Thursday, July 09, 2009

TDF Stage 7 - Longest & Highest Finishing Test Of Tour

A series of unpredictable alliances could conspire to disrupt the yellow jersey hopes of Lance Armstrong and his Astana team on the seventh stage of the Tour de France on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

TDF Stage 7 - Longest & Highest Finishing Test Of Tour

The first summit finish of the race is at the Andorran ski station of Arcalis but, although important in the grand scheme of things, it will take many more battles in the mountains before this year's race is decided.

Nevertheless, after just five days of unexpected drama Astana have taken significant steps towards eliminating some of their rivals.

Ahead of Thursday's sixth stage to Barcelona seven-time champion Armstrong was just 0.22secs behind race leader Fabian Cancellara, with 2007 winner Alberto Contador in third at just 19sec. Two other Astana riders, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer, sit in fourth and fifth respectively.

The Kazakh-backed team's strong position ahead of three consecutive mountain stages gives them "plenty of cards to play", according to Australia's Michael Rogers, who rides for Columbia.

But it also means the likes of Denis Menchov (3:59), defending champion Carlos Sastre (2:44) and two-time runner-up Cadel Evans (2:59) and Luxembourger Andy Schleck (1:41) will have to attack, at one time or another, in an attempt to close their deficits.

Stage 7 Route Map. Image Credit: steephill.tv

The stage departs from the city of Barcelona and heads into the Pyrénées. Leaving Spain, the Tour heads into the independent principality of Andorre. The stage finishes at the ski resort in Arcalis. There are five categorized climbs on the route, though three of the five are not especially difficult. The final climb at Arcalis, rated hors catégorie, should provide an early indication of who has brought his climbing legs to this Tour de France.

The Climbs

Côte de Montserrat 4.1 km, avg. 3.8 %, catégorie 4

Port de Solsona 5.8 km, avg. 4.3 %, catégorie 3

Col de Serra-Seca 7.7 km, avg. 7.1 %, catégorie 1

Port del Comte 3.1 km, avg. 5.3 %, catégorie 3

Andorre Arcalis 10.6 km, avg. 7.1 %, catégorie HC

Stage 7 Profile. Image Credit: VeloNews

The race sees both its longest stage and first mountain stage in this, its seventh day. Riders face five categorized climbs, culminating with this 2009 TDF’s first and highest mountaintop finish atop the "hors-category" (beyond categorization) climb to the Arcalis ski station. The mid-stage Category 1 climb of Col de Serra-Seca should separate the field, but with almost 100 kilometers to the finish, a large group should arrive at the base of the finishing climb. The climb to Arcalis is 10.6 kilometers in length with an average grade of seven percent over a wide, well-engineered road, an anomaly in the Pyrénéan mountains.

Live updates excerpted and edited from VeloNews, Twitter, VERSUS, EuroSport, and various resources -

This from Phil Liggett, VERSUS, "So, as they say, the shadow boxing is over and now the contenders must fight to keep their reputations as a likely race winner."

stevenboss: @LeviLeipheimer Excellent coverage. We've been following the TDF for 22 years and really enjoying this year. Go Astana!

EuroSport (ES) - Le Tour heads to Andorra on stage seven, and the first mountain-top finish of this year's race. There is every chance of seeing a new man in yellow at the end of the day. But will it be Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador or somebody else? Stage 7 description

ES - It may have been a tense evening chez Astana last night. The simmering tension between Armstrong and Contador could come to a head, and it is up to team boss Johan Bruyneel to decide who is his main man. Astana face dilemma in mountains

ES - 10:30 - Today's 224km hike is under way, and already there is a three-man breakaway - Egoi Martinez, Christophe Riblon and Jose Ivan Gutierrez having escaped the peloton. It promises to be a long old day for all concerned

ES - 10:45 - Visit our video section for highlights and reaction from yesterday's stage six. Tour de France videos

ES - 11:00 - If you are near a TV, you can watch today's stage LIVE on British Eurosport from 12:30pm. It is also available on the Eurosport Player, which has live internet streaming of British Eurosport. British Eurosport 2 and all sorts of bonus content. Eurosport Player

ES - 11:05 - Former Tour de France winner Stephen Roche thinks today could be the perfect occasion for forgotten man Cadel Evans to try and catch Astana out. Roche: Time for Evans to attack

VeloNews -

Charles Pelkey:
Good day and welcome to VeloNews.com’s Live Coverage of the seventh stage of the 96th edition of the Tour de France, a 224-kilometer ride from Barcelona to the ski station of Arcalis in the principality of Andorra.

This is the one a lot of people have been waiting for, the first mountain-top finish of this year’s Tour. As you can see from the course profile, this is one of those days made for the climbers. Not only is it long, at 224km, most of the route today angles upward, starting in Barcelona at 230 meters above sea level and ending at Arcalis at 2240m. Up, up and away, as it were.
12:20
CPelkey:
Today’s stage features five climbs, the first of which is a relatively easy Category 4 climb at 32 kilometers and ends with the hors catégorie ride to the finish.

Those climbs are as follows:

* Summiting at 32km, the Category 4 Côte de Montserrat, a 4.1 km climb, with an average grade of 3.8 percent.
* Summiting at 97km, the Category 3 Port de Solsona, a 5.8 km climb, with an average grade of 4.3 percent.
* Summiting at 127km, the Category 1 Col de Serra-Seca, a 7.7 km climb, with an average grade of 7.1 percent.
* Summiting at 136.5km, the Category 3 Port del Comte, a 3.1 km climb, with an average grade of 5.3 percent.
* Summiting at 224km, the hor catégorie Andorre Arcalis, a 10.6 km climb, with an average grade of 7.1 percent.

12:21
CPelkey:
The real beauty of a stage like this is that it will probably put something of a dent in the seemingly endless speculation and chin-flapping by members of my own honorable profession. The question about who is and is not a contender for the overall title at the Tour should be a little clearer. So, too, will be questions surrounding the leadership roles on teams … okay, okay, the questions surrounding the leadership roles on one team in particular.

One thing is nearly certain today and that is that we will undoubtedly have a new race leader by day’s end. While Swiss champion Fabian Cancellara is a tough-as-nails time trialist and relatively solid performer in shorter stage races – such as this year’s Tour de Suisse, which he won – today’s stage does not suit his talents and he’s quite likely to lose the maillot jaune by day’s end.
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Saxo Bank in 19:29:22
2. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana same time
3. Alberto Contador (Sp), Astana, at 00:19
4. Andréas Klöden (G), at 00:23
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 00:31
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB), Garmin-Slipstream, at 00:38
7. Tony Martin (G), Columbia-HTC, at 00:52
8. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 01:16
9. Gustav Larsson (S), Saxo Bank, at 01:22
10. Maxime Monfort (B), Columbia-HTC, at 01:29
12:22
CPelkey:
While not normally driven to fits of nationalistic frenzy, I have to admit it’s pretty cool to see three Americans in the top 10 on GC in the Tour de France, especially since I remember 1981, the year the first American to ever even ride the Tour toed the line in Nice on June 25th that year. Who would have thought that an American would reach the podium in just three years and win the darn thing within five? Back then, the Tour seemed to be the nearly exclusive stomping grounds of French, Belgian and Italian riders. Since then, however, we haven’t even seen a Belgian winner, the French haven’t won a Tour since 1985 and … well, Pantani was the only Italian to win the Tour in these past 28 years.

In American sports terms, that would be like if baseball’s so-called “World Series” actually lived up to that name, opened the event to an international field of competitors and then Americans never won the darn thing for 25 or 30 years.

Since 1986, we’ve witnessed 10 Tour wins by Americans. Remarkable, eh?
12:29
CPelkey: Today's stage began at 11:10 and the pace has been fairly high since the 177 riders remaining in this Tour rolled through kilometer Zero at the edge of Barcelona.

We saw an early attack of three riders, who were soon joined by six more.

