93rd Tour de France - ProT
France, July 1-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 11 - Thursday, July 13: Tarbes-Val d'Aran/Pla-de-Beret (Spain), 206
Live Commentary by Shane Stokes and Jeff Jones, with additional reporting
from Anthony Tan, Hedwig Kröner and Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 11:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST
Five minutes before
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
More mountains on the menu, including
a new stage finish atop Pla-de-Beret in Spain. This long, hard stage will show
just who the real contenders are for the win in the 93rd Tour de France. With
one beyond-category and four first category climbs on the program, there is
no margin for error on the second and hardest stage across the Pyrenees. Will
an Euskaltel-Euskadi rider try to show off in front of their fervent Basque
supporters by attacking on the final 13.5km ascent up to the Spanish ski station
of Pla-de-Beret? Don't bet against it!
Although yesterday was the first
official mountain stage, today's 206.5 kilometre race to Pla de Beret is where
the first major climbing shakeup will begin. It's a nasty day in the saddle,
to say the least; after 76 kilometres of racing the riders will crest the top
of the hors categorie Col du Tourmalet, a 2,115 metre monster. It is 18.4 km
long and averages 7.7 percent.
Then, at km 106, the 1,489 metre
Col d'Aspin will be crossed (12.3 km at 5.2 percent), followed 31 km later by
the Col de Peyresourde (1,569 m, 9.5 km at 7.1 percent). The Col du Portillon
is next, the summit lying 162 kilometres after the start (1,320 m, 7.9 km at
8.4 percent), then the final shootout will come on the 1,860 metre Pla-de-Beret.
This is 13.5 kilometres long and averages 5.4 percent.
Each of these
climbs is a first category ascent, with the Tourmalet the only HC mountain today.
However don't be fooled by that; this is going to be very painful for each and
every one of the riders. Today may not show who will win this Tour, but it will
certainly expose those who will lose it. The list of GC contenders may well
be down to single figures tonight.
Former white jersey wearer Benoît
Vaugrenard (FDJ) sparked an attack two kilometres after the drop of the flag
today, taking five riders with him. They were Jens Voigt (CSC), Sylvain Calzati
(AG2R), Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole), Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) and
Philippe Gilbert (FDJ).
They were chased by four others, namely
José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel), Koos Moerenhout (Phonak), Jose Vicente
Garcia Acosta (Caisse d’Epargne – Illes Balears) and Anthony Geslin (Bouygues
Telecom). Garcia Acosta and Geslin, the bronze medallist in last year’s world
championships, succeed in getting across.
However the eight were
recaptured by the peloton soon afterwards.
11:28 CEST 11km/195.5km to go
The peloton is
together at the moment, but the speed is very fast for now. Masochists will
be trying to get clear at this early point, in the hope of a) TV time for their
sponsors, b) the hunt for KOM and sprint points, and c) the hope that one or
two of them may stay clear until the end.
Will today see another
big break by Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen, as was the case last year? The 2005
KOM winner showed good form yesterday and will be keen to start building up
mountains points for this year's campaign.
Generally in the last few years the
KOM jersey has been won in this fashion, the rider concerned building a chunk
of points via a long distance attack. In a move to balance things out, the Tour
organisers introduced double points for the final climb on each mountain stage,
providing they are above a certain level of difficulty.
11:35 CEST 17km/189.5km to go
Things are all
together for now. Race leader Cyril Dessel was given a special jersey this morning
to reflect his leadership of both the general classification and the King of
the Mountains ranking. However he will wear a regular maillot jaune during the
actual stage. As per the usual rules, the second placed rider in the KOM ranking
will wear the polka dot jersey. This goes to the other longtime breakaway rider
yesterday, stage winner Juan Miguel Mercado.
Twenty riders went clear on the approach
to the first sprint at Arcizac-ez-Angles (17.5km). These were recaptured with
1 km to go, but maillot vert leader Robbie McEwen then surged clear in search
of the points.
Generally McEwen elects not to go
for these intermediate sprints as he feels it blunts his speed in the final
gallop to the line at the end of the stage. However he certainly ain't going
to be going for the win today, so there is no harm in grabbing a few points
when he can.
The double green jersey winner is also known to be
concerned about Oscar Freire. The Spanish triple world champion is a much better
climber and so he has a chance of picking up points over the Australian in these
McEwen was successful in his plan,
taking the 6 points and 6 bonus seconds up for grabs. In a nice move, his team-mate
Geert Steegmans took second, preventing McEwen's main rivals from doing so.
Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) was third.
Some readers have been wondering
what has happened to Levi Leipheimer's Tour campaign. He slipped back yesterday
in the mountains, although he was able to regain contact with the other GC contenders
before the end.
Leipheimer hasn't confirmed what is wrong but there
have been reports that he was ill before the long time trial a few days ago.
