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2011 Tour de France Stage 9 Issoire -> Saint-Flour

July 12, 2011

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The Tour de France has been going on for the last 9 days and today is a well deserved rest day. This was a really great stage to watch. There were massive crashes along the way, which led some of the race managers and riders to complain about cycling safety. However, the worst was the Antenne 2/FR3 Citroën SUV that suddenly veered right to avoid a tree and collided with Flecha (Sky), who crashed hard to the floor, toppling Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) as well. Hoogerland had a lighter fall, but he ended somersaulting into a barbed wire fence. It looked quite painful. Both riders were part of a major breakaway, that was riding 5′ ahead of the peloton. Both riders managed to finish the race. Hoogerland received the polka-dot jersey and was ferried off immediately to hospital.

That’s the second crash caused by a TV/News vehicle. The last one was a motorcycle driver who clipped Nicky Sorenson and he went over his handlebars. I think the driver should be charged for negligent driving and fined heavily, money which should go to the affected cyclists. Both riders would have finished in good standing, which is sad. At least Hoogerland got the lead in the KOM comp. He will be starting tomorrow.

Today’s stage is 208km and I read some tidbits about the race without wanting to. I don’t know who wins, or any of the many details, but I know that there is a mega crash and riders end up in hospital.

There are 8 climbs in this stage. The breakaway is formed by Sanchez (Rabobank), Flecha (Sky), Terpestra (Quick-Step), Casar (FDJ), Voeckler (Europcar), and Hoogerland (Vacansoleil). Hoogerland nabbed the 1st pt in the KOM comp in this stage. They’ve got a 3:09 lead with 119.8km to go.

Contador has another problem with his bike. He hit the deck. He touched the wheel of a rider in front of him, and then veered off course into a small ditch.

Millar crashed earlier, but rejoined the peloton. The sprinters were dropped by rejoined the peloton. Turuka crashed and is on the way to the hospital. A mechanic is adjusting Contador’s bike. Contador uses the team cars to get closer to a lone Saxo Bank rider.

Contador hooks up with two of his teammates. The behavior of the team is very different from the guys on the Sky team, who immediately stopped on the side of the road and waited for Wiggo.

Contador rejoins the peloton and stops again. He gets on his spare bike. Pavel Brute abandoned today. Garate didn’t start when a scan revealed a broken arm. 4 riders retired today.

The lead riders are hitting the Col du pas de Peyrol. It’s a category 2 climb. They are 5km away from the top. If Hoogerland crosses and grabs some points, he’ll take the lead in the KOM comp.

At 113.7km, the lead is 2:53. 16km later, they’ll hit another cat 2 climb, followed 9km later by a cat 3 climb. There’s no respite, as there is another cat 3 climb 12km later followed by another cat 2 climb 15 km later. 20 km later, there is the sprint on the descent, then there are two small cat 4 climbs to finish the race. What an exciting stage!

Abandoned: Van de walle, Brajkovic, Kern, Velasco, Kiryienka, Wiggo, Boonen, Pauriol, Horner, Intxausti, Garate, and Poels.

At 109.8km, Terpstra is almost dropped, but he makes it back. He’s somewhat behind now. 1km left to the top of the climb.

109.2km left, and the lead is 3:05. Terpstra is dropped but he can make it back on the descent. Voeckler glances at Hoogerland a few times and makes his move. Hoogerland follows and they are 1st and 2nd. Hoogerland gets 3pts. Voeckler got 5. They are on the descent. Casar got 2 and Flecha got 1.

Chavanel has been dropped by the peloton.

Terpstra and Hoogerland are behind dropped by the lead group. Voeckler is a superb descender.

Hoogerland has been dropped quite a while back. The distance is surprising. Sanchez has also been dropped. Voeckler is on fire.

There is a crash. Two BMC riders are on the side. Someone has gone straight off the road into the ditch. It’s Astana. Vino is involved. Kloeden crashed. A OLO rider is also down. There were at least 20 riders involved.

It’s Vino. He’s being lifted off the bike and out of the ditch. All of the Astana team are there. The docs are with him. His right leg looks affected.

The ambulances have arrived. 96.1km are left and the lead is 3:40. Voeckler is leading the bunch. Millar was involved in the crash. Vino has abandoned.

The peloton went off a bend, probably too quickly and chaos ensued. Vino and other riders went into the forest, while others were all over the floor. They must have misread the corner.

Hoogerland makes it back to the lead group.

The Versus HD broadcast is a lot nicer than the standard broadcast. Van der Broeck (OLO) is also out. He tried to get back into the race, but he couldn’t make it.

Gilbert an Hushovd were talking. They want to slow down for the crashed riders. The lead is now 6:25. Leopard Trek is at the front slowing everything down. I think it’s futile because Voeckler, who could become a GC contender, is at the front.

At 93.1km, the lead is 6:58. They are climbing the Col du Perthus.

Kloeden is back in the peloton.

The peloton is rebuilding. The lead is now 7:18. The sprint has started at the front. It’s between Hoogerland and Voeckler. Hoogerland wins. He gets 5pts and Voeckler gets 3.

Voeckler has got 10pts in the KOM comp so Hoogerland is ahead but there are still more climbs to go. It could go either way.

There are 87.8km and the lead is 7:35. Voeckler talked with Hoogerland to tell him to slow down. They still have a long way to go.

The peloton is accelerating again. Cav was dropped by the peloton.

