Thursday, July 16, 2009

TDF Stage 13 - Radios And Climbs Are The Order Of The Day

The Tour de France Peloton as it snakes and makes its way to Vittel in Stage 12 on Thursday. Image Credit: Reuters via Universal Sports

TDF Stage 13 - Radios And Climbs Are The Order Of The Day

After a series of three flat stages the Tour arrives to the Vosges mountains, three small but difficult passes. This medium mountain route could be a launching pad for an aggressive rider.

VITTEL - It was Lawyer Louis Bouloumi’e who bought the G’er’moy Spring in 1854 and founded the Vittel Spa. Years later he decided to bottle the mineral water for use at home creating the Eaux Minerals de Vittel in 1882. Vittel still has one of their central laboratories located here in the city. Image Credit: VERSUS

A statement was issued by tour officials yesterday that stated - "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 [as planned] of a stage without radio communication on Friday 17th July." - So, radio communications between team management and their riders will be allowed.

At kilometer 105 the riders will take on the 8.9km Cold de la Schlucht. It was on this final climb, in 2005, where surprisingly Armstrong ended up isolated from his entire team, finishing 27 seconds behind the winner Peter Weening. With only a 4.1% grade the tenacity of the riders will determine what happens on this first climb.

Then after a quick descent the riders go straight into the 8.7km Col du Platzerwasel and then the final 8.4km Col du Firstplan. This last climb peaks only 20km from the finish line in Colmar. In 2001 on Bastille Day the French rider Laurant Jalabert took the win into Colmar and who can forget the winning salute of Neil Stephens pretending to cradle a baby in his arms as he crossed the finish in 1997.

COLMAR - Prefecture of the Haut-Rhin and legal capital of the Alsace region, Colmar is situated at the foot of the Vosges, at the heart of the Rhin plain. 2h50 minutes away from Paris by high speed train (TGV), less than an hour from Strasbourg, Fribourg (Germany) and Bâle (Switzerland) by car, it is visited by more than two million people every year. Image Credit: VERSUS

A second category climb of the Col du Firstplan with only seven miles left to race is perfect for the strong riders to exercise their authority and we could see the first movement among the leaders overall since the order was established in the Pyrenees a week ago.
(ht: VERSUS, Frankie Andreu)

TDF Stage 13 Route Map - Image Credit:

Here is a summary of the big humps on the road during Stage 13, Vittel - Colmar, 200 km:

* Km 46: Côte de Xertigny, 2 km at 5.3 percent (Cat. 3)
* Km 105: Col de la Schlucht, 8.9 km at 4.2 (Cat. 2)
* Km 138.5: Col du Platzerwasel, 8.7 km at 7.6 (Cat. 1)
* Km 165.5: Col du Bannstein, 2.1 km at 5.1 (Cat. 3)
* Km 179.5: Col du Firstplan, 8.4 km at 5.4 (Cat. 2)

TDF Stage 13 Profile - Image Credit: VERSUS

These climbs may well affect the race for the Tour’s Polka-Dot climber’s jersey, with a nice race forming up between Euskaltel’s Egoi Martinez and Franco Pellizotti from Liquigas. With any KOM points remaining in the Tour, though, you probably can’t write off any of those in the top-five:
1. Egoi Martinez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 88 points
2. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, 71pts
3. Christophe Kern (F), Cofidis 59pts
4. Brice Feillu (F), Agritubel, 49pts
5. Pierrick Fedrigo (F), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, 49pts

This excerpted and edited from VeloNews (VN), CyclingNews (CN), VERSUS (VS) and various resources -

(VN) Today's weather is a bit on the spotty side. It's 19 degrees (C). Winds are picking up, and are now at 25kph. It's cloudy to partly cloudy and a chance of rain. A wet track will add to the potential for a shuffle in the GC.

The big story of the day, of course, is the news that came from the Astana team this morning. Levi Leipheimer, who was holding on to fourth place in the overall standings, pulled out of the Tour today, apparently having suffered a broken wrist in yesterday’s crash, just 2km from the finish.