Furthermore, he said after yesterday's stage that he hadn't eaten enough and
got the hunger knock. He certainly was looking good early on in the stage, sitting
close to the front of the peloton on the climbs, but will have been very disappointed
to get dropped on the Col de Marie Blanque.
Leipheimer was very impressive in
last month's Dauphine Libéré, but like Iban Mayo two years ago, that hot June
form didn't translate into Tour success.
Mayo was another who was
in trouble yesterday, the Euskaltel rider getting dropped and losing 24 minute
and 24 seconds by the finish. He has been very disappointing for the past two
seasons, although he did win a stage in the Dauphine this year.
11:49 CEST 26km/180.5km to go
A break of 16 riders
went clear, the move sparked off by Stuart O’Grady (CSC) and Egoi Martinez (Discovery
Channel) at the 19km mark. However these were recaptured 6 km later.
CN reporter Anthony Tan is today
meteorologist and reports that the weather is a sizzling 31 degrees and humid.
There is little wind and average crowds. We presume he is referring to their
size of the latter, rather than their appearance.
11:57 CEST 31.5km/175km to go
Iker Camano (Euskaltel)
and David De la Fuente (Saunier Duval) have gone clear. The first of these is
from the Basque country and so he (like the rest of the team) will be motivated
to try to win today.
Kjell Eirik has contacted us to say
that Norwegian TV said yesterday that that Leipheimer suffered from diarrhoea
the night before the time trial. Furthermore, it was reported that Mayo is having
Thanks for that...
Of course, if Leipheimer
has been having stomach problems that will have affected his intake of food,
causing his glycogen levels to be depleted prior to the start of the mountains.
Hopefully he can recover and do something later in the Tour.
12:06 CEST 40km/166.5km to go
(Gerolsteiner) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) attacked and joined up with
the two leaders. At the scary-named town of Boo (36.5 km), the four were 1'05
clear. This advantage continued to build, and they are now 2'20 ahead of the
CN's Hedwig Kröner spoke to T-Mobile
manager Olaf Ludwig at today's start. She mentioned that he had said that the
team didn't feel obliged to chase down breaks, but rode at the front all day
"Yes, but did we defend the jersey? No..." he replied.
He added that he isn't worried by the time gap to Dessel. "I think it is small
enough. We tried to oblige the other teams to ride, too, but they decided not
to. So we just limited the time difference. And we did try to have somebody
in the break - the group that left was the first one where we unfortunately
12:13 CEST 45km/161.5km to go
The leaders continue
to pull away from the peloton. The gap is 4'44 now.
Camano is best placed of the four
who are clear. He started today 51st, 10 minutes and 9 seconds off the race
Wegmann is 91th, 17'02 back, while Flecha is 123rd, 30'07
in arrears. And Fuente is 157th overall, 42'25 down.
12:22 CEST 50km/156.5km to go
Dessel's AG2R team
lead the peloton to limit the break's lead. The four are working well together
for now and are 6'23 ahead of the peloton.
The leaders covered 45.9
kilometres in the first hour of racing.
Cyclingnews report Hedwig also spoke
to Mikel Astarloza this morning. She pointed out that he was 25th in the overall
standings, but the AG2R rider said that he wasn't thinking about his own GC
position. "For today I have another job. We will try defend the jersey, and
afterwards I have to be in a good position to help Christophe Moreau. We hope
that he will make it to the podium this year."
AG2R continue to lead the peloton
and don't look too worried by the break. They are passing through some beautiful
countryside at the moment, flanked by lush vegetation and steep hillsides.
France is seemingly the most-visited country in the world and the view from
our Hindenburg V-1 blimp shows why.
12:32 CEST 57.2km/149.3km to go
The leaders are
now on the slopes of the Col du Tourmalet. They are working well together and
are cheered on by enthusiastic crowds. They are 7'57 ahead now.
AG2R continue to lead, while the Phonak team are also close to the front. They
are protecting Floyd Landis from the wind. The US rider is the best placed of
the GC contenders and today will show what his climbing form is like.
Another big contender Cadel Evans
is expecting a very active stage. "Almost everything is going to happen for
GC today," he said at the start. He said he'd choose his tactics out on the
road. "It depends what the other guys do. Today is one of the biggest days of
the Tour... I feel okay. We'll see when we get on the climbs, when it starts
to really get hard. That's when you know whether you're really going strong."
12:37 CEST 59km/147.5km to go
(T-Mobile) is currently sitting at the back of the peloton, getting some food
in. He seemed to be riding quite strongly yesterday. Andreas Klöden is almost
certainly the team's GC rider now, the German having finished second overall
two years ago.
AG2R are wearing the yellow race numbers of best
8'11 for the break.
Narcis Abio has got in touch to give
some details about the finish, clarifying the region that Pla de Beret is in.
"It is part of Catalunya or, being more accurate, it is in Val d'Aran, a little
region inside Catalunya. They speak their own language, the arančs. It is different
from catalan (spoken in Catalunya), basque (spoken in Pays Basque) and spanish.
Anyway the Euskaltel riders will have many supporters there, because the proximity,
and they'll be very motivated."
Thanks for that.
Samuel Plouhinec (Agritubel) is slipping
back from the peloton on these early slopes of the climb. He's looking pretty
12:46 CEST 61km/145.5km to go
The four leaders
continue to work well. The gap has come down slightly to 7'52.
de Jongh (Quick.Step) goes back to his team car for a drink. He gets a can of
fizzy stuff, plus two seconds of 'assisted' speed.
Stage 8 winner Sylvain Calzati leads
the peloton now, doing his turn in the AG2R train.
De Jongh's drink
didn't help; he's now losing contact with the climb. Patrice Halgand (CA) also
looks rough, as does his team-mate Thor Hushovd.
Sandy Casar (Bouygues
Telecom) is at the back of the peloton but moves up. Iban Mayo is pedaling a
nice low gear but looks like he may be in trouble too. He's certainly very far
back. Meanwhile, 7'22 ahead, his team-mate takes a turn.
12:50 CEST 63km/143.5km to go
The riders are
all sharing the workload in the break. Apart from Flecha, who misses a turn.
Wegmann leads now and look strong.
Mayo has been dropped. Is this adios
for the Euskaltel rider?
Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) talked
to Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé before the start.
be someone who will try it on the last climb. T-Mobile probably will set a hard
pace to take the jersey back. I’d be surprised if for instance Landis takes
the jersey. The winner will be a good rider, but not a rider who’s a favourite
to win the Tour de France. It will be someone who’s a bit down on GC. Another
option might be that Discovery or T-Mobile set a blistering pace at the last
climb. Landis doesn’t have a very strong team behind him. For that reason, I
don’t think they will want to take it, knowing that Alpe d’Huez and other hard
stages are still to follow."
Iban Mayo is now over a minute back
and looks like he may pull out of the race. He's been talking with his team
car and all indications are that he will pack.
Giovanni Lombardi (CSC) has stopped,
pulling out of the Tour. Meanwhile Mayo continues but slips back out of the
cavalcade. He gestures with irritation at the TV camera following him, exchanging
Further up the road, AG2R remain on the front. Phonak
and T-Mobile are near the head of the peloton, with Landis and Klöden side by
Rubiera (Discovery Channel) has been dropped. Alexandre Moos
(Phonak) has also let go of the bunch. Hushovd is suffering near the back of
the race, as is Stephane Auge (Cofidis) and Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R). They are
all off the back of the cavalcade.
The four leaders are five kilometres
from the top of the Tourmalet. Camano has been doing the least work but now
winds up the pace.
There are quite a few riders off the back. However
the bunch still contains over 100 riders.
Gilberto Simoni (Saunier
Duval) is one of those in difficulty. To quote Freddy M., another one bites
Milan San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato
(Quick.Step) is also one of those losing ground.
AG2R remain at
the front and so far have collectively been very strong today. Landis is close
to the front, although he seems to only have one team-mate with him.
The leaders are 2.8 km from the top of the climb.
Flecha grits his teeth and hangs
on. He doesn't like this climb much.
Tom Boonen is off the back
now. So too Paolo Savoldelli!
13:29 CEST 73km/133.5km to go
Florent Brard is just ahead of Savoldelli. Egoi Martinez, Benjamin Noval, Slava
Ekimov and Jose Rujano are all dropped next, but can just cling on to the back
of the peloton. Zabriskie is also in trouble. The AG2R riders are setting a
serious tempo, bringing the break back to 5'00.
The leaders are nearing the top of
the climb and are being cheered on by enthusiastic supporters. Flecha is hanging
on but looking rough.
De La Fuente puts in an impressive
burst just before the top and is joined by Wegmann. However the Saunier Duval
rider is quicker, cresting the summit ahead.
Wegmann goes wide on
a bend and gets a small slide going; his heartbeat probably jumped up somewhat
but he stayed upright.
Moncoutié is the latest team leader
to be in trouble. Rujano doesn't look happy either. His climbing has been disappointing
Rasmussen jumps away but is shadowed by Voeckler, who
is going a lot better than yesterday. The first day in the mountains can be
tough on the legs.
Rasmussen sprints but Voeckler comes by, 3'44
down. It looked like Rasmussen moved over on Voeckler, but the Frenchman gives
a little elbow flick, then gestures angrily once he gets by.
has been dropped. Noval and Christophe Rinero (the 1998 King of the Mountains)
are with him.
Voeckler has left Rasmussen on the
descent; the Dane may have elected to wait for the bunch. The Frenchman is in
an aero tuck and will get down this mountain as fast as he can, trying to catch
AG2R continue to lead on the descent.
They've been very strong today.
Next up is the Col d'Aspin, which
caps out at km 106.
Rujano and Rinero are together, getting as aero
as possible as they try to chase those up front.
Up front, Flecha
got back up to the other two but for now, Camano hasn't got back up to them.
