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94th Tour de France - ProT

France, July 7-29, 2007

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Stage 7 - Saturday, July 14: Bourg-en-Bresse - Le-Grand-Bornand, 197.5km

Complete live report

Bonne fête nationale! Cyclingnews welcomes all the readers on our live coverage from France, where the festivities are in full swing to celebrate Bastille day on this 14 juillet. Traditionally this is the day where all the French riders are extremely motivated to get a stage win. Anybody who wants to get first today better have their climbing legs packed, as on their route between Bourg-en-Bresse and Le Grand Bornard over 197.5 kilometres the riders have to go over several category 3 and 4 climbs before heading up the category 1 Colombière pass. from there it's fast descent down into Le Grand Bornard.

13:03 CEST    34.5km/163km to go
We are at the first climb of the day and there is an acceleration immediately from Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

13:04 CEST   
Behind yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara is already in trouble.

13:05 CEST   
The peloton is already down to fifty people on that vicious acceleration.

13:05 CEST   
The results of the first climb of the day are Rasmussen, picking up four points toward the climber's jersey, followed by Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel - Euskadi) with three, Chavanel with two and Discovery's Sergio Paulinho with the last point.

The Euskaltel rider was obviously Verdugo, not Astarloza.

13:07 CEST   
Four guys are slightly off the front right now. The field in the back is stretched out in an desperate attempt to getting back to front peloton.

13:08 CEST   
There are a flurry of attacks right now. Several smaller groups are trying to break away from the front peloton. The second big group including Cancellara is about 37 seconds back.

13:11 CEST   
An Astana guy joins the front which has already swelled to six.

13:12 CEST   
The front group contains: Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile),
Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) among others.

13:13 CEST   
Here is the complete break down of the group in the front. There are seven now:
Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole) and Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom)

13:14 CEST   
Oscar Freire pulled out before the stage today - it was a planned withdrawal so he could avoid having surgery for the cyst on his undercarriage. He was 5th overall, and third in the points classification. The Rabobank team's focus is now changing toward the mountains classification for Rasmussen.

13:17 CEST    44.5km/153km to go
Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel - Euskadi) and David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) have bridge to our seven leaders, and we now have a very strong breakaway. The race has definitely heated up - both figuratively and literally. It was 27 degrees at the start, and the riders have already averaged 40.6km/h.

13:18 CEST    46.5km/151km to go
Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), a Quickstep rider and a Caisse d'Epargne rider are trying to bridge to the nine up front.

13:19 CEST   
There are still plenty of riders in the main bunch - Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is soldiering on and is there with his teammate Ivanov. John Gadret (Ag2r) is there with Moreau and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) has been spotted there as well.

13:22 CEST   
Christophe Moreau is on the front of the field, pushing the pace. He'd really like to be in the front group right now. He's French after all and it's Bastille Day and he's the French Champion.

13:25 CEST   
Bram Tankink (Quickstep), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) are still trying to bridge. The nine ahead are working smoothly together, but Gutierrez is the winner of the Tour de Med this year - he's not a weakling.

The yellow jersey has rejoined the main peloton thanks to hard work from Jens Voigt.

13:26 CEST    52.5km/145km to go
Now that the yellow jersey has rejoined, the bunch has sat up and that should help our 12 men up front get together.

13:27 CEST    53.5km/144km to go
There's still a second peloton, but it appears to be the sprinters' 'grupetto' - McEwen, Boonen - the guys with the fast twitch. Thanks to the mass natural of the yellow jersey group, they get back on in the narrow roads of a small village.

13:29 CEST   
The front nine are hammering down the French country roads. The trio behind is still at 20 seconds and it will be very hard for them to see the front.

13:30 CEST   
Phew! After an interesting start to the day, things are starting to settle down a bit and we'll take this time to list our unfortunate victims of the 94th Tour de France.

Only 181 riders remain in the race at the start of stage 7.

  • Stage 1: DNF Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spa) Agritubel - broken collarbone
  • Stage 3: DNS Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Discovery Channel - broken thumb stage two
  • Stage 4: DNF Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne - broken collarbone
  • Stage 5: DNS Rémy Di Grégorio (Fra) Française des Jeux - broken elbow stage four
  • Stage 5: DNF Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Milram - sciatica
  • Stage 6: DNS Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Cofidis - multiple injuries
  • Stage 7: DNS Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank - saddle sore/cyst
  • Stage 7: DNS Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval

13:30 CEST   
Gutiérrez is taking a long pull on the front. Flecha and Tanking just try to stay on his wheel It is a desperate chase for them to catch the front guys, who have a nice paceline going.

