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2011 Tour de France Stage 11 Blaye-les-Mines -> Lavaur

July 15, 2011

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This is the last stage before the start of the mountains and it was partly held in the rain. There was a breakaway which was only caught at 2km to go, so that created a bit of chaos in the peloton. The final sprint was between Cav, Rojas, and Greipel, but Cav won it. Renshaw, his teammate on HTC and lead out man, probably had a lot to do with it. I’m looking forward to the first real mountain stage, where there’s a cat 1 and 2 hors-catégorie climbs. That will totally shake up the KOM comp since a lot of points are up for grabs.

There was a breakaway. It’s been raining and there are strong winds.

Lars Boom got the first KOM pts, but no one sprinted for it. The leaders are Perez (Euskaltel Euskadi), Boom (Rabobank), Grivko (Astana), Delage (FDJ), Valentin (Cofidis), and Engoulvent (Saur Sojasun).

There’s another climb toward km 135. The leaders have 4:07 on the peloton.

Both Aroyo and Lang had to change wheels.

HTC is doing the pacing. None of the other teams are helping. Gilbert has said that he’ll try to ride the wheel of Rojas or Cav on the intermediate sprint instead of using a lead out train by his OLO team.

At 98.4km, the lead is 3:44. Gadret (AG2R) abandoned. At 90.8km, the lead is 3:24. We’re about 7km away from the midway sprint. The riders are heading into the feeding zone.

Delage tries to make a move, then looks back and the others tell him to go ahead to get maximum pts. Delage has been in a lot of breakaways in the last 11 days. He stayed 400km ahead of the peloton.

The peloton is about to hit the sprint. HTC is in the front. There are some OLO riders going ahead. Gilbert is there too. Now it’s HTC back up front.

Cav wins the intermediate sprint for 9pts. Rojas and Greipel finished ahead of Gilbert. Gilbert has got 231pts, Rojas 217, Cav 206, Hushovd 163, and Evans 135.

Gilbert had a mechanical problem. It’s Cav as well. He’s had a wheel change. Gilbert is between some team cars, having a smile. Eisel drops back to pace Cav to the peloton.

75km left and the lead is 3:24. With 58.6km, the lead is 3:11.

43.8km to go and it’s 2:35. It’s slowly coming down. With 39km, the lead is down to 1:58. It started to rain.

The riders are coming up the final cat 4 climb.

Costa changes a wheel. With 34.1km, the peloton are 1:36 back. Delage takes the 1pt at the top of the climb.

With 26.5km, the lead is 1:24. The peloton gets hit by a crosswind. At 25.1km, it’s 1:19.

20km left, and the gap is 1:15. Rojas has a flat and changes his wheel for the one of a teammate. With 17km, it’s down to 55″. The peloton is riding at almost 75kph. It’s started raining a lot. The lead is 50″.

15km to go. The lead is 49″. The finish line is flooded with a lot of water. At 11.6km, the lead is 40″. With 10km, the lead is 31″. The rain has slightly abated.

At 9km, the lead is 31″. The fact that it started raining has slowed the peloton somewhat. The teams are somewhat disorganized that that has given the breakaway a chance. HTC has had to use some of the lead out men to pace the peloton.

At 7km, the lead is 28″. Eisel is pacing the peloton. This might not abode well for Cav. With 6km, the lead is 22″. Lampre has moved to the front to pace the peloton.

With 5km, the lead is 15″. Boom rides away from the breakaway. At 4km, the lead is 11″. The breakaway is caught. Boom is still in front. 3km left. Boom has got a few seconds, but at 2km he’s caught.

This will make for an interesting sprint. 1km left.

Sky is coming through. Petacchi is there. Renshaw goes ahead. Cav is behind him. Cav wins. Greipel get 2nd and Farrar gets 3rd. Cav is watching the replay.

The GC hasn’t changed. Cav gets the green jersey with 251pts, Rojas has 235, and Gilbert has 231. Greipel has 164, followed by Hushovd at 163. Cav kisses the jersey. He looked quite happy to get it.

Hoogerland retains the lead with 22pts in the KOM comp. Voeckler has 17, followed by Garderen, Marcato and Costa with 5.

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