Wegmann drives it on the descent,
then Flecha comes through for a very short turn. De La Fuente then takes the
Voeckler is using every inch of the road as he tries to get
across. He is currently 4'01 back.
Moncoutié gets back to the peloton
on the descent.
Many of those who were dropped on
the climb get back on to the peloton, which is on the valley floor. Voeckler
is on the next climb, the Col d'Aspin, and looks determined in his chase of
the four leaders.
Camano got back up to the other three so the quartet
has regrouped. Flecha actually looked the weakest on the Tourmalet but was first
back to Wegmann and De La Fuente.
Flecha signals for water. It's
important to keep as hydrated as possible on a hot day like this. An Aquarel
motorbike comes up and he gets a drink bottle from that.
De La Fuente and Camano lead, then
Flecha and Wegmann come through. The climb is not too steep here; in fact, the
road is rolling.
13:58 CEST 96.1km/110.4km to go
The peloton are
5'43 back now. Dessel looks very relaxed, while Gerrans leads. His jersey is
wide open in an effort to keep him as cool as possible.
Christophe Moreau sits behind Dessel, showing the true hierarchy in the team.
Landis is in turn behind him and also looking relaxed.
Voeckler continues to chase but is
still 2'55 back.
Gerrans is riding strongly at the front of the
peloton, while at the back of the bunch riders are once again sliding out the
14:07 CEST 101km/105.5km to go
Moreau drops back
to the team car for a chat and a bottle. He doesn't seem to be in any difficulty.
Moreau is already back up on Dessel's
wheel...by Jove, that was quick..! He must be feeling good.
mention to Saul Raisin, by the way. The Credit Agricole rider is making a great
recovery thus far from his injuries and was told this week by his neurosurgeon
that he had no objection to him returning to racing. So providing the body is
willing and able, he could get back to the pro peloton.
still rebuilding strength, particularly in his left hand side which was affected
by the brain trauma. However he told CN earlier this week that his strength
is coming back. He's been doing three and four hour spins on the home trainer
(not an easy thing!) so that is a reflection of his determination. We wish him
the best of luck.
A full feature on Saul will appear soon on Cyclingnews.
Voeckler is now 1'50 back, while
the maillot jaune group are 4'52 in arrears. AG2R continue to lead.
Meanwhile Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) has a problem. He dropped his chain but
is moving again. Team-mate Anthony Geslin was dropped but came up to him, giving
him a helpful push before dropping back once more.
So Voeckler seems to be closing the
gap quite well.
More riders are going out the back, including David
Millar (Saunier Duval), Erik Zabel (Milram), Ińaki Isasi (Euskaltel) and Garate
AG2R have been unexpectedly strong
so far today, leading the peloton for many, many kilometres.
front, the four leaders are 800 metres from the top of the climb. They are still
together, with Flecha looking much stronger than he did on the Tourmalet. This
is an easier climb, so that helps...
Voeckler is now just 1'20 back...good
going for the former French champion.
Wegmann jumps for the top. Flecha
goes after him, but is passed by De La Fuente. However the Gerolsteiner rider
is clearly the strongest, crossing the line a second or two clear of his Saunier
De La Fuente looks back to see where the others are.
They will wait; it's waaaaay too soon to ditch the other two.
Michael Boogerd now comes to the
front, followed by his team-mate Rasmussen. The latter will be keen to get more
KOM points here.
The two Rabobank riders are drawing clear of the
rest and are next over the top. There didn't seem to be much of a challenge
from the other guys in the field.
Voeckler continues in no man's land,
rocketing down the descent as he tries to get closer to the leading quartet.
He's as low as possible on the bike, his mouth almost resting on his stem.
So far this stage has been a war
of attrition rather than one of all-out attacks. Even so, several big names
have already been in difficulty, including Simoni, Savoldelli and Mayo. As we
get closer to the finish it will be interesting to see what happens when the
GC guys start firing...should be very, very exciting...
14:31 CEST 115.5km/91km to go
The peloton are
now only 3'43 behind the leaders.
14:35 CEST 118.5km/88km to go
The leaders are
now going through the feedzone. Flecha was looking a little rough there, so
he will be happy to get some food and fluids.
14:36 CEST 119.5km/87km to go
to be drawing ever closer. He can probably see them on the straighter sections
Yes, Voeckler is now 57 seconds back...so
he's gradually getting there.
Meanwhile, Zabel and Isasi rejoin
the bunch as they pass through the feed zone. Simon Gerrans is leading the AG2R
train but has time to grab some grub. Calzati does likewise, but will soon get
back to his work.
14:42 CEST 122.5km/84km to go
Flecha is certainly
looking under pressure. He dropped back to the team car for a chat and had to
grit his teeth to get back up again. In contrast, the others look more relaxed.
