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94th Tour de France - ProT

France, July 7-29, 2007

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Stage 11 - Thursday, July 19: Marseille - Montpellier, 182.5km

Live commentary by Shane Stokes and Bjorn Haake

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 13:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST

Welcome back to the Cyclingnews live coverage from the Tour de France. Today's stage 11 over 182.5 kilometres from Marseille to Montpellier is expected to be one for the sprinters, as it's their last chance before the risk of getting eliminated in the Pyrénées. But green jersey leader Tom Boonen wants to make it to Paris, so is looking for another win to add more points to his cushion. There is a long neutral start today (25 minutes). The Départ réel is in about ten minutes.

13:09 CEST   
We expect a few more readers from Germany as the public TV channels have stopped broadcasting the race as of yesterday, following the news that T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz was tested positive for testosterone in his A-sample. ARD and ZDF said they would not broadcast until the result of the B-sample is known, which may come in only after the Tour.

13:13 CEST   
Yesterday's tenth stage marked the halfway point in the race and saw eleven riders go clear and fight it out for the stage win. When hostilities commenced in the last hour of race five forged ahead and in the final dash for the line, Cedric Vasseur (Quickstep Innergetic) came out ahead of his fellow Frenchman Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux).

Michael Albasini (Liquigas), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole) and Jens Voigt (CSC) were also in the final-kilometre scrap but they were not quick enough for the win.

Vasseur won a stage [and held yellow for five days] back in 1997, ten years ago. So he's going out in style in what is his last Tour.

13:14 CEST   
We want to point out once again our new SRM and GPS data feature, thanks to our partners SRM and the sponsor of the live telemetry, T-Mobile. On the bottom of the screen there is a link titled "Click here to see Live Rider Data and Positioning." From there you can see live data from several riders. Watts, heart rate, speed and cadence, along with GPS data where the riders are.

We hope that this feature will help you better judge the performances of the riders and hopefully also better track the riders on the route

Please note the SRM and T-Mobile telemetry needs the latest version of the Java runtime environment to be installed on the user's system. If you don't have this - and it's useful, non-invasive software needed for many web-based applications - please visit the Sun website for the Java download page. When the telemetry page opens, please select a rider and then wait a few moments for the data to begin to load. Each day we will update the riders using this equipment, as the group of riders who are connected each day will change. In addition to today's group, other riders who may also be connected in subsequent stages include Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) and Christian Vande Velde (CSC) .

And feel free to email us to the commentary box what you think about the live data.

13:15 CEST   
The real start is happening right now.

13:16 CEST   
As was seen yesterday, these long, hot transition stages are perfect for breaks to succeed. The riders are starting to tire at this point and so for many in the peloton, a slightly easier day is just the ticket. The green jersey competition is also a factor; Tom Boonen's Quickstep team didn't want to chase yesterday as that would expose Boonen to losing a chunk of points if anything had gone wrong. In the end he finished second in the bunch gallop, slightly fortifying his lead over closest maillot vert rival Erik Zabel (Milram).

Of course, Vasseur is also from Boonen's team so it all worked out well for the squad.

13:21 CEST   
Former pro Marcel Wüst, who won a total of 14 stages in all three Grand Tours combined, answered questions from Spiegel readers today and talked briefly about the wattage to be expected from a sprinter. Read more in our Latest News edition

13:22 CEST   
Immediately after the start of racing Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) attacked. He was joined by former KOM leader Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and the two Frenchmen tried to steal a march. However this was nullified at km 2.

13:23 CEST   
The peloton has split thanks to the fast start. There are a lot of tired legs out there.

13:23 CEST   
There's perhaps 20 riders in the front group. If it stays clear we'll give you some names.

13:29 CEST    7km/175.5km to go
The leaders have an advantage of approximately 15 seconds now.

13:35 CEST   
The riders of the T-Mobile team have been dealing with yesterday's news about Patrik Sinkewitz' positive A sample. He was tested while at the team training camp on June 8th and reportedly had a testosterone level 6 times greater than the maximum permitted threshold.