Hoogerland has got a mechanical problem. It’s only a flat, but it puts him behind the leaders. There is a little adjustment, and then he’s off. Sanchez is trying to join up the leaders as well.

Hoogerland and Sanchez make it back. Voeckler is talking with the others. They are accelerating. He’s talking with Casar.

Dave Zabriskie might also be out. The lead is 7:46. There are 84.6km left. Vilems from OLO also retired.

The main field is splitting. The leaders are going off.

Hoogerland gets the 2pts followed by Voeckler who gets 1pt. Hoogerland has got 15pts and Voeckler has got 11.

With 76.8km the lead is 6:25. At 71.6km, the lead is 6:02. The leaders have started the next climb.

The peloton is going down the climb at 90kph. They are stretched out.

Hoogerland is going over the top first. He gets 2pts. Voeckler gets 1. The leaders will try and work together. It looks like Voeckler and Hoogerland have come to an agreement. Voeckler is riding for yellow and Hoogerland is riding for green.

Zabriskie has got a fractured wrist and Vino has got a fractured pelvis.

The sprinters are 7′ back off the peloton. With 63.2km left, the gap is 5:31.

The next climb is a cat 2, and it’s the last major before the two cat 4 at the end. The col de Prat de bout is 8km long with an average gradient of 6.1%.

Voeckler has his back wheel changed. There are 59.7km left and the lead is 5:02. He rejoins the leaders.

The leaders have 4:43 with 58km left. There are 4km left to the top of the climb. The stragglers are 5:10 behind the peloton.

The leaders are 1km from the summit. They have a 4:39 lead. Hoogerland goes ahead in the climb. He’s followed by Voeckler. He gets 5pts again. Voeckler gets 3pts. They start the descent.

The lead was 4:53. Phil Liggett mistakenly believes that the gap was 5:31 when it was actually around 4:40. He says that the peloton gained all that time. Sherwen is being quiet.

The intermediate sprint is 30km front the end of the stage.

With 41.1km left, the lead is 4:51.

There is a crash. Flecha crashed. Actually no. A car drove into Flecha, who collapsed and this sent Hoogerland flying into some barbed wire fences. It was a TV car driver. Voeckler is speeding away.

The leaders are now Voeckler, Casar, and Sanchez. The driver tried to avoid a tree and drove into Flecha. It was a driver for Antenne 2 and FR3. The three leaders are waiting for Flecha. He is 1:19 behind.

The peloton is 5:04 behind. Voeckler tells the escapees to wait for Flecha. The gap has remained at around 5′. It looks like they are accelerating now. Hoogerland is back on his bike. Voeckler is conferring with the team manager.

Casar gets the maxiumum sprint points. Hoogerland is getting patched up on his bike. His injuries look superficial but it looks very painful.

There are 29km left. The lead is 1:30 over Flecha. They are 4:53 in front of the peloton.

The peloton is about to come to the sprint. Hushovd and Gilbert are there. Hoogerland is caught by the peloton. Gilbert isn’t challenged for the 5th position points. Gilbert even gets a lead out train from his teammates.

The peloton is about to catch Flecha. Hoogerland is dropped by the peloton.

There are 20km left and the lead is 4:24. Flecha is about to be caught by the peloton. He’s 24″ ahead of the peloton. He was caught and now is off the back.

There are 16.3km left and the peloton is 4:01 back. Voeckler, Sanchez and Casar are there. They are 1km away from the next summit.

Voeckler is going for the sole point at the top of the cat 4 climb. He gets it.

Garmin-Cervelo and OLO are pacing. The other teams are just watching. That’s normal because they don’t have to defend the Yellow Jersey.

Gilbert has a problem with his bike. He gets off his bike, in true cyclocross fashion. It was badly done. He should have waited for the team car. He quickly makes it back to the peloton.

Gilbert is making his way to the front. The leaders have 4:12. Gilbert is impressive.

Voeckler is at the front, speeding away. The others are trying to keep on the back. Gilbert is at the back of the peloton.

There are 9.1km left and they have a 4:39 lead. The sprinters are 11:30 off the back of the peloton.

Garmin-Cervelo have gotten away from the front of the peloton. It looks like Hushovd has conceded the Yellow Jersey to Voeckler. That is going to be a commanding lead for Voeckler. He will keep the Yellow Jersey for a while.

Voeckler wore the jersey for 10 days when he got away with a 12′ lead over the favorites.

Hoogerland is 12′ back. There are 5km left. The lead is 4:44. 4km to go, and the lead is 4:49. The BMC squad is doing some pacing for Evans.

3km left and the lead is 4:51. 2km left and the lead is 4:53. They’ve started the final climb. Voeckler hasn’t worn the Yellow Jersey since 2004.

1.3km left.

Voeckler is at the front. 1km left. Voeckler is dancing on his bike. Voeckler takes a look back and starts pedaling harder.

All of them are smiling. Voeckler is still pedaling the hardest. They look pretty tired. They are discussing Voeckler has pushed them in front to let them make the move then he makes a move, but Sanchez saw him and sprints away. Sanchez wins the stage. Voeckler gets the Yellow Jersey. Casar finishes 3rd.

The gap has closed down somewhat, led by the BMC riders. Hushovd has dropped off the back of the peloton. He will get a different time from the bunch.

Gilbert has got his lead out man riding in front. Gilbert is sprinting ahead. The lead is 4′. Hushovd is back with some of his teammates.

This was a very good stage. Tomorrow is a rest day.

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