Jerome Pineau is getting some attention from the race doctor. Meanwhile, Rasmussen
chases back on - not sure why he was off the back, but he may have been talking
to his directeur sportif. He certainly looks strong as he chances back on.
14:47 CEST 125.5km/81km to go
his chase and is now just 37 seconds back. He should make it. The peloton have
relaxed a little and are 3'55 in arrears. They know that things will heat up
on the final climb; the question is if Dessel can retain enough of his lead
to hold on to yellow.
Landis and Evans are just behind the AG2R
train, both looking relaxed. They should be in the shakeup today.
14:49 CEST 127.5km/79km to go
Flecha is certainly
under pressure, sitting at the back and visibly digging in when the pace goes
The riders are now 10 kilometres from the summit of the Peyresourde.
Several riders have been enquiring
about the reported scrap between Rogers and Gonchar yesterday. If you re-read
the live report, you'll see clearly that this was actually a reader's none-to-serious
speculation of what could happen... Don't take this too seriously!
Gerrans is on the front once more
as the peloton hits the climb. He showed good form in the Tour de Suisse and
is doing a great job today.
Meanwhile Gonchar is at the back of
the peloton, looking rough.
Ooops...Mercado had to stop...not sure
if it was a puncture or if he dropped his chain. He has three team-mates to
help him back. He's wearing the KOM jersey today but Dessel is actually top
in that competition.
14:56 CEST 129km/77.5km to go
Up front, Wegmann
leads the break. De La Fuente is next, then Flecha and Camano. Voeckler is nearly
there and riding smoothly. Good performance by the 2004 race leader.
14:58 CEST 129.9km/76.6km to go
cracks and slips backwards. The other three continue on. Voeckler will catch
him soon. He's looking good, very composed.
Several readers have been wondering
where George Hincapie and various other GC contenders are at present. The main
bunch is still quite large so we think most of the main guys are there. When
the big guns start firing a little closer to the finish we'll have a better
idea as to who is strong today.
Flecha is also in difficulty, losing
a bit of ground to Wegmann and De La Fuente.
Voeckler catches Camano and goes
straight by. Not as much as a hola, que tal? from him ; )
Gonchar is gooooone. Zabel also dropped,
as are riders such as Thomas Lövkvist (FDJ) and Anthony Charteau (CA). Philippe
Gilbert (FDJ) slips back too.
Voeckler seems to be climbing with
his eyes closed, at times. Just three or four seconds, then peepers open to
have a look. Probably helps with concentration or something.
15:08 CEST 132.5km/74km to go
The Frenchman seems
to be slipping back, actually...he's over a minute back of the two leaders.
Jens Voigt has been dropped, along with Mazzoleni (T-Mobile).
is near the front, puffing a bit but looking focused. Boogerd is there too.
AG2R are still impressive.
The peloton is perhaps 40 riders now...thinning
Next big name to be dropped: Stefano
Klöden is huffing and puffing but
looking okay...he seems pretty strong, remaining a couple of bike lengths behind
the first riders in the bunch but ready if anything goes.
looks stuffed, now... He seems to have realised that the bird has flown, so
Another big name is kaput...Oscar
Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) heads south.
Popovych is also struggling...zut
Considering all the big names going
out the back, AG2R are really doing a great ride today. This has been a good
Tour so far for the French, and those on French teams..
The two leaders are now just 1 km
from the summit.
Popeye (ie Popovych) is about 10
metres off the back of the bunch. There is probably 30 - 40 riders left there.
Hincapie is thought to be still there, although there hasn't been a sign of
him just yet. He may be keeping his powder dry for later.
Fuente puts in a huuuuuuuge attack for the mountains points. It will be interesting
to see if he waits around after the top or if he keeps going. Considering the
effort he made and the gap he opened, he may decide to floor it from here. If
not, it was a waste of effort because he didn't really need to get the points
by quite such a large margin :)
Boogerd carries team-mate Rasmussen
away once more, as they did on the last climb. They have picked up Voeckler,
who is weaving all over the place. He's dropped and goes back to the AG2R-led
Rasmussen takes over from Boogerd
and takes the points at the top. They were 3'04 behind the two leaders.
Voeckler is near the back of the bunch, looking disappointed. He put in a good
effort but it didn't pay off this time.
15:22 CEST 141km/65.5km to go
De La Fuente presses
on alone. He's going for it...
An interesting message from reader
"I work as a personal trainer at the Conestoga Valley
Community Center which is located about 3 minutes away from the High School
that Floyd Landis graduated from. His former gym teacher just came in to exercise
and commented, how about that Floyd! Apparently he taught Floyd in high school
and said they constantly tried to get Floyd to come out for the various sports
teams as he showed athletic prowess. Floyd would politely respond, "No sir,
I have to go ride my bike"! Even then he knew cycling was his way out of there
and on to stardom.
AG2R are still on the front of the
peloton. Dessel's been looking good so far; it will be interesting to see how
he gets on towards the end of the stage.
