July 20, 2007

Stage 12: Boonen finds a bonus

Most commentators saw today's stage as a long breakaway or a sprint from a select group, with a 2nd-Category climb about 45 kilometers/28 miles from the finish.

But things didn't follow the script. A long breakaway by Euskaltel-Euskadi's Amets Txurruka and Bouygues Telecom's Pierrick Fedrigo looked like it might stay away, but after the day's big climb, Lampre and Française des Jeux, both still seeking stage wins, powered the chase along a plateau and down into Castres.

By the time Txurruka and Fedrigo were caught, just outside of 1 kilometer to ride, Quick Step was setting up the blue train for Boonen, peeling its riders off one by one, and keeping the pace high enough that no one could counter.

Boonen came off of Gert Steegmans' wheel with around 200 meters to ride, and Erik Zabel and Robbie Hunter, trailing Belgium's former world champion, launched to either side of Boonen. Neither could match Boonen's finishing speed, and he took his 2nd stage win of the 2007 Tour.

Boonen also pads his lead in the green jersey competition, where his 195 points lead Robbie Hunter's 175 and Zabel's 174, with Thor Hushovd a distant 4th with 132.

Stage 12 Top 10:
1) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium
2) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, same time
3) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, s.t.
4) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
6) Bernhard Eisel, T-Mobile, Austria, s.t.
7) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
8) Nicolas Jalabert, Agritubel, France, s.t.
9) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
10) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, s.t.

No significant changes to the overall standings.

Overall Standings after Stage 12:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 57:37:10
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 2:35
3) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 2:39
4) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 2:41
5) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:08
6) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:39
7) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 3:50
8) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:53
9) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 5:06
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 5:20

Stef Clement of Bouygues Telecom finished outside the time limit, after a crash at 35 kilometers.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2007 in 2007 Stage 12, Erik Zabel, Robbie Hunter, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 12 on the road

Today is what the Tour calls a “medium mountain stage,” with three 4th-Category climbs in the early going, then the two intermediate sprints and the feedzone, before the day's biggest climb, the 2nd-Category Montee de la Jeante. It may be hard to make an attack over the Jeante stick, since there's a ~20-kilometer-long plateau before the descent into Castres.

VS. broadcaster picks:
Liggett: Filippo Pozzato
Trautwig: George Hincapie
Sherwen: Erik Zabel
Roll: Christian Vande Velde

With only 7 kms/4.5 miles ridden today, Milram's Alberto Ongarato crashed. He spent some time with the race doctor, then decided to abandon the Tour, leaving 167 riders of 189 starters still racing.

A couple of breaks have gotten small gaps to the field, but each has been quickly reeled back in.

1st climb, a 4th Category:
1) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, +3 pts
2) David Millar, Saunier Duval, +2 pts
3) Staf Scheirlinckx, Cofidis, +1 pt

Just before the 2nd little climb of the day, Amets Txurruka of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Pierrick Fedrigo of Bouygues Telecom broke from the field, and took a :40 lead over the climb.

2nd climb, a 4th Category:
1) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +3 pts
2) Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouygues Telecom, +2 pts
3) Juan Mañuel Garate, Quick Step, +1 pt

Txurruka and Fedrigo are pushing their advantage, now out to 5:15. Marcus Burghardt of T-Mobile is between the 2 and the peloton.

At the 3rd climb, a 4th Category:
1) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +3 pts
2) Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouygues Telecom, +2 pts
3) Marcus Burghardt, T-Mobile, +1 pt, @ 6:25

The peloton reached the climb 8:35 after Txurruka.

1st Intermediate Sprint:
1) Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouygues Telecom, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Marcus Burghardt, T-Mobile, +2 pts/2 secs

The gap to the peloton got as high as 11:35, but at that point Liquigas put riders on the front and started chasing.

2nd Intermediate Sprint:
1) Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouygues Telecom, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Marcus Burghardt, T-Mobile, +2 pts/2 secs, @ 5:45

The gap is 9:15, with Liquigas still chasing and the gap steadily shrinking. Burghardt is trending back toward the peloton.

The 2nd Category Montee de la Jeante is just ahead.

With 65 kms to ride, Fedrigo and Txurruka lead Burghardt by 6:21 and the field by 7:42.

Liquigas pulled Burghardt back into the peloton before the day's last climb. At the base of the climb, the peloton pulled within 5 minutes of the two leaders.

As they climbed, so did the gap, out to as high as 5:20, with all the team leaders riding at the front of the peloton. Near the top, Juan Mauricio Soler launched an attack, matched by Yaroslav Popovych and Michael Rasmussen's teammate Thomas Dekker. With this being the day's last climb, points are doubled, so there's a chance this will shake up the King of the Mountains competition a little.

2nd Category Montee de la Jeante:
1) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 20 pts
2) Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouygues Telecom, 18 pts
3) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, 16 pts, @5:00
4) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, 14 pts, s.t.
5) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, 12 pts, s.t.
5) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, 10 pts, s.t.

Soler trails Rasmussen by 11 points, with Popovych 3 points behind Soler.

Lampre is driving the peloton on the plateau, and the gap has fallen to 4:41 with 25 miles/40 kms to the finish.

With 21 km/13 miles to ride, the gap is down under 2 minutes.

Lampre and Française des Jeux drove the chase and gradually reeled in Txurruka and Fedrigo. They were finally captured just outside the flamme rouge at 1 km to ride.

Quick Step set up Boonen along the right barricades, and Boonen launched off Steegmans with around 200 meters to race. Sebastien Chavenel was sprinting up the left side, Robbie Hunter came off Boonen to his left, while Zabel sprinted off Boonen's wheel to the right, but neither could outkick the big Belgian, and Boonen took his 2nd win of the Tour.

The best way to follow the action in real time is to subscribe to my Tour de France Twitter feed. I send a few dozen updates per stage there, as well as notifications of new posts and links to Tour stories from elesewhere on the web.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2007 in 2007 Stage 12 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack