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June 14, 2007

Dauphiné Stage 4 on the road

A 4-man break of Sylvain Calzati, Stephan Auge, Cedric Vasseur, and Willems are off the front with around 5 minutes on the field as the riders climb the lower (non-moonscape) portion of Mont Ventoux. Calzati attacked with just 2 kilometers ridden.

Auge is dropped with more than 12 kilometers to the top, and shortly thereafter, Calzati attacks off the front of his group.

Inigo Cuesta, Lampre's Sylvester Szmyd, and AG2R's Christophe Moreau have attacked from the leading chase group.

Alejandro Valverde is idling off the back of the pack -- a little bit of a surprise from an early Tour favorite.

Cuesta is back with the Astana-led main group. Contador, Evans, Vinokourov, Chavanel, Cuesta, Kashechkin, Kohl, Botharov, Leipheimer, Piepoli and about 20 others are there.

Astana comes off the front, and 2 CSCs move up. Vinokourov is now around the middle of the main chase group, and the front of that group is very nervous, with a lot of little attacks getting 10 bike lengths, then getting absorbed. Moreau and Szmyd have almost 2 minutes over the main chasers.

Vinokourov, who predicted yesterday that teammate Kashechkin would take the Dauphiné overall title, has gone off the back. Oscar Pereiro sits at the back of the chasers.

Moreau and Schmidt catch Auge.

Beltran is building a lead over the chase group. Zabriskie's in there too. The survivors are 2:29 behind Calzati. Pereiro's off the back. Moreau and Szmyd have caught Willems and Vasseur, with only Calzati left between them and the top of the Ventoux. They're 1:34 behind Calzati.

The chase group is spread way out, with splits appearing regularly. It's down to 8 or so riders: Piepoli, Beltran, Menchov at the back, Sanchez, Zabriskie!, Kashechkin, Menchov, don't see Leipheimer. There's 7 kilometers to the top, and the trees are thinning along the roadside.

A few riders are clawing back onto the back, including Igor Astarloa.

Szmyd and Moreau have Calzati in sight, the trees have vanished, and we're on the signature final section of the Giant of Provence.

Leipheimer is reported in the chasing group. There are 3 CSCs - Zabriskie, Gustov, and Sorensen. Beltran, Zabriskie and Gustov are setting pace. Calzati still holds a gap on Moreau and Szmyd, who are only about 20 meters behind.

Moreau pats Calzati on the back as he and Szmyd finally make the capture, and Calzati goes immediately off the back.

Moreau started 2:20 back, so he needs that big a gap at the top to Kashechkin to take the leader's jersey.

Moreau drops Szmyd like a rock. Moreau's tongue goes into high gear as he climbs toward the observatory. His gap to the chasers is around a minute. In the chasers, I see Leipheimer, Evans, Zabriskie, Beltran, Fofonov, Gustov, Sorensen, Menchov, and a few others. Fofonov attacks, and the chasers raise the pace to bring him back.

Cadel Evans goes, Beltran matches him, and Gustov is off the back. Chavanel is falling away. Calzati is caught by Euskaltel's Igor Anton, who's attacking off the front. Chavanel fights back onto the chase group.

With 3 kilometers to ride, Moreau has more than a minute in hand. Fofonov, Zubeldia and Beltran lead the chase, with Anton in no-man's land in between.

Fofonov launches, but it's going to be very hard to pull back Moreau.

Moreau is in the last kilometer. Now the chasers pass through. No one's going to catch Moreau now -- he's got his 2nd victory of this Dauphiné Libéré!

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2007 | Permalink

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