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July 15, 2005

Stage 13 underway

The peloton is already through the only climb of the day.

There's a breakaway that's been away since about 12 miles into the ride. It includes Chris Horner, Ludovic Turpin, Thomas Voeckler, Carlos da Cruz, and (of course!) Juan Antonio Flecha.

The break at one point got nearly 9 minutes on the field. Now, with about 40 miles to ride on the 107 mile (173.5 km) ride, they're getting pulled back, with Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto team doing most of the work. The gap is under 3 minutes.

The Tour website points out that, since Armstrong first won in 1999, there's never been a field sprint on an intermediate stage (i.e. between the Alps and Pyrenees). That looks like it's going to change today, as McEwen, O'Grady and Hushovd look for a chance to improve their position in the points competition for the green jersey.

With 30 kilometers to go, the gap is 49 seconds.

At around 20 kilometers to go, with the gap at 36 seconds, Servais Knaven of Quick Step is off the front of the peloton, and trying to bridge to the break. Knaven made a go of it, but he's back in the field 3 k later.

Now Sylvain Chavanel makes a go, as the first breakaway starts to get absorbed, but Chris Horner is still out front. They've joined up, and have almost 30 seconds on the field with less than 10 kilometers to ride.

A few other riders are trying to gap the field, Salvatore Commesso among them. It's down to 18 seconds to Horner and Chavanel -- they're going to have to do something special in this last 5 kilometers to stay away.

It's down around 12 seconds, with 3 k to ride.

Ohhhhh....With 100 or 200 meters to ride, they're caught!

And the sprinters wind it up, and no surprises, it's Robbie McEwen taking his third stage win of the Tour!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2005 | Permalink

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