Wegmann has got back up
to De La Fuente, so there are two leaders once more. They are 5 km from the
second sprint of the day.
15:28 CEST 147.5km/59km to go
So Rasmussen has
picked up some useful KOM points today. He hasn't been challenged too much by
some of the other riders in the peloton; one problem with the mountains competition
is that it certainly isn't contested as fiercely as the points classification.
He's looking strong all right, but it would be nice to see some other riders
give it a go...
French newspapers are taking to call
this the Tour of Anarchy...it's certainly a very interesting, unpredictable
race. The question many are wondering is if this is partly to do with Operacion
Puerto, or are there other reasons? Your answers on a postcard to WADA...
Wegmann and De La Fuente are passing
through Luchon, about to contest the sprint. There is just over 50 km to go
today. De Le Fuente gets it...
Three AG2R riders lead the yellow
jersey, who is in turn followed by Christophe Moreau. Landis is also up there,
as is Klöden. The peloton is quite large (we estimate perhaps 50 riders) so
many of the GC guys should be there.
Jose Angel Gomez and his Saunier
Duval team-mate Ruben Lobato are sitting at the back of the peloton. They give
a thumbs up to the TV moto.
De La Fuente is certainly frisky...
He drops Wegmann soon after the start of the Col du Portillon, opening up a
big gap, and presses on alone once more.
Voeckler has been dropped from the
yellow jersey group.
And now T-Mobile come to the front....Sinkewitz
and Kessler, with Rogers and Klöden there too... This is heating up...
Evans is on Klöden's wheel, Boogerd, Landis, Moreau...
Many riders are being dropped now...this
is getting interesting. Karpets, Mercado, Popovych also gooooooooooone
Landis looks pretty composed for
The yellow jersey is being dropped!!
Simoni has also gone...there are
now just 18 riders left in the peloton, including Cunego, Landis, Klöden, Boogerd,
Leipheimer, Moreau, Rogers...there are more there, including a Discovery rider.
Is it Hincapie or Azevedo?
Fothen is also there, although he's under
pressure. Simoni is a little further up the line, along with Ivan Parra (Cofidis)
and Menchov (Rabobank).
Hincapie is in the yellow jersey
15:51 CEST 158.5km/48km to go
Bear with us...we
will try to work out who is left up there...
Wegmann is being caught
by the Kessler-led peloton... De La Fuente is still ahead, riding strongly
Cunego is dropped now... Hincapie
seems to have been dropped by the jersey group. In the Landis group, Kessler
has just blown up.
Rogers leads, with Rasmussen and
Boogerd on his wheel... Landis is about eighth in line. Parra (Cofidis) is off
the back of this group. Simoni is losing contact. Leipheimer is still there,
so he has made a good recovery.
15:57 CEST 160.5km/46km to go
De La Fuente is
giving it everything to stay clear. He is 1500 metres from the top of the Portillon.
Boogerd and Rasmussen now take to the front. Leipheimer, Landis and Klöden are
next. Evans is still there, Moreau, Zubeldia , Menchov, Sastre.
The front group has about 18 riders
in it. De La Fuente is doing a great ride, meanwhile; he is still well clear.
As the peloton crosses the top of
the climb, these are the riders in the front group:
(Discovery), Carlos Sastre, Frank Schleck (CSC), Michael Rogers, Andreas Klöden
(T-Mobile), Christophe Moreau (AG2R), Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank),
Georg Totschnig, Levi Leipheimer, Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), Cadel Evans
(Davitamon Lotto), Floyd Landis (Phonak), Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel), Ivan
Parra (Cofidis), Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval).
The yellow jersey group crosses the
summit of the climb 3'40 behind De La Fuente
Cadel Evans is now leading Moreau
and the rest of the chase group on the descent. Boogerd is third in line as
they snake around these bends.
The Hincapie group was 5'00 behind
De La Fuente at the top of the last climb.
Carlos Sastre (CSC) had
a mishap...we think it was a crash. He's back up and running (well, rolling)
so seems to be okay.
After the summit, De La Fuente is
the clear leader of the KOM classification. He has 80 points, with Wegmann on
61 and overnight leader Dessel on 54.
16:14 CEST 173.5km/33km to go
There is a major
stall by the chasing group as they start heading up again. Cunego has chased
back on and goes straight by, being joined by a Caisse d'Epargne rider. It is
David Arroyo. They've opened up a considerable lead, as the others have started
Rogers and Rasmussen are at the front of their group.
They are eating and talking...major stall going on.
16:18 CEST 174.5km/32km to go
Rasmussen is now
riding hard at the front. Menchov comes up, with Landis on his wheel. He's looking
pretty relaxed for now.
Popovych is with the groupe maillot jaune,
as is Mercado.
Rasmussen is really driving this...presumably he
is helping Menchov, even though this will impact his chances of taking KOM points
at the finish.
