Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TDF Stage 11 - A Green Jersey Competition Hosted By Virgins

Stage 11 Map / Vatan → Saint-Fargeau - Image Credit:

TDF Stage 11 - A Green Jersey Competition Hosted By Virgins

This stage begins in Vatan and travels northeast to finish in Saint-Fargeau. Two categorized climbs enliven the proceedings, though they are unlikely to prove decisive in the end. This stage should end in a sprint. The final kilometer is slightly bowl-shaped, with a slight descent than a false-flat climb to the line. In the event of a headwind, timing the sprint correctly could prove tricky. Either way, it’s a finish for the fast men and an opportunity to chase points in the Green Jersey competition.

Stage 11 Profile / Vatan → Saint-Fargeau - Image Credit:

Both Vatan and Saint-Fargeau are Tour de France virgins. Neither town has ever hosted a Tour start or finish before this year. Vatan lies in the Champagne berrichonne, an open space of plainsland in central France. Also known as Septaine, this region is traversed by the Cher and Indre rivers and dotted with small villages and towns. Vatan is home to not much more than 2000 inhabitants.

Saint-Fargeau is similarly small, though it boasts a chateau dating from the tenth century. The Chateau de Saint-Fargeau holds annual festivals re-enacting events from its lengthy history, from knights in armor to American military vehicles from the Liberation. Saint-Fargeau is also known for its water-sports on the nearby lac du Bourdon.

So what we expect to witness today is pretty much the same as Stage 10, bumpy terrin with a couple of climbs that will not challenge the integrity of the peloton. Look to Team Astana to force Ag2r-La Mondiale to defend the Yellow Jersey by leading the Peloton except toward the end when the strong "SPRINT" teams will be working to place their riders in a good position to take the stage.

Of course, with things as tight as they are, there is always the potential to shuffle the deck a bit. Yesterday’s stage resulted in several riders being delayed by 15 seconds near the end of the stage and, at the end of yesterday, Tour officials had both Levi Leipheimer and Bradley Wiggins suffer the impact of that split. Leipheimer dropped from fourth on GC to fifth and Wiggins dropped from fifth to seventh. Tour officials have been busy overnight ... they have reconsidered and negated that 15 second split in yesterday's finish. That means that the GC results were not altered as they had been at the end of the day, yesterday.

We’ll be watching those GC positions today, but smart riding and radio communications being restored may keep the General Classification pretty much the same.

officials have also been discussing yesterday's radio ban. It appears that they UCI is poised to force a reversal of plans to ban them again on Friday's stage from Vittel to Colmar.

There was no change overall as Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R) kept the yellow jersey for another day and Team Astana now hold 2nd through positions on GC with Alberto Contador six seconds off the pace, Lance Armstrong another two second behind, with Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer tied at 54-seconds off the lead. Leipheimer lost a few seconds today, perhaps held up by a closing crash that took out a Katusha rider. /// "Riders were not happy being unable to listen," said Contador after the race. "It was dangerous. The race organizers wanted more spectacle but they got less. Cycling has changed--it's dangrious with so many car in the peloton. It was a pity for the public." He continued with, "On the other hand it was a flat stage so you could not expect a lot. But it would be better to do experiments in other races," he concluded. /// General Manager Johan Bruyneel agreed. "I understand the reason for no radios was to have more attractive racing and that's obviously not what happened. If that's what they wanted to accomplish it's been a failure and I just think it's a bad idea to go back twenty years and do something like this in the biggest race of the year. It took away a tool that everybody uses everyday." Caption and Image Credit: Team Astana

General Classification after Stage 10

1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 39:11:04

2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06

3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08

4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54

5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana

6 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC 0:01:00

7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 0:01:01

8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0:01:24

9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49

10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:54

This excerpted and edited primarily from VeloNews and may include other resources -

The weather today is again ideal for a bike race. It's sunny and about 23 degrees (C) - 73 degrees Fahrenheit - and very little wind.

CPelkey: At 55km, our two leaders - Johan Vansummeren (Silence-Lotto) and Marcin Sapa (Lampre) - are holding on to a lead of 4:30. That appears to be about as much rope as the peloton is willing to give them today.
[Comment From PJ ]
What Tour was decided by less than 15 sec and who was involved?
CPelkey: That would be the 1989 Tour de France, which was decided on an unusual final-day time trial into Paris. Greg LeMond trailed Laurent Fignon by 50 seconds at the start of the day, but completed the 24.5km time trial at a speed 58 seconds faster than Fignon, thus winning the Tour by the narrowest margin in history, a scant eight seconds.
[Comment From Lou ]
How does the new electronic shifters appear to be working or is anyone using them?
CPelkey: We haven't heard any complaints. Certainly the Skil Shimano team is using them.

