Thursday, July 16, 2009

TDF Stage 12 - Sorensen Holds On Breakaway, Armstrong Survives Puncture

A punctured tire can't stop Lance Armstrong, who recovers to remain eight seconds behind the yellow jersey after Thursday's 12th stage of the Tour de France. Image Credit: Hertzog/Getty Images

TDF Stage 12 - Sorensen Holds On Breakaway, Armstrong Survives Puncture

In another stage described as varied terrain and bumpy (same as the previous two days) through central France, and the countryside favored by past French President Charles de Gaulle, a breakaway that happened soon after the Category 4 Côte d'Essoyes climb around 85 km from the end, held off the peloton by as much as 6 min. in the end. Nicki Sorensen of Demark won the stage for his first individual win at the Tour, finishing 48 seconds ahead of France's Laurent Lefevre.

Top ten finishers of Stage 12 in the Tour de France. Image Credit:

Team Astana highlights from the Stage includes a crash by Levi Leipheimer. Leipheimer went down with Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and others, causing multiple contusions and the inevitable road rash. He has a contusion of the right wrist and of his right upper and lower back, plus road rash on his right shoulder, lower back and hip ... ouch! This happened during an intense run to the finish that saw many left and right turns. It appeared Leipheimer got pushed wide and ended up riding over the curb of the roadside. Levi remounted his bike and rode to the finish, keeping his 4th place finish overall behind teammates Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong in 2nd and 3rd. The yellow jersey still rests with Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R).

This excerpted and edited from Daily News -

Tour de France Stage 12: Lance Armstrong recovers from tire trouble
BY Jon Wiener - DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER - 7-16-2009

Lance Armstrong avoided disaster in Thursday's 12th stage of the Tour de France after puncturing a back wheel tire with just 37 miles left in the 131-mile ride from Tonnerre to Vittel.
Fortunately for Armstrong, his Astana teammates were right there to fix the punctured tire and help Armstrong catch up without suffering a significant loss.

"It is stressful with the crashes, on a stage like this where you have nothing to gain and then you lose everything because of a crash or a split in the group," Armstrong had warned before the start of the stage. "You have to pay attention and try to avoid a crash."
Reference Here>>

Stage 12 Route Map - Image Credit:

This Stage 12 highlight description excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

CPelkey: Today’s route covers bumpy terrain featuring a total of six climbs along the way to Vittel:

The Category 4 Côte de Baon, a 2.2 km climb that averages 4.2 percent, and summits at Km 19.0
The Category 4 Côte de Gye-sur-Seine, a 2.4 km climb that averages 4.4 percent, and summits at Km 55.
The Category 4 Côte d'Essoyes, a 2.2 km climb that averages 5 percent, and summits at Km 64.5.
The Category 4 Côte des Grands-Bois, a 2.3 km climb that averages 5 percent, and summits at Km 150.
The Category 4 Côte de Morlaix, a 2.1 km climb that averages 4.2 percent, and summits at Km 156.5.
The Category 3 Côte de Bourmont, a 0.8 km climb that averages 11.1 percent, and summits at Km 170.5.

Stage 12 Profile - Image Credit:

CPelkey: If you're a regular viewer, you'll know that you can type in comments, questions, complaints or just about anything you want, into the reader comment box directly below our Live Update Window.

There are six climbs out there today, with any single rider capable of earning as many as 19 KOM points out there (3 for each of the Cat. 4 climbs and 4 for cresting the Cat. 3 at the finish). Still, Euskaltel's Egoi Martinez has a 20-point lead in that contest, so if he makes it to the finish today, he'll keep the polka-dot jersey:
# 1. Egoi Martinez Euskaltel - Euskadi 79 points
# 2. Christophe Kern Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne 59 points
# 3. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas 56 points
# 4. Brice Feillu Agritubel 49 points
# 5. Pierrick Fedrigo Bbox Bouygues Telecom 49 points
# 6. Christophe Riblon Ag2r-La Mondiale 46 points
# 7. Sandy Casar Francaise Des Jeux 43 points
# 8. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi 38 points
# 9. Vladimir Efimkin Ag2r-La Mondiale 35 points
# 10. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r-La Mondiale 34 points

CPelkey: As you can see we still have a tight contest for the Green Points Jersey.
# 1. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia - Htc 176 points
# 2. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team 169 points
# 3. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne 110 points
# 4. Tyler Farrar Garmin - Slipstream 110 points
# 5. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram 100 points
# 6. Oscar Freire Rabobank 97 points
# 7. Lloyd Mondory Ag2r-La Mondiale 74 points
# 8. Leonardo Duque Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne 64 points
# 9. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank 55 points
# 10. William Bonnet Bbox Bouygues Telecom 54 points

CPelkey: Today's route - despite its bumpy profile - is classified as a flat stage for purposes of points distribution at the finish line. That means the first 25 riders will receive points based on the following formula:
35, 30, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.

There are also three intermediate sprints, at which riders can earn 6, 4 and 2 points for being among the first three across the line at those points.

Those sprints are at:

* Channes - 32km
* Longchamp Sur Aujon - 90km
* St. Thiebault - 169km

CPelkey: Of course the big prize of the Tour is the yellow jersey contest. While that race is tight, it's unlikely that today's stage will have much impact on those standings. We'd have to predict that Nocentini will still be in yellow by day's end.

# 1. Rinaldo Nocentini (I), Ag2r-La Mondiale in 43:28:59
# 2. Alberto Contador (Sp), Astana, at 0:06
# 3. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana, at 00:08
# 4. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 00:39
# 5. Bradley Wiggins (GB), Garmin-Slipstream, at 00:46
# 6. Andréas Kloden (G), Astana, at 00:54
# 7. Tony Martin (G), Columbia-Htc, at 01:00
# 8. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 01:24
# 9. Andy Schleck (Lux), Saxo Bank, at 01:49
# 10. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Liquigas, at 01:54
CPelkey: There are 170 riders in the peloton today. The pace has been quite high since the peloton hit KM-0 at 12:42. They have already covered 12km, meaning that they've been cruising at about 51kph.
CPelkey: For those who embrace the benefits of modern technology, you will be pleased to hear that tomorrow's stage will not include a ban on the use of radios.

For grumpy old SOBs like me, well ... we didn't have radios when we raced... and we liked it! Bahh... humbug.
CPelkey: At 21km, we have three riders off the front.
The climb gave them a springboard. Let's see of they can hold it.
The KOM points were awarded as follows:
1. David Millar (GB), Garmin, 3pts
2. Daniel Bennati (I), Liquigas, 2pts
3. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, 1pt.
[Comment From RM ]
did race organizers give a reason for their change of heart?
CPelkey: It was the UCI and they said "To put an end to the controversy which is compromising the running of the Tour de France, the International Cycling Union Management Committee has decided not to repeat the experiment of a stage without radio communication on Friday 17th July," it said in a statement.

Race radios were banned for the 10th stage of the race, a move which prompted 14 of the Tour's 20 teams to submit a petition in protest. The UCI said it will "continue to consult" with those involved on the usage of radios during racing.
Who will win today's stage?
( 31% )
( 25% )
( 7% )
( 3% )
( 2% )
Someone from a break.
( 31% )
[Comment From Diana ]
Why doesn't Team Astana have a sprinter?
CPelkey: Because having a strong sprinter takes up resources that the team would want to spend on its GC hopes. Not only does it require a sprinter, but other riders are needed to help lead-out that sprinter. There are exceptions. Robbie McEwen has done well in the past, poaching rides on other teams' lead-out trains, but the bottom line is that Astana is all about GC. Bruyneels' teams have rarely featured strong sprinters. Boonen was an exception and that relationship didn't last long.
CPelkey: And the peloton has come through the sprint at Channes. We should have results soon.
[Comment From Pedalingsquares ]
How do you guys feel about TTT's? Does it make you think the Tour can be bought?
CPelkey: I actually love the team time trial. Cycling is a team sport and the TTT underscores that fact.

As for the suggestion that the Tour can be bought solely based on the TTT, it's probably not completely true. Obviously teams like Astana, Garmin and Saxo Bank have great interest in putting good time trialists on the squad. BBox, obviously didn't do that, eh?

Winning the Tour still requires a team to have good climbers - although I will concede that hasn't been as much of a factor as we'd hoped so far, but that will change next week. We hope.
CPelkey: Cavendish, by the way, grabbed the six points at 32km in Channes. Hushovd was second, for four points and Sandy Casar scored 2 points for third.
CPelkey: Finally. We have a break.

At 39km, 11 riders slipped off the front.

The gap is still quite small at 43km.
CPelkey: Ahhhh forget it.

They're back in the peloton.
[Comment From Guest ]
Could you explain in more graphic detail what the average % grades mean for the different climb categories? Scott, London

There are no set rules on how the organizer can categorize hills or mountains. This is how the Tour de France climbs are defined:

* The easiest is a Category 4, which is typically less than 2km long and about 5 percent grade, or up to 5km at a 2-3 percent grade.
* A Category 3 can be as short as one mile with a very steep grade, perhaps 10 percent; or as long as six miles with a grade less than 5 percent.
* A Category 2 can be as short as 5km at 8 percent, or as long as 15km at 4 percent
* A Category 1, once the highest category, can be anything from 8km at 8 percent to 20km at 5 percent.
* An hors catégorie (“beyond category”) rating is given to exceptionally tough climbs. This could either be a Category 1 whose summit is also the finish of the stage, or one that is more than 10km long with an average grade of at least 7.5 percent, or up to 25km miles long at 6 percent or steeper.
CPelkey: One rider has been dropped by the peloton.

Vladimir Efimkin (Ag2r) is trailing. He got pretty banged-up in a crash yesterday.
CPelkey: At km 63, the peloton - with the sole exception of poor Mr. Efimkin - is still together. They are climbing the Category 4 Côte d'Essoyes, a 2.2 km climb that averages 5 percent, and summits at Km 64.5.
CPelkey: Okay, it's still getting sorted out there.
At 81km, we have seven riders. They are:
Laurent Lefevre (Bbox)
Sylvain Calzati (Agritubel)
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
Nicki Sorensen (Saxo)
Remi Pauriol (Cofidis)
Markus Fothen (Milram)

CPelkey: Our seven escapees are now at 83km. They have a lead of 1:05

1. Laurent Lefevre (Bbox)
2. Sylvain Calzati (Agritubel)
3. Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
4. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
5. Nicki Sorensen (Saxo)
6. Remi Pauriol (Cofidis)
7. Markus Fothen (Milram)

CPelkey: At 85km our seven escapees are 1:45 ahead of the peloton. Finally... man, that took some time to sort out. We are still averaging 47kph today... which is pretty darn fast for a bumpy route like this one.
CPelkey: At 93km, the seven leaders are now 3:17 ahead of the peloton.
[Comment From Alex V ]
We know that 8 seconds between LeMond and Fignon in 1989 was the smallest margin of victory for a Tour. What was the largest margin between 1st and 2nd?
CPelkey: That goes back to the first Tour de France in 1903. Maurice Garin beat Lucien Pothier by two hours, 49 minutes and 45 seconds.

It's not really a fair comparison, though. The first Tour had more in common with RAAM than it did with the modern Tour.
[Comment From David ]
Do you draw any parallels between the Armstrong / Contador inter-team rivalry and the LeMond / Hinault one in '86? If so, do you foresee a similar result (i.e. the younger, anointed Contador getting the win in the end)?
CPelkey: Well, we're loath to predict how this one will shake-out, put there are some similarities. That said, by this point in the Tour there had been a helluva lot more attacking and tension between Hinault and LeMond than we've seen here.
When will the 7 escapees be caught?
40km to go
( 1% )
30km to go
( 1% )
20km to go
( 6% )
10km to go
( 39% )
the last kilometer
( 19% )
They will make it.
( 34% )

CPelkey: The seven leaders are on the Category 4 Côte des Grands-Bois, a 2.3 km climb that averages 5 percent, and summits at Km 150.

Remember Martinez is in there. So is Pellizotti, who started the day in third on the KOM standings.

With 62.5km to go, the gap is 3:52.
CPelkey: The leaders are on the category 3 Côte de Bourmont, a 0.8 km climb that averages 11.1 percent, and summits at Km 170.5.
CPelkey: Pellizotti is setting the tempo on this short steep climb. Martinez is still glomped on his wheel.
CPelkey: This climb is quite steep... Pellizotti gets top points. The cool thing about the climb is that it's largely tucked into the urban streets of Bourmont, so the entire climb is lined with fans.

The peloton should be there soon.
CPelkey: The peloton is making its way up the climb. Some riders - including Thomas Voeckler - are trailing at the back, but despite the grade, it's short enough to allow anyone dropped on there to quickly re-gain contact with the field.
CPelkey: With 37km to go, the gap is now 3:50.
CPelkey: Flat tire for Cancellara.
CPelkey: Cancellara is on is way back to the field, working his way through the back of the caravan. He's cool. He'll be back.

The sprinters' teams are playing you-do-it-no-you-do-it.
CPelkey: At the front of the peloton, the Ag2r is doing the chase work, simply setting tempo to maintain a reasonable gap.
CPelkey: Nicki Sorensen (Team Saxo Bank) has taken a dig. He's been joined by Calzati.
CPelkey: It looks like Sorensen and Calzati have a small 10-second gap, with 19km to go.
CPelkey: Ag2r is doing the chase work in the peloton.

Sorensen is the best-placed rider in the break, but he's 10:36 out of 1st, so Ag2r has no major concerns.

Sorensen and Calzati have 12 seconds on the other five.

39. Nicki Sorensen Team Saxo Bank at 10:36
49. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas, at 16:44
47. Egoi Martinez Euskaltel - Euskadi, at 15:30
51. Laurent Lefevre Bbox Bouygues Telecom, at 16:52
61. Rémi Pauriol Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne in 43:55:42 at 26:43
90. Sylvain Calzati Agritubel, at 42:38
115. Markus Fothen Team Milram at 1:00:08
CPelkey: The peloton is at the 20km-to-go mark. The gap is nearly five minutes.

Ag2r is at the front.
CPelkey: Actually, it's 10km to go for our two leaders. The gap back to the peloton is now 6:06.
CPelkey: The two leaders are still holding on to a 16-second lead. The peloton has pretty much shut down.

All Ag2r needs to do is to is keep it under 10 minutes. They'll do that.
CPelkey: The five chasers are cutting into the two leaders' advantage. The gap is 10 seconds, with 7km to go.
CPelkey: The two leaders are now just nine seconds ahead of the other five.
CPelkey: 5.5km to go - seven seconds.
CPelkey: Soresnen attacks on his own.
CPelkey: Calzati rejoins the five chasers. Sorensen is off on his own, 12 seconds ahead.
CPelkey: 17 seconds with 4.25km to go
CPelkey: 4km to go and Sorensen has 20 seconds.
CPelkey: Remi Pauriol (Cofidis) has blown. He's off the back.
CPelkey: The peloton, by the way is at 6:25.
[Comment From Shane ]
I guess you won't be posting the "It's over!" picture today.
CPelkey: Nope.
CPelkey: So Sorensen has 27 seconds, with 3km to go.

Oh man, it's more than that. It's 32 seconds.
CPelkey: The chasers are attacking each other. Calzatti has popped.
CPelkey: Sorensen is 2km from the finish. He's holding a thirty-second lead.
CPelkey: Pellizotti has tried to attack, but he's marked.
CPelkey: Sorensen is under the red kite. One kilometer to go and he has 34 seconds.

CPelkey: Sorensen is grinning. He knows he has it in the bag.
CPelkey: Win!

Team Saxo Bank's Nicki Sorensen of Demark, won the stage for his first individual win at the Tour, finishing 48 seconds ahead of France's Laurent Lefevre. Image Credit:

Sorensen looks happy ... and a little surprised.
CPelkey: Our five chasers - Calzatti got back on - are now coming through..
CPelkey: Lefevre gets second at 49 seconds or so.
CPelkey: Remi Pauriol (Cofidis) comes through at 1:35.
CPelkey: The peloton is still out there... trailing at around six or seven minutes.

There are still points on the line, so Cavendish, Hushovd and others will be sprinting for points.
CPelkey: There are still plenty of points up for grabs out there: 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
CPelkey: The peloton is being led by Columbia. Cavendish is getting a nice lead out. He wants the points.
CPelkey: Gee there's a shocker. Guess who won the field sprint.
CPelkey: There was a crash back in the field. Leipheimer and Cadel Evans were involved.

We have to assume that it was within the final three km, cuz these guys looked relaxed.
CPelkey: The field sprint was, of course, taken by Cavendish and he beat Hushovd to the line.
CPelkey: Preliminary stage results:
# 1. Nicki Sorensen Team Saxo Bank, 211.5km in 4:52:24
# 2. Laurent Lefevre Bbox Bouygues Telecom, at 0:48
# 3. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas at 00:48
# 4. Markus Fothen Team Milram at 00:48
# 5. Egoi Martinez Euskaltel - Euskadi at 00:48
# 6. Sylvain Calzati Agritubel at 00:48
# 7. Rémi Pauriol Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at 01:33
# 8. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia - Htc at 05:58
# 9. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team at 05:58
# 10. Marco Bandiera Lampre - N.g.c at 05:58
# 11. Mauro Santambrogio Lampre - N.g.c at 05:58
# 12. Steven De Jongh Quick Step at 05:58
# 13. Cyril Lemoine Skil-Shimano at 05:58
# 14. Nicolaï Trussov Team Katusha at 05:58
# 15. Yaroslav Popovych Astana at 05:58
# 16. Lance Armstrong Astana at 05:58
# 17. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 05:58
# 18. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 05:58
# 19. Yauheni Hutarovich Francaise Des Jeux at 05:58
# 20. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne at 05:58

CPelkey: We're still waiting for points and KOM numbers, but none of the jerseys have changed hands today.

We may see a change in team GC, but we'll find out soon.
CPelkey: Preliminary GC after Stage 12:
# 1. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r-La Mondiale, 48:27:21
# 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
# 11. Luis-leon Sanchez Caisse D’epargne at 02:16
# 12. Maxime Monfort Team Columbia - Htc at 02:21
# 13. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 02:25
# 14. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 02:40
# 15. Vladimir Efimkin Ag2r-La Mondiale at 02:45
# 16. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team at 02:52
# 17. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 03:02
# 18. Cadel Evans Silence - Lotto at 03:07
# 19. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 03:16
# 20. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 03:49

[Comment From Mike from MN ]
Was the afore mentioned crash seemingly harmless?
CPelkey: It was in terms of GC. It happened within 3km of the finish, meaning the crash victims got the same time as the peloton. No one seems the worse for wear. Not even road rash that we could see.

Tomorrow will begin to separate the field - There is an opportunity for an ambitious general classification rider and his team to ride here. With a descending finish and significant, but not extreme climbing, it will take some hard riding to gain an advantage, though. Most will likely wait for the Alps, but don’t be surprised if a big name attacks on this hilly Stage 13.

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