Zubeldia is there, Moreau (and his tongue), Klöden,
Schleck..still about 18 in this chasing group
De La Fuente is 51 seconds clear
of the two chasers, Cunego and Arroyo, with the Landis group 2'03 down and the
yellow jersey group 3'04" back.
16:21 CEST 176.5km/30km to go
to drive it, his hands draped over the bars in a pseudo TT position. (Gotta
love those invisible bars)
The two chasers are now just 34"
Azevedo gets a bottle from the team
car and then rejoins the big chasing group. So he's still up there with the
16:23 CEST 177.5km/29km to go
De La Fuente is
looking back...looks like he was thinking about waiting for the two chasers,
but presses on. They are just 22" back now, with the Landis group 1'31 down.
De La Fuente has been caught, so
there are three leaders one minute clear of the GC group.
To confirm...Menchov is still up
there, along with his team-mates Rasmussen and Boogerd.
list of the chasers:
Jose Azevedo (Discovery), Gilberto Simoni (Saunier
Duval), Carlos Sastre, Frank Schleck (Team CSC), Andreas Klöden, Michael Rogers
(T-Mobile), Christophe Moreau (AG2R-Prevoyance), Levi Leipheimer, Marcus Fothen,
Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), Denis Menchov , Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen
(Rabobank), Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), Floyd Landis (Phonak)
The three leaders are now just 24
seconds ahead. It looks like they are waiting as they pass under the 25 km to
Correction - it looks like there may be a couple more
riders in the second group. Bear with us and we will add to them.
The three leaders have been caught,
so they clearly waited.
Methinks this race is going to go
KA-BOOM on the final climb of Pla de Beret...
We have a report from some of our
crew, who have driven up the final climb. There are fewer people than usual
in the mountains, because it's not a weekend, but this was a deliberate move
on the part of the organisers. This weekend's stages are both non-mountainous,
you will note.
The last 3 km of the climb are basically flat or downhill,
but there is a head/crosswind coming from the left, which is blowing down a
Jason from Ohio was in touch with
"In the latest update, you mentioned that Moreau's
tongue is also in the GC group. Where is his tongue on the overall standings?
Might the tongue have a shot at the GC, as it tends to beat Moreau over the
We are not sure, but we reckon the Frenchman can lick
16:39 CEST 188.5km/18km to go
The front group
passes under the 20 k to go banner, with Rasmussen doing a great ride to lead
this group. Boogerd is next, then Simoni and Menchov.
By the way,
reports are that Mayo packed earlier.
The yellow jersey is just
1'28 back. He started the day 4'45 ahead of Landis, so he may hang on tonight.
It all depends on how that final climb goes.
Sastre was able to get back up after
his mishap earlier. Meanwhile, Cunego's burst has come back to haunt him - he's
De La Fuente has blown a gasket...that
last climb is going to hurt. Well done on a good ride anyway.
jersey group are 1'40 back.
The front group comprises 18 riders:
Floyd Landis (Phonak), Jose Azevedo (Discovery), Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval),
Carlos Sastre, Frank Schleck (Team CSC), Andreas Klöden, Michael Rogers (T-Mobile),
Christophe Moreau (AG2R-Prevoyance), Levi Leipheimer, Marcus Fothen, Georg Totschnig
(Gerolsteiner), Denis Menchov , Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank),
Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Ivan Parra (Cofidis),
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel)
Stephen writes in with this:
"Interesting little observation: Having an "L" in your name if you're an American
riding the Tour seems to help your GC prospects:
Just a thought.
Thanks for the excellent coverage by the way - am
reading discreetly at my desk while pretending to work on large spread sheets..."
Merci Stephen, but don't get fired!
16:50 CEST 193.7km/12.8km to go
to do his epic, driving it hard towards the finish.
De La Fuente
has been caught by the yellow jersey group. Cunego has already been reeled in
by them. Popovych is there, but no sign of Hincapie.
Boogerd takes over at the front,
as Rasmussen drifts off the back of the group. He's blown.
Totschnig looks very rough...
The front group has exploded! Boogerd is driving it, while riders such as Haimar
Zubeldia (Euskaltel), Frank Schleck (Team CSC), David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne),
Jose Azevedo (Discovery), Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Gilberto Simoni (Saunier
Duval), Marcus Fothen, Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) are all gooone.
Parra has also gone.
Boogerd, famously once described as having "a mouth full of teeth", drives it
onwards, ever onwards. He's motoring today.
Moreau is gone... there
are only seven riders in the front group now. They are: Floyd Landis (Phonak
- the best placed on GC at 4'45), Carlos Sastre, Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile),
Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Denis Menchov, Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Cadel
Evans (Davitamon-Lotto). Klöden is in trouble.
Landis may end up with yellow, but
one concern is that his Phonak team have been looking weak so far in the mountains.
Evans looks to be under pressure, going by his body language. Landis looks very
relaxed.. Leipheimer too. Sastre is grimacing.
Further back down
the mountain, Mercado attacked but Dessel led the others back up to him.