The systems seem to be working quite nicely, too. Certainly much better than the first electronic shifting system that appeared in the peloton back in the mid-90s. Remember Mavic Zap? Our favorite moment was when one poor rider had his derailleur unexpectedly shift whenever he passed under high capacity electrical wires.
CPelkey: And, indeed, it looks like our two escapees did, in fact, hit the limit of the leash a few kilometers back. Now at 63km, their advantage has been trimmed to four minutes even.
CPelkey: At 67km, the gap has been pulled back to 3:45.

The gap is coming down largely due to the efforts of the Columbia team, which seems intent upon delivering Cavendish to the line for another sprint win. It would be his eighth Tour de France stage win, which would tie him for the record of stage victories by a British rider.

Our own Brit-in-da-house, John Wilcockson looked at Cav's chances of matching - and eventually topping - the record set more than 30 years ago by Barry Hoban:
[Comment From Tom in Albany, NY ]
Who owns the record irrespective of country of origin?
CPelkey: Oh, that's an easy one. Eddy Merckx. He's got 34 stage wins to his credit. Next on the list is Bernard Hinault, at 28.
CPelkey: Garmin, Columbia and Ag2r have riders at the front of the peloton. The gap at 78km is 3:08.
CPelkey: Here is the official ruling from the Tour's race jury:

Moments after the review of the general classification was posted, Radio Tour announced that the jury has decided that the 15” that separated the first 52 riders from the second peloton will be void. This means that the top order of the general classification remains the same as it was before the 10th stage.

CPelkey: As our two leaders head to the feed zone, the gap is now 3:35.
Should the UCI reverse the no-radio rule for stage 13?
( 55% )
( 45% )
CPelkey: With 95km remaining in today's stage, our two leaders are 3:37 ahead of the peloton.
[Comment From IdahoMike ]
Do we have details about exactly what happened near the finish, and why the negation of the gap?
CPelkey: Yeah, it was a weird ruling to begin with.

If you look at the film, the gap between the back of the peloton and the next group was rather small. So commisaires decided that the gap was more than a second, meaning that the next group got a fresh time. The problem is that when there is a gap of more than a second, the timing is based on the front of the leading group ... meaning that while the Wiggins/Leipheimer group of 52 riders appeared to be just a second or two behind the group ahead, the were credited with a time that put them 15 seconds back.
[Comment From Jeremy Clarkson ]
Was the gap caused by the result of the Karpets crash?
CPelkey: It may have been, but Karpets was the only rider to go down in that one and the flow of the peloton didn't seem to slow going through that turn.
CPelkey: With 89km remaining, the gap has grown slightly to 3:30, probably a sign that the peloton has slowed a bit while they get lunch.
CPelkey: With 84km remaining, the gap is coming back down and is now 3:17.
CPelkey: The Ag2r and Columbia teams are doing the bulk of the work up front in the peloton right now.
Will the break stick?
( 4% )
( 96% )

CPelkey: And with 77km remaining, the gap is down to 3:00.
CPelkey: Today's finish in Saint Fargeau may present some issues for the pure sprinters. There's a bit of rise in the last kilometer. While the profile indicates that it only bumps up 32 meters in the last km, it sure feels like it's more than that.
[Comment From JR ]
Is this the way the TDF 09 is going to be this year - ie "unexciting"?
CPelkey: We have to agree that these first two weeks have been a little on the slow side at times, but honestly think the last week is going to be spectacular.
Who will win today's stage?
( 58% )
( 18% )
( 12% )
( 1% )
( 4% )
Someone else?
( 6% )

[Comment From Bo Zo ]
I disagree with your (and everyone else's assesment of the tour not being decided until the end. I'll make you a gentleman's bet that by the end of stage 18, it will be apparent who the winner will be.
CPelkey: Word at the start is that a frustrated Tom Boonen, who hasn't contested a field sprint yet and has said this might be his last Tour de France, had a change of heart overnight and promised to try to win the stage today.
CPelkey: With 62km remaining, the Ag2r team is setting tempo and the gap is now 3:26.
CPelkey: Time for a mechanical repair. George Hincapie - riding his 14th straight Tour - is back at the team car for a quick adjustment.
CPelkey: efore the stage Columbia boss Bob Stapleton said his team's biggest concern is whether or not any other sprinters' teams will be willing to ride at the front to chase back today's breakaway, given Cavendish's success rate in field sprints.

While Columbia is up front today, it's Ag2r that seems to be doing the bulk of the chase work.
CPelkey: With 53km remaining, the gap is down to 2:22.
CPelkey: With 49km remaining in today's stage, the gap is now at two minutes.
CPelkey: Rabobank has moved to the front, too, now.
CPelkey: OUCH!
We Ryder just hit the deck.
CPelkey: Ryder Hesjedal is up.

