straight with a big grin on his face, in pain as well
as joy. He has plenty of time to celebrate his victory.
16:52 CEST 211km/0km to go
And Popovych crosses
the line to win in Carcassonne, crossing himself several times as he crosses
Le Mevel comes up on Ballan and Freire, but can't get them.
Ballan is second and Freire third, while Le Mevel takes fourth. Freire didn't
even bother contesting that sprint - he gave it to Ballan.
Lampre and Phonak lead out the bunch,
which is going for fifth place. McEwen is there on Boonen's wheel, behind Zabel.
Zabel gets led out by Velo, then De Jongh leads Boonen up to the last corner.
Bennati is right up there, with McEwen in his wheel. In the end, it's Boonen
who gets it (at last) from McEwen! Pretty solid sprint there.
So the GC doesn't really change much,
with Popovych just moving into the top 10. Floyd keeps the yellow jersey, McEwen
stays in green, De la Fuente stays in dots, and Fothen stays in white. Everyone
We'll be back with the post-Quatorze Julliet stage
tomorrow, between Beziers and Montélimar. Until then, adieu!
1 Yaroslav Popovyvch (Ukr) Discovery Channel 4.34.58
2 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 0.27
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 0.29
4 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Crédit Agricole 0.35
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step-Innergetic 4.25
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
7 Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
9 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
General classification after stage 12
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 53.57.30
2 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 0.08
3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.01
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.17
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.52
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
7 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 3.22
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Agritubel 3.33
9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 3.44
10 Yaroslav Popovyvch (Ukr) Discovery Channel 4.15
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