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2011 Tour de France Stage 7 Le Mans -> Chateauroux

July 9, 2011

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The Tour de France started again a week ago last Saturday. This was an overall interesting stage, which was complicated by a few crashes, including a large one which saw Bradley Wiggins retire from the race with a broken collarbone. Tom Boonen also retired early on. The GC didn’t change much and the breakaway was caught before the end. Cav manages to win another stage, but I was impressed with Greipel’s lunge. It’s too bad that he hasn’t got the same kind of team that Cav has got behind him, otherwise he’d be winning stages.

It’s a flat stage today, 218km. The midway sprint is 30km from the finish, so it will be interesting to see who will get the sprinting points.

Kiriyenka was eliminated. Within the 1st 1km, there was a breakaway. Urtasun (Euskaltel Euskadi), Delage (FDJ), Meersman (FDJ), and Talabardon (Saur Sojasun). They have 7:43 on the peloton.

DeWert has a flat. There are 135.2km left. Garmin Cervelo are doing the pacemaking. HTC is contributing.

Roy from FDJ says hello to his family. At 129km, the lead is 6:27. Rojas is only 1pt behind Gilbert. Apparently Cav won’t even bother for the sprint, it could be that Rojas could go for the pts to get the Green Jersey.

Boonen is still in the race. He’s got nothing broken since his fall. The team car stops. Boonen is getting in the car and it looks like that he’s abandoning the Tour.

It’s not going well for Quick-Step.

At 122.7km, the lead is 5:45.

Once again, I went with the Versus broadcast. It covers a longer period, even if I have to live with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. That’s not so bad, but the bloody commercials and sponsor crap I could do without.

The Versus broadcast tries to appeal to American viewers by dumbing down much of cycling. It might work, because when I was younger I used to watch the ABC or NBC coverage of the Tour consistently. I didn’t have any other options. The world of sports TV isn’t the same anymore. I don’t even own a TV anymore. Versus also doesn’t know how to display information correctly on the screen. Eurosport and the official feed of the Tour always displays the gap to the breakaway. They also talk less of nationalities and more of the teams, which isn’t easy to find out when you’re on a media blackout because you don’t want to find out who won yesterday’s stage.

The ES feed also displays the most important feature of a multi-stage race properly: time. Versus insist on showing the place setting, but we don’t care about that at this stage: we care about the time, ie Delage is 30″ behind in the GC, etc.

There is a bit of rain with 119km left. Guiterrez keeps putting a spit covered finger in the camera lens, what a douche!

Chavanel felt like abandoning last night, but he didn’t, thanks to his team manager. That would have been bad, since he’s the French national champion. It was because of a crash and a sore shoulder.

The lead is 5:10 at 111.4km. The riders are going to a feeding zone. HTC is doing the pacemaking now, more than Garmin-Cervelo.

At 93.3km, the lead is 4:15.

There is a rumor that OLO and Quick-Step might merge into a super Belgian team. The breakaway has slowed significantly. They are riding along at about 30kph.

Cancellara comes to confer with the team manager. The peloton has also slowed. Three BMC riders are at the front. They are having a bit of fun.

Uran had a bit of trouble, but it wasn’t a problem. He didn’t fall hard and it wasn’t at high speed. With 83.4km, the lead is 4:32. At 81km, the lead is 4:56.

Schleck calls for the team car. There are 78.1km left. He was checking the map and taking in some liquids. The peloton has accelerated. The gap is 4:33. Thera are 74.8km left.

There was an incident at the back with a spectator. Voeckler had to slow down. It was nothing important.

Bouet has to change tires. He uses the Sky team car to pace himself back to the peloton. The speed now is almost 50kph in the breakaway. Hushovd went to the back and is being paced back. He went for a pee. The lead is 3:49 and there are 65.8km.

At 57km, the lead is down to 2:46.

At 48km, there is a crash. The Radioshack riders were involved. Kreuziger is also involved. The team cars cause some problems. Popovych, Kreuziger, and Gallopin are pacing themselves to the peloton. They are using a Radioshack team car. There are some complaints on the team radio.

The lead is back up to 3:01 with 39.7km. There is another crash. Wiggo is involved. Tyler Farrar is involved. He went back to the peloton. Boasson Hagen is also in it. It’s chaos. At least 20 riders were involved. Wiggo is on the floor. The ambulance is being called. Pauriol (FDJ) is down too. 3 Sky riders were waiting for Wiggo.

There are a few different chase groups. Wiggo retires from the Tour. Wiggo has got a broken collarbone.

The race officials are making the chase groups join up the peloton by themselves. They call it a *barrage*, voids forcing the riders to pace themselves without any aid from the team cars.

The peloton is 2:10 behind the leaders with 31.2km. There is a group 5:16 behind. Another small group makes it back to the peloton. Chavanel is back in the peloton.

The bigger group is basically a second peloton. Its 2:32 behind. The peloton is 1:17. The leaders are racing for the sprinting points. Delage gets the maximum points followed by Meersman. HTC is doing their lead out train. Rojas is right there. Cav goes for it. He takes it followed by Rojas and Gilbert. Rojas now is leading the Green Jersey comp. It all goes down to the finish now.

There are 23.7km left. The peloton is 1′ back. The second peloton is at 2:22. Leopard Trek have started to pace the peloton faster. The lead is down to 52″ and coming down.

At 19.1km, the lead is down to 30″. The 2nd peloton is still 1:56 back. Vino and Leipheimer are in the 2nd peloton.

Meersman make a small move. The pace of the leaders has slowed. 15km left. They have a 22″ lead. Hoogerland and Gesink are in the 2nd group. Delage goes for it again, trying to get away. The lead is 10″. Now Urtasun tries to distance. Instead of doing so, they should have tried to keep the pace higher. Meersman also does one too. The three others are caught by the peloton at 12.7km. A few hundred meters, he’s caught as well.

The 2nd peloton is 1:31 back. 10km to go. The 2nd peloton is 1:42 back. The HTC team has got their lead out train in play. They are all lined up. There are 80 riders in the 2nd peloton. They are 1:56 behind with 6.7km to go.

Leipheimer has a flat. He has the Mavic Tour car help him out. 5km to go. The peloton is speeding along at 43kph. The lead is 2:13. 4km left.

Now, the speed is up to 60kph. HTC has got still 7 riders in the front. Petacchi and Rojas are behind them. Eisel is in the front. 2km left.

With 1 km left. Hushovd is also in the front. Cav manages to win over Petacchi followed by Greipel and Felliu. It’s too bad that the other teams aren’t as well organized as HTC. Still, they were challenged and it wasn’t completely straightforward.

The 2nd peloton is now at 1km left. They are 3:09 behind. It’s too bad that Greipel didn’t have the same kind of team behind him.

Rojas gets the Green Jersey. The GC hasn’t changed much, except that Boonen and Wiggo are now out.

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