13:31 CEST   
Vladimir Karpets just crashed!

13:33 CEST   
Vinokourov has been in the front group during the accelerations, and could hold the pace. Now after his natural break he is also lighter and should be ok to get up the climbs. We'll see if his knees hold up.

13:34 CEST   
Before we started our live coverage today, the first intermediate sprint took place after a flurry of attacks. The Quickstep team, interested in taking every opportunity to build on Boonen's lead in the points competition controlled the moves until the sprint, just 16.5km into the day, where Boonen took max points ahead of Erik Zabel - who isn't giving up without a fight - and Lampre's Daniele Bennati.

13:34 CEST   
Flecha got slightly gapped on a downhill stretch but is now back with Tanking and Gutiérrez. Karpets is back in the peloton. He had a mishap, but apparently did not really crash. Phew.

13:35 CEST   
The trio can see the nine in front now. It is a desperate chase, but now only a few more seconds of advantage.

13:36 CEST   
And the three have made it! It is now a group of 12 in the front, with the peloton, who has led up, more than five minutes back.

Elmiger and Wegmann are trying to bridge. The two are 40 seconds behind right now.

13:37 CEST   
Back to our recap, after the first intermediate sprint, a group of 15 split including Americans George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde, Thomas Voeckler, Felix Cardenas, Philippe Gilbert and more, but with mountain points coming at the 35.5km mark, the Cofidis and Rabobank teams were motivated to bring that group back for Chavanel and Rasmussen.

Current situation

  • Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Rubén Pérez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Bram Tankink (Quickstep), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne)
  • Peloton with Yellow jersey at 5.07

13:40 CEST    65.5km/132km to go
We have another group trying to bridge up to the front - three men, Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) and German champion Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) are 40" behind the leaders.

13:42 CEST   
Radio Tour says that the last-placed rider Enrico Degano (Barloworld) has abandoned the race. They said the same yesterday, but he finished, in fact in 16th place. He did crash yesterday and was behind for a while. We will wait for some more confirmation, but it looks like the rider who was the first to start this Tour by kicking off the prologue last Saturday, is out of the race.

13:42 CEST    67.5km/130km to go
The race is heading down the long, gradual and sinuous descent from the plateau, and are just about to the bottom where the roads will be relatively flat for 40km or so - all the way until the feed zone at km 106.5 where the road kicks up to the second climb of the day.

13:44 CEST   
Twelve years ago it was Frenchman Laurent Jalabert, who took one of the most beautiful victories in his career on Bastille Day. So beautiful that the climb near Mende, where stage 12 ended, was named after him and is no called Montée Jalabert. Not only did he win the stage, but his whole Once team had put the pressure on Miguel Indurain all day. Indurain survived one more year before his reign came to an end.

Laurent Jalabert now follows the Tour for French television on a motorized two-wheeler. His brother Nicolas Jalabert is still in the peloton with Agritubel, and in fact is in the Tour this year. He also rode the Montée Jalabert in Paris-Nice this year, a moment that still fills him with proud as he revealed that in 1995 "I was watching the stage on TV."

13:46 CEST   
The trio behind the twelve is now at 16 seconds and they may actually make it. The front dozen is riding consistent, but not quite hammering like before.

13:47 CEST    70.5km/127km to go
The trio has made it and there are now 15 people in front.

13:50 CEST   
The break of 15 men isn't just a throw away move. With a two time Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli in the move, Martinez, who was 12th overall and won the mountains classification in the Vuelta last year, 'Guti', who won the Tour of the Med, and De La Fuente, who was 3rd best climber in last year's Tour, the GC contenders will want to keep this break under control.

The Ag2r team of Christophe Moreau will be called upon to do the work not only because they want to win the overall, but because it's Bastille day and they want to win the stage.

John Gadret spoke with Cyclingnews at the start and explained that "it's a special day - I'm going to be at the front, but I don't have the liberty to attack - it's all for Moreau."

13:52 CEST   
There are 'only' three Frenchman. For Bastille Day we would have expected a few more. They are outnumbered by the six Spanish riders. The number of German speaking racers is also equal to the French. The Italian, Kazakh and Dutch are feeling a bit lonely.

13:54 CEST   
The gap has gone out to almost eight minutes as the situation for the day has been set. 15 in the front will try to have a good enough advantage on the Colombière to hold off the rest.

13:55 CEST   
The race is heading into some of the most scenic areas of the Rhône-Alpes, home to many a bike race, but also to stunning chateaus, vistas and waterfalls. One of the nearby waterfalls, the Cascade de Cerveyrieu comes from a hole in the side of the mountain and falls 60 metres onto huge rocks below.

13:59 CEST   
Two of the strong men in the break are current and former national champions: current German champion Fabian Wegmann is in the rotation ahead of the former Swiss champion Martin Elmiger. They're getting more time now as they roll through in a pace line, but now Predictor-Lotto is on the front chasing.

13:59 CEST    80.5km/117km to go
Chavanel is leading the mountain's classification and has added two more points on his account by getting third at the first climb of the day, the Corlier. But first over the top was Rasmussen, who got the maximum of four points. He has now twelve points total and is still over 25 points behind the Frenchman.

14:02 CEST   
Chavanel said yesterday that he expected to keep the jersey today. He must be feeling strong. But the lengthy Dane will surely eat into Chavanel's lead on the French National holiday. Currently, however, neither is in the break and the mountain points will be divided between the men in front. Good for Chavanel, bad for Rasmussen.

Benoit Vaugrenard (FdJ)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

14:02 CEST    83.5km/114km to go
Predictor-Lotto is setting the tempo for their GC hopeful, Australian Cadel Evans. Evans has been quietly confident, and while he's not as explosive a climber as Valverde or Sastre, his skills against the clock put him in a very good position for a high finish in Paris.

At the start today, Evans told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown that he thought some teams would ride to put Vinokourov into difficulty - probably the French teams like Ag2r, but their team wouldn't waste any energy on that.

Chris Horner vowed that he would stay by Evans' side. While he might have a chance to take a stage if the opportunity comes, the first priority is to stay with Evans.

14:05 CEST    85.5km/112km to go
Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux) is in this move, and he's long since become the virtual leader of the Tour - he was 12th place, just 52" behind Cancellara at the start of the day, and in the distinguished position as best placed Frenchman in the race.

14:06 CEST    85.5km/112km to go
Gerdemann attacks! He's going for the money at the intermediate sprint. He opens up a massive lead.

14:09 CEST   
Pérez took second in the sprint with a pretty mean kick ahead of Bram Tankink. They get 450 and 300 euros to Gerdemann's 800 for the sprint - that's worth the effort!

14:10 CEST   
Gerdemann has a little chat with his directeur sportif. Maybe he was told to not try to go for all the sprint points. Make enemies in a group of 15 and you'll get screwed at some point. It's all about tactics and collaborations.

14:12 CEST   
The ASO puts up good money for the biggest bike race in the world, and there's a chance for just about everyone to line their pockets. From 450,000€ for the overall down to just 400€ for 150th place on GC in Paris, the list is rather top-heavy. 20th place gets 950€.

14:12 CEST    89.5km/108km to go
After Gerdemann has taken the sprint, it is Pérez and Tanking in second and third. After the sprint the pace line was temporarily disrupted for taking on some drinks and advise.

14:14 CEST   
Winning a road stage nets €8000, while Tom Boonen will be looking for €25,000 if he takes the green to Paris. That's some decent motivation to get over the mountains! Prize money for a mountain sprint depends on the category of the climb, from €800 for a 'Hors category' down to just €200 for a category 4.

Current situation

  • Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Rubén Pérez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Bram Tankink (Quickstep), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 8.12

14:15 CEST   
We are in the Rhône valley on a beautiful, warm day. A nice day for a little ride out in the country side and going up some hills. Lotto is riding on the front of the peloton together with CSC. McEwen must be thinking about the sprint after the last climb of the day.

14:17 CEST   
For every day he's spent in yellow, Fabian Cancellara not only gets the Credit Lyonnaise stuffed Lion and the kisses from the podium girls, but he also gets a cool €350 - he's earned more than €4000 so far with his two stage wins.

14:17 CEST   
The road is currently very flat. Time for Cancellara to fulfil his duty in yellow - going back to the team car and grab some bottles for the rest.

14:19 CEST   
The CSC team has overtaken the Astana squad as best team after Vinokourov's crash and subsequent team time trial that spent many of the men, and there's good reason for them to keep going to hold that classification - €50,000 to the winning team in Paris and €2,800 for each day they keep the bright yellow numbers.

14:22 CEST    97.5km/100km to go
Cadel Evans is apparently feeling good, so his team is on the front. We expect an attack from the Australian today. Other riders who will try to lighten up the mountains are Michael Rogers, Alberto Contador, the Caisse d'Epargne trio (Pereiro, Karpets, Valverde), Sastre, Schleck of CSC and of course Christophe Moreau. It should be an interesting day ahead of us. The lead is just under eight minutes with 100 kilometres to go.