The yellow jersey is at 3 minutes...if
he loses more than 4'45 to Landis, he reverts to the standard blue kit of AG2R.
Boogerd still drives it. His gnashers
are becoming more obvious with the effort, while the medal around his neck swings
back and forth at an ever increasing rate. He's given his all..
Klöden is dropped. Menchov attacks, but a very smooth looking Landis is straight
on him. Sastre, Evans and Leipheimer are also there.
goes! Very impressive...
The others come back to him, though...five
riders left. Sastre, Leipheimer, Landis, Evans, Menchov...
is reluctant to come to the front. Evans is beckoning the others to come through...they
need to keep taking time from Klöden.
Evans leads, then Landis...he looks
Landis drives, then pulls over. Menchov
doesn't want to work. Landis goes back to the front. For now, he seems the strongest,
but he's reluctant to do too much.
There is a chance that Landis doesn't
want the jersey just yet...perhaps he would prefer to wait a few days.
Evans drives it once more. Sastre is under pressure but stays there. Further
back, Klöden is chasing Boogerd.
It's Evans and Landis at the front,
Menchov, Leipheimer and Sastre sitting on.
17:08 CEST 201.5km/5km to go
Landis is driving
it now. Leipheimer looks to be under a bit of pressure. Evans is digging in,
but sitting second.
17:09 CEST 202km/4km to go
Landis is doing most
of the work, with Menchov now on his wheel. The American looks back, asking
the others to ride.
Dessel digs in, trying to salvage
The Landis group is now at 4 km to go.
17:10 CEST 202.5km/4km to go
Still five leaders,
Landis doing it all...
Menchov comes through now. Klöden
is 32 seconds back, with Boogerd still ahead of him.
zips up his jersey. Is he cold, or is that a show of confidence on his part?
Moreau is riding hard, trying to
limit his losses. The crowd are lapping it up (sorry)
17:14 CEST 203.5km/3km to go
Landis still doing
it all. The climb flattens out with about 2 km to go...
are nuts here...loads of Basque fans in orange
Landis and Menchov get up to him,
while Evans and Sastre are dropped.
Menchov goes....Landis bridges,
and then attacks himself...
Sastre has dropped Evans
17:15 CEST 204.5km/2km to go
Menchov and Landis
are together, with Leipheimer a couple of metres back. He's back now.
The climb is flattening off now.
They are going under the 2 km to
go banner now. Menchov took the points at the summit of the climb.
Landis drives it, while Menchov tightens
his shoes... Looks like a sprint between these three riders...
Leipheimer won't work, so he is probably
favourite in the gallop. Landis is driving it, flicking his elbow to try to
get the others to come through.
It's Landis, all the time... Leipheimer
now comes to the front...
Menchov leads with 200 metres to
Menchov! He gets it, just ahead of Leipheimer and Landis.
Evans takes fourth, 23 seconds back,
with Sastre on his wheel. Boogerd comes in 1'03 down...
Next home: Zubeldia, Schleck and
Klöden, 1'32 back.
So where is the yellow jersey? He's giving it
loads... really trying hard.
Moreau is home now, 2'29 back.
Landis will have got an eight second bonus for third, so Dessel needs to finish
within 4'37 of the Phonak rider...
Totschnig, Fothen, Rogers and Parra
come in, 3'04 down.
The yellow jersey has just now gone under the
kite, so it's looking like he's lost it...
Here comes Dessel....he is just going
to miss out.. .
Ouch....he misses by approximately
eight seconds. So if Landis hadn't got that bonus, Dessel may have hung on..
He rode very well, though, fighting every inch of the way. Chapeau.
So Landis will take the first yellow
jersey of his career. He is eight seconds ahead of Dessel, with Menchov 1'01
Popovych finishes 6'24 down... C'est fini pour lui...
Menchov led into the final corner,
leaving Leipheimer only about 150 metres to get by. The Russian was too strong,
though, taking his first ever Tour stage win.
Landis looks very,
very happy with yellow... "I said from the beginning this was our goal," he
told the TV interviewers. "This is a long way from the end, though."
One of our readers, Jerome, adds
"Since 1976, only 4 TdF winners have NOT had an "L" in their
name: Pantani, Roche, Thevenet, and Riis. Stephen could be on to something..."
So that's it from the second mountain stage of this year's Tour de France. Menchov
and Landis are clearly very happy with how things went, but Leipheimer will
be smiling also after his recovery. And although Evans and Sastre lost time,
they should be in the scrap over the next few days.
The AG2R team
will rue missing out on defending yellow, but they fought hard. Had Landis not
got that bonus at the end, Dessel may have hung on. Still, a good show by them.
Make sure to surf on over later on
for a full stage report, results plus photos. Adios from Spain!
1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 6.06.25
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
3 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 0.17
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
6 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 1.04
7 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.31
8 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 2.29
General classification after stage 11
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 49.18.07
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 Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 4.17
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