July 15, 2011
Stage 13 as it happens
Stage 13 started fast, with five or six atttempts to make a breakaway all being chased down and the field averaging around 50 km/hr or 31 mph.
The high pace put Andreas Klöden in trouble off the back of the peloton. Klöden is still suffering from injuries to his lower back suffered in a crash in Stage 9, and with about 40k ridden, Klöden abandoned the Tour, barely able to climb off his bike, or to stand up once he was helped off. His abandon leaves just 5 Radio Shack riders in the Tour.
Also put in trouble early was Rabobank's Lars Boom who trailed the field by more than 3:00 on the first climb of the day, the 3rd Category Côte de Cuqueron. Yesterday's 2nd-place finisher, Jelle Vanendert, led the peloton over the climb, with occasional attacks still trying and failing to get clear of the field.
3rd Category Côte de Cuqueron:
1) Jelle Vanendert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, +2 pts
2) Niki Terpstra, Quick Step, +1 pt
With more than 50k ridden, a breakaway group was finally successful, and had more than 1:00 in hand after 60k. In the group were Thor Hushovd, Jerome Pineau, Martin Tjallingi, Dmitri Fofonov, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Alessandro Petacchi, Lars Bak, Vladimir Gusev, David Moncoutie, and Jeremy Roy. With these 10 away, the pace in the field finally dropped a bit, and the gap quickly pushed out toward 2:00.
Lars Boom and Vladimir Isaichev, both gapped way before the Tourmalet, abandoned the race on the road.
4th Category Côte de Belair:
1) Jeremy Roy, FDJ, +1 pt
Gap went out beyond 4:00 as the field worked the climb.
For the intermediate sprint, Hushovd and Petacchi were expected to go for max green jersey points, but the group pretty much just pacelined through the sprint line. In the field, Philippe Gilbert launched an attack from way too far to the line, then was easily swamped by Rojas and Cavendish and their teammates. At the line, Rojas nipped Cavendish, who gestured angrily, but didn't appear to be impeded in any way.
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sky, +20 pts
2) David Moncoutie, Cofidis, +17 pts
3) Vladimir Gusev, Katusha, +15 pts
4) Dmitri Fofonov, Astana +13 pts
5) Alessandro Petacchi, Lampre, +11 pts
6) Martin Tjallingi, Rabobank, +10 pts
7) Thor Hushovd, Garmin-Cervelo, +9 pts
8) Jeremy Roy, FDJ, +8 pts
9) Lars Bak, HTC-Highroad, +7 pts
10) Jerome Pineau, Quick Step, +6 pts
11) José Rojas, Movistar, +5 pts
12) Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad, +4 pts
13) Francisco Ventoso, Movistar, +3 pts
14) Mickaël Delage, FDJ, +2 pts
15) Mark Renshaw, HTC-Highroad, +1 pt
Soon after the leading 10 hit the Col d'Aubisque, the group was shredded by an attack by World Champion Thor Hushovd. Hushovd may have had visions of his 2009 Stage 17 spent in a long solo break, but he was quickly joined by Jeremy Roy of FDJ, with David Moncoutie and Edvald Boasson Hagen close behind, and the other break survivors fading away. Hushovd's lead on the field stretched out over 6:30, while Delage, Mollema and Gadret counterattacked off the front of the field.
With a little more than 50k to race, gravity returned to normal, and Roy, then Moncoutie were able to come around Hushovd. Edvald Boasson Hagen initially had followed Moncoutie, but never made the bridge to Hushovd.
Atop the Aubisque, Roy held his lead of about :50 on Moncoutie, and coupled with his points from the Tourmalet yesterday, Roy will take the King of the Mountains jersey if he finishes the stage.
HC Col d'Aubisque:
1) Jeremy Roy, FDJ, +20 pts
2) David Moncoutie, Cofidis, +16 pts
3) Thor Hushovd, Garmin-Cervelo, +12 pts
4) Vladimir Gusev, Katusha, +8 pts
5) Jerome Pineau, Quick Step, +4 pts
6) Lars Bak, HTC-Highroad, +2 pts
Moncoutie began the descent :50 down on Roy, with Hushovd chasing more than a minute behind Moncoutie. Hushovd reeled in Moncoutie on the descent. On the uncategorized climb of the Soulor, Roy saw his lead on the pair at 1:27, but over the last 25 kilometers of the stage, Hushovd did most of the work to close on Roy. At 20k, the gap was 1:10, but over the next 4 km, Hushovd cut that lead in half. In the next 4 km, he cut it in half again, leaving Roy a bare :20 in front with 12 km to the line.
Roy fought valiantly, but the Norwegian world champion chipped away at his lead, until inside of 3 kilometers to the finish, Hushovd used a small hill to thunder away from Moncoutie, catching and riding straight past Roy. Hushovd rode alone to the finish for his 8th career stage win. Moncoutie also passed a dejected Roy to take 2nd on the stage.
Stage 13 Preview: 152.5 km Pau to Lourdes
Stage 13 sets up as a bit of a palate-cleanser for the GC riders, fresh from the first big all-you-can-eat hurt buffet of the Tour.
The major feature of the stage is the Col d'Aubisque, an hors categorie climb that could put some of the GC pretenders to shame. The summit comes with 35 kilometers to the finish, so there will be ample opportunity for a regrouping on the descent to Lourdes. Two other categorized climbs are on tap: the 3rd Category Côte de Cuqueron at 42.5 km is short and steep, and could be a spot for a breakaway, and the 4th Category Côte de Belair, which comes at the end of about 8.5k of rising road, even though the official climb is just 1 km.
The intermediate sprint comes between the two lower category climbs and Col d'Aubisque, at 82.5 kms. This is one of the stages where Philippe Gilbert might be able to make up green jersey points on Mark Cavendish, either through Cavendish falling off the back on the big climb, or through Gilbert making a break on the long descent.
It's doubtful the course will rip the yellow jersey from Thomas Voeckler's shoulders; that's more likely tomorrow as the race heads up to Plateau de Beille. Arnold Jeannesson of FDJ wears the white jersey, Sammy Sanchez the polka-dots, and Cavendish the green jersey for Stage 13.
Stage winner is likely to be somebody like Stage 12 winner Sammy Sanchez or French champion Sylvain Chavanel, a strong rider well back in the GC who can get in a break over the Aubisque and help it stay away from the chasing field all the way down to Lourdes.