Sinkewitz is not officially positive until the B sample confirms the first reading, but there is seldom a difference between the two. It is likely that an IRMS evaluation will be carried out to determine if the testosterone was indeed from an artificial source. One idea for anti-doping authorities would be to randomly subject a certain number of urine samples to this specific test. If for example one in five of tests were screened for artificial testosterone (whether or not it was above the 4:1 threshold) it would appear to be one way to drastically reduce the use of the substance.

13:35 CEST   
No SRM data for Patrik Sinkewitz is available, today, of course. It would be quite interesting to see his heart rate display these days.

13:40 CEST   
The T-Mobile team has this year introduced a lot of testing plus a very rigorous ethical code. The remaining T-Mobile riders at the Tour were reportedly very angry and disappointed at yesterday's news, knowing that it puts a question mark over the future of the team.

Given that it is one of the leaders in the anti-doping fight, it would seem to be very unfortunate if it did indeed stop because of what one rider may have done. 28 other riders, the team staff and their families would effectively pay the price for the actions of one, after all.

13:48 CEST   
The situation: At km 12.5 nine riders were ahead, namely David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne), Jens Voigt (CSC), Daniele Bennati (Lampre - Fondital), Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner), Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Sylvain Chavanel and Nick Nuyens (Cofidis), Benoit Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Barloworld).

There are 19 chasers.

13:49 CEST    25km/157.5km to go
The peloton caught the chasers and is now approximately 50" behind the nine leaders.

13:51 CEST   
Voigt is clearly annoyed at having missed out yesterday, and has gone up the road again. He was strong during the stage to Marseille but couldn't shake off the others.

13:57 CEST   

French champion Christophe Moreau
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

13:57 CEST   
The riders follow a mainly westerly route today, initially moving north out of Marseille in the direction of the beautiful city of Avignon, but then veering off towards Arles and Montpellier, the finish point. It's really very flat, with just one categorised climb coming 38 km after the start. This is the fourth category Calissanne and won't pose much problems to the heavier bodies in the field.

Just before that, there is a sprint at La Fare Les Oliviers (km 31.5) and then another at Arles (km 96.5). Immediately after that the riders hit the feed zone for some nosh.

13:58 CEST    31km/151.5km to go
Christophe Moreau, the French champion and leader of the Ag2r team, crashed but is back on his bike. Meanwhile in the break, Bennati beat Nuyens and Fédrigo in the first sprint of the day.

14:01 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown is on the course and reports that the weather is a bit cooler today. It's about 30 degrees Celsius out there, so that will give respite to the riders.

14:04 CEST    38km/144.5km to go
At the Côte de Calissanne (km 38), Siutsou took top points ahead of Fédrigo and Nuyens.

14:12 CEST   
The gap is now up to 1'45.

14:17 CEST   
The nine leaders have covered 50.8 kilometres in the first hour of racing.

14:21 CEST   
Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown before the start that he was hoping to be in a break today. He expected tomorrow's stage to be harder than today, but the bottom line for him is that "I need to try everyday." As he found out yesterday, though, where he tried multiple times but missed the right move that stayed clear, things don't always work out as planned to be in the break. It is instead his teammate Daniele Bennati who couldn't wait for the sprint and is now in that 9-man break.

Ballan rolls over the line
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

14:24 CEST    57km/125.5km to go
Australian rider Simon Gerrans also fell in the crash with Moreau. We presume he has been able to continue.

Meanwhile, Milram, Predictor Lotto, Rabobank and Euskaltel are chasing behind. Zabel is second in the points classification and so Milram want to give him every chance in that competition.

Given that he is quite a good climber when compared to other sprinters, tomorrow's stage may be his best chance. There is a second category climb with 48 kilometres to go and then quite a lumpy parcours for another 20 kilometres or so. If Boonen gets left behind Zabel might have a chance.

Current situation

  • David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Jens Voigt (Team CSC), Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital), Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner), Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Sylvain Chavanel and Nick Nuyens (Cofidis), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française Des Jeux) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Barloworld)
  • Peloton at 1.20

14:32 CEST    63km/119.5km to go
The gap is falling; it's now just 55"

14:36 CEST   
Hans Michael Holczer, the team director of the Gerolsteiner team, is following the break, which contains Heinrich Haussler. Holczer said that the break has one problem, it's called Arroyo. "Well, the problem is his GC standing, he's only about 7 and 1/2 minutes back, so this is not a break that will get 15 or 20 minutes." Holczer has seen the chase going on for about 60 kilometres at some 50 km/h.

14:39 CEST   
Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r Prévoyance) has pulled out of the race. He won a stage last year but like his team-mate Cyril Dessel, didn't make much of an impression this year. Dessel finished seventh overall in 2006, 8'41 behind the did he/didn't he winner Floyd Landis, but this year he is now 153rd overall, 1 hour 34'50 back.

Meanwhile Moreau continues. He looks fine but his shorts are not doing too well...they are quite tattered after his fall. Fortunately they preserve his modesty; we wonder what would happen otherwise. Do team cars carry spares in case of emergencies?

14:41 CEST   
There are now three leaders; Chavanel is clear with Vaugrenard and Bennati. They have shaken off Arroyo so that will help their chances.

14:44 CEST   
We just passed some fans with Viking hats on and the Norwegian flag on hand. We guess that may be supporters of Hagar the Horrible, or maybe of Thor Hushovd, the nice guy. He wouldn't talk to Cyclingnews or anybody else, however, before the start and his game face on. It was teammate Julian Dean who revealed the tactic to Gregor Brown. "We want to have someone in the break. I will work for Thor in the sprint."

14:46 CEST    70km/112.5km to go
They attacked the others at km 65. Eight others were then chasing, namely Vincente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d’Epargne), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC), Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel Euskadi), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre Fondital), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) , Enrico Poitschke (Milram), 1998 King of the Mountains Christophe Rinero and Saunier Duval sprinter Fran Ventoso.

14:48 CEST    79.5km/103km to go
The chasers have been caught and the three leaders are now giving up. Savoldelli (Astana) is riding back through the cars after puncturing.

Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) attacked the peloton just before the three were hauled back.

Current situation

  • Benoît Vaugrenard (Française Des Jeux), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital)
  • Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
  • Peloton at 0.10

14:50 CEST    81km/101.5km to go
Chavanel has attacked on his own, going just before they were reeled in.

14:51 CEST   
Of all things, German TV is now showing a cooking programme instead of the Tour de France. Even with Sinkewitz' positive A sample, that could lead to a few complaints!

14:54 CEST    83km/99.5km to go
It's all over for Chavanel. He's been caught.

14:58 CEST   
On the theme of doping in sports, golf player Gary Player yesterday called for testing in pro golf. There is currently none taking place, despite the huge prize money involved. Player said that growth hormones and steroids are being used.

15:03 CEST   
After Chavanel's recapture, there are now four riders clear on what has been a very aggressive stage thus far. They are Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux) and Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom).

David Millar (Saunier Duval Prodir) is chasing alone.

15:07 CEST   
Hans-Michael Holczer had some more words about the TV mess in Germany and said that it affects the teams financially because the sponsors need to TV exposure, otherwise they won't support cycling. He also thought that riders who dope should have to be prosecuted (there is no law right now in Germany against 'sports cheating', unlike for example in Italy). Holczer also said that SAT 1, a cable channel, has taken over the. coverage and he thought it'd be interesting to see how they do, given that they had to do it from one day to the other. As he spoke, the T-Mobile car drove by and Bob Stapleton said hi.

15:08 CEST    95.5km/87km to go
In the peloton, white jersey Alberto Contador chats to fellow Spaniard Iker Camaño (Saunier Duval-Prodir). The peloton has taken the foot off the gas and is 3'03 back.

Millar, meanwhile, is still chasing. He is 31 seconds behind the four leaders. It's probably in their interests that he gets up as he will help drive this move along.

Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

15:10 CEST    96.7km/85.8km to go
Millar is closing the gap. He is just 15" back now. He's a strong time trialist and so should have the horsepower to do it.

15:12 CEST   
The leaders went through Arles a couple of minutes ago, where the first sprint was taking place.

Millar now catches them. He'll sit on for a while and get his energy back, then start going through.

By the way, Florencio, Wegmann and Gilbert were the first three over the line in that intermediate sprint.

David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

15:13 CEST   
Millar has been reportedly suffering from what has been described as a 'sun allergy'. We are not sure how this differs from sunburn, but he's having bad sleep because of it.

