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93rd Tour de France - ProT

France, July 1-23, 2006

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Stage 14 - Sunday, July 16: Montélimar-Gap / 181km

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan, Hedwig Kröner and Brecht Decaluwé

Live report

Live coverage starts: 12:50 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST

12:47 CEST   
Welcome back from the Hindenburg V-1, which is amazingly still airborne after two weeks of following Le Tour de France. Today, the objective is to get it to Gap, starting point Montélimar, and we'll have 180.5 km to do it in. It's another warm day, with temps at the moment hovering at 28 degrees, but expected to rise a bit more throughout the day. There's also a light wind blowing.

It's a tough stage too, with the cat. 3 climb of Côte du Bois-de-Salles coming after only 14 km, a 5.1 km climb at 4.2%. That is followed by the Cat. 3 Col de Peyruergue (km 72.5, a 5.5 km climb at 4.8%), the Cat. 2 Col de Perty (km 97, 8.8 km climb at 5.1%), and the Cat. 2 Col de la Sentinelle (km 171, 5.2 km climb at 5%), where the winning move today is likely to be made.

It's not a day for the sprinters, but there are two intermediate sprints at La Bonté (km 50.0) and La Plaine (km 160.5).

13:01 CEST   
After 4.5 km of neutral out of Montélimar, the flag drops and we're under way in stage 14!

13:06 CEST    3km/178km to go
David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Ruben Lobato (Saunier Duval) have the honour of being the first attackers in stage 14. They are joined by Bjorn Schroeder (Milram).

13:07 CEST    5km/176km to go
The three out in front have a 15 second gap on the Discovery Channel-led peloton, as the road gently climbs in this first part of the stage.

13:09 CEST   
The advantage grows to 20 seconds as the trio try hard to make this escape the good one.

13:13 CEST    8km/173km to go
The leaders go out to 25 seconds, but now are back to just 15 seconds as the peloton gives chase. Two Germans and a Spaniard in front, with Lobato the best on GC in 38th at 21'20 down. Now a group of counter attackers has split off the front of the peloton.

13:14 CEST   
Française des Jeux and AG2R are trying to get one of their men up front, so they are doing the work in the bunch. It's aggressive racing early on, as usual.

13:15 CEST   
The leaders hit the foot of the Côte du Bois-de-Salles with just 10 seconds.

13:17 CEST    10km/171km to go
Schröder is the first to drop off the break, which is being caught by the bunch on the climb.

13:18 CEST    11km/170km to go
The break is caught halfway up the climb, and it's peloton groupé for a bit.

13:21 CEST    12.5km/168.5km to go
Damiano Cunego and Rik Verbrugghe have tried a counter attack on the climb, but it goes nowhere. Meanwhile, the high pace has put Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) and Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas) in trouble off the back of the bunch.

13:25 CEST    16km/165km to go
Over the top of the climb, a new escape goes with George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile), Stephane Goubert (AG2R-Prevoyance), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Alessandro Ballan, Salvatore Commesso, Tadej Valjavec (Lampre-Fondital), David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), José Rujano (Quick-Step-Innergetic) and Iker Camaño (Euskaltel-Euskadi). They have a 20 second gap.

13:29 CEST    20km/161km to go
This break of 10 now has half a minute as the bunch tries to chase.

The climb was won by Michael Boogerd (working for Rasmussen, presumably) from Eddy Mazzoleni, Jose Rujano, and Stephane Goubert. Boogerd is 16th on GC at 7'23, so this might not be the break.

13:32 CEST    23km/158km to go
There is plenty of horsepower in the break, and also no green jersey threats. Boogerd is sixth on the mountains classification, but should not threaten De la Fuente's lead today. The gap grows to 35 seconds, with Phonak (surprisingly) on the front of the bunch.

13:38 CEST    27km/154km to go
The gap comes back to 25 seconds, prompting Commesso to attack. He's one of three Lampre riders in the break.

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) is another early victim of the pace today. He's off the back of the bunch.

13:40 CEST    29km/152km to go
The break sort of disintegrates, and Hincapie, Mazzoleni and Camaño catch Commesso. The four have 20 seconds on the bunch.

Boogerd's presence in the break probably doomed it.

13:42 CEST    30km/151km to go
A couple of riders try to get across to Hincapie's group, but fail. The four lead by just 12 seconds. It doesn't seem like the right break, even though Hincapie is 24'28 down on GC, and the best placed.

13:46 CEST    33km/148km to go
David Moncoutié (Cofidis) and lanterne rouge Seb Joly (FDJ) try to bridge up to the four man break, which still has a small lead.

13:48 CEST    34km/147km to go
Moncoutié and Joly fail to get across, but it doesn't matter anyway as the bunch catches Hincapie and co.

13:49 CEST   
Commesso, Kessler and Fedrigo are the next to try. Commesso is certainly up for it today.

13:51 CEST    36km/145km to go
They are joined by several more riders, and we have a very high powered break: Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), Carlos Sastre (Team CSC - 6th on GC), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Christophe Moreau (AG2R-Prevoyance), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Salvatore Commesso (Lampre-Fondital), Patxi Vila (Lampre-Fondital), Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom).

The peloton is at 20 seconds, and is probably interested in chasing them.

13:53 CEST    37km/144km to go
Five riders in the group are in the top 20 on GC! They get 14 seconds, but most of the guns drop out and we are left with Martinez, Kessler, Aerts, Commesso and Fedrigo in front.

13:56 CEST    40km/141km to go
The latest leaders up their advantage to 25 seconds as they continue to pour on the pace in this first hour. Now is often a critical time for a break to go clear.

13:57 CEST    41km/140km to go
Fedrigo is the best on GC at 26'12, so that's unlikely to worry anyone. And there are no green or polkadot jersey threats either. It has the right ingredients for a small, but perfectly formed breakaway.

14:00 CEST    45km/136km to go
They race through Nyons and the gap grows to a dangerous 35 seconds. Commesso is determined to make it work, and Kessler is strong as well.

14:04 CEST    48km/133km to go
The break works hard through the Les Pilles (pop. 240), which is really pumping today. The first sprint at La Bonté is coming soon.

14:07 CEST    51km/130km to go
The gap is still 30 seconds as the leaders race through La Bonté. One rider is trying to bridge across solo.

14:09 CEST    52km/129km to go
Aerts wins the sprint ahead of Fedrigo and Martinez, as the Rabobank rider who was chasing - Juan Antonio Flecha - is caught by the bunch.

14:12 CEST    55km/126km to go
David Canada (Saunier Duval) and Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) are chasing the leading five now. Meanwhile, Canada's teammate Gilberto Simoni is five minutes behind. Could be race over for him.

14:14 CEST   
The average for the first hour is 46.8 km/h, which is about the norm for these stages. Yesterday's was the fastest at 50.4 km/h, but the overall average slowed to 42.5 km/h by the finish.

14:15 CEST    57km/124km to go
Padrnos, Flecha, Voeckler and Grivko are chasing the chasers.

14:16 CEST   
Patxi Vila (Lampre) has been in a few move already today. He spoke to Cyclingnews at the start, saying, "I want to get into a break. I'm always trying. I feel good, I'm not very tired yet. If I don't make it today, then I'll try again later maybe. But I hope to succeed today."

14:19 CEST    60km/121km to go
The racing is still full gas as they pass through Sainte-Jalle. The bunch is strung out in pursuit of the various breakaways. Ahead, we have Fedrigo, E. Martinez, Kessler, Aerts and Commesso. Verbrugghe and Canada are at 18 seconds, then Padrnos, Flecha, Grivko and Voeckler at 25 seconds, then the bunch at 35 seconds.

14:22 CEST    64km/117km to go
The attacks are constant in the peloton as Verbrugghe and Canada grab bidons from the water moto and pull themselves a bit closer to the leaders. Commesso gets a free ride from the back to the front of the break as he holds onto the moto for a bit longer.

Verbrugghe and Canada have almost closed the gap.

14:23 CEST    65km/116km to go
Ballan is coming back to the peloton after a mechanical. He gets a handy bidon. A group of about 15 has split off the front of the bunch in pursuit of the leaders, which will soon number seven. Flecha and co have been caught.

14:25 CEST   
The leaders: Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom ), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Salvatore Commesso (Lampre-Fondital). Egoi Martinez has dropped out of the break.

Verbrugghe and Canada haven't been able to close the gap. They are with Martinez now at 15 seconds.