14:24 CEST   
We are passing Seyssel, which is divided by the Rhône river and connected via smaller foot bridge in the older part of town.

14:26 CEST   
Robbie McEwen has the jersey zipped wide open and the sleeves rolled up. He went back to the team car to get some bottles. It is hot, hot, hot.

14:28 CEST   
Despite the feed zone being less than 10km away, rider in the break are getting bottles from their team cars, causing a little split in the group of 15.

14:31 CEST   
Have we mentioned it's hot out there? The sun is blazing down on the Tour today - sapping the strength of the peloton and frying their skin. Cofidis' Nick Nuyens was looking mighty pale at the start - the fair skinned Belgian said he was slathering on the sunscreen, and scowled at the temperatures - "it's too hot for me down here!"

14:38 CEST   
To quote the 'teen talk' Barbie, "Math is hard". We made a little error with a zero in Cancellara's prizes so far - he's taken €8000 each for the two stages, putting his total toward the €20,000 mark when you factor in the split on the team prizes and his days in yellow.

The riders don't get to keep all of that however, they have to share the prizes with the other riders and the team staff.

14:39 CEST   
Navarro brings back up Kashechkin, who took a little time out. The lead is down to 6'36"

14:40 CEST    108.5km/89km to go
The breakaway men have gotten their feed, and Wegmann is off the back fiddling with his bottles, but no worries for the German - the other 14 will wait for him. They're cruising along and will see the road tip up soon. We should see the gaps start to fall as the peloton remains on flat ground and the break is slowed by the increasing grade on the way to the Cruiseilles - a 3rd category climb.

14:42 CEST    110.5km/87km to go
The break, as predicted, is losing its advantage. Down to 6'30 now. But the race today is quite a bit faster than previous stages. They averaged a whopping 47.5 km/h for the second hour - for a total of 44.2 km/h on the day. Now that's more like Tour de France pace!

14:43 CEST   
The peloton now gets to the feed zone, and are single file behind the Predictor-Lotto train. Let's hope they all get through safely after feed zone crashes two days in a row!

14:45 CEST   
It's when the riders empty their bags and discard the musettes that things get dangerous, but the single-file peloton seems to have gotten through just fine. They face a long, lonely highway weaving through dense trees toward the hills ahead.

Current situation

  • Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Rubén Pérez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Bram Tankink (Quickstep), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 5.58

14:46 CEST   
We are coming up to the Cruseilles climb, a category 3 hill. Not as bad as the last mountain, which is La Colombière. Yes, the same mountain featured in stage 17 of last year's Tour where Landis had his astonishing comeback to win the stage and put him back into contention for the overall. Back then they went up the other side as they will face today. Christian Prudhomme, the Tour director, said that "did not spent one second thinking about last year." All that ASO wanted some "difficult mountains and no mountaintop finish, to keep the suspense up."

14:49 CEST   
Henrik Redant, the directeur sportif of Predictor-Lotto, confirmed that the team does not want the gap get too high up, so they are riding tempo now. CSC is also on the front, but not for the yellow jersey of Cancellara anymore. They will want to protect Sastre and Schleck.

14:50 CEST    115.5km/82km to go
The breakaway is passing a unique sculpture - it's a string of cable suspended from a tall scaffold and has dozens of bicycles dangling from it. They're on quite narrow roads now and passing a construction zone that seriously narrows the road.

A horse gets starts when they come by, but keeps cool enough not to bolt onto the road and chase after the riders.

14:52 CEST    116.5km/81km to go
Six kilometres until the top of the Cruseilles climb, and the peloton is still bringing the breakaway closer. Predictor-Lotto has the front 30 men single file.

14:52 CEST    116.5km/81km to go
Paolo Savoldelli of Astana is looking good. He looks easy leading the group when it is his turn to pull through and makes the uphill look easy.

14:55 CEST   
Mickaël Delage (Française Des Jeux) has currently a heart rate of 167 and the speed is 42 km/h. They are going uphill, by the way, as they are approaching the cat 3 climb.

14:56 CEST   
One rider who won't be doing much except recovering today is yesterday's solo breakaway, Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis). He spent 191km off the front yesterday, and he told Cyclingnews this morning that he was going to climb off today - but was just joking! He said, "I'm glad I did it - I've always wanted to do something like that."

14:57 CEST   
Romain Feillu (Agritubel) is hanging at the back and struggling to keep up. His body is going left and right over his machine as he is struggling to get more power out of his legs.

15:00 CEST   
Robbie McEwen has done his team work and is dropping back, along with Napolitano. The sprinters will try to form a 'grupetto' today. The more people that are in that group the easier it is to convince the organizers to leave them in the race, even if they missed the time cut.

