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July 11, 2009

Stage 8 on the road

VS broadcaster picks: Liggett - Andy Schleck, Hummer - Kim Kirchen, Sherwen - Franco Pellizoti, Roll - Luis Leon Sanchez

Cadel Evans went almost from the gun, joined by David Zabriskie, Vladimir Efimkin, Fabian Cancellara. With Mark Cavendish dropped on the climb to Port l'Envalira, Thor Hushovd would join this group with an eye toward the intermediate sprints.

1st Category Port d'Envalira
1) Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux +15 pts
2) Christophe Kern, Cofidis +13 pts
3) Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +11 pts
4) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, +9 pts
5) Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R, +8
6) David Zabriksie, Garmin-Slipstream, +7
7) Juan Antonio Flecha, Rabobank, +6
6) George Hincapie, Columbia, +5 pts

Kern currently leads the King of the Mountains competition.

With the advantage vanishing on the descent, Juan Antonio Flecha attacked to shed marked men Evans and Martinez. Soon after, Evans, Zabriskie, Kern, and Martinez would be recaptured, leaving 6 riders out in front: Cancellara, Flecha, Casar, Efimkin, Hincapie, and Hushovd.

Hincapie led on the approach to the intermediate sprint in Luzenac, but Hushovd attacked and took 6 pounts as first man through.

Luzenac sprint:
1) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, +6 pts
2) George Hincapie, Columbia, +4 pts
3) Juan Antonio Flecha, Rabobank +2 pts

After Luzenac, a number of riders bridged to the leaders, including Mikel Astarloza. Luis Leon Sanchez, Sebastien Rosseler, and Mikhail Ignatiev, so with around 100k/63 miles to ride, 10 riders had about :40 on the field.

Tarascon-sur-Ariege sprint:
1) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, +6 pts
2) George Hincapie, Columbia, +4 pts
3) Fabian Cancellara, Saxo Bank, +2 pts

Hushovd moved to 11 points clear of Mark Cavendish in the green jersey competition.

As the 10 leaders began the climb of the Col de Port, they had about 2:20 on the main field, moving slowly enough that the sprinters' group rejoined from behind.

With 90k ridden, Oscar Pereiro of Caisse d'Epargne pulled out of the race. Pereiro was awarded the 2006 Tour title when Floyd Landis was disqualified for illegal testosterone levels.

In the last few kms to the summit of the Col de Port, Hushovd fell out of the break, followed by Rosseler. The remaining 8: Cancellara, Flecha, Casar, Ignatiev, Sanchez, Hincapie, Efimkin, and Astarloza.

2nd Category Col de Port
1) Casar, Française des Jeux +10 pts
2) Ignatiev, Katusha, +9 pts
3) Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +8 pts
4) Flecha, Rabobank, +7 pts
5) Cancellara, Saxo Bank, +6 pts
6) Efimkin, AG2R, +5 pts

Rosseler would rejoin the break in time for the climb to the Col d'Agnes, but Hushovd's day in front was over. On teh day's final climb, the time gap began shrinking, falling below 2 minutes with around 60 kilometers/37 miles to ride.

The Col d'Agnes shook things up, as Andy Schleck launched an attack low on the climb, dropping Nocentini and whittling the contenders group down to around 15. Ultimately, the two groups reintegrated, but only after sweeping up a few of the earlier breakaway.

1st Category Col d'Agnes
1) Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +15 pts
2) Sanchez, Caisse d'Epargne, +13 pts
3) Efimkin, AG2R, +11 pts
4) Casar, FdJeux, +9 pts, at :18
5) Hicapie, Columbia, +7 pts, at 1:28
6) Pierre Rolland, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +6 pts, at 2:05
7) Haimar Zubeldia, Astana, 6 pts, at 2:45
8) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, 5 pts, same time

Those results guarantee that Christophe Kern will be the new King of the Mountains tonight, deposing Brice Feillu.

On the descent, Casar quickly rejoined the three stage leaders, while George Hincapie attempted to do likewise. After a few kilometers, Hincapie sat up and left just Astarloza, Casar, Efimkin, and Sanchez leading the stage.

Vic d'Oust Sprint
1) Casar, Française des Jeux, +6 pts
2) Sanchez, Caisse d'Epargne, +4 pts
3) Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +2 pts

The first attack in the breakaway came at 5k to go, as Mikel Astarloza, who has never won a single day event (a stage or one-day race), tried to get free. He was countered immediately by Sandy Casar, but Sanchez had to pull across a small gap with Efimkin on his wheel. As they caught up, Efimkin went hard up the left-hand side of the road, and took about a 5 second lead.

Efimkin's timing was perfect. The chasers didn't want to do the work to tow their breakmates up to Efimkin, only to lose a sprint, but they soon got together and, with Astarloza doing the majority of the chasing, the slowly reeled Efimkin back.

The final catch didn't come until the last kilometer, with Sanchez leading the catch. Casar chose that moment to go all-out to the line, but Sanchez was alert and covered Casar, then beat him to the finish line for the stage win.

The peloton, with Rinaldo Nocentini in place, rolled in at 1:54.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2009 in 2009 Stage 9, Andy Schleck, George Hincapie, Luis Sanchez, Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd | Permalink

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Comments

Is it p osible to win the tour without winning any stage or yellow jacket?

Posted by: rob barnett at Jul 13, 2009 3:13:52 PM

Rob, it is.

Here's a thread from 2005 on CyclingCrowd.com, where they're discussing the possibility that Armstrong might win the 2005 Tour without a stage win (he won the following time trial).

The list they came up with was:

  • Greg Lemond, 1990
  • Lucien Aimar, 1966
  • Gastone Nencini, 1960
  • Roger Walkowiak, 1956
  • Firmin Lambot, 1922

Since that list was done, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the win for 2006 when Floyd Landis (who had a stage win) was disqualified, and Pereiro had no stage wins.

To win without having worn the yellow jersey is possible, but I don't think it has ever happened (since the yellow jersey was introduced in 1919, of course). The only time I can recall where leadership of the race changed on the last day was Lemond's 1989 victory.

Posted by: Frank at Jul 13, 2009 4:25:17 PM