14:27 CEST    66km/115km to go
Caisse d'Epargne has got to the front of the bunch and has slowed down the tempo a bit. Then Mick Rogers (who has a teammate in the break) signals for a time out. The gap to the bunch goes out to 45 seconds.

14:30 CEST    68km/113km to go
The leaders hit the Cat. 3 Col de Peyruergue with three riders still chasing at 17 seconds. The bunch looks to have pulled the pin for the time being.

Erik Zabel gets a mechanical at probably a good time, and is chasing back on.

14:31 CEST    69km/112km to go
Kessler leads the break onto the climb, with his jersey completely unzipped, showing his very holey undershirt. Fedrigo and Commesso roll through for their turns, then Aerts. It's not too steep yet.

The bunch is back at 1'22, while the three chasers (Verbrugghe, Martinez and Canada) are still dangling at 17 seconds.

14:34 CEST    70km/111km to go
The climb steepens and Kessler continues to set a firm tempo with Fedrigo following him. He looks back. There are now just two chasers: Canada and Verbrugghe at 20 seconds. They haven't given up, although they've lost Martinez.

14:37 CEST    71km/110km to go
Caisse d'Epargne leads the bunch at a more sedate pace, with Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta on the front.

Now Verbrugghe has dropped David Canada. If he can get close at the top, he can bridge on the descent. No, he doesn't need to. He's with the leaders. Maybe Canada can get them too.

Tom Boonen is at the back of the bunch, together with Axel Merckx.

14:38 CEST   
Yep, the Saunier Duval rider tacks onto the back before the top. Six leaders: Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Salvatore Commesso (Lampre-Fondital), David Canada (Saunier Duval), Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis).

Peloton at 3'09, with Egoi Martinez somewhere in between.

14:41 CEST    73km/108km to go
Commesso is first over the top of the Col de Peyruergue ahead of Aerts, Kessler and Fedrigo.

The peloton is still over three minutes back. Steegmans is towards the rear.

14:43 CEST    75km/106km to go
Martinez comes over the top of the climb at 2'40, but will probably be caught by the bunch, which is at 3'40.

14:47 CEST    79km/102km to go
Martinez comes back to the bunch on the descent, and Garcia Acosta leads it.

The front six have reached the feed zone in Saint-Auban-Sur-L'ouveze. All the riders grab musettes and look what they've got for lunch.

14:52 CEST    83km/98km to go
The bunch reaches the feed zone and there's the usual traffic jam while riders all grab their bags. Caisse d'Epargne set a relaxed pace on the front, with Pereiro looking very slick in his yellow jersey and black/red shorts. Plenty of riders are downing cans of drink too.

15:02 CEST    88km/93km to go
The gap grows to 4'46 as the bunch settles into a steady rhythm. There's no way the leaders will get half an hour today, like yesterday.

Behind Pereiro, Sastre and Schleck are well placed, then Evans, Landis and most of the other GC riders.

Mirko Celestino has abandoned. 159 riders left.

15:08 CEST    91km/90km to go
the leaders are on the Col de Perty, with Fedrigo and Kessler swamping off steadily. Fedrigo sits on the back for a bit, looking for his team car. Verbrugghe gets some sunglasses from his team car.

This is an 8.8 km climb at 5.1%.

15:12 CEST    92km/89km to go
It's hot work on this climb, and Kessler drinks from his bidon again. Their gap is 5'28 and looks good for the finish, although it'll depend if other teams want to chase. Doubtful.

15:20 CEST    95km/86km to go
There's a Quick.Step rider helping out Caisse d'Epargne in the pace making. That's interesting. This is not really a Boonen stage, but it might be one for someone like Garate or Rujano.

The break is still on the Col de Perty, which twists and turns up a fairly scrubby hillside. Kessler looks to be the strongest on the climbs, but Commesso is good too. Verbrugghe and Canada don't quite look as strong.

15:22 CEST    96km/85km to go
It's now back to three Caisse d'Epargne riders on the front, including Florent Brard, resplendent in his national champion's tricolore jersey. Last year's French national champ Pierrick Fedrigo is up the road.

Magnus Bäckstedt has abandoned. He's the second rider to quit today.

15:28 CEST    98km/83km to go
Julian Dean is being dropped with Voeckler on the climb, although the latter appears to be hunting for his team car in the caravan.

Canada goes over the summit of the Col de Perty first, ahead of Aerts, Fedrigo, and Commesso. The break is all together on the descent, which has recently been resurfaced in bits.

There's a traffic jam in the peloton on the narrow roads.

15:30 CEST    102km/79km to go
Kessler and Verbrugghe are gapped a bit on the descent, but Kessler pulls the Belgian back to the other four. It's tricky work, bringing back memories of the Joseba Beloki crash in 2003.

Steegmans is off the back of the bunch, which keeps a 5'40 gap to the break.

15:33 CEST    103km/78km to go
In the bunch, Mercado takes the points for seventh.

Kessler is not descending well - he's always a bit off the back of the break. The roads are pretty tricky.

Hincapie is back with the Discovery team car, getting bidons.

Jimmy Casper is here too. We spoke to the Cofidis sprinter before the start: "There's going to be a break, but it's possible that it will take very long to establish itself, depending on who is in it.

"It's always very funny because the directeurs sportifs have to calculate very quickly in the team cars to see if they'll let a break establish itself or not. We're still all motivated at Cofidis, guys like Chavanel, Moncoutié and so on."

15:36 CEST    105km/76km to go
Vasseur leads the peloton on the descent, while his teammate Pozzato is in last wheel. The bunch is very careful on the right hairpins and bumpy, sticky roads.

15:38 CEST    108km/73km to go
Commesso, who is showing more sleeve than usual, chats to Kessler, who is sitting on the back of the break for a bit. The peloton snakes down the descent, 5'40 behind the leaders. Today is pretty barren as far as spectators are concerned.

15:41 CEST    110km/71km to go
Flecha is at the back of the bunch, with Casper, bumping his way down the descent Vasseur is still on the front, with Brard on his wheel.

15:44 CEST   

15:47 CEST   
The leaders continue onwards, past the regular adoring fans. Kessler leads, then Mario Aerts takes over. Back in the bunch, the speed is on...it's one long, snaking line at the moment and some gaps are opening.

15:50 CEST    117km/64km to go
Quick.Step are driving it, back at the head of the bunch. There are a lot of guys fighting to hold wheels; legs will certainly be getting tired at this point of the race.

Pieter Weening, jersey stuffed with bottles, punctures but gets a quick change.

15:51 CEST   
He'd a big pile of bottles down the back of his jersey...that's mess up his aerodynamics as he chases to get back on. Heavy, too!

15:52 CEST    120km/61km to go
The riders are passing through another gorge; this is a beautiful part of the country.

At the back of the peloton, Dave Zabriskie is on water duty.

15:54 CEST   
The Quick.Step riders continue to chase. They are noticeably bigger than most Tour participants, which is no wonder given that many of them are Classics specialists.

Rujano, of course, doesn't quite fit this description!

15:54 CEST   
Verbrugghe looks under pressure at the back of the break; the speed was on there for a second.

15:58 CEST    124km/57km to go
Pozzato does a big turn at the front. The gap is now 5'20.

16:01 CEST    128km/53km to go
Rujano or Garate must be feeling good today, because it's hard to imagine Boonen getting over that final climb with the leaders. Or perhaps a deal has been done ;-)

5'18 now, so the gap's not coming down very much.

16:02 CEST   
The leaders are working well together and so far have been able to hold off the chase behind.

16:04 CEST   
Ah, Boonen is sitting in this line of QuickStep riders. Is he working? For now, it's Pozzato who is doing a long turn.

The team still hasn't won a stage yet, so perhaps they are trying a different approach today..

16:06 CEST   
A Liquigas rider is also up there...it is Kjell Carlström. So he is also riding.

16:08 CEST    132km/49km to go
Up front, Commesso has a chat to his team car.

Ah, Boonen isn't working. Maybe he strapped his climbing legs on today and he fancies his chances of getting over the second cat climb?

16:10 CEST   
The average speed after 3 hours of racing is 42.6 km/h.

The six leaders are now 4'45, so the gap is coming down.

16:12 CEST    135km/46km to go
Pereiro is looking relaxed. Yesterday was a dream recovery for him, as his morale must have been badly shook after the first mountains.

Up from, Commesso takes over, then former French champ Fedrigo takes his turn. Verbrugghe seems to be at the back quite a lot of the time, so he is either a) stuffed, or b) saving something for a sneaky one later.

16:15 CEST   
Three Liquigas riders are now heading the chase. They may well be riding for Garzelli, who is celebrating his birthday today. He's a decent climber and has a very good finish from a small group, so if that second cat climb thins things out he could get a nice present.

16:18 CEST   
The riders go past a number of very big paintings, displayed by the side of the road. Each one is of a well known cyclist, although we'd have to get closer to see who they are! The Hindenburg V-1 is a bit unstable close to the ground so we'd better not risk it for now. Wiping out the peloton would be a bad move, methinks... Definite blot on the copybook for next year.

16:19 CEST    141km/40km to go
The gap is 4'08 with 40 kilometres remaining. So it's possible for this move to come back.

Milram are now contributing to the chase. I think someone forgot to tell the sprinters that there is a Cat 2 climb near the end.

16:20 CEST   
Canada and Kessler have crashed out! Verbrugghe also went down...

16:21 CEST   
The riders were going around a bend and Canada lost it, sliding down and to the left.. Kessler was behind him and had nowhere to go, being pitched up over the safety barrier. Luckily there wasn't much of a drop.

16:23 CEST   
Verbrugghe also went down, even though he was ahead of Canada and Kessler... There was a lot of gravel on the road and they were going very fast. Kessler and Canada are up, although the latter looks like he has broken his collarbone. His jersey is in ribbons.

Verbrugghe is lying in the ditch and his arm is covered in blood. He's getting medical attention...we think he is conscious.

We just hope the peloton stays upright...this is one benefit of race radios, the riders will know what is coming up.

16:25 CEST    147km/34km to go
So there are just three leaders now. That's a real pity, it's a hard way to lose out. Kessler is up and on the bike. His fall was dramatic, considering he went over the barriers; luckily that wasn't on a descent. He's lost time, though, and is probably pretty bruised. He looks to be waiting for the bunch.

16:28 CEST   
Lanterne Rouge Sebastien Joly (Française des Jeux) has attacked...off the back of the bunch. So he's defending his 'lead' in that classification.

Up front, Commesso digs in. Those clear have seen their chances improve from 6 to 1 to 3 to 1, but more importantly, they have less firepower to actually make it to the finish.

16:29 CEST    149km/32km to go
Liquigas continue to do most of the riding, with one Milram guy there too.

Commesso rolls up his sleeves. Maybe that's the Italian equivalent of throwing down the gauntlet..

16:30 CEST    150.5km/30.5km to go
The three leaders have 3'25 now. To recap, they are Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom - best on GC at 26'12), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto) and Salvatore Commesso (Lampre-Fondital).

There are no cows in the break.

16:32 CEST   
The peloton is in one long line; that's a marked contract to yesterday, which was a long but relatively easy day for the riders.

David Millar (Saunier Duval) is near the back of the bunch, looking for team support. Probably bottles, rather than a mechanical.

16:34 CEST    153.5km/27.5km to go
The pace seems to have eased a bit in the bunch, as the riders are now more bunched up.

Commesso has been in good form during this Tour. He had a couple of quiet years. Fedrigo and Aerts sit behind him, realise they are not getting much of a slipstream, and then come through.

The gap is now 3'17, so they are doing a good job of holding on. They could lose a lot of time on the climb, though, if fresher guys decide to put the hammer down.

16:37 CEST    156km/25km to go
Next up, there is a sprint at La Plaine (km 160.5), 20.5 km from the end, and then the second category climb of Col de la Sentinelle. This is 5.2 km long and averages five percent. The summit is just 10 km from the line, so that is the perfect springboard.

The leaders now have just 25 kilometres to go.

16:39 CEST   
A Liquigas/Milram team drive it, followed by the Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears squad and the race leader himself. He's not working, of course, and neither are his team-mates, for now.

Garzelli is near the front, looking eager...

16:40 CEST   
Fedrigo signals for his car. They are just 3 km from the sprint now. The bunch is going under the 25 km to go banner.

16:42 CEST    159km/22km to go
Kessler is in the main bunch, looking quite comfortable but also disappointed. He missed out on a good chance there. Looking on the bright side, he's been able to continue; it looked like Canada was out, and Verbrugghe may also be calling it quits.