15:02 CEST    121.5km/76km to go
Now on the lower slopes of the second climb, the peloton is no longer lined out, and have bunched up for the moment. The break ahead is 1km from the top.

15:03 CEST   
The Cruseilles is 7.1km in length, but a mere 4.4% average. Like most of the Alpine climbs, the grade is fairly steady but relentless.

Current situation

  • Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Rubén Pérez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Bram Tankink (Quickstep), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 6.09

15:04 CEST   
The field is passing the giant polka-dot gate that the community under the Cruiselles has put up.

15:05 CEST    122.5km/75km to go
Near the top of the climb we have an attack! It's De La Fuente who goes for the points, and opens up a large gap.

15:06 CEST   
Just after the climb, the road goes past the community of Copponex, and they've spelled the town's name out in - something, hay bales maybe? - that are visible from above.

15:08 CEST   
David De La Fuente was last year's Tour most aggressive rider - he's up to his old tricks again, but was caught over the top.

In one of the towns along the route, the peloton passes a big herd of cows and a group of people who have made a heart shape out of their hay. They've painted three of the poor animals up in yellow, green and white and red dots.

15:09 CEST   
The town has also drawn a huge bicycle in a field, and have a sort of maypole in the center of each hub with people wearing yellow t-shirts prancing around the rims holding ribbons for 'spokes'.

15:11 CEST    127.5km/70km to go
The CSC team has come to the front today to join Predictor-Lotto in the chase now that the gap has gone out a little bit to 6'47. They're just now reaching the top of the climb and will make up time on the descent.

15:14 CEST    129.5km/68km to go
Landaluze leads on the long, wide open and straight descent toward the Peguin climb.

15:16 CEST    130.5km/67km to go
Lefevre pulls through as the breakaway heads up the Peguin - not Penguin mind you. Cancellara has come to the front of the chasing peloton and is second wheel behind Wim Vansevenant (Predictor - Lotto) and in an aero position with his hands draped over the bars.

15:18 CEST   
Cancellara will almost assuredly give up the yellow today, but is hoping to pass it along to a team-mate. Perhaps Frank Schleck? He takes the front on a descent and is taking it very fast.

15:21 CEST    131.5km/66km to go
The break is holding a six minute plus lead as they head up the Peguin - the peloton is still descending behind.

15:22 CEST   
The leaders are nearing the top of the Peguin, and it's a big ring affair. Wegmann is sitting on the back, getting out of the saddle as Landaluze pulls off and De La Fuente accelerates on the front.

15:23 CEST    134.5km/63km to go
The Saunier Duval rider again gets clear in ahead of the line, and is cheered on by a slew of fans waving big green hands and banging noise makers.

15:25 CEST    135.5km/62km to go
The grupetto is small today - Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Danilo Napolitano (Lampre), Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux) and Robbie McEwen (Predictor - Lotto) are distanced from the peloton well in advance of the end of the race. They'll have a long 62 kilometre team pursuit to make the time cut, but will most likely get some help before the end of the race. Tom Boonen, in contrast to these other sprinters, is sitting comfortably in the chasing peloton.

15:27 CEST   
The four men off the back are still going uphill, and still have contact with the team cars, so there is hope that they'll rejoin on the descent. They've got more than 10km of downhill to aide their chase.

15:27 CEST   
Brian Holm, the directeur sportif of T-Mobile, said from the comfort of his team car that the team really wanted to have someone in the break, and first it was Marcus Burghardt who tried twice, then Gerdemann once. The second time that Linus Gerdemann went he finally made it into the right break. Holm thinks that if they have five minutes it may be enough to win the day. Once over the top of the Colombière it is just downhill to the finish in Le Grand Bornard.

David Zabriskie (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

15:29 CEST   
David Zabriskie (CSC) pours a bottle of water over his head, and joins Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) in the delivery of bottles to the rest of the CSC team. As the peloton heads over the climb, McEwen and crew get back onto the tail end of the bunch. Whew! That's it before the daunting Col de la Colombière, so they should be safe.

15:30 CEST   
CSC is still setting the tempo, but now Ag2r is bringing up Christophe Moreau on the right. They still have a long haul to the final climb, but will start to help bring the break back to try and give their team a French victory on Bastille Day in Le Grand Bornand.

Current situation

  • Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Rubén Pérez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Bram Tankink (Quickstep), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 6.11

15:34 CEST   
Rolf Aldag told Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé yesterday that the team is going well and they wanted to check out how Vino and Klöden are doing. The team may just control and not attack this weekend. It is a dangerous stage and Aldag told his riders to be on the lookout.