Leipheimer had initially felt the injury was not serious enough to even warrant an X-Ray last evening, however, he returned to the hospital this morning and was diagnosed with a broken wrist. He leaves the Tour while sitting in fourth place in the overall standings. It's a big loss to the Astana team.

(CN) Coming back to the overall classification, Leipheimer's misfortune has caused a reshuffle at the top of the GC list. There was a great show of solidarity from the peloton as Twitter was aflutter with sympathy for the Astana rider, who suffered a broken wrist in a crash on stage 12.

Following Leipheimer's withdrawal the top ten looks like this:

1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 48:27:21
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana at 0:00:06
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 0:00:08
4 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream at 0:00:46
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana at 0:00:54
6 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC at 0:01:00
7 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream at 0:01:24
8 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank at 0:01:49
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 0:01:54
10 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne at 0:02:16

(VN) There is another non-starter today. In addition to Levi Leipheimer, Milram's Peter Wrolich has not made it today. That means we're down to 164 riders, 16 fewer than the 180 who rode the initial time trial in Monaco, nearly two weeks ago.

CPelkey: Here is a picture Leipheimer posted on his Twitter account this morning. We can only imagine his frustration today.

Charles Pelkey: Well, the Category 1 Col du Platzerwasel is a biggie. It's also quite a ways from the finish, so we're not sure how great impact on the final result.

The last climb, the Category 2 Col du Firstplan, may have a greater impact.

Let's see.
Charles Pelkey: Speaking of climbs, here are some shots - starting at the bottom and ending on top - of the Category 2 Col de la Schlucht. It's an 9.9 km climb that averages 4.2 percent and summits at Km 105.0.

(CN) Situation

Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo), Reuben Perez (Euskatel-Euskadi) and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step).

Peloton at 8:30

14:32 CEST
Results at the second sprint were:

1. Reuben Perez (Euskatel-Euskadi)

2. Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)

3. Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam)
14:38 CEST (103km remaining from 200km)
Miserable conditions for the riders today. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) grabs his raincoat from the team car.
Meanwhile, the leader's have pushed their advantage out to almost nine minutes.
14:41 CEST
I can't say I've ever seen a brown cycling rain jacket before today. I'm sure that historically speaking they have existed, but right now, there's eight of them escorting race leader, Rinaldo Nocentini, at the front of the peloton.
14:48 CEST (100km remaining from 200km)
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) has just grabbed his raincoat and is making his way back to the peloton. Vande Velde lies in seventh place on the overall classification, moving up from eighth with Leipheimer's departure.
14:53 CEST
The Col de la Schlecht is lighting the race up right now, there's a flurry of attacks coming from the peloton.
14:54 CEST
About 15 riders have attacked from the front of the peloton, led by a Cofidis rider. Fabien Cancellara is in the group too.

(VN) 2:55
Charles Pelkey: There is a nice group of riders now forming off the front of the peloton.
Charles Pelkey: There are 13 rriders in this large group.
Some of the riders we see:
Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel)
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo)
Charles Pelkey: Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel)
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo)
Sergio Paulhino (Astana)
Maxime Monfort (Columbia)
Christophe Kern (Cofidis)

We're still compiling the list, but the group is now 25 seconds up the road.

Monfort could be viewed as a threat. He's only 2:21 out of the lead.
Charles Pelkey: Our three leaders crested the climb a couple of minutes ago.... about 6:10 ahead of this big chase group.
Charles Pelkey: It looks like Brice Feillu has moved out of the chase group. He won a stage the other day and is showing some real class in his first Tour.
Charles Pelkey: It was a real drag race between Martinez and Pellizotti at the top of the climb. We couldn't tell who took it.

We're not sure if Feillu was reeled in before the chase group got to the top.
Charles Pelkey: It looks like the chase group has been pulled back. Monfort, for one, would have made any GC contender nervous about that one.