16:43 CEST    159.6km/21.4km to go
The three leaders are readying themselves for the second and final intermediate sprint. They are now just 2'44 ahead of the bunch.

16:44 CEST   
500 metres to go to the sprint. Commesso is at the back and out of the saddle, then sits down again.

16:45 CEST   
Aerts leads, the Commesso comes through. He leads them over the line, followed by Fedrigo and Aerts. They didn't go for it, just rolled on through.

16:47 CEST   
One of the Liquigas riders tears around a corner and almost amputates the toes of a spectator with his front wheel...that'd be an unwelcome (and rather severe) pedicure.

Garate stops...new bike... He's up and going again, but that will be annoying for him, especially in the closing stages.

16:49 CEST    162.5km/18.5km to go
A number of riders have been dropped by the bunch, including Casar, Moncoutié and Bennati...

Quinziato (Liquigas) is driving it on the front. The Discovery Channel team are coming closer to the front.

16:50 CEST    164.9km/16.1km to go
Fedrigo has been doing 41 percent of the work in the last five minutes, more than the other two.

The leaders are now 2'12 clear. A lot of the big guns are moving closer to the front, as are the Phonak team... This last climb could be fun (for us, who aren't on the bikes)

16:51 CEST   
More riders are waving bye bye, due to the pace. Kessler is one to let go of the peloton.

Commesso leads up front, the Fedrigo comes through. They've got to keep plugging away and hope that the tactics being played out behind can work in their favour.

16:52 CEST    166km/15km to go
Many riders are being dropped, several of them French. The leaders are now on the climb.

16:53 CEST   
The gap is now 2'05...it's possible... There seems to be a stall on behind.

16:53 CEST   
Fedrigo is leading, with Commesso on his wheel. Aerts looks to be suffering.

16:54 CEST   
The peloton are now on the climb... Gerolsteiner drive it..

16:54 CEST   
Calzati attacks! He's won a stage...can he get another?

16:55 CEST   
He's got a gap of about five seconds... Boonen has been dropped....so too Millar.. Flecha...

Fedrigo is driving it, Commesso stays with him. Aerts is goooooooooooone...

16:56 CEST    168.8km/12.2km to go
Aerts is a lonely figure, dropped and losing time.

Calzati is being reeled in, I think..

16:57 CEST   
There was a crash in the bunch, but the riders are up again. Nothing serious.

Calzati is caught... Phonak are leading, with Boogerd also up there.

16:58 CEST   
The urgency has gone out of this bunch..it looked like the big guns were going to start firing, but the pace is more settled now.

Chavanel was one of those caught in the crash...Wiggins is driving it, trying to get him back up.

16:59 CEST   
Commesso had a go, but wasn't able to shake off the Frenchman...

17:00 CEST   
It's all together at the front of the peloton, with two Saunier Duval riders leading it. Fedrigo and Commesso are still climbing, side by side.. They are getting close to the top.

Aerts is chasing but he's a bit back..

17:02 CEST    170.7km/10.3km to go
Calzati is now at the back of the peloton, his move having being brought back. Also at the back is Juan Miguel Mercado, another stage winner this year.

Chavanel is still chasing hard; he'll do what he can to get back up to the peloton, but will be annoyed about that tumble.

17:03 CEST   
Rasmussen, Boogerd, De La Fuente are pushing the pace now.. The others are coming back to them, though..

17:04 CEST    174.7km/6.3km to go
Aerts has been caught.. Landaluze leads, with Boogerd, Landis, Evans, Popovych all close to the front.

Correction: De La Fuente wasn't the Saunier Duval rider who was clear. He's been dropped. So if Rasmussen takes third on the climb, he'll be second overall in the KOM classification.

17:05 CEST   
The two leaders are now just 45" ahead. Commesso leads over the top, with Fedrigo second. Boogerd is giving it loads, going for third. So Rasmussen must be feeling stuffed. Schleck is fourth.

They have a slight lead over the top, and are now just 32" back.

17:06 CEST    172.1km/8.9km to go
Boogerd is driving it on the descent while up front, Commesso leads Fedrigo.

17:08 CEST   
Popovych leads down the descent. He was clear in a little group, but they have been caught. It's quite spread out, though, with gaps opening up. Pereiro is right up there, too.

De La Fuente trails over the top of the climb, having lost a lot of time.