15:37 CEST   
The Discovery Channel will be happy to know that their man Allan Davis has won the first stage of the tour of Qinghai lake. The Australian sprinter won the sprint from a break of 18.

15:40 CEST   
As the peloton speeds down the hill at 57km/h, only the men on the front and the ones going back for bottles like Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) are doing much work - Auge's heart rate is only 119 bpm.

The break heads past a roundabout, and the guys up front get their heart rates up as Flecha, De La Fuente and Martinez have to bunny hop the median - whoops!

15:44 CEST    152.5km/45km to go
And in the peloton the yellow jersey continues to have frequent brushes with danger - he has to bunny hop a sudden traffic island as the peloton races to bring the gap down. 6'16 now for the 15 up front.

15:45 CEST   
The finishing town of Le Grand Bornard is known for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter, but is also the leading agricultural town in the Savoy region, offering dairy reblochon cheese.

15:46 CEST    153.5km/44km to go
Now is the time when we here at Cyclingnews try to amuse ourselves with a little game called 'guess the catch'. With our 15 men working smoothly together ahead of an animated peloton, they're holding over six minutes advantage. With just 44 km to go, and 15km before the start of the final climb, when do you think they'll be caught if at all?

15:47 CEST   
The first category 1 climb of the race averages 6.8% - significantly tougher than the other climbs of the race so far. But the first day in the mountains can make or break a rider's GC hopes. Some have a hard time finding their climbing legs while others shine at the start and then fade after a few days.

15:48 CEST   
If the break stays away, look to Savoldelli to try and salvage the Astana team's Tour after Vino and Klöden's injuries.

15:49 CEST   
Didi Thurau and his younger son Urs are on the route. Thurau was 15 days in yellow in 1977.
Thurau thinks that Vino's injuries hurt tremendously, but are also bad mentally and the he and Klöden will have started today's stage with a different mindset.

15:50 CEST    157.5km/40km to go
The peloton splits around another median, and we see American Chris Horner at the back getting bottles. Cancellara is still up front swapping pulls with the tall, thin, long-legged Predictor-Lotto rider Wim Vansevenant.

15:51 CEST   
Thurau predicts Savoldelli to win, his son thinks it will be Moreau. The older son Björn Thurau just signed a contract as a neo-pro.

15:55 CEST    160.5km/37km to go
With a few kilometres before the last climb officially starts, the road is already starting to kick up and Pérez launches an attack!

15:56 CEST    162.5km/35km to go
Perez' attack has split the front group somewhat, and Tankink has bridged up.

15:59 CEST    163.5km/34km to go
The break comes back together, but Perez continues hammering on the front while De La Fuente shakes out his legs. Their gap is down to 5'33.

16:01 CEST    164.5km/33km to go
We now see Lampre coming to the front to pick up the pace in the peloton. They have plenty of sprinters, but climbers?

16:02 CEST   
Lampre's Spanish rider Patxi Vila was 15th in the final classification in the Giro, so he goes uphill fairly well.

16:03 CEST   
The high pace has stretched out the field. Ventoso is all the way in the back, hanging on for dear life. McEwen is also way in the back, along with Steegmans.

16:06 CEST   
The speed of the peloton has tremendously increased and the lead has dropped to 4'37"

16:07 CEST   
And Cancellara still on the front. He will do all he can to deliver his captains to the final climb in perfect position to catch the front group.

16:08 CEST    169.5km/28km to go
The gap is now down to 4'20.

16:08 CEST    169.5km/28km to go
Gutierrez goes! The break is on the climb but have a long way to go, and De La Fuente goes after him.

16:09 CEST   
The two open up a 200m gap, but still have a whopping 13km to go. Savoldelli can't hold the pace - he started the Tour a bit sick and isn't looking smooth at all.

16:10 CEST    170.5km/27km to go
Detonation! The break is blown apart and Vaugrenard is the next to lose it, as does Lefevre. So much for the French hopes in the break!

16:11 CEST    170.5km/27km to go
Cancellara waves goodbye and drops off into the grupetto with Boonen, Wiggins, Hushovd and more friends.

16:12 CEST   
Gerdemann was able to go up to De La Fuente and 'Guti' - they've got one more coming up.

16:13 CEST    170.7km/26.8km to go
Fofonov is the rider coming up and Gerdemann goes! Fovonov gets on terms and counters - dropping De La Fuente and Guti.