So, right now, everyone is over the climb and on the way down the Col de la Schucht.

Our three leaders are now 5:50 ahead of the peloton and they are 86 kilometers from the finish.
Charles Pelkey: KOM Results from the Col de la Schucht.
1. Perez Moreno (Euskaltel) 10 points
2. Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), 9 pts
3. Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo) 8pts
4. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), 7pts
5. Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), 6pts
6. Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel), 5pts

Charles Pelkey: Our leaders are moving toward the bottom of the climb.

They are about 79km from the finish. They lead the peloton by about 5:45.

Linus Gerdemann is a few seconds ahead of the peloton. It's hard to ID riders, though, given that it's rain jacket weather.
15:19 CEST
Martinez did pip Pellizotti at the top of the climb.

The results of the Cat 2 Col de la Schlucht were:

1. Perez (Euskatel Euskadi) 10 Pts
2. Chavanel (Quick Step) 9 Pts
3. Haussler (Cervelo) 8 Pts
4. Martinez (Euskatel Euskadi) 7 Pts
5. Pellizotti (Liquigas) 6 Pts
6.Verdugo (Euskatel Euskadi) 5 Pts
15:20 CEST
Astana were the team primarily responsible for shutting down the move by the chasers on the Schucht.
15:22 CEST (126km remaining from 200km)
Gerdemann's bid for the leaders is close to ending, he's just 15 seconds ahead of the peloton.
(VN) 3:21
Charles Pelkey: Our three leaders are now about 5:40 ahead of the field. They are 74km from the finish.

Linus Gerdemann (Milram) is out in no-man's-land, about 20 seconds ahead of the peloton... he's trying to get a little bit of a jump heading into the big Cat. 1 ahead.
Charles Pelkey: Our three leaders are on the Col du Platzerwasel, a Cat. 1 that averages 7.6 percent.
Charles Pelkey: Our three leaders are working their way up the climb. The gap is now about 7:30 again. Our three leaders:

* Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo)
* Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel)
* Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)

Gerdemann is out there about 1:30 ahead of the peloton.
Charles Pelkey: Christophe Kern is attacking on the base of the climb. He's hoping to snag some KOM points.
Charles Pelkey: The peloton is still 7:30 behind the leaders. Gerdemann is 1:40 ahead of the peloton. We still need an update on Kern's position.
Charles Pelkey: Kern is still only 20 seconds ahead of the peloton.

So, with 66.5km remaining, our three leaders are 5:30 ahead of Gerdemann and 7:20 ahead of the peloton.
Charles Pelkey: The rain is still falling out there. It's tough to ID riders, given most are in rain jackets.
Charles Pelkey: Ruben Perez is suffering on the climb. Haussler and Chavanel are moving ahead, with about 4.5km to go before the summit.
Charles Pelkey: Kern's attempt to sneak away to grab KOM points has failed. He's been pulled back by the peloton, still being led by Astana.
Charles Pelkey: Ruben Perez now trails Haussler and Chavanel by 25 seconds. Odd, given that we would have thought Perez was the better climber of the three.
Charles Pelkey: The peloton is now 6:05 behind the three leaders, with 65km to go in today's stage.
Charles Pelkey: Cavendish is among the victims of the Astana pace. The grupetto is certainly growing. There must be at least 45 riders in there by now.
Charles Pelkey: One of the rider who hasn't been dropped yet is Rinaldo Nocentini. He's doing his best to keep the yellow jersey today.
Charles Pelkey: Man, the pace is really ramping up in the peloton. Saxo Bank is putting riders to the front and setting a heard tempo. Yesterday's stage winner Nicki Sorensen put in a big effort.

One of the early victims is Bradley Wiggins. He's been spit off the back... but Vande Velde is still there. Armstrong, Contador ... they're there, too.
Charles Pelkey: Well, Gerdemann is about to be caught.
Charles Pelkey: Haussler and Chavanel are now less than a kilometer from the summit.
Charles Pelkey: Pellizotti is moving ahead of the peloton. He's in the hunt for KOM points and doesn't pose much of a GC threat, so he may be allowed to go ... at least by the GC players.
Charles Pelkey: One rider spit off of the back of the GC group is Egoi Martinez.
Charles Pelkey: Our two leaders are close to the top of the climb. There are big crowds out there, despite the rain.

Ruben Perez is at 40 seconds.
Charles Pelkey: Our two leaders are over the top. Chavanel first, Haussler second.
Charles Pelkey: Remarkably all of that activity in the peloton has really cut into the leaders' advantage. The peloton is only about 3:50 behind the leaders.
Charles Pelkey: The KOM mark, by the way is followed by another slight ascent... so Haussler and Chavanel are climbing still.
Charles Pelkey: It's Armstrong setting tempo at the front of the group. Contador is right there.
Charles Pelkey: Pelizotti snags fourth place points on the KOM.

(VS) 15:58:25 - Points Winners At 3rd Climb

1. Sylvain Chavanel (QST) 15pts

2. Heinrich Haussler (CTT) 13pts

3. Ruben Perez Moreno (EUS) 11pts - 2'45"

4. Franco Pellizotti (LIQ) 10pts - at 3'10"

5. Mikel Astarloza (EUS) 8pts

6. Alberto Contador (AST) 7pts

7. Lance Armstrong (AST) 6pts

8. Frank Schleck (SAX) 5pt


Charles Pelkey: So our two leaders are 59km from the finish.

They lead Perez by 2:05.

The Armstrong/Contador group is at 3:10. We are still trying to ID the riders in that group, but Wiggins seems to be the only major GC player dropped and he's likely to regain on the descent.
(CN) 1.
16:08 CEST
The first of the early breakaways, Reuben Perez (Euskatel-Euskadi), has meanwhile been pulled back into the yellow jersey group
16:11 CEST (54km remaining from 200km)
Gerdemann has paid for his earlier exploits quickly dropping away from the yellow jersey after being caught on the Platzerwasel
16:13 CEST
Astana are still commanding the front of the yellow jersey group. That group is down to about 25 riders.
16:15 CEST
On a dry day the smooth roads that the Tour is racing over would be condusive to high speeds. Mind you, even in today's "moist" (to put it mildly) conditions the race has averaged 39km/h so far.
16:17 CEST (49km remaining from 200km)
Haussler and Chavanel are negotiating another small descent as Txurruka and Feillu have built a 0:40 gap
16:18 CEST
Haussler is descending much better than Chavanel in the treacherous conditions building a gap of 100m over the Frenchman
16:19 CEST
Egoi Martinez has worked his way back into the Yellow jersey group and Popovych has rejoined his teammates at the front of the race too.
16:21 CEST
None of the major favourites for overall honours appear to me missing from the yellow jersey group. Everyone is being attentive on today's risky stage.
16:23 CEST (42km remaining from 200km)
Chavanel is leaving himself a lot of work to do at the end of the descent to pull Haussler back.
16:25 CEST
Haussler isn't waiting for Chavanel as the road levels out.
16:27 CEST (38.5km remaining from 200km)
Astana have pulled their foot off the gas back in the yellow jersey group
16:29 CEST
The yellow, white and polka dot jerseys are all in the front group, which is beginning to resemble a peloton once again as riders have caught up on the descent of the Platzerwasel


Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam)

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) at 2:17

Amets Txurruka (Euskatel-Euskadi) and Brice Feillu (Agritubel) at 4:45

Peloton (including yellow, white and polka dot) at 7:36
CPelkey: The peloton is now on the climb.

This is the last chance for someone to attack out of the GC group.

It could be that the weather may keep things together. We'll see.
CPelkey: Haussler is now 25km from the finish. He's now nearly 3:00 ahead of Chavanel.
CPelkey: It looks like there is a bit of action in the GC group.
CPelkey: Astana shuts down a move by a Silence rider - it looks like Wegelius.