17:08 CEST    175km/6km to go
The descent looks slippy but Moreau doesn't care...he goes for it and gets a slight gap. Hincapie is with him.

17:10 CEST    176km/5km to go
The motorbikes are now going by the two leaders...they look like they will be caught.

The front of the peloton have come back up to Moreau and Hincapie. Totschnig goes, with Popovych on his wheel. Lance Armstrong is supposed to be arriving on the Tour in Gap, so his riders are probably keen to impress the boss.

17:12 CEST    177km/4km to go
The leaders are still descending, and have 20 seconds...this will be close...

Behind, Popovych is driving it, with Azevedo on his wheel. Moreau is next, with Evans, Rogers, Hincapie all there.

17:12 CEST    178km/3km to go
Mercado has made a good recovery and had a go there. Boogerd covered it, though.

17:13 CEST   
Commesso and Fedrigo are flooring it, trying to stay clear. This descent is twisting, that will help them.

17:13 CEST    179km/2km to go
Two kilometres....can they hold on?

17:14 CEST   
There is only about ten seconds in it now...there are about 30 riders in the bunch, and most of them want to bring this move back...

17:14 CEST   
Discovery continue to drive it.. Garzelli is in fifth position, thinking of birthday cake and stage victories (not necessarily in that order)

17:15 CEST    179 km/1 km to go
Commesso goes but Fedrigo gets him. Behind, Vandevelde attacks...

17:15 CEST   
They have only 500 to go...Commesso leads from Fedrigo..

17:15 CEST   
Vandevelde is chasing hard.. He is getting close..

17:16 CEST   
Fedrigo makes Commesso sit on the front, then he goes... He wins! Fedrigo first, then Commesso.

17:17 CEST   
So that's another stage win for France...we think that is three so far.

Vandevelde was actually the rider in third, with Moreau and Totschnig fourth and fifth.

17:18 CEST   
Fedrigo was very cool there... Vandevelde was closing but the Frenchman waited and waited... Commesso then ended up leading it out, going hard from the front. Fedrigo picked his moment and then blasted by, winning quite easily. He's delighted...

17:20 CEST   
No change in the overall, so all the favourites were up there at the end. Evans was interviewed by TV and said it was a bit dangerous towards the finish, with that descent. That (and the lack of any organised chase) undoubtedly helped the two leaders to stay clear.

17:20 CEST   
Unfortunate news...Verbrugghe broke his thigh, so he's out of the race.

17:23 CEST   
De La Fuente crosses the line, 5'25 down. Rasmussen got fifth on that last climb and that was enough to move him up to second overall in the KOM classification. De La Fuente still leads but he won't be confident of holding on once the Alps come. Boogerd is also looking good on the climbs, so together with Menchov, Rabobank will have three riders going well in the mountains.

17:25 CEST   
Fedrigo got it by about three bike lengths...

A big bus of riders come in, with McEwen, Zabel, Freire and Boonen all there. They were quite a way back, well over 7 minutes. We are still mystified as to why Quick.Step were driving it earlier...c'est bizarre!

17:30 CEST   
So no significant change in the green jersey competition. McEwen's rival's don't have much time now, with the next sprint finish likely to be on Friday... We've got three hard days in the mountains before then. The most they can hope for there is some intermediate points, but it won't be easy. At all.

17:32 CEST   
Tomorrow is, of course, a rest day. The riders will take a well-earned break, then come out fighting for l'Alpe d'Huez. That should be a super stage, especially as things are still tight overall. Can Pereiro hold on? It's unlikely, but he'll do his utmost.

17:34 CEST   
And that's where we leave it for now. We, of course, don't get a rest day tomorrow, so surf on over for more news stories and features. Before then, we'll have full reports, results and photos from today's stage a little later on. Au revoir!


1 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                       4.14.23 (42.573 km/h)
2 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                             
3 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC                              0.03
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance                          0.07
5 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                   
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas                                      
7 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                       
8 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Cofidis                                        
9 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                              
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                   

General classification after stage 14
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears           64.05.04
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak                                        1.29
3 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance                               1.37
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                     2.30
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                2.46
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                     3.21
7 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile                                    3.58
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile                                    4.51
9 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Agritubel                              5.02
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance                         5.13


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