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July 19, 2008

Stage 14 on the road

Today's kind of a mirror image of Thursday's Stage 12, working up from around sea level to a couple of Category 4 climbs. The finish is a few kilometers below the 2.4-kilometer climb of the Col de l'Orme, which might provide a launch ramp for a late attack.

Jersey leaders:
Yellow jersey Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto
Green jersey Oscar Freire, Rabobank
White jersey Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas
Polka-dot jersey Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner

Versus broadcaster picks:
• Liggett: Oscar Freire
• Sherwen: Filippo Pozzato
• Roll: Pierrick Fedrigo
• Hummer: Erik Zabel

Five kms into the stage, a large break formed, featuring Stijn Devolder, Stuart O'Grady, and Will Frischkorn, as well as 18 others. Sandy Casar is best-placed of this break, 13:00 behind Evans in 24th. Cofidis, Barloworld, and Silence-Lotto missed the break, and Cofidis and Silence-Lotto led the chase. The gap reached only a little more than a minute with around 20 kilometers ridden.

Sprint 1:
1. Stijn Devolder, QuickStep, 6 pts
2. Will Frischkorn, Garmin-Chipotle, 4 pts
3. Bernhard Eisel, Team Columbia, 2 pts

With 38 kms ridden, the gap was 35 seconds, and soon, 4 riders would escape the 21-rider break: José Ivan Gutierrez, Bram Tankink, Sandy Casar, and William Bonnet. Much of the original break melted back into the peloton, but 7 riders briefly dangled in between.

The four riders represented less of a threat, and were given more free rein, and their lead grew to 6:40. Silence-Lotto, Liquigas, Columbia, and Milram are working near the front for their sprinters. Agritubel's Nicolas Jalabert abandoned at the feed zone, leaving 157 riders in the race.

Nearing the first climb, the gap had shrunk to around 3 minutes.

Climb 1, the 4th Category Côte de Mane:
1. José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, 3 pts
2. Bram Tankink, Rabobank, 2 pts
3. Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux, 1 pt

Sprint 2:
1. José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, 6 pts
2. William Bonnet, Credit Agricole, 4 pts
3. Bram Tankink, Rabobank, 2 pts

The field was 2:30 behind at the sprint. The gap continues to shrink, now only 1:10. With 28 kilometers to ride, and the gap falling below 1:00, Gutierrez launched from the lead group.

Bonnet was immediately dropped, while Casar and Tankink worked together to try to pull Gutierrez back, but unsuccessfully. Bonnet, Casar, and Tankink were reeled in, and Gutierrez rode alone toward the day's last climb, with the gap still shrinking, 34 seconds with 10 miles/15 kilometers to ride.

On the slopes of the Col de l'Orme, Gutierrez was caught by an attacking Thomas Voeckler, quickly reabsorbed, and Carlos Barredo got a lead, but when Bernhard Kohl tried to escape, Cadel Evans matched him and the pace escalated, shedding sprinters by the handful. Near the summit, Oscar Pereiro briefly got a gap, but over the top, the leaders were together.

Col de l'Orme, a 4th Category:
1. Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas, 3 pts
2. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, 2 pts
3. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, 1 pt

On the descent, much of the field reorganized, and Sylvain Chavanel went off the front. He was captured with a few kilometers to ride, and teams started to set up for their surviving sprinters.

Columbia's Cavendish didn't make the break, but the team worked hard in the last kms to place Gerald Ciolek. In the final km, Zabel had a strong leadout from Marcus Burghardt, and looked like he could take the stage, but Duque went hard on the left, and Oscar Freire, right in the middle of the road, came through and took the stage by more than a bike length.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2008 in 2008 Stage 14, Will Frischkorn | Permalink

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