We now have nine riders at the 57km mark, with a lead of 10:30. The riders in the break are as follows:
Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne)
Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r)
Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r)
Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas)
Christophe Kern (Cofidis)
Jerome Pineau (Quick Step)
Brice Feillu (Agritubel)
Johannes Frohlinger (Milram)
12:33
CPelkey: Earlier in the stage, the leaders hit the Category 4 Côte de Montserrat.
The KOM points were distributed as follows:
1. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), 3 points
2. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), 2 pts
3. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), 1 pt.
12:37
CPelkey: Our latest time check gives the nine leaders an advantage of 12:10, a sure sign that the main contenders are more worried about the final climb than they are about chasing a group of riders who don't appear to pose much of a long-term GC threat.


12:41
CPelkey: Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) is the current leader of the Tour de France, having started his day in 32nd place, at 3:13.

He and his fellow escapees are now at the 66km mark and their lead has bumped up to 14:20. Of course, there are 158 really tough kilometers ahead and we're still not willing to bet the rent on the chances of the break making it all the way to Andora in front.
----
1:03
CPelkey: The weather today is almost ideal for a stage like this. The sky is relatively clear and the temperature is currently 23 degrees (C) - that's 74 degrees for fans of Fahrenheit - and there's a slight 10kph wind from the south.
1:04
1:06
CPelkey: With 86km covered and 138km remaining, our leading nine riders are now 13:20 ahead of the peloton, as they head toward the lower slopes of the Category 3 Port de Solsona, a 5.8 km climb, with an average grade of 4.3 percent. It summits at 97km.

Points will be awarded to the first four across the top, starting with four points for the first rider to hit the KOM mark.
----
1:19
CPelkey: Another near certainty today is that the polka-dot jersey will trade hands by the end of the stage.

As of last night, the KOM contest stands as follows:
1. Stéphane Auge (F), Cofidis, 14 points
2. Jussi Veikkanen (Fin), Francaise des Jeux, 9 points
3. David Millar (GB), Garmin-Slipstream, 8 points
4. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Quick Step, 8 points
5. Tony Martin (G), Columbia-HTC 6 points

There are many, many points at stake in this stage.

As we noted, Category 4 climbs offer 3, 2 and 1 points to the top three riders over the top. Category 3 climbs offer 4, 3, 2 and 1 points to the top four.

There are no Cat. 2 climbs on the route today, but there are two Cat. 3s and a Cat 1. That's all capped off by an hors categorie climb to the finish.

Category 1 climbs offer 15, 13, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5.

Hors categorie climbs offer 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6 and 5, but that's doubled on finishing climbs.

1:22
CPelkey: At 94km, our nine leaders are an even 13 minutes ahead of the field. It's still Astana setting tempo up there.

Armstrong is among those at the front and Contador is sitting in a relatively protected position. That could be an indicator of how the team itself views the question of leadership on Astana. It's an interesting question that will probably be answered by day's end.
----
1:30
CPelkey: The leaders are approaching the summit of the Category 3 Port de Solsona, and their lead has been trimmed to 12:05.
----
1:41
CPelkey: Our leaders are on the descent of the Category 3 Port de Solsona and heading to the feedzone before tackling that big Cat. 1.

1. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), 4 points
2. Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), 3pts
3. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), 2pts
4. Brice Feillu (Agritubel), 1pt
----
1:45
CPelkey: As the leading nine riders make their way toward the feedzone, their advantage has been trimmed to 10:45.
1:58
CPelkey: Our leaders are at the 109km mark. They are approaching the Category 1 Col de Serra-Seca. That climb summits at 127km and then is quickly followed by the Cat. 3 Port del Comte, wich summits at 136.5km. The gap is holding at around 11 minutes. We might expect that nine-man group to come apart on the Serra-Seca.
2:03
CPelkey: The weather is holding nicely today. The rain from yesterday's stage is but a fading memory at this point.
----
2:29
CPelkey: The leaders are still riding together as they work their way up the Cat. 1 Col de Serra-Seca. They are about 3km from the summit and are still holding an 11-minute lead over the field.
2:33
CPelkey: The peloton is ticking along nicely. We're seeing some riders popping off the back, but those are largely sprinters and we could see the "laughing group" forming up soon.

