July 11, 2007

Stage 4: Hushovd holds off Hunter

Thor Hushovd took his 1st victory of the season on Stage 4 of the Toru de France today. Hushovd's teammate Julian Dean provided an incredible leadout to put Hushovd in perfect position to outlast a charging Robbie Hunter at the line.

It was Hushovd's 5th career stage win, at the end of a chaotic sprint, that followed a day-long breakaway by 5 men: Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank, Matthieu Sprick of Bouygues Telecom, Christian Knees of Milram, and Gorko Verduga of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Top 10:
1) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway
2) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, same time
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, s.t.
4) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
5) Danilo Napolitano, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
6) Gert Steegmans, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
7) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
8) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
9) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
10) Mark Cavendish, T-Mobile, Great Britain, s.t.

The stage bonus moves Hushovd up to 2nd in the overall classifcation, and Sylvain Chavanel (brother of 9th place Sebastien Chavanel of FdJeux) collected some time throughout the stage to move up to 6th in the GC.

Caisse d'Epargne's Xabier Zandio was involved in a crash, the 2nd significant crash of the Tour for him, and broke his collarbone. He exited the Tour during today's stage, leaving 186 riders in competition.

GC Top 10:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland
2) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, at :29
3) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at :33
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Great Britain, at :41
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, at :43
6) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, at :43
7) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, at :33
8) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, at :45
9) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, at :46
10) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at :46

Tom Boonen holds the green jersey, but still lacks a stage win, while Stéphane Augé holds the King of the Mountains jersey for another day, with some real climbs arriving tomorrow.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2007 in 2007 Stage 4, Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Sylvain Chavanel, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 4 on the road

A five-man breakaway, including Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, Matthieu Sprick of Bouygues Telecom, Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank, Gorka Verdugo of Euskaltel, and Christian Knees of Milram, is away. Their lead has yo-yoed out to 4 minutes, back almost to 2 minutes, and is gradually extending beyond 3 minutes to 3:15 with about 100 kilometers/63 miles to ride.

With 80 kilometers to ride, the gap is 3:49. I doubt the peloton will let the capture go to the last kilometer today, but this is a high-quality break. Flecha won a stage in 2003 out of a 3-man break.

With 55 kms, the gap is 1:55.

Sylvain Chavanel has been picking up bonus time at the intermediate sprints, and will move up the leaderboard tonight. He's also kept the polka-dot jersey of teammate Stéphane Augé from being attacked over 4 minor climbs, and moved up in the competition himself.

At 33 kilometers, it's 1:37. I don't think the sprinters' teams will wait until the last kilometer today, not after yesterday's surprise attack by Fabian Cancellara.

With 25 kms/16 miles, the gap has fallen under a minute.

At 15 kms/10 miles the leading 5 are almost in site, just 50 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. Predictor-Lotto, Lampre, and Quick Step are leading the chase for their sprinters.

With 10kms/6.2 miles, the gap is only 20 seconds. A few hundred meters later, the break splinters, as Matthieu Sprick attacks. Flecha and Knees match him, and Sylvain Chavanel and Gorka Verdugo are reabsorbed by the peloton. Knees attacks, matched again by Flecha, but the two can't hold out against the field, and with 7 kms to ride, they're captured.

It's a classic sprinters finish, with a wide boulevard to finish, and the teams with a sprint threat all make an appearance on the front of the field in the last kms. Quick Step is the last to drive the field, with around a kilometer to ride, and then, the field fractures into 3-4 little trains, and there's Julian Dean leading the fastest of them, and he pulls off, and Thor Hushovd goes hard for the line, Robbie Hunter closes in, and it's Hushovd at the line! Hunter 2nd, Rabobank's Oscar Freire 3rd.

The best way to follow the stage and the site in real time is to subscribe to my Tour de France Twitter feed, which you can route to your IM client or cell phone. It's also being featured at the Ubilabs Tour de France tracker which brings together heart rate, GPS, and Google Maps data on each stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2007 in 2007 Stage 4, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Sylvain Chavanel, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack