93rd Tour de France - ProT
France, July 1-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 8 - Sunday July 9: Saint-Méen-le-Grand-Lorient, 181km
Live Commentary by Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Anthony
Tan and Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 12:25 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:25 CEST
After a tough time test, this stage across the rolling hills of central Brittany
to the gritty seaport of Lorient will be a day when the big teams will likely
let an early break get up the road. Rabobank's Oscar the Cat Freire is a likely
candidate for the win for his 2nd stage win at Le Tour. After stage 8, the Tour
entourage will board a charter flight to Bordeaux and rest day #1.
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' Live
coverage of the Tour de France! After a tough time test yesterday, stage 8 across
the rolling hills of central Brittany to the seaport of Lorient will be a day
when the big teams will likely let an early break get up the road. This evening,
the Tour entourage will board a charter flight to Bordeaux and rest day #1.
T-Mobile will be one of the teams
controlling the pack today, as the new Maillot Jaune is Serguei Gonchar,
who smashed his rivals in yesterday's time trial. The stage might be a little
hectic as there are four small climbs ahead on the 181-km course to Lorient,
and many riders believe this could be one of their big chances for the limelight
- plus, they have the rest day tomorrow to recover from their efforts.
The four climbs are as follows: the Mûr-de-Bretagne after 75 kms (Cat. 3, 1.6km
at 7.5 percent), just after that the Côte de Saint-Mayeux (Cat 4, 1.3km at 5.9
percent), the Côte de Gouarec (Cat 4, 1.6 at 5.4 percent) and the Côte de Ty
Marrec (Cat 4, 1.4km at 5.2 percent). After that it's pretty flat until the
finish on the Atlantic coast - and a sprint finish can't be excluded at all.
There are also some sprint points to collect along the way at km 38, km 122
and km 142.
Watch out for Bouygues Telecom to keep early attacks
in check, or send mountains leader Jérôme Pineau (or a teammate) up the road
to keep the polkadot jersey within their ranks.
There are no non-starters
today, all 170 remaining riders are now rolling from the stadium of St-Méen-le-Grand
to the official start on the Départementale 125.
The sky is grey at the moment, it's
about 19°, and some raindrops could make this stage a rather unpleasant one.
At the moment, a light drizzle is coming down. But today's weather forecast
says that it should get better on the peloton's way out West, with some sun
coming out as well. We're not so sure about that, since it's currently raining
in Lorient as well. Moreover, the bunch will face a moderate head- and side
wind as it's blowing from Wets-Southwest at about 15-25 km/h.
stage has started; Christian Prudhomme just waved the flag out of his "directeur
de course" car. Peloton together.
Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis) is the first
rider attacking today. He went off at km 5, and several other riders have joined
him. Still waiting for confirmation on who these are - it's a nice little field
of 15 men.
But no - this didn't work out. They
were caught at km 11. This is always a nervous phase of the race - and as we
saw on the stage to Vitré a couple of days ago, it can go on like this for quite
12:57 CEST 15km/166km to go
Egoi Martinez (Discovery),
José Luis Arrieta (AG2R) and Michael Albasini (Liquigas) tried their luck, too,
but couldn't get away.
An update on yesterday's unlucky
Bobby J: Team CSC's Bobby Julich had x-rays done at the hospital in Rennes on
Saturday afternoon and team doctor Joost De Maeseneer commented: "First off
the x-rays show no fractures, but he has a big open wound on his right wrist.
When they've cleaned it up properly, they'll be able to examine it further during
surgery here in Rennes. Bobby will be staying in hospital over night and later
on a scan will show, whether he has any fractures."
Bjarne Riis commented, "Losing Bobby is a major set-back for us, because he
was ready for a big Tour de France. His experience and strength in the mountains
will be sorely missed. Bobby will be very hard to do without, but we have to
keep on fighting with the remaining riders. And luckily I can feel that they
all still have the motivation to work hard towards gaining some results."
Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) initiated
the next try, and currently a group of eight riders has got a little distance,
including Jens Voigt (CSC), Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R), Pieter Weening (Rabobank),
Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne),
Ralf Grabsch (Milram) and Cédric Coutouly (Agritubel).
20 seconds now, while others try to bridge the gap.
Salvatore Commesso (Lampre) tried
to get across, but failed. So did Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), amongst
others. The break continues to increase its lead, they now have 30 seconds since
their move started around km 18.
Meanwhile, the morning drizzle has
stopped, which will make it a little nicer for the riders.
13:14 CEST 25km/156km to go
The advance of the
eight-men break is continuing to grow, but slowly. They have 40 seconds now,
as Anthony Geslin (Bouygues) and Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) counter. Now, hasn't
the Italian TT champion had enough yesterday? Apparently not.
13:18 CEST 30km/151km to go
The bunch is led
by Bouygues Telecom and T-Mobile, who seem yet reluctant to make this the break
of the day. The gap is remains the same at this point.
Now, Quickstep and Lampre have also
joined in, helping T-Mobile and Bouygues to catch that break - or at least not
let it get too much of a distance. The gap is about 30 seconds, still.
13:31 CEST 41km/140km to go
The break got to
the first intermediate sprint in Plessala, where Dumoulin took the points ahead
of Garcia Acosta and Voigt. But they are in real danger now, as their lead his
diminished to only 17 seconds...
Cyclingnews talked to Rik
Verbrugghe (Cofidis) at the start this morning, who couldn't make a good result
in the time trial yesterday although he is a specialist. "Yesterday I wasn't
that good. My shoulder sores, which have always been bothering me, are playing
up again; it wasn't my day."
On today's stage, the Belgian said,
"The breakaway might make it to the finish today, everybody in the team will
try to get into the escape." So Cofidis should be happy with the sprinter's
teams' work at the moment! And the support of T-Mobile...
13:33 CEST 45km/136km to go
Peloton groupé. The
break is over. 45.5 kilometres were covered in the first hour... it's definitely
Dave Zabriskie (CSC), Matze Kessler
(T-Mobile), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R), Mario Aerts (Davitamon) and Kjell Carlström
(Liquigas) are the next riders trying their luck.
(Crédit Agricole) tries to bridge the gap of about 15 seconds now.
13:42 CEST 48km/133km to go
And this break seems
to get the green light as its advance is already at 1 minute! Halgand at 20
seconds. He's unlikely to make it if this continues as it does.
The five in front are riding very
well together, and the peloton has basically sat up for a moment... 1.40 in
just a few kilometres! But they are also waiting for Halgand, it seems. With
six riders, their chances of getting through are even higher.
Kessler up the road is of course an excellent move by T-Mobile, as it now isn't
responsible of the bunch any more.
13:50 CEST 56km/125km to go
Halgand is with them
now. We have a very strong breakaway, including outstanding rouleurs, which
might make it to the finish today: Dave Zabriskie (CSC), Matze Kessler (T-Mobile),
Sylvain Calzati (AG2R), Mario Aerts (Davitamon), Kjell Carlström (Liquigas)
and Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole).
Their advantage is growing very fast.
If this break succeeds, and the bunch finishes over 2 minutes behind, either
Zabriskie or Kessler have a good chance of taking over the Yellow jersey from
Gonchar, as they are both 2.03 minutes off the Ukrainian on GC.
14:08 CEST 64km/117km to go
Back in the bunch,
Floyd Landis' team Phonak is now riding in front.
The break is now
nearing the foot of the first climb, the Mûr-de-Bretagne (Cat. 3, 1.6km at 7.5
percent), with a respectable gap to the chasers to rely on: 7.30 mins.
The break is literally flying. It
will be very very hard to catch them again before the finish - Davitamon won't
chase, Crédit Agricole won't chase, T-Mobile and CSC won't chase. Quick.Step
and Lampre will be on their own to ride for a sprint, and pulling that through
will be difficult.
Cyclingnews also caught up
with McEwen's top lead-out man, Gert Steegmans at the start this morning, who
had this to say on a possible bunch sprint: "We will try to do the same as usual,
but luckily McEwen can do it without me as well. In the past week we could finish
it twice, with one failure in between.
"In theory, it might not
succeed again today, but we will try to give it the best we got. There will
lots of riders trying to escape... it depends on how Quickstep and T-Mobile
will control the race." Well, he won't have to work a lot today since Davitamon
was smart enough to get somebody in the break: Mario Aerts.
14:27 CEST 80km/101 km to go
The break has mastered
the first of the four climbs of today. Calzati passed the summit in front, followed
by Aerts and Kessler. There are three previous Tour de France stage winners
in this group... ah, no, that's too silly to be the question of the day...
Phonak is imposing a considerable
pace on the field. If it goes on like this, it might split apart, especially
in these little climbs - they're already at the next one, the Côte Saint-Mayeux.
Calzati was the fastest on top of
the second climb again, in front of Carlström and Zabriskie. In a couple of
clicks, they'll be at the feed zone in Laniscat.
Wilfried Peeters, Quickstep's team
manager, told us in Saint-Méen this morning:
"We will help to bring
the peloton back to a possible breakaway, but only with about 50 or 60 kilometres
to go. That costs a lot of effort but as we don't have the yellow jersey anymore,
we got rid of that pressure. We've analysed the previous finishes and there
were some mistakes, we saw for example that De Jongh started his lead out too
late. Knowing that we will make another decision, which will see how the train
will run. We saw that the winner is always coming from behind, so we have to
adapt on that situation."
So maybe we'll see Tosatto instead of
De Jongh as lead out for Boonen in the sprint? "That might be the priority -
maybe," Peeters smiled. "Everything was perfect this week, only in the last
500 metres, there was a mistake. Boonen was always locked up and that can't
14:42 CEST 89km/92km to go
The bunch has now
also passed the feed zone; that'll calm them down a bit.
The break's lead is still holding:
about 6.15 at km 82. Phonak will try to limit the gap as nobody knows how well
Kessler or Zabriskie can climb...
14:55 CEST 100km/81km to go
In the peloton, Ventoso
(Saunier Duval) seems to have some sort of a problem, as he's riding a little
behind the bunch, turning a big gear.
The gap is down to 5.41, so
Phonak's drive is paying off.
In the break, Kessler isn't doing
a lot of turns, as he has the advantage that one of his team mates is leading
the race. Very good tactics then by T-Mobile. And it's rare that all those words
appear in the same sentence...
Cyclingnews also had a chance
to talk to Discovery team manager Johan Bruyneel this morning, who reflected
on his team's poor performances at the TT yesterday. "It was a bad day for us
but we were not the only team with bad results. Mayo, Cunego and Leipheimer
suffered as well. We will search for an opening where it is possible. There
are lots of teams who need to ride offensively so maybe we will have more allies
than ever before.
"I don't have a explanation for the bad result
of Hincapie, as he was feeling good before the race. T-Mobile and Landis are
the major winners, but the Tour de France isn't decided yet. We started with
big ambitions this year but more than ever we realize what we did during the
past seven years. We had a great team and Armstrong always handled the pressure
The wind is still blowing into the
faces of the riders, sometimes slightly from the side, as they race through
the Morbihan region. The gap is constantly decreasing as the whole Phonak team
is working hard at the front of the peloton, now led by Nicolas Jalabert, the
younger brother of Laurent.
15:14 CEST 113km/68km to go
All of the breakaways
still look very fit, especially Kessler, as he's only sucking wheels, sitting
in the back all the time while the others circle bravely.
took the points and 6 seconds at the second intermediate sprint.
Some pigs have been painted the French
flag on their backs; they run over the field as the bunch rides by! Of course,
all of France is waiting if "they" will become World Cup champion again tonight!
This last part of today's course
is less bumpy than the first. One more climb to come: the Côte de Ty Marrec
(Cat 4, 1.4km at 5.2 percent), and one more intermediate sprint at km 142, where
Dave Z could get another 6 bonus seconds to make that 12.
doesn't seem afraid to carry the responsibility of the Yellow jersey with seven
riders - then again, maybe they don't mind losing it in a controlled fashion
But the bunch could still reel them back in if Quickstep and
Lampre get a little more help from Phonak.
Huge flags depicting Zinedine Zidane
and Liliam Thuram of the French soccer team are laid on the fields by the roadside.
Halgand's pedaling isn't as supple as the others', it
15:31 CEST 127km/54km to go
The weather has cleared
up since this morning, and the Tour de France is taking place under beautiful
Benjamin Noval is bringing up a jersey full of water
bottles for his teammates at Discovery Channel.
Halgand got a piece of cloth from
his team car and rubbed down his legs a bit while pedaling. Maybe he put some
warming oil on his legs this morning as it was raining then.
15:39 CEST 131km/50km to go
One rider from La
Française des Jeux has joined Phonak in the chase.
In front, the
situation remains the same with all riders taking regular turns, except for
Kessler who is just holding their wheels. But the their advantage is fading:
Zabriskie clearly wants to make up
for his performance yesterday, holding up the tempo.
are now three Française des Jeux riders sitting in the first spots of the bunch,
together with Phonak.
15:48 CEST 138km/43km to go
The leaders have
arrived in the last climb The Côte de Ty Marrec. There are many fans cheering
them on, some have come with their campervans just like in the high mountains.
Five Française des Jeux riders, followed
by the whole Phonak team, now pull the bunch over the climb. Their pace eats
away at the break's lead: it's now down to 3.30. mins.
In the last
intermediate sprint, Zabriskie was surprised to see Aerts take the points, but
the American CSC rider still took 4 additional seconds.
15:57 CEST 144km/37km to go
Other jersey colours
in the front of the bunch include the blue/pink of Lampre, who has just reacted
and sent one rider up. It's pretty strung out now. The chase is definitely on
16:01 CEST 148km/33km to go
Calzati is talking
to his directeur sportif in the team car. The final kilometres are wide, straight
and flat roads, so not very suitable for an attack.
d'Epargne has joined in the chase! And we haven't seen Quickstep yet... This
will be hard for the break.
16:04 CEST 150km/31km to go
At the moment, they're
still on windy and narrow country roads... and Calzati attacks! Halgand counters.
The three others don't react.
Halgand has trouble bridging up to
Calzati, whose acceleration was impressive. The AG2R rider doesn't seem to wait,
either, even if they might have more chances being two.
has sat up.
Halgand and Carlström continue their
effort, while Aerts, Kessler and Zabriskie leave it be now. They will soon be
back in the bunch.
16:13 CEST 158km/23km to go
The road is getting
wider now. Calzati looks very good, he accelerates well out of the corners and
seems to have a lot of power left.
Calzati is riding about as fast as
the bunch at the moment, keeping the same advance since he left his break mates:
about 2.30, even gaining some seconds on them. Impressive!
16:18 CEST 161km/20km to go
and Aerts just roll along now, basically waiting for the bunch to come back
Of course, if the bunch starts to
really chase in anticipation of a bunch sprint, it will be hard for Calzati
to resist. He's definitely being cheered on by the spectators...
Also, there is still a little wind.
Ah. Quickstep is coming to the front
now. Vasseur is there, taking over for a Française des Jeux rider. They can
see the remainder of the break now.
16:24 CEST 166km/15km to go
Calzati is still
powering away, but you can see he's suffering badly.
But it seems that the bunch has eased
up a bit now. Maybe they think 2.30 mins on the last 15 kms will not be enough
for a sprint... and Boonen just punctured!
Boonen got a front wheel change.
Bad timing for a flat!
16:30 CEST 169km/12km to go
Carlström and Halgand
are still between Calzati and the bunch, at 1.27 now. They might battle it out
for second and third. And the peloton has given up the thought of catching the
leader: the gap is increasing again to 2.48.
Calzati will win this
- maybe the first French victory for today (thinking about the World Cup again...)!
16:34 CEST 173km/8km to go
Calzati, winner of
the Tour de l'Avenir in 2004, is increasing his lead over the bunch, while behind
Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) has attacked. The Belgian has 100 metres.
Gilbert is swallowed again, as Lampre
gives it a little gas.
Calzati is on a motorway now, all alone, that
must be hard! But with the victory almost in sight, he must be emotional - that's
his greatest win so far!
16:41 CEST 178km/3km to go
Calzati gives five
to his DS Julien Jurdie in the car beside him. They're happy!
Calzati is under the flamme rouge,
with Halgand and Carlström two minutes, and the bunch three minutes behind him.
The French love it, of course, and the crowd goes wild.
Calzati looks back, still. Old habits.
Now he raises his fists and celebrates in the last few hundred metres...
Halgand leads as the two are in the
final kilometre. He stares back at Carlström.
They look at each other. Halgand
still in front. Now the sprint is on...!
..And Carlström wins!
The bunch is right there, too, and
McEwen wins! In front of Bennati and Zabel.
Boonen, again, loses this sprint.
He just seems to lack the final drive, as he wasn't locked in or anything this
time. He went perhaps too early, but after the finish said, "I really can't
do it anymore. I couldn't care less at this moment. I'm going to stop sprinting!
What an amateur I am, I mistook the polka dots for the finish, I started way
Serguei Gonchar keeps the maillot jaune, Zabriskie
moves into the top 10, and we will see you again (we hope) after tomorrow's
rest day in Bordeaux. Adieu!
1 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 4.13.18
2 Kjell Carlström (Fin) Liquigas 2.06
3 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Crédit Agricole
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 2.15
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Francaise Des Jeux
8 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas
9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step-Innergetic
10 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner
General classification after stage 8
1 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile 34.38.53
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 1.00
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 1.08
4 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile 1.45
5 Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.50
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 1.52
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
9 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 1.53
10 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 2.00
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