16:14 CEST   
Guti and De La Fuente are holding a steady pace compared with the out of the saddle effort of Gerdemann. It's still a long way to go!

Meanwhile Zabel has joined the autobus.

16:23 CEST    175.1km/22.4km to go
The gap to Gerdemann and Fovonov is at 24 seconds. There are 7.5 kms to the top of the climb.

16:23 CEST   
Rabobank is on the front, Moreau can be seen near the front. Niermann is riding tempo for Rabobank.

16:24 CEST   
Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) drops off the back. Boogerd is also on the front. Rabobank seems to be working for Rasmussen and the polka-dot jersey - or perhaps Menchov for the overall.

16:25 CEST   
De la Fuente and Gutiérrez have been joined by Landaluze.

16:26 CEST   
Gutiérrez is dropping back. Fovonov and Gerdemann are still on the front,, five kilometres form the top.

Gerdemann attacks.!

16:27 CEST    177.5km/20km to go
A vicious attack by the German, less than five km form the top

16:28 CEST   
Fofonov can't hold the pace. Once Gerdemann is over the top, all he has to master is the downhill.

16:30 CEST   
The main field is about 5 minutes back, so it could be enough to win the stage for the breakaway, which has now broken up in many little groups.

16:31 CEST   
The Barloworld rider that attacked out of the field, is back in. Sandy Casar has trouble. Flecha is caught and will help the Rabo train in the front

16:31 CEST    178.5km/19km to go
Gerdemann pedals along on the front, where the other German, Stefan Schumacher, is on the back end of the field.

16:32 CEST    179km/18.5km to go
The Rabobank chase is heading under the 20km banner as Gerdeman soldiers along ahead - speeding up the climb.

16:32 CEST   
Chavanel will not get any points today. He'll have enough, though, to keep the Polka-dot.

Current situation

  • Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile) and Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole)
  • Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir) at 0.45
  • Egoi Martínez (Discovery Channel), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Rubén Pérez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Bram Tankink (Quickstep), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r Prévoyance), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) and José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) spread out
  • Peloton at 4.10
  • Second Peloton with Yellow and Green Jersey at 5.30

16:33 CEST   
Savoldelli is caught by the Peloton. Vino and Kloedi are in the group still.

16:34 CEST   
Fovonov is caught by De La Fuente and Landaluz. Gerdemann should have about 50 seconds over the threesome.

16:34 CEST   
Hincapie is in the group with Casar.

16:35 CEST    179.5km/18km to go
Savoldelli is dropped.

16:35 CEST    179.5km/18km to go
Michael Boogerd, in his last year as a professional racer, takes the front setting pace with Rasmussen behind. The leader has 3.5 km to go before the top.

16:36 CEST    180km/17.5km to go
De La Fuente has lost contact with Landaluze and Gerdemann has 46" on the Euskaltel rider with 3km to go to the top.

16:38 CEST    180.5km/17km to go
In the peloton, Moreau, Valverde, Evans are all looking comfortable with the pace.

16:39 CEST    180.8km/16.7km to go
Caisse d'Epargne has hit the front for Valverde, but they still have several minutes gap behind Gerdemann.

16:40 CEST   
There is a group of about 25 riders in this select group - John Gadret (Ag2r) is one of the elite men, he'll be working for Moreau.

16:40 CEST   
The road is on the side of a steep drop, and if Gerdemann wasn't working so hard he could take in the stunning view. But Landaluze can see him, and De La Fuente is digging deep to get on terms.

16:42 CEST    181.5km/16km to go
Alberto Contador and Leipheimer are there for Discovery, Rogers, too. Rogers looks pretty solid on the climb.

16:42 CEST   
Sastre is there, as is Kashechkin and even the battered duo from Astana - Klodie and Vino. Gusev is even here still.

16:43 CEST   
Rasmussen, Menchov, Boogerd - all of them are here.

Gerdemann looks parched - he's got a film of salt around his mouth and is wagging his tongue - surely he's dehydrated in this heat.

16:45 CEST    182.1km/15.4km to go
Landaluze is losing ground now as the T-Mobile rider is within the 1km to the top of the climb. Gadret, who set pace for Moreau, lets go of the first group but is still struggling.

Iban Mayo is in the group with Moreau as well.

16:48 CEST   
Gerdeman had his head down and nearly ran into the back of a motorcycle that had stopped! Landaluze is getting pushes from the Basque fans, but swats them away.

16:48 CEST   
Gerdemann is coming to the top through a tunnel of spectators, struggling and reaches what looks like the edge of the world!

16:49 CEST   
What a view - it's a steep drop from the top of this climb, and now Landaluze comes over.