Man, oh man... he touched a wheel. He flipped over his bike, but he seems okay.

The leaders are 41km from the finish. They are 2:01 ahead of the peloton. We expect a catch at -- a guess here -- 15km to go.
CPelkey: Vrooom, vroom... the pace is picking up in the peloton.
Our two leaders are now 1:40 with 36km to go.
CPelkey: It's Columbia driving at the front of the peloton.

Nocentini is right up there... doing a fine job as the yellow jersey.
CPelkey: 30km to go and the gap is 1:26.
CPelkey: With 22km remaining, the gap is 50 seconds.
CPelkey: We have Columbia at the front of the peloton. Rabobank is also setting tempo. THe gap will be around 45 seconds at the 20km-to-go mark.
CPelkey: Columbia is doing the work up front. Garmin and Rabobank are also lending a hand.

The gap, with 16km is now 33 seconds.

Do I hear singing?
[Comment From Eric ]
Where's Astana?
CPelkey: Astana the team is tucked in behind the chasers... but still near the front.

[ALSO] Astana, the capitol city in Kazakhstan.
CPelkey: 15km to go and the gap is now down to 25 seconds.
CPelkey: Okay, we're gonna see a field sprint, folks.

10km to go, the gap is 19 seconds. It would take some sort of divine intervention to keep these two from being caught.... and we haven't seen the Jesus-Fan-Dude since the Tourmalet.
CPelkey: We have two finishing trains forming up. Milram and Columbia have both teams at the front.
CPelkey: 12 seconds. Tick, tick, tick...
CPelkey: 6.5km and it's nine seconds.
CPelkey: 6km... and it's no more than five seconds.
CPelkey: maybe 20 meters
CPelkey: And


CPelkey: Five kilometers to go and now we have a bike race.
CPelkey: With 3km to go, the peloton is flying tdown the road.
CPelkey: We have three finishing trains jockeying for position. Garmin, Columbia... Milram.
CPelkey: 2km to go
CPelkey: Hushovd is going to have to poach a ride on one of those trains.
CPelkey: Milram is really pushing the pace. Yeeeeeeehaw.
CPelkey: Final kilometer

Columbia at the front...
CPelkey: Hitting the hill, Hincapie at the front.
CPelkey: Hushovd goes....
CPelkey: Farrar... comes up... but nope
CPelkey: Cavendish gets it.
CPelkey: Man, that boy has a kick....

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) wins again in France. Cavendish takes his eighth Tour de France stage win, equalling Barry Hoban's British record. Image Credit: AFP

CPelkey: Farrar gets second and it looks like Hushovd faded back to fifth. That means Cavendish will get that jersey to match his glasses.
[Comment From Tom ]
Darn that Wilcockson suckering me into thinking the hill might impede Cav a bit...
CPelkey: Yeah, that's just one of the manipulative tools we journalists use to generate interest.

Preliminary results from Stage 11:

# 1. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia - Htc, 192km in 4:17:55
# 2. Tyler Farrar Garmin - Slipstream
# 3. Yauheni Hutarovich Francaise Des Jeux
# 4. Oscar Freire Rabobank
# 5. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team
# 6. Leonardo Duque Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne
# 7. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram
# 8. Lloyd Mondory Ag2r-La Mondiale
# 9. William Bonnet Bbox Bouygues Telecom
# 10. Nicolaï Trussov Team Katusha
# 11. Marco Bandiera Lampre - N.g.c
# 12. Serguei Ivanov Team Katusha
# 13. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne
# 14. Daniele Bennati Liquigas
# 15. Kenny Robert Van Hummel Skil-Shimano
# 16. Tom Boonen Quick Step
# 17. Andréas KlÖden Astana
# 18. Cyril Lemoine Skil-Shimano
# 19. Filippo Pozzato Team Katusha
# 20. Angelo Furlan Lampre - N.g.c

CPelkey: Top ten after today's stage:

# CPelkey: 1. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r-La Mondiale, 43:28:59
# 2. Alberto Contador Astana, at 0:06
# 3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:08
# 4. Levi Leipheimer Astana at 00:39
# 5. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:46
# 6. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:54
# 7. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc at 01:00
# 8. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 01:24
# 9. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 01:49
# 10. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 01:54

Cavendish is likely to have inherited the green jersey too!

Tomorrow's Stage 12 - Thursday, July 16 - 211 km - Tonnerre → Vittel

Terrain Type: Hilly, but not mountainous. Breakaway country.

GC Importance: None, though the GC teams should keep an eye on the breakaways.

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