Wegelius is trying again, though.

CPelkey: Haussler is nearing the summit. He's about 2.5km from the top. He looks like he's on his way to a stage win.

Wegelius is not getting too far up the road. We'll watch the GC group, too, of course.
CPelkey: Andy Schleck has had a flat and just made a complete bike change. He's got some help from teammates and they are already nearly back in the field.
CPelkey: Man, the Saxo crew pulled that one off in text book fashion. That was pretty cool.
CPelkey: It's still very wet out there.
CPelkey: Haussler still holding a solid lead as he nears the top.

Back behind Chavanel, Txurruka has attacked Feillu... and he's now off on his own.
CPelkey: Haussler is now 10km from the finish. He is 3:40 ahead of Txurruka.
CPelkey: Chavanel is probably at 4:30, Feillu is at 5:10 and the peloton is 6:40 back.
CPelkey: We did not see any major action out of the GC group... as they now pass under the 15km to go mark.
CPelkey: So it looks like Nocentini is going to be in yellow again, tonight.
CPelkey: 7.5km to go for Haussler. He's on the flat leading to the finish. He's got a nice buffer on Txurrka, so he's set for a stage win.

Haussler is relaxed out there. He's even grinning at the camera on the back of the TV moto. 6km to go.
CPelkey: Haussler is now 7:10 of the peloton.
CPelkey: Haussler is now 5km from the finish.
He's 3:30 ahead of Txurrka.
CPelkey: Well, there were no fireworks in the GC group, today.

Bummer, eh?
CPelkey: Haussler is now 3km from the finish.
CPelkey: It's a big win for Cervelo ... and a big win for the German fans who came across the border to catch a glimpse of the Tour.

Yeah, yeah... the Aussies claim him too, but he's German today.
CPelkey: Chavanel has been passed by Feillu.
CPelkey: Haussler is heading into the final kilometer.
CPelkey: Can you imagine how much fun he's having right now?
CPelkey: Haussler is grinning from ear-to-ear. He's enjoying the moment.
CPelkey: He's choking up... very happy. And he's in.
CPelkey: Txurruka is now heading into the finish. He's still 2km from the line, underscoring just how big Haussler's margin was today.
CPelkey: Txurruka is in the final kilometer.
CPelkey: Txurruka is now across the line.

He finishes at 4:08
CPelkey: Feillu is up next
CPelkey: Feillu is one kilometer from the finish.
CPelkey: Chavanel is not far behind him, by the way.
CPelkey: Feillu may not threaten the yellow jersey today, but he's sure moved up in the White Jersey race.
CPelkey: Here comes the peloton at around 6:45 or so.

CPelkey: No major change in GC.

By the way, one sprinter in the main field was Haussler's teammate Thor Hushovd. He won the field sprint.

It's a medium mountain stage, so it looks like he just earned himself .... uhhhh.... 16 points!
[Comment From AF ]
any time bonuses on the line for today's stage?
CPelkey: No, there are not. There are no time bonuses available in this tour.
CPelkey: Well, here's a look at the GC picture. No major changes:

# 1. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r La Mondiale
# 2. Alberto Contador Astana, 0:06
# 3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:08
# 4. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:46
# 5. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:54
# 6. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc at 01:00
# 7. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 01:24
# 8. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 01:49
(CN)Stage result

1 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 4:56:26 (40.48km/h)
2 Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:04:10
3 Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 0:06:12
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 0:06:30
5 Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram 0:06:46
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team

The next REAL mountain stage is coming up on Sunday. Team Astana proved that if pressed, they will take control of the Peloton and that the Team expects to make this edition of the Tour de France between Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong.

Tomorrow's Stage 14 from ColmarBesançon - The Tour heads south through the Haut-Rhin region, and follows the trace of the French borders with Germany and Switzerland. There are two categorized climbs located about midway through the stage, but neither should cause anyone much difficulty. The finish on the boulevard Ouest in Besançon is flat and the stage should end with a sprint.

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