16:50 CEST    184km/13.5km to go
Rasmussen attacks for the rest of the points - 'the chicken' goes clear easily.

16:51 CEST    185.5km/12km to go
The peloton is still climbing, with a sheer rock face on their right. Rasmussen almost runs into the Ag2r car! It stopped with 100m before the top and he nearly ran into it but sprinted around and got the points.

16:52 CEST    186.5km/11km to go
It's a race down hill now, and all the riders are zipping up for the long descent to Le Grand Bornard. Gerdemann is taking all sorts of risks - simply hammering down the hill.

16:53 CEST    187.5km/10km to go
Gerdemann's flying - he sees the 10km to go, and Landaluze is behind nearly running off the road in the attempt to catch him.

16:53 CEST    189km/8.5km to go
This is going to be a quick, quick last few kilometres and the chasing bunch is single file on the descent - nice view without a tree to block the line of sight.

16:54 CEST    189.5km/8km to go
Gerdemann is on the top tube tucking as tight as he can - he's taking every advantage he can in his 53x11 with 8km to go.

16:55 CEST   
Gerdemann is increasing his lead with that supreme aero tuck - Landaluze is 28" back now.

16:56 CEST   
Vino is at the back of the chase as the leader has 7km to go - he's not taking any risks with his injured body.

16:56 CEST   
Caisse d'Epargne leads the chase through the 10km to go banner - 3.5km behind the lone leader

16:57 CEST    191.5km/6km to go
With such a fast descent, it looks like Gerdemann can pull this one off. He takes a hairpin bend at speed and holds it up - Landaluze isn't gaining on him.

16:57 CEST   
Savoldelli would have a hard time beating this frantic descent - Gerdemann is FLYING!

16:57 CEST    192.5km/5km to go
Rasmussen is caught by the chasers, and Vinokourov shakes his head - trying to keep his courage and fingers off the brakes.

16:58 CEST    193km/4.5km to go
Antoher hairpin bend and Gerdemann is continuing to plummet to victory. He's very good at the downhills - only 24 years old and still fearless.

16:59 CEST   
Gerdemann has opened up more real estate on Landaluze - 34" now and he gets back into that tuck - sitting on the top tube with his chin on the bars.

17:00 CEST    194.5km/3km to go
Landaluze is 600m behind - he won't overtake the German. He's from the cycling capital of Muenster.

17:00 CEST    195km/2.5km to go
Gerdemann is taking maximum risks - he's inside the barriers now and still just ripping the turns - taking it very, very close to the outside on the exit.

17:01 CEST    195.5km/2km to go
Gerdemann is not in danger of being caught by the Caisse d'Epargne-led chase group. He's starting to relax a bit now, perhaps his team director told him he had the win in the bag and to make sure he holds the bike upright.

17:02 CEST   
It's a climb into Le Grand Bornard, and Gerdemann has 36" now on Landaluze as he sees the 1km to go banner.

17:03 CEST   
The staunchly antidoping young rider is looking to get T-Mobile's second big win after Marco Pinotti took pink in the Giro - he could be in yellow tonight!

17:03 CEST   
He's within the final metres now and has his mouth open wide - the fans are going wild here and there will be plenty of German fans to cheer him on.

17:04 CEST   
And Gerdemann gets the win! 40.41km/h and 4:53:13 on the day.

17:05 CEST   
Landaluze comes in 40 seconds back and Gerdemann looks wrecked. He's covered in dried salt and is helped into the RV.

De La Fuente comes in 1'38 behind the winner. It's a long, painful uphill drag.

17:06 CEST   
A Barloworld rider takes 4th ahead of a Bouygues Telecom rider - and Wegmann is holding on for sixth from the break.

17:07 CEST   
Wegmann is dangling right ahead of the chase group led by Bouygues Telecom and Quickstep.

17:08 CEST   
Bernard Kohl lost a little time when he was dropped by the chasers. Gadret comes in trailing a bit behind the main bunch.

17:09 CEST   
Christophe Moreau was 9th in the bunch, and we still have some stragglers coming in. Chavanel comes in more than five minutes behind in the polka dot jersey.

17:11 CEST   
That was a stellar effort by the young T-Mobile rider....

George Hincapie is coming in with Zabriskie in a small group seven minutes back.

17:12 CEST   
Gerdemann is in yellow tonight!

17:18 CEST   
Gerdemann will enjoy his one day in yellow tomorrow, but it's going to be tough for the young rider to hold onto it with three category one climbs in the second half of the stage.

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for the big mountain top finish in the Alps!

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