15:16 CEST   
For those of you who might be watching French television, they can't seem to make up their minds if they are covering the Tour de France or local tourist hotspots! The cameras have wandered off to show images of Arles' ancient outdoor theatre. It's interesting stuff, but they are spending more time on such forays than on the race itself!

15:17 CEST   
From the Hindenberg IV and its trusty pirate's telescope, we can spot Christophe Moreau getting some attention from the race doctor. He is disinfecting the skin grazes he has, but his injuries don't look serious. Probably more a precaution than anything else.

15:18 CEST    102.5km/80km to go
There is a stall in the bunch and the riders are across the road. Rabobank, Milram and T-Mobile are on the front. The gap should increase considerably as a result.

15:23 CEST    106.5km/76km to go
When Millar performed below par in the prologue, he vowed to win a stage. This would appear to be his chance today.

The peloton are crossing the Rhône now. The river beings at the Rhône Glacier in Valais, Switzerland, and flows down through France. It's 800 kilometres in length and passes such places as Brig, Sion and Geneva in Switzerland, and Lyon, Montélimar, Avignon and Arles in France.

The gap is over six minutes now.

15:25 CEST   
CyclingNews' Brecht Decaluwé, who has finally shaven yesterday following the unfortunate break-in into the Cyclingnews team car, is now aerodynamic enough that he was able to catch up with sprinter Bernhard Eisel before the start. Eisel said that Patrik Sinkewitz is a good friend of his and he won't "make red cross over his name just because of what happened." He wants to stay friends and called Sinkewitz "a great guy," but did acknowledge that "Patrik wasn't very smart and he did something really stupid."

Current situation

  • Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole) and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux), David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 6.51

15:27 CEST   
France certainly has a huge amount of historic and cultural sights. Little wonder it's the most visited country in the world. It had 75 million foreign tourists back in 2003 and we presume that number has increased since. The Tour de France must certainly add to that, given that the TV images are a moving postcard for viewers all around the world.

15:27 CEST   
Millar is working so he's recovered from his effort.

15:30 CEST   
According to Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé, the two German channels who pulled out of live coverage yesterday (ARD and ZDF) were forced to give in their accreditation today, presumably by the Tour organisers. As mentioned above, SAT1 has taken over the broadcasting for Germany.

15:30 CEST   
For more details on Slipstream read this interview with Jonathan Vaughters.

15:32 CEST    111.5km/71km to go
The Astana team have now hit the front and are really ramping up the pace! There are some side winds and they are trying to split the field. Vinokourov is also rolling through, so we can only guess he is feeling better.

Riders at the back of the peloton are losing contact now.

Igor Anton (Euskaltel Euskadi) has abandoned.

15:33 CEST   
There are echelons forming at the back of the race; we don't know yet if any major players have been isolated.

Astana are driving it, with occasional assistance from Caisse d'Epargne.

15:36 CEST   
Discovery are also driving it. There is a sizeable dropped group now. We estimate that the front bunch is down to perhaps 70 to 90 riders now.

The riders will continue to turn the screw, hoping that more get dropped. The bunch is really splitting, and Christophe Moreau has been left behind! He is riding to try to get back on, but has a ten second gap to close.

15:39 CEST    117.5km/65km to go
That elastic has snapped, methinks. He could lose a lot of time here if he is not careful.....

Caisse d'Epargne are now driving it. Vinokourov is clearly feeling somewhat better as he was right up there.

The AG2R riders are on the front, four of them riding for Moreau.

Rasmussen, Hincapie, Contador and Boonen are amongst those up front.

15:40 CEST   
The leaders are now just 5 minutes ahead. Their chances may well be affected by the riding behind. The groups are not trying to bring them back, but rather shell some of the favourites.

This transition stage got a whole lot more exciting!

15:42 CEST   
The Rasmussen/Vinokourov peloton with many of the race favourites is 4'47 behind the break. Moreau's group is 5'14 back, thus 27 seconds down, and another big group containing Thor Hushovd and others is at 6'18.

15:43 CEST    119.5km/63km to go
The Moreau group appears to have cracked. He is doing a lot of riding but they seem to be moving quite a bit slower.

15:47 CEST   
The Astana riders must have spotted that Moreau was towards the back of the field after his visit to the doctor's car, and decided to take advantage of that. Halgand (Credit Agricole) and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) are also in the Moreau group.