Up front, the Astana squad is still setting tempo, but the pace is relatively moderate at this point.
----
2:45
CPelkey: The peloton is now 1km from the summit.

Astana is still setting tempo. Cancellara is there, too. He's tucked in safely, although we don't expect him to be among the leaders on the final climb today.
----
2:49
CPelkey: And the peloton is nearing the top of the climb. They are now more than 12 minutes behind the break. Astana leads over the top. The crowds are huge on this climb and they are even bigger on the climb to the finish.
2:52
CPelkey: Up next, summiting at 136.5km, is the Category 3 Port del Comte, a 3.1 km climb, with an average grade of 5.3 percent.

Then comes the biggie, the hor catégorie Andorre Arcalis, a 10.6 km climb to the finish, with an average grade of 7.1 percent.
2:54
CPelkey: The last time the Tour took on the climb to Arcalis was in 1997. Indeed, that was the only time the Tour hit this climb. Jan Ullrich won that one - the 10th stage of the '97 Tour - on his way to his one and only overall Tour victory.
----
3:04
CPelkey: Results from the Port del Comte:
1. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r)
2. Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas)
3. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
4. Christophe Kern (Cofidis)
3:07
CPelkey: In case you're wondering, Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) is the current leader on the road, having started his day in 32nd place, at 3:13. He is the highest placed rider in the break.

Stage 7 Barcelone - Andorre Arcalis 224km - last kilometres profile. The Andorre Arcalis is rated hors catégorie and has an average gradient of 7.1%. The maximum gradient comes in the first kilometer of the climb and reaches 8.7%. For the first four kilometers, the gradient hovers in the 7% range, then the climb relaxes to a more comfy 6.7%. The final kilometer is gentler still at 4%. It should be a small group at the finish here, and the stage winner may need a bit of speed to make the difference. The finish line perches at 2200 meters above sea level and is one of the highest stage finishes of the Tour de France. Image Credit ©Societe du Tour de France

CyclingNews (CN)
15:45 CEST (50km remaining from 224km)

Christian Vande Velde's Garmin Slipstream team are sitting just behind the two Astana riders leading the peloton. Today's stage will be a big test for CVV, who is coming back from a bad crash in the Giro. He seemed strong in the team time trial and will be hoping to fare well on the climb to Andorra.

With precisely 50km to go for the leaders, they are 12'07 ahead. That's not a bad lead...
2.
15:49 CEST

Don't be surprised if you see a few wrinkly spectators hopping up and down on the final climb, and hobbling speedily after their favourite riders; as Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown points out, the country has the highest life expectancy in the world. It's estimated at 85 years, exceeding that of Japan.

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Situation

Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel Euskadi), José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step), Brice Feillu (Agritubel) and Johannes Fröhlinger (Milram).

Peloton: at 12'11

Live Rider Stats - Updated: 15:45 CEST

* Johannes Froehlinger - Milram
o Distance: 0km, Speed: 36km/h, Power: 286watts, Cadence: 104rpm
* Bert Grabsch - Columbia-HTC
o Distance: 0km, Speed: 30km/h, Power: 481watts, Cadence: 68rpm
* Brian Vandborg - Liquigas
o Distance: 0km, Speed: 68km/h, Power: 344watts, Cadence: 81rpm
* Chris Sorensen - Saxo Bank
o Distance: 0km, Speed: 0km/h, Power: 296watts, Cadence: 99rpm
* Nicki Sorensen - Saxo Bank
o Distance: 0km, Speed: 0km/h, Power: 418watts, Cadence: 78rpm

VN -
4:00 CPelkey: With 40km remaining, the gap is still at 12 minutes.

CN -
16:01 CEST (39km remaining from 224km)
  1. The road is inching upwards little by little, and the non-climbers in the break will be wondering when the jumping around will start. We imagine it'll be a while yet, as this group continues to work well.

----------

Situation

Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel Euskadi), José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step), Brice Feillu (Agritubel) and Johannes Fröhlinger (Milram).

Peloton: at 12'11

VN - 4:03
CPelkey: With 38km remaining, Astana's domestiques continue to lead the peloton.
4:03
CPelkey: The time gap is now 11:45.
4:03
CPelkey: Our leaders have just passed into Andorra.
4:04
CPelkey: Through the border station, the nine leaders have not been asked to present passports.
4:08
CPelkey: Andorra is a small country, with a population of just around 90,000. Nestled in the Pyrenees, it's official status is that of a principality.

It attained its initial charter from Charles the Great (a.k.a. Charlemagne) after the locals lent a hand in fighting off further expansion of Moorish invaders.
4:15
CPelkey: The nine leaders are heading to the first of two rather oddly placed intermediate sprint marks on the road leading to the climb.

The peloton has crossed through the border check point now, 11:22 behind the men in the break.
4:20
CPelkey: Cut, cut, ... the gap, with 27km remaining is down to 10:19. We'd still have to predict that someone in the break is the most likely candidate to win the stage.
4:20
CPelkey: The full Astana team is up front. Contador, Leipheimer and Armstrong are in protected spots, but they are near the front.

CN - 16:31 CEST (23km remaining from 224km)

Several riders crashed in the bunch, including Mickaël Delage (Silence-Lotto), Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC), Levi Leipheimer (Astana) and Bernhard Eisel (Columbia-HTC). Leipheimer won't be happy with that as he was one of the Astana riders hoping to figure today.

He's chasing back on now, but would have preferred to use that energy a bit later on.
#
16:37 CEST (18.1km remaining from 224km)

Situation
Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step), Brice Feillu (Agritubel) and Johannes Fröhlinger (Milram)
Peloton at 8:00
3.
16:41 CEST

Pozatto is one of the riders who has also drifted off the back. Gutierrez takes the final sprint (without sprinting), ahead of Pineau and Fröhlinger.
4.
16:43 CEST

We could see a new yellow jersey tonight, but it might be from this break... The peloton is thinning down all the time. Sastre is quite far back, while Armstrong sits behind his domestiques, Contador on his wheel.
5.
16:45 CEST (14.7km remaining from 224km)

Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde are up there near the front, as is Irish road race champion Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale).

Situation
Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step), Brice Feillu (Agritubel) and Johannes Fröhlinger (Milram)
Peloton at 7:45

The lead group has just lost one man so they are down to eight at 8 km to go - Time difference with lead Peloton that contains the current tour leaders - 6min. 34sec.

VN - 4:55
CPelkey: Astana is driving at the front of the peloton. The gap is down to 6:30.
4:57
CPelkey: Astana's Sergio Paulinho is setting tempo at the front. Popovych is right on his wheel and Haimar Zubeldia is up there, too. Tucked in behind them, are Contador and Armstrong.
4:58
CPelkey:

The gap is continuing to fall. The leaders are now just 6:05 ahead of the peloton.

5:00
CPelkey: Our eight leaders are moving at a pace considerably slower than the pace of the peloton.
5:01
CPelkey: Sergio Paulinho has done his work for the day. He's popped off the back of the peloton. He did his work for Astana and will just take his time in covering these last few kilometers.
5:01
CPelkey: Haimar Zubeldia is now doing duty at the front of the peloton.
5:02
CPelkey: Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) has launched an attack out of the lead group. His effort has cut the size of the lead group in half... well, no. They have regrouped.
5:02
CPelkey: Hincapie has been dropped by the peloton.
5:03
CPelkey: The leaders have just passed by Didi "the devil" Senft, the German sculptor and die-hard cycling fan.
5:04
CPelkey: Christophe Kern (Cofidis) has tried a dig at the front group.
5:04
CPelkey: With 6.4km to go, the gap is now 5:20.
5:05
CPelkey: Haimar Zubeldia continues to set tempo at the front of the peloton. Cancellara is still there. He's struggling a bit, though.

TEAM ASTANA DROPS FABIAN CANCELLARA - LANCE ARMSTRONG AND TEAM ASTANA PUTS DOWN THE HAMMER TO THE END!

CN - 17:10 CEST

Feillu is going further ahead and giving Agritubel their day of glory...great ride. He looks under his arm, checking out the gap...it's growing, keep going...
#
17:10 CEST (4.2km remaining from 224km)

Situation
Brice Feillu (Agritubel)
Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Johannes Fröhlinger (Milram), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) at 15"
Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step) at 35"
Favourites group at 5:08
Yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) further back
#
17:11 CEST

Cancellara is going to lose quite a bit of time... He's already 23" back. Meanwhile, Feillu is 29" ahead of four chasers...looking good.
#
17:11 CEST (3.8km remaining from 224km)

Situation
Brice Feillu (Agritubel)
Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Johannes Fröhlinger (Milram), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) at 29"
Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step) at 55"
Favourites group at 5:11
Yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) further back, 5.34
#
17:12 CEST (3.8km remaining from 224km)

Armstrong and Contador sit third and fourth wheel.

1.
17:13 CEST (3.5km remaining from 224km)

Feillu has just 3.5 kilometres to go, while the peloton is further down the mountain. No attacks as yet from that group. The peloton is 5'14" back...
2.
17:14 CEST (3km remaining from 224km)

Feillu has just 3km to go now...he's looking strong and focussed...

Situation
Brice Feillu (Agritubel)
Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Johannes Fröhlinger (Milram), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) at 29"
Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step) at 55"
Favourites group at 5:08
Yellow jersey group further back, 5.48

Cadel Evens launches an attack ... Team Astana responds and begins to catch up!

5:19
CPelkey: Good on 'im. Evans knows he has to do something. He's shattered the group, but he has Armstrong and Contador on his wheel. Kloden... is in there.
5:20
CPelkey: Menchov (remember him?) he's been spit off the back.

Kloden is now setting tempo.
5:20
CPelkey: Up front Feillu is now 1km from the finish.
5:21
CPelkey: Jurgen Van den Broeck has attacked out of the group... caught and passed by Contador.
5:21
CPelkey: Contador is being chased by Schleck. Armstrong is right on Schleck's wheel.
5:22
CPelkey: Ooooooo Contador is flyin'
5:22
CPelkey: Feillu, meanwhile, is on his way. He's won a biggie.
5:22
CPelkey: Kern finishes second.
5:23
CPelkey: Now Contador is on his own and rocketing up the climb. He has a substantial gap.
5:24
CPelkey: Evans is chasing, but he's pulling a big crew on his wheel.
5:25
CPelkey: Contador is closing in on the finish. We still have to measure his time compared to the men in the break. It could be that one of them may be in yellow tonight.
5:26
CPelkey: Contador is finished and the chase group of Evans, Armstrong, Frank and Andy Schleck ... are across.
5:27
CPelkey: Time to do the math... Contador finished strongly, but we're not sure if he was close enough to grab the jersey.
5:28
CPelkey: Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) may have taken over.
5:28
CPelkey: Interestingly, Contador finished 19 seconds ahead of Armstrong. Wasn't that the gap at the start of the day. Another tie?
5:32
CPelkey: Nocentini has a six-second lead on Contador. Armstrong is in third at eight seconds. Leipheimer is in fourth at 39 and Wiggins is in fifth at 46
----

So at the end of Stage 7 and the first mountain stage of the Tour de France the top ten of the General Classification is as follows:

* Race Leader: Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
* Points: Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC)
* KOM: Brice Feillu (Agritubel)
* Young Rider: Tony Martin (Columbia - HTC)
* Team: Astana

1. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in 25:44:32
2. Alberto Contador (Astana) at 00:06
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 (Columbia - HTC) at 01:00
8. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin - Slipstream) at 01:24
9. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) at 01:49
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) at 01:54


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