15:48 CEST   
Moreau's group have slipped back rather dramatically. They are over a minute back now. The peloton is 3'18 behind the break, with Moreau 4'33 in arrears. Hushovd's group is 5'45 down.

15:50 CEST    125.5km/57km to go
It's still Astana doing the bulk of the work.

Martin Elmiger and Jose Luis Arrieta are back with Moreau, riding for him.

The break is losing time here. That's unfortunate for them.

There's still quite a way to go to the finish. If this continues, Moreau could lose five minutes.

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) grits
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

15:53 CEST   
This morning, Moreau started sixth overall, 3'18 behind maillot jauneMichael Rasmussen.

Vinokourov has now told his team to stop working! He is annoyed that no other teams are riding. So Moreau may have been handed a lifeline.

15:53 CEST   
It is up to the other teams now to decide if they want to ride, or if they are happy for a regrouping to take place.

Robert Hunter (Barloworld) on the left
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

15:56 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé points out that the riders are passing through the Camargue regional park. He says it is a windy river delta near the coast with bulls, Camargue horses, flamingos...and mosquitoes.

15:58 CEST    129.5km/53km to go
Quickstep - Innergetic and Barloworld are now riding. They clearly want this to keep going. Quickstep will be riding for Boonen and his stage-win chances, while the Barloworld guys have Robert Hunter as their fast man.

15:59 CEST   
The peloton is 2'07 behind the break, which looks likely to be caught if this continues. Moreau's group is 3'31 back so he is still in trouble.

16:03 CEST   
Barloworld and Quickstep can now be dreaming of an easier win, as the other sprinters such as Zabel, Hushovd and Förster are back in the second peloton.

16:04 CEST   
Vinokourov is Astana's captain but they also have Andreas Klöden for the overall; he started today 8th overall, 3'50 back. Vino is 21st overall, 8'05 down. Those gaps sounds considerable but if you look at the time gaps between everyone bar Rasmussen (in other words, where all the other contenders are), second-placed Valverde is 2'35 back.

Time trialists Klöden and Vinokourov are therefore 1'15 and 5'30 behind Valverde, and should make up time on him in the TT. If Rasmussen loses considerable time in Saturday's time trial (as is expected), things could be quite a bit tighter heading into the next mountain stages.

There is also another time trial to come later in the race so Astana know that they still have a strong chance of doing something overall.

16:05 CEST   
It all depends on how Klöden and Vinokourov are recovering from their injuries.

Watch out for Cadel Evans, though; he's a strong time trialist and is clearly going well.

16:06 CEST   
Sven Krauss is at the back of the second peloton, which is strung out in one ling line. It's not a good place to be. Lose the wheel in front of you and you are gone. The only way to come back is to hang onto the team car and accept a time penalty...

16:09 CEST    138.5km/44km to go
Moreau is now 1'50 behind the yellow jersey group. Barloworld and Quickstep remain on the front, pushing for a sprint finish.

The break is now just a minute ahead. Millar is talking to his team car and takes on bottles; that's clever, because once they are caught he can hand them over to others on the team. It'll save somebody else going back to the cars later and having to chase back on.

16:10 CEST    139.5km/43km to go
The group of Moreau and the 2nd peloton have now rejoined. Good news for Moreau, who can now count on many helpers, like Credit Agricole and Milram, who want their sprinters to get back up to the front.

16:12 CEST    141.5km/41km to go
The break is doomed. The riders there are now just 34 seconds ahead.

16:16 CEST   
With Zabel in the chasing group, a win by Boonen would give him a considerable lead in the green jersey competition.

Ag2r are still doing almost all of the work behind.

The yellow jersey group is now just 11" behind the break. Moreau is 2'14. Millar has already sat up, deciding to save some energy. He is caught and the others also get reeled in.

16:18 CEST   
The peloton is passing near the walled city of Aigues Mortes. French TV are off again, violins a-playin' in the background...

16:19 CEST    147km/35.5km to go
Discovery Channel is in the front group, including George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer. We also presume Cadel Evans is in there, but he tends to get very aerodynamic and is hard to spot. Vladimir Gusev was one of the guys stuck in the second peloton earlier. At some point today he carried 10 bottles, that may have been his down fall.

16:20 CEST   
We have a rather neat solar-powered TV set in the Hindenburg; at times we can only fly so close, you know... The Tour has fixed wing craft and helicopters, so it can get quite crowded.

16:23 CEST    150.5km/32km to go
Ag2r continue their chase behind, with some assistance from a Lampre rider. However the gap is coming down now, 1'32. Realising that, Astana get back on the front.

16:24 CEST   
Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) is also stuck in the back group, whereas Cadel Evans can count on teammate Chris Horner, who is in the front.

16:24 CEST   
A rider from Saunier Duval-Prodir is also up there at the head of the peloton. They have a sprinter who could do well, Francisco Ventoso.

16:26 CEST   
The peloton heads through Saint Just. It's a nice town with sandstone-coloured buildings.

16:26 CEST    152.4km/30.1km to go
Dario Cioni is taking on some bottles for his Predictor teammates. It is not as warm as yesterday, but with the real race on now, the riders still lose a lot of fluids.

16:27 CEST   
Boonen is near the front, smiling. He can smell the bunch sprint.

Astana's driving has pushed the gap back up a little. It's now 1'44. Simon Gerrans is assisting the chase, so he is clearly also okay after his earlier fall.

16:29 CEST   
Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r Prévoyance) is riding on the front, trying to get his captain back into overall contention. He often trains in this area, but would have imagined a quieter day for riding in his backyard.

16:29 CEST   
Française des Jeux are also helping Ag2r at this point.

16:30 CEST   
The fields on the side of the road have been mostly harvested already, which makes the countryside look a bit bleak.

16:33 CEST   
Some trees line the left hand side of the road and provide some shade for the few spectators who decided to come out to watch the stage, instead of hopping into the nearby ocean, which the field has done on occasions.

16:34 CEST    159.5km/23km to go
Quite a few teams have sent riders to the front of the peloton now, so the gap should go up again. The gap now is 1'56; Moreau may have lost all chance of winning the Tour today.

16:36 CEST   
Alexandre Botcharov (Crédit Agricole) has taken over the last spot from Sven Krauss, but neither is a threat to Vansevenant for the last place overall

16:38 CEST   
Both fields are riding through Mauguio at 50 kilometres an hour. That's about the speed limit so they can't ride faster.

16:38 CEST   
Somebody reported the peloton to the police in the Giro a few years ago for speeding. Jan Ullrich once got a ticket in Berlin while motor pacing.

16:40 CEST    164.5km/18km to go
Gerdemann is also in the front part of the field. He has lost both jerseys he had, but is still in good spirits. The field is going through a gigantic roundabout.

16:41 CEST    165.5km/17km to go
We are on one long straight road, next to a canal. It will be very hard for someone trying a break off the front now, as the sprinters are trying to control it.

16:43 CEST    167.5km/15km to go
Quickstep and Barloworld are still the teams to do most of the work. And of course Ag2r, but in the second field. Milram is also putting in some work to get Zabel up front, but it will be hard. Hunter finished second to Hushovd last week. If it stays like this he will beat the Norwegian today, but can he get past Boonen?

16:44 CEST   
And traffic for another roundabout. The Tour would certainly look different if we wouldn't have those.

Current situation

  • first Peloton with Rasmussen, Vinokourov, Boonen
  • second Peloton with Moreau, Hushovd, Zabel at 2.09

Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic)
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

16:48 CEST    170.5km/12km to go
The winner gets 35 points today and Zabel will likely not get any as only the first 25 score at the finish. More good news for Boonen, who is in the front group that now passes a tree lined road.

16:48 CEST   
Riders from Saunier Duval, QuickStep, Liquigas, Barloworld and Discovery Channel are on the front.

16:50 CEST    172.5km/10km to go
Ag2r continue their forlorn chase but it's a losing battle now.

Barloworld are very focussed. They've taken one stage win so far in the race; confidence is high and a second would be welcome.

16:51 CEST   
The Tour isn't won today but it certainly can be lost any day, even in the flats. Moreau will lose over two minutes today and lose his sixth place, where Tadej Valjavec (Lampre-Fondital) will drop out of the top 20

16:51 CEST   
The riders are already in Montpellier, threading their way along the streets. The roads are nice and wide here.

16:53 CEST   
The CSC riders are wearing neon yellow numbers. They are the leading team thanks to Voigt's ride yesterday.

Moreau goes through. It's been a hard day for the team. He and Simon Gerrans crashed, they had two punctures and Calzati pulled out.

16:55 CEST   
Chris Horner is perhaps 20 riders back in the yellow jersey group. They no longer have Robbie McEwen for the sprints, but Freddy Rodriguez might go okay.

16:57 CEST    177.7km/4.8km to go
1998 King of the Mountains Christophe Rinero jumped clear but was brought back. QuickStep are on the front with Boonen third wheel. However another rider goes; Vinokourov!

16:57 CEST   
He is clearly feeling better. He has got about 2" so far but the whole peloton is behind him.

16:57 CEST   
The DS for Predictor told Cyclingnews that in a sprint Fast Freddie Rodriguez can have a go, but it is now all for Cadel Evans and the overall. Rodriguez still has bandages, but is going better

16:59 CEST   
He's been caught again. However it looks like he is coming around again after his crash. Don't forget that in last year's Vuelta, he was in patchy form in the first week but got stronger towards the end. So if he recovers completely from his injuries and also follows this pattern, he could do some damage.

Boonen is in sixth position.

16:59 CEST    181.5km/1km to go
A CSC rider tries to go. No joy.

17:00 CEST   
Some riders went down on a bad bend; Boonen is not there any more.

17:00 CEST   
Liquigas are up there, T-Mobile...

17:00 CEST   
And Hunter goes!

17:01 CEST   
He gets it!

Boonen fell with four or five others. Ventoso went down, also Schleck.

17:02 CEST   
Correction - Boonen didn't actually fall...He got brought off to one side, though, when the riders went too fast into a tight roundabout.

17:02 CEST   
Cancellara came right up on Hunter at the end, nearly getting it...

17:03 CEST   
The Moreau group just rounded the corner where the crash was, and had to avoid the ambulance there.

17:03 CEST   
Ouch..they are over three minutes back.

17:04 CEST   
That's a great ride by Hunter! Cancellara was a close second, then Fischer, Pozzato..

17:09 CEST   
So two wins in three days for Barloworld! They were originally a South African-based team and still have four riders from there. A reshuffling of team management happened at the end of 2005 with John Robertson leaving and Claudio Corti taking over. This led to a dilution of the South African contingent, but they still have strong riders from the country. The main sponsor also originates from there, even though it is now a global company.

17:10 CEST   
That's the first South African win in the history of the race. Well done to Hunter..

He was with the Phonak team last year but moved to Barloworld when the Swiss squad folded.

17:12 CEST   
A T-Mobile rider was right up there with 500 metres to go but seemed to mis-time his move, going too early. We think it was their sprinter Bernhard Eisel, but not sure as yet. Kim Kirchen got tenth, though.

17:14 CEST   
Kirchen has been riding strongly and should fare well overall.

17:16 CEST   
Boonen nearly hit the barriers but got his foot down in time. That roundabout was very dangerous and the guys on the front of the peloton got the entry wrong.

He is okay, but will rue the missed opportunity to build a big lead in the points competition. 35 points were on offer today to the winner. As a result of this, Hunter moves to within 11 points of him in that classification.

17:27 CEST   
So Rasmussen continues in yellow for now. The only significant change in the top ten was clearly Moreau's loss today. He is now very unlikely to win this race. That's unfortunate for him, as it seems that it was his crash and resulting medical treatment which ultimately led to him being in a vulnerable position in the bunch.

He's gone from sixth place to dropping out of top ten, with Astarloza moving up from his overnight position of eleventh.

That completes our live coverage of today's eleventh stage of the race. Thanks for reading! It was quite an exciting day thanks to that Astana move in the crosswinds.

The acceleration in pace cost Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux), Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) and David Millar (Saunier Duval - Prodir) their chance. They were unlucky to be caught in the crossfire of the GC battle.

Provisional results

1 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC
3 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas
4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
5 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
7 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux
9 William Bonnet (Fra) Crédit Agricole
10 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile

General classification

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                                         
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                           2.35
3 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                                  2.39
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto                                          2.41
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            3.08
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC                                          3.39
7 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana                                                  3.50
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                     3.53
9 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team                                              5